The Original George Washington Engine. Hand pumper owned by the Friendship Fire Company and used from 1775 until 1849, when it was replaced by the Rodgers pumper. It is purported that George Washington, a resident of Alexandria, Virginia, was a member of the Friendship Fire Company and that he purchased the pumper for the Company for 18 pounds 10 shillings after observing a similar pumper in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1774 while at the Continental Congress. Friendship Firehouse Museum, Alexandria, Virginia, November 2006.
One of the earliest types of fire engines used in America, this rotary engine was probably built about 1770 in England, by Newsham and Ragg. Sometimes referred to as a coffee grinder engine, it was cranked by two pairs of men. As they cranked, blades rotating around a central shaft forced water from the central chamber through a nozzle onto the fire. Although water still had to be emptied into the chamber by bucket brigades, when it was pumped through the engine, it propelled a steady stream of water, a great improvement over throwing individual buckets of water at the flames. (From Museum notes)
historicalgeorge washington enginehand pumperownedfriendship fire companyused1775 historical1849replacedrodgers pumperpurportedgeorge washingtonresidentalexandriavirginiamemberpurchasedcontinental congressfriendship firehouse museumnovember 2006coffee grindernewsham and raggfireengine2207
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