Firefighting companies were also known as Hook and Ladder companies. Hook and Ladder companies got their names from two of the primary tools of their trade. Ladders, of course, were used to scale walls and reach people who needed to be rescued from upper stories. Ladders also allowed the firefighters to scale the sides of buildings to get to the roofs to fight fires from above the fire in some cases. Hooks were simple poles that had a hook attached on the end, to enable the firefighter to punch out a window or for pulling a piece of wall or siding away from a building to see if the fire had breached the interior walls.
A communal tomb was built in the Lafayette Cemetery Number 1 at New Orleans, Louisiana, for the Lafayette Hook & Ladder Company Number 1 in honor of one of their members. The dedication is centered on top of the communal tomb and features the hook and ladder symbol.
In memory of
A native of New Orleans
Was drowned in the Mississippi River
April 17, 1865
And Body not recovered
AGED 26 YRS.,
Erected by his Brother Members,
OF LAFAYETTE HOOK & LADDER, Co. No 1