Founded the world's first municipal fire service in Edinburgh in 1824 and was the first director of the London Fire Engine Establishment. He is credited with the development of the modern municipal fire service. He was educated at the Royal High School. He learned about the construction of buildings after joining his father's building firm as an apprentice. Appointed Master of Fire Engines at the age of twenty-four, just two months prior to the Great Fire of Edinburgh, Braidwood established principles of fire-fighting that are still applied today. His training as a surveyor gave him exceptional knowledge of the behaviour of building materials and housing conditions in the Old Town of Edinburgh. He recruited to the service expert tradesmen – slaters, carpenters, masons and plumbers – who could apply their various fields of expertise to firefighting. He also recruited experienced mariners for an occupation that required heavy manual work in hauling engines and trundling wheeled escape ladders up and down Edinburgh's steep streets, as well as nimble footwork when negotiating rooftops and moving through partially destroyed buildings. His many original ideas of practical organisation and methodology, published in 1830, were adopted throughout Britain. He was, however, resistant to the introduction of steam-driven engines. In 1833 he left Edinburgh to lead the London Fire Engine Establishment. The London Fire Engine Establishment had to fight a blaze at the Palace of Westminster, on 16 October 1834, that destroyed almost all of the Palace. On 22 June 1861 he died in the Tooley Street fire at Cotton's Wharf near London Bridge station when a falling wall crushed him. It took two days to recover his body and his heroism led to a massive funeral on 29 June where his funeral cortege stretched one and a half miles behind the hearse.