Monday, May 01, 2006

1900 | Fire Brigade

1900 | Fire Brigade | Tulumbaci(s) | Pompiers courand a l'incendie

This picture gives a good idea to certain dress codes of the time and some members wear a certain backless street shoe "yemeni / sipidik / slipper" that Petri must have used.

At the time Istanbul had no fire brigade. What it did have were tulumbaci, who would run to the scene of the fire carrying water pumps on their backs, more of a competitive sport than a public service. Each neighbourhood had its own team of firefighters. They were young men, good-looking, fast runners, and, of course, poor. The point of the competition was not putting out the fire but getting to the scene of the fire first. The sport had its own rules. A person would think twice before asking "Where’s the fire?", for fear of insult. The first proper fire brigade was set up by the Hungarian Count Szecseny, who was made a pasha in 1874, after the famous fire of Pera in 1870 when 3,000 buildings burned down.

The last surviving tulumbaci, Kemal Güleçin at Balat in Saffet's cafe playing card games like melot, prafa or pişpirik. He gets in the mood and shouts like the tulumba crew called “Tulumbacı Narası” .“Yaman gelir, yaman gideriz, Fethiyeli aslan tulumbacılarız”... “Karada aslan, denizde kaplan, var mı bize yan bakan”!

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