Fire buckets often represent a time before towns and cities had established fire departments and improved firefighting technology. In the 1700s, neighborhoods were densely populated, and houses were placed close together, increasing the risk of a catastrophic blaze. To combat this, leather fire buckets were placed in homes and businesses to grab at a moment’s notice. The buckets held around 2-3 gallons of water, as those usually transporting them were women, children, and the elderly.
When a fire broke out, the buckets would be passed down a long line of people, often referred to as the Bucket Brigade, to feed the fire apparatus or to dump directly onto the fire. These buckets were constructed of a leather body with a leather-covered rope handle. The bottoms were often curved to prevent theft and/or the bucket being used for non-emergencies. Designs could range from simple to extremely intricate, but most just had the family name and bucket number painted on the front.