In 1870, the tallest structure in Honolulu was the bell tower of Central Fire Station, then-located on Union Street. Spotters would sit in the tower, ready to sound the alarm. Back in those early days, firefighting equipment was primarily buckets and portable water supplies. As the department grew, several hand-drawn engine companies were added.
But bucket brigades were very labor intensive and very ineffective. Hawaiʻi later used the rubber lined, cotton covered hoses. But the hoses cotton could rot, so they needed to be dried to prevent mold. As they built new fire houses, a drying tower was added to the main fire house, so the hoses could be hung up to dry.