The Jacksonville Fire Museum in Jacksonville, Florida serves as a link for past and present fire history for Jacksonville. The museum also serves as the State of Florida Fire Museum.
Exhibits include photos and information about the Great Fire of 1901, a fully restored 1902 American LaFrance horse-drawn fire engine (pictured) and a working 1926 American LaFrance fire engine.
The museum was destroyed during the Great Fire of 1901 in Jacksonville on May 3, 1901. In 1973, Fire Station No. 3 was placed on the National Registry of Historical Monuments. The building was declared unstable in 1993 and a restoration project began. Today, Fire Station No. 3 sits in the Jacksonville Metropolitan Park.
Heading to the Sunshine State this spring or summer? Click here and plan your visit to this storied fire museum.
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Photo credit: Jacksonville Fire Museum
One of the oldest fire museums in the country, the Houston Fire Museum is partially housed in the former Houston Fire Station No. 7. The downtown building was originally built in 1895, and served as the first home of the Houston Fire Department. The station remained active for over 70 years, until a new station was built in 1969. Years later, in 1980, the city began to renovate the building for use as a museum. As the museum expanded, an additional building was added to hold the various exhibits; however, the original building still remains a part of the facilities, today having been remodeled to look as it did in 1895 when it was first in use.
Today, the Fire Museum serves to house Houston’s rich fire fighting history, including the roots of the ten original fire companies, some of which still operate today. Some of the largest exhibits include a set of 19th century apparatus (complete with horse-drawn steamer), an interactive display detailing the 1950’s era firefighter, and a rotating collection of 20th century fire service artifacts. Guided tours through the city’s history are also available with prior scheduling.
*New* special exhibit for 2014, “Fire Houses of Houston”, will feature a short history of each fire station from the Greater Houston Metropolitan area. Each station will rotate throughout the year with a new station highlighted every other month.
Keep up with the growing Houston Fire Museum on their website and be sure to stop by if you find yourself nearby!
Photo credit: Houston Fire Museum Facebook Page
The Fire Museum of Memphis, located in downtown Memphis, TN, is dedicated to preserving the local fire fighting history and promoting fire safety. Established in 1998, the museum is housed inside the historic Fire Engine House No. 1.
Visitors to the museum can expect a truly unique experience. The many exhibits all tell the story of Memphis’ expansive fire fighting history… by allowing the viewers to experience a fire emergency as close to first hand as possible without joining the department! Visitors can explore an early 20th century firehouse, ride a snorkel basket and attempt to extinguish a virtual fire, and even step inside the Fire Room and see what it feels like to be inside a burning building. Other exhibits include a number of restored early apparatus, as well as several memorials to fallen fire fighters.
In addition to their large number of exhibits, the museum also holds fire safety workshops, aimed at teaching children how to prevent fire emergencies.
If you are stopping through Memphis you should definitely make a point to tour their fantastic fire museum. However, if you can’t make it right away, the museum offers several “virtual tours” so that you can explore a few of the exhibits right from your desk.
Photo credit: Ol’ Billy from The Fire Museum of Memphis.
“Ol’ Billy – A life-sized animatronic talking horse and the Fire Museum’s official greeter. By listening to Ol’ Billy and watching the accompanying video, children learn about the history of the Memphis Fire Department during the era of the horse drawn fire apparatus.”
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.
To commemorate the events of September 11, 2001, countless memorials and parks have been constructed. The most notable of these is, of course, the beautiful 9/11 Memorial Park at Ground Zero in New York City. The beautifully designed grounds features artifacts, stories, and photos from the aftermath of the events. The memorial itself honors the nearly 3,000 people that lost their lives on September 11th; each person’s name is inscribed in bronze around one of the twin memorial pools.
Also in the memorial park is the famous “Survivor Tree”. This tree was found on Ground Zero during the aftermath of the attacks and transported to a nearby nursery. In December 2010 after reaching a height of over 30 feet the tree was returned to the memorial park to become a symbol of hope and renewal.
Another such memorial is in downtown Hilliard, Ohio. The First Responders Park is the largest of its kind besides the aforementioned one on Ground Zero. The theme of the park is “We Will Never Forget” and features a stainless steel sculpture that combines elements of light and shadow to cast images depicting the 9/11 attacks.
In addition to these large memorials many U.S. cities, and even cities around the world have established 9/11 memorials of their own, many including pieces of steel that were distributed from the rubble of the World Trade Center.
The Breckenridge Red White and Blue Fire Museum is located in Breckenridge, Colorado, right next to the city’s Fire Department. The museum serves to honor the city’s long standing Fire Department, and houses the town’s antique fire apparatus and artifacts.
The Red White and Blue Fire Department was created in the late 1800s as a response to the constant threats of major fire that a growing city such as Breckenridge faced. The department, and the museum get their name from the original three companies that made up the department – the Red, the White, and the Blue.
Today, anyone can visit the Red, White and Blue Fire Museum and see a variety of displays from an original human-powered ladder cart, a restored horse card, and firefighting equipment and uniforms that were used by the original three companies. Visitors are also able to receive a tour of the museum by visiting the beautiful Red, White and Blue Fire Station.
