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Famous Volunteers: Benjamin Franklin

He was one of America’s Founding Fathers, but did you know Benjamin Franklin also created the very first volunteer fire department? We look at the life of this famous volunteer.

America’s Founding Father

Seen as the “First American” and as one of America’s most influential Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin was more than just the face on $100 bills and his involvement in politics. Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. He invented the lightning rod, bifocals and the Franklin stove to name but a few of his more famous inventions.

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Franklin’s working class roots

While becoming a prominent citizen with scientific and political achievement, Franklin was always proud of his working class roots and involved himself in many volunteer projects and volunteer work. He became a successful newspaper editor and printer in Philadelphia, played a major role in establishing the University of Pennsylvania and established the first volunteer fire department

The Union Fire Company

You’ve likely heard Franklin’s famous quote, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Franklin brought together a group of 30 men in 1736 to form the Union Fire Company to prevent massive fires in Philadelphia. Union Fire Company, sometimes called Benjamin Franklin’s Bucket Brigade, was a volunteer fire department formed with the assistance of Benjamin Franklin who published a series of publications in the Pennsylvania Gazette by Franklin and others pointing out the need for more effective handling of fires in Philadelphia.


Volunteer fire department

A volunteer fire department is a fire department composed of volunteers who perform fire suppression and other related emergency services for a local jurisdiction, showing how volunteer work and projects can make a difference in society.

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