The Firefighting Museum
Over the years as huts, barns and towers topped with straw grew into a city there were more cases of fires, which had a devastating effect. They became a daily threat of losing relatives and property. Fires occurred for various reasons including careless handling of fire, coming naturally (drought, lightning) or because of arson. In the period of internal wars raids of cumans, Pincenates and neighboring princes also led to frightening consequences. The fire in that time was one of the main tactical maneuvers used to seize a town and destruct an enemy. In the 11th century Moscow was built in wood. The Kremlin with ramparts, densely built houses and sidewalk paved with wood would instantly turn to ashes in case of fire.
While Dmitry of the Don was the Grand Prince of Moscow (the 14th century), the Kremlin was protected by a two-kilometer wall made of white stone. Since then Moscow got the nickname White-stone. By raising walls of the Kremlin, Dmitry Donskoy significantly reduced the risk of the city’s fire destruction from war fires. And despite the fact that saving the city from the fire remained sometimes impossible, as it happened in 1382, when Khan ibn Tokhtamysh managed to loot and burn Moscow, stone walls often saved the city from destruction.
The first attempts to avert fires in Moscow and in other Russian cities date as late 15th – early 16th centuries. After a devastating fire in July 1493 Ivan the Terrible published the first regulations aimed at preventing fires: not to heat stoves in summer, cook food in the gardens away from the houses; not to keep the fire in the houses; not to be engaged in the glasswork within the city etc. One of the most significant regulations of the Prince was a requirement to build houses with stone. At the same time bricks plants began to be built in Moscow. This fire-resistant stone was used in reconstructing Kremlin walls. The walls made of red brick were 17 meters high and 5 meters wide. In order to improve fire safety measures Ivan the Terrible ordered to demolish all the buildings alongside of the Kremlin walls at the distance of 235 meters.
In 1504 there was issued the fire- guard team creation decree. The team was responsible to assure order in the city, including fire safety measures. Given that, the city was divided into sections, gates were installed on the streets, which were locked at night. The citizens chose the members of the watchmen group, whose main duty was to prevent the entrance of strangers in the city.
Since then, orders and decrees forbidding to use bath- houses in the summer, making fires, etc., have been issued up to the middle of the XVI century.
The firefighting service emerged in Russia for the first time in 1550 when the Marksman Troops were made to bear responsibility for it. Since that time the development of firefighting turned into a new edge as the firefighting task was laid within a unit whose structure was well organized for that time. Even after the elimination of the Marksman Troops (1698), military divisions carried out responsibility for firefighting.
The exposition of the museum shows to the visitors how the firefighting service started in times of Ivan the Terrible and also how it has developed until nowadays. Seven halls are dedicated to the fire emergency’s history, the state fire supervision, the firefighting heroes, alarm- and automatic fire- extinguishing systems and rare objects used in different eras. Demonstration models are made in great detail and with high accuracy.
The first pumps for firefighting were brought to Moscow from abroad. Peter I, who opened a “window to Europe”, brought pumps to Moscow from distant Germany and England. The museum contains a pump with which a huge fire in the Bolshoi Theater was suppressed. It was the advanced technology for that time.
Experienced guides will run you through numerous exhibition areas telling about the traditions and the glorious deeds of firemen, will help to plunge into a long history of the firefighting fraternity. Museum tours are always very exciting and educational. It is a real adventure both for children and adults.
It is worth mentioning that the building in which the museum is located is more than 200 years! It was built in the 18th century and belonged to Count Orlov. This house survived the fire in 1812.