From its inception in Colonial times to the modern challenges of today, the Reading Fire Department has battled natural disasters, airplane crashes, and block burners threatening "the Pretzel City." The fire department has faithfully served the city of Reading since 1771, having been established soon after Benjamin Franklin organized the nation's first volunteer fire department in Philadelphia. At one time the Reading Fire Department even boasted the largest all-volunteer fire department in the nation, consisting of more than 10,000 volunteer members operating from 14 fire stations throughout the city. Using the archives of the Reading Fire Department, the Reading Eagle, and the Historical Society of Berks County, Reading Firefighting documents the history and traditions of this dedicated fire department.
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