After the Great Conflagration

1840-1847
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The life of a fireman 1854 depicting fire fighters battling a fire with the use of a hand engine (bottom left) that was pulled to a fire and used to manually pump water to fire hoses. Source: N. Currie Lithographs, Kingston Fire and Rescue Collection

The Great Conflagration was the largest fire in Kingston to date and marked a turning point in the development of fire prevention. Kingston bylaws were passed immediately after calling for chimneys to be brick or stone, fire separation barriers (brick or stone walls between buildings), leather fire buckets in each building and the regulation of the safe storage of gunpowder and flammable materials. During the 1840s, the volunteer fire service expanded to four companies including one Hook and Ladder Company, one fire protection company and two firefighting companies. In 1847 the Amendment to the 1838 Act for the Prevention of Fires in the Town of Kingston stated that the owner, proprietor, lessee or tenants of any dwelling, shop or other building shall keep in the most convenient place 1-2 good and sufficient leather fire buckets, depending on the value of the building, exclusively for the use in case of fire, and for no other purposes whatsoever. It also called for the use of only stone in the construction of buildings. In 1847 Kingston still does not have fire hydrants and relies on water supply from carters, wells or small streams that existed in the City. In essence the great 1840 fire helped create Kingston, the limestone city.