This film is part of Free

Answering a Call

Fire! These early 20th-century firemen ride to the rescue on horse-drawn engines, bicycles and even a tandem

Non-Fiction 1901 1 mins Silent


Firemen demonstrate the speed of their response to reports of a conflagration. Firefighters rush to hitch the horses to their engines, while others in the brigade go on ahead on bicycles, and a tandem tricycle. No fewer than four horse-drawn vehicles follow closely behind. The presence of a crowd on the street outside the fire station suggests that this was filmed as part of a public demonstration, with the first shot of the firemen rushing to their positions inserted to add a sense of urgency.

In 1901 it was still fairly unusual to see a film made up of more than one shot, as this one is. While the action doesn't match seamlessly from the first setup to the second, it is still easy to follow. This film was made by the Warwick Trading Company, an early American film production outfit run from a London office. Warwick specialised in actuality and travel films, which were shot all over the world, as well as in Britain.