The San Antonio Fire Museum, located in downtown San Antonio, Texas, was originally proposed in 1997 by a group of San Antonio fire fighters. This group aimed to create a museum that would preserve the rich history of the San Antonio Fire Department, as well as enhance local fire prevention education. However, lack of a site, as well as constant budgetary cutbacks put the project on hold for nearly 16 years! Construction and inspection was finally completed in May of 2013.
After many years of hard work, the museum is now open and ready for business. Members of the museum committee and many other volunteers have gathered a number of historic apparatus and other fire fighting related items. They have even managed to restore the beautiful 1927 American LaFrance Fire Engine to its original state.
The fire education portion of the museum is on track as well. Many educational displays are already available for children, as well as adults. Also, in conjunction with the Fire Prevention Division of the San Antonio Fire Department, the museum will host a variety of educational programs for students, businesses, and the public at large. These programs will cover diverse topics that should be useful for anyone attending.
The San Antonio Fire Museum is set to quickly become a prominent site in the Texas city. If you’re nearby, you’re definitely going to want to visit!
Photo credit: The San Antonio Fire Museum Facebook page.
The lights, the sirens and the cascade of water are all attributes of the modern day fire truck. For both kids and grown ups, the fuss created by a fire truck in action is thrilling beyond belief. The evolution of the fire truck dates back to the 1700s, when the British built pumps to put out fires in Europe as well as the U.S. While today’s modern fire truck appears quite different from its predecessors, many of the features have been around for hundreds of years.
The first hand-pumped fire engine was developed in Philadelphia in the late 18th and early 19th century. This particular style of engine was pulled by hand to a fire. Pump handles, or “brakes,” and standing boards folded up to maneuver through crowded streets. With these extended, twenty or more firefighters could operate the pumps, with several teams working in short shifts. An engine of this size could throw over 100 gallons a minute on a blaze from a distance of 150 feet or more. Firefighters directed streams either from a long nozzle fixed on top or through leather hoses attached to discharges at the sides. The key difference for this engine as opposed to earlier engines was that it was equipped with suction to draw directly from municipal hydrants and cisterns in lieu of being filled with water by buckets.
A hand-pumped fire engine built by Betts, Harlan & Hollingsworth in 1842 is currently on display at The National Museum of American History. Located adjacent to the Conestoga Wagon on the first floor center area, the display is a representation of the courage and civil service provided throughout history by firefighters across the country.
Photo credit: National Museum of American History Blog