While it is believed that Frederick Graff invented the pillar-type cast iron fire hydrant in 1801, there is no extant evidence to confirm this. The U.S. Patent Office and its contents were destroyed by fire in 1836.
Prior to the invention of the hydrant, municipal fire readiness involved underground water cisterns and bucket brigades. Early pressurized citywide water systems comprised underground pipes made of wood. When a blaze broke out, fire department personnel dug down to break through the wooden water main. Once the fire was quenched, the hole in the water main was then filled with a “fire plug.”