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It refers to an early method of firefighting before hand-pumped fire engines. The firefighters would pass buckets to each other to extinguish the blaze. Before firefighters arrived all able-bodied citizens would run to the scene with buckets. A double line would be formed from a water source and filled buckets would be passed up the line to the fire, where the water was thrown at the burning structure. The empty buckets would be quickly passed back, via the second line of people to be refilled.
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Fire sprinkler systems have been putting out fires since 1860. There have been many design improvements, however; the basic technology has remained the same. For more information visit the website for the