What are the odds this scene is real? Not very good, I'd say. The photo is from 1923. I found it in a book by Mark Sloan titled Hoaxes, Humbugs, and Spectacles
. Despite that title, most of the photos in the book are not fake. The majority show circus performers and publicity stunts. Sloan titled this photo "High-Pressure Hijinks." He provides a short caption:
Perhaps this soldier needed a lift. Experimenting with water pressure outside his barracks, he discovered an ingenious alternative to mounted patrol.
(The New York Times; courtesy National Archives and Wide World Photos)
Pressure from a fire hose would
be enough to lift a man straight up. Check out this youtube video
of a car being lifted by water pressure. But I doubt a man would be strong enough to keep the hose pointed downward. The tendency would be for the hose to kick him straight back. I'm guessing the photo is a composite -- the soldier having been cut-and-pasted onto the background shot.