History of fire engines displayed at Myanmar Fire Brigade Headquarters (Yangon)

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Yangon Fire Brigade members are trying to extinguish a fire incident using high-tech equipment.

Myanmar Fire Brigade Headquarters (Yangon) has been preserving historical heritage at the museum featuring the ancient fire engines from the past generations.
Along with the modern lifestyle and the rapidly changing world, contemporary fire hazards are evolving. There are the pros and cons of fire which was discovered by human beings at an early age. Fire control is an innovative technology in the course of human evolution. However, the world is facing massive damage from fire hazards. Humans invented tools and used innovative technology to extinguish the fire. Nonetheless, not only ASEAN but also European countries experience extensive damage and huge loss caused by unexpected fire hazards and natural disasters. The world countries started to invent fire engines, trucks and tools to mitigate the loss in fire accidents and laid down fire safety plans and developed coherent strategies for their own country.
There have been fire incidents since Myanmar Kingdoms. Fire safety measures and types of equipment such as sand, water, portable ladder and tools such as shovels, hooks, spades and picks were prepared. Firefighting vehicles, fire engines and tankers has been used in Myanmar since the colonial time. Yangon Municipal Fire Brigade was organized for fire safety measures. Stirrup hand-pump was used in Yangon, Mandalay and other big cities to extinguish fighting incendiary bombs during World War II. This stirrup pump equipment was started to use in Germany in 17th Century AD and people in England doused the fire with the pumps during World War II. It was similar to the pump used to inflate the bicycle tire and it was the first-ever firefighting equipment used in Myanmar.

The hand pump was developed by Ctesibius. Myanmar Fire Brigade Headquarters started to use Mysto stirrup hand-pump made in 18th Century AD and has been preserving it until now. It is the oldest and vintage firefighting tool. This iron stirrup pump with foot bracket was fitted with a 10 to 30-foot rubber hose. The base of the pump was placed in the bucket of water (with a capacity of nine gallons) and the hose could direct a stream onto a small fire. The weight of the pump is three to five pounds. It was a firefighting tool used on a manageable skill then.
Firefighting equipment and machines have been invented throughout the years. The devastating fire outbreaks have remained in history. The Great Fire of Rome swept across Rome before 1666. The Great Fire London occurred on 2 September 1666 and lasted six days, destroying over 13,200 houses and 87 churches. Approximately 80,000 people became fire victims. This catastrophe led England to form fire brigades and invent fire engines. Next, the destructive fire happened in New York City. The major conflagrations were recorded in history.

Merryweather horse-drawn steam fire engine
Richard Newsham invented a fire pump with a capacity of 140 gallons per minute in England during 17th Century AD. Tozer hand-pump produced by Merryweather & Sons Co Ltd arrived in Myanmar in 1881, along with two steam fire engines. However, this firefighting vehicle was drawn by human beings at one mile per hour and had flaws to control the fire. Quick response to fire outbreaks is crucial so the horses are used to draw the vehicles.
Rapsey Hodge invented the first-ever horse-drawn steam fire engines in New York in 1841. It was upgraded to a self-driven motorized vehicle in 1897. Two steam fire engines in 1901, the two horses-drawn ladder truck in 1904 (the aerial ladder can reach 80 feet) and four horses-drawn ladder trucks in 1907 were imported in Myanmar.

Merryweather self-propelled steam fire engine
The first self-propelled steam fire engine was produced by England, and Myanmar used them in 1909. The boiler pressure to run the steam engine was 100 psi to deliver 100 gallons per minute. Coal is used as fuel. This steam fire engine was displayed at the museum of Myanmar Fire Brigade Headquarters in Yangon as the ancient fire engine used in the fire extinguishing activities in the colonial era.

Merryweather petrol motor fire engine
The petrol-driven Merryweather fire engines were invented in England in 1928. They were generally equipped with their patented Hatfield reciprocating water pumps and firefighting activities with those fire engines were found in Yangon. Over the century, centrifugal pump is the most common type of fire pump, with a capacity of 400 gallons per minute. This firefighting vehicle was preserved in Myanmar as well.

Dennis fire engine
Roll Royce petrol engine was earlier used in Dennis fire engines. Dennis fire engine with Centrifugal Pump was produced in 1948 by England, and it was used in the fires that happened in 1958 in Myanmar. It has been still used in today’s fire extinguishing activities. The auxiliary fire brigade in Hinthada town entrusted that vehicle to headquarters. That ancient fire engine performed the firefighting tasks for over 70 years in Hinthada town. It was displayed at the ancient fire engines museum in Yangon.

Dennis incident support vehicle
The incident support vehicle with the use of Centrifugal Pump was produced in 1948 and they are used during the first parliamentary democracy period in Myanmar in 1964. It was stored at Myanmar Fire Brigade Headquarters.

Daihatsu three-wheeled car fire engine
Daihatsu three-wheeled car fire engine with Centrifugal Pump was for narrow roads and they are mostly used in the rural areas across Myanmar. It was produced by Japan in 1953-1954. They were used in late 1954 and it has remained as the ancient fire engine in the museum.

Daihatsu Pyitawtha three-wheeler
Daihatsu Pyitawtha three-wheeler with the use of petrol fuel was produced in 1954 by Japan and arrived in Myanmar in 1954. It was used in the parliamentary democracy period. The unique point of that fire vehicle is manual labelling in Myanmar.

The Land Rover incident support vehicle
The Land Rover incident support vehicle was produced in 1954 by Japan and it was imported to Myanmar in the same year. This ancient fire vehicle with Centrifugal Pump can also reach narrow roads like a three-wheeler fire engine.

Fordson fire truck
Fordson fire truck equipped with Centrifugal Pump and water tank was manufactured in 1960 by England and it was also used in the parliamentary democracy period from 1960.

Toyota round head fire truck
Toyota round head fire truck was manufactured in 1953 by Japan and Myanmar imported it in 1963. It was used to put out major fires under the Myanmar Socialist Programme Party.
Those aforementioned fire engines and vehicles are the oldest fire engines that contributed to the Myanmar Fire Brigade a lot in order to protect the lives and property of the people in the state and perform fire prevention, safety and rescue and service for environmental hazards.
Myanmar Fire Brigade enhanced its capacity and tried to meet the needs, with a fleet of fire trucks and equipment made in Poland.
Myanmar Fire Brigade preserved those vintage vehicles and kept the motoring heritage alive. The vintage fire engines are priceless, depicting the past generation’s heritage and historical value. — Thitsa (MNA)/GNLM

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