The Reason Jack Daniel's Has Its Own Fire Department

Maybe you've given thought to just how dangerous rickhouses, or storage houses, filled with around 1 million gallons of flammable liquor and aging wooden barrels might actually be (via Whiskey Professor). Or perhaps you keep up with whiskey news and read that Jim Beam lost 45,000 barrels, which is more than 2 million gallons of bourbon, to a fire in 2019.

Either way, the idea of a distillery having its own fire department sounds like a great idea, especially as an extra insurance policy to protect its product. "Every drop (of Jack Daniel's) is made here," said Master Distiller Jeff Arnett (via USA Today). "We wouldn't have an opportunity to source product from another place. So literally, if this place burned down, it would be kind of done. That's a lot to risk." This is exactly why Jack Daniel's has taken that extra step to ensure less loss should an accident ever occur. 

As it turns out, the origins of the Jack Daniel's Fire Brigade actually dates back to 1930 when a fire burned through a building on their property. Although it wasn't used for making whiskey at the time (this was during Prohibition), it was enough of a head's up that the company started developing fire-prevention strategies.

The famous whiskey brand formed its own fire brigade to help prevent such a disaster from taking place, especially once they started pumping out alcohol again. The response center is even named after the famous No. 7 variety of Jack Daniel's, so it's called Firehouse No. 7 (via Fire Rescue 1). There are 34 distillery employees who help out as volunteer firefighters when the need arises.

How the Jack Daniel's firefighters stay prepared

According to USA Today, the 153-year-old Jack Daniel's distillery has 90 storehouses, each of which holds as many as 67,000 barrels — more than 3 million gallons of liquor. In order to protect that much product and to put out a fire should one start without damaging all of the barrels, the distillery has invented some unique responses within its fire department.

For example, instead of primarily using water, they have a special flame-retardant foam. "Some of our equipment is similar to a traditional fire department's, but every one of our major pieces of equipment are foam capable and include dry chemical systems on board," said Jack Daniel's Fire Brigade Chief Fred Elliott. "They're primarily built and used for distillery facilities, such as a barrel warehouse. They're special and definitely a little different." The volunteer firefighters also practice putting out simulated whiskey fires on Mondays, according to Jack Daniel's.

Many of the brigade's firefighters also work for Jack Daniel's in another capacity such as in bottling, shipping, or even as tour guides. They volunteer their time and skills, and there is actually a waitlist to become a Jack Daniel's firefighter. In the meantime, however, many volunteer locally too. "You get points for experience," Elliott explained. "Believe it or not, we share a number of members with our local fire department. That's a positive thing, because they get double-trained." So, rest assured, the firefighters behind Jack Daniel's fire department have things well under control.