COMPANY EIGHT - EDITORIAL ILLUSTRATION FOR ATAVIST MAGAZINE
The early 1800s were a dark time for American firefighting. Volunteer fire companies operated less as public servants and more as rival gangs: defying city regulations, extorting money from victims, sabotaging other companies or letting them burn out of pure spite. Willard Sears, a Boston builder and abolitionist, set out to change all that, with a vision for a fire company that would bring professionalism to a field laced with corruption and violence - and gathered a ragtag group to follow him under the banner of Company Eight.
Sears’ quest would pit him against the most powerful forces in the city, in a battle that would shape the future of firefighting in America.
Writer Matthew Pearl delves into historical archives to bring to life, for the first time, a true story of courage and persistence.