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The original fire department dash-cam. Check out this 1927 view of FDNY.

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We think we are so smart with our technology today, but the video above proves FDNY had a dash-cam installed in a chief’s car back in 1927 (starting at 2:22 in the video). I imagine it was a bit bulkier than the ones today and I think any of us would have hate to wear a helmet-cam back then.

This film has been making the rounds on the Internet since the new year began. refers to it as a 148-year-old film. Really? That would make this 1865. Either their sense of history or their math is a bit off.

One site talks about about how quickly the chief “zips through the city”. While I am sure the chief wasn’t letting any grass grow under him (note the trips down some sidewalks to get around traffic jams), much of the speed comes from the film maker undercranking, or running the film through the camera at a slower speed to make everything move faster. No digital effects then.

There is a lot more to the film than the chief responding, including brief tours of Manhattan Fire Alarm and Brooklyn Fire Alarm and a fire to close it out. Enjoy.

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Comments - Add Yours

  • Scooter

    Great one Dave…now that is some good driving! any good horse drawn films? Strike Da Box! K

  • Scott

    Interesting and funny. I like the driving on the sidewalks. The bell is sure getting a workout!
    Those guys definitely were smoke-eaters in the day.
    The nice thing about this video is that no one can be critical!

  • Dan

    Here’s the one with audio

  • Former Chief

    That was cool. I’ve known some Chief’s Aides that drive like that. So drivers and pedestrians were just as clueless in 1927 as they are today.

  • Fire21

    My favorite part was the upside-down driving. I sure did a double take on that!!

    Thanks Dan, I had never seen a film that you could hear the bells coming in. Almost like deciphering Morse Code.

    • dave statter

      Who is Dan?

      • Fire21

        Dan posted the link with the audio.

        And thanks Dave for posting the original video!!

  • No. 1 Statter Fan from Virginia

    Dave, there are more of these on a website known as “Internet Archive”. Some of them are also of foreign departments. Thank you for remembering those who came before us. You are the man!

  • Miles Deep

    I like when the Aide assisted the Chief with his coat before they responded (2:12). Classy!

  • anotherbullseye

    The Fire SUV; old school.

  • Charlotte Wilson

    No one wants to say when this technology first appeared. Who invented it?

  • FIRE CHIEF retired

    WOW, must be doin’ at least 90 mph, Just Sayin’ :)

  • Anonymous

    I guess the people in those day were just as clueless when it came to getting out of the of the car with the sirens and bells as they are now .Take it from me I drove a dep in north brooklyn for many years.