No organized fire protection system existed in Honolulu until November 6, 1850, when the city's first volunteer fire brigade was formed. Reportedly, King Kamehameha III took an immense interest in the department. When the alarm went off, the reigning monarch shed his coat, rolled up his sleeves and helped right alongside the other volunteers.
Within ten years, the city had four engine companies, including No. 4, which was composed exclusively of Hawaiians. Kings Kamehameha III, Kamehameha IV, Kamehameha V and Kalākaua were all active members of Company No. 4, with Kamehameha V, as Prince Lot, playing an instrumental role in its foundation and Kalākaua served as the company's secretary.