ROSPHOTO and B. I. Konchaev Firefighting Technical Exhibition presents a joint exhibition project Taming Fire that tells the story of St. Petersburg fire departments. The story begins in 1722, when the first fire department was established at the Admiralty Shipyards.

The exhibition, including more than 160 unique objects, introduces visitors to the history of firefighting in St. Petersburg.

From the very first years, the newly founded city was plagued by fires. However, there was no organized firefighting until 1722. It was then that the first fire brigade was organized at Admiralty Shipyards. At the same time, fires featured prominently in the works of artists. A century and a half later, photographers took up the baton of visual documentation. One of the first professionals who took photographs of fires and published them in illustrated magazines was Karl Bulla. The series of photographs on display depicts types of firefighters and equipment, fire brigades' work, fire department buildings, and technical means of firefighting.

The dynamic 1920s and 1930s are shown through the eyes of professional photojournalists. The viewers are presented with a vivid panorama of the life of Petrograd/Leningrad, collective actions and celebrations. The images, executed in line with avant-garde aesthetics, depict major transformations in firefighting: from pre-revolutionary foreign gear to Russian fire engines and gas tight suits.

Photography is used for creating propaganda material, promoting a heroic image of the Soviet firefighter among citizens. At the same time, widely circulated photographic images serve as comprehensible teaching aid, educating citizens how to fight against fire.

An important period in the history of firefighting was the Siege of Leningrad. Rare photographs from the archives of the Firefighting Technical Exhibition captured the dramatic moments of the first bombing raids in September 1941 and firefighting exercises against incendiary bombs. The posters of that time show Leningrad firefighters on their important mission to teach civilians the basics of fire defense. This time is marked by the personalization of images of firefighters who performed heroic deeds. Photographs, taken in real conditions and very distinct in their style, have preserved truthful portraits of the heroes.

The history of firefighting units in the 1950­– 1980s is told through the chronicles of physical training and military drills for emergency response specialists mastering complicated modern firefighting methods.

Digital photographs cover the latest period in the history of St. Petersburg firefighters. Not only do they document the most recent work of fire brigades, but they also reflect human fascination with the dangerous beauty of fire succumbing to the brave tamers.

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