Photo credit: Breckenridge.com
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
The New York City Fire Museum opened in Long Island City in 1934. In 1959 the collection was moved to the Manhattan. Later it was relocated to its current location on Spring Street. To learn more about the history of the Museum and the New York City FD visit: http://www.nycfiremuseum.org/history.cfm
Fun Facts about the Museum:
- The museum has two floors of exhibit space. The first features equipment, gear and apparatus, and a September 11th Memorial. The second floor features volunteer memorabilia and paintings.
- The Museum has one of the largest collections of fire-related artifacts and artwork in the world.
- The Museum is a private, not-for-profit institution. It operates in a firehouse owned by the FDNY.
- Firefighting on Parade
- Romance of Firefighting
- Fire Apparatus
- Tools and Uniforms
- 9/11 Memorial
Stay current with NYCFM by liking their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/nycfiremuseum.
Photo credit: NYCFM Facebook page.
The Boston Fire Museum is located at 34 Congress Street in Boston, Massachusetts in an old firehouse. The Museum not only educates and informs the general public about fire safety but it preserves firefighting memorabilia and supports the fire service.
The Museum is owned and operated by the Boston Sparks Association, a fire buff club of people interested in the fire service. The operation is completely run by volunteers that are dedicated to informing people about the history of fire fighting and one of the oldest fire departments in the country.
There are many exhibits in the museum including antique fire apparatus, fire alarm displays and artifacts, photo displays, and fire fighting equipment in an architecturally significant building. The firehouse was built in 1891 without any columns or poles on the main apparatus floor. This is because the second floor is held up from above. Originally there were 6 stalls for the horses that would pull the apparatus. The building received “Landmark” status in 1987 and was included in the National register of Historic Places. Click here to see some images from the building and its exhibits. http://www.bostonfiremuseum.com/exhibits_interior_exterior.htm
Follow the Boston Fire Museum on Facebook.
Photo Credit: Boston Fire Museum Website
The unique firefighting history of Cincinnati can be experienced at the Fire Museum of Greater Cincinnati. The museum highlights the significant contributions the city has made to the firefighting profession. Their mission is to share and celebrate the history while also providing an interesting fire-safety education experience.
The country’s first paid, professional fire department was created by law in Cincinnati in the year 1853. Its organizational plan became a model for cities across the country.
In 1906, the building that now houses the Fire Museum of Greater Cincinnati was home to the Engine Company #45 Fire House. Because of this, the Fire Museum of Greater Cincinnati is now included in the National Register of Historic Places.
The most important exhibit is the Safe House, which allows visitors to experience the true danger of a fire in your home. This hands-on exhibit teaches you the importance of creating an escape plan with your family and provides advice to help you safely escape your home.
Keep up with the Fire Museum of Great Cincinnati on their Facebook page.
Photo credit: The image was shared from the museum’s Facebook page.
The mission of the Michigan Firehouse Museum is “to enhance the appreciation for firefighting history through engaging and informative exhibits, as well as teaching and promoting fire safety and prevention.” The museum is housed in a restored firehouse, where visitors can view 25 changing exhibits, including antique fire trucks, tools, equipment and the largest collection of antique fire truck bells in the country. The museum is part of the Motor Cities National Heritage Area.
The focus of the museum is the history of firefighting in the State of Michigan and the technology that has been developed over the years. You can learn more about the museum on their website, Facebook page or this video they have created on YouTube.
Now one of the top three firehouse museums in the United States, the Firefighters Museum in Denver, Colorado is home to many exhibits and activities dedicated to the history of the city’s fire department. The collection includes fire apparatus, uniforms, trophies, and fire suppression materials dating back 150 years, along with manuscripts, photos and artwork from local and national artists.
The galleries are split into various themed areas including Communicating Fire, Personal Protective Tools and Equipment, Suppression, and Apparatus. There are also hands-on activities for everyone to interact with and enjoy. There is even a whole section dedicated to children and teaching them the importance of fire prevention.
Not only is the museum full of art and history, it is also a historic firehouse itself. The building was built in 1909 and was the original Firehouse Number 1.
Photo Credit: Denver Firefighters Museum Facebook page.
The Legacy of Heroes: The North Charleston and American LaFrance Fire Museum and Educational Center in Charleston give visitors a snapshot of the changes and advancements that have taken place in fire fighting over the years. The various tours and exhibits also show what it has been like to live as a firefighter over the past 200 years. Interactive displays and equipment fill the museum allowing children and other visitors to get a hands-on experience of the vehicles and antique equipment, which date back to the 1700’s.
The Museum houses the largest collection of professionally restored American LaFrance fire apparatus in the country. The facility has been open since 2007 and currently holds 18 fire trucks and one-of-a-kind firefighting artifacts. The museum is also complete with a theater, play areas and fire truck simulator.
The North Charleston and American LaFrance Fire Museum and Education Center is a great experience for people of all ages including school groups and families. Their goal is to preserve the history and evolution of the fire service while educating people on the importance of fire and life safety.
Website – http://www.legacyofheroes.org/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/NCFireMuseum
The San Francisco Fire Department Museum is sponsored and run by the San Francisco Fire Department Historical Society also known as SFFDHS. The mission of the Museum is to preserve the heritage and history of the Fire Department.
When visiting the museum you can view documents, graphic items, fire memorabilia, apparatus, and appliances used by the San Francisco Fire Department. There is even a penny that was melted during the 1906 Earthquake and the bell that was rung to announce the danger of fire prior to the earthquake, when it was cracked. There are several beautifully restored horse drawn fire trucks, hand pumps, and all sorts of older helmets, boots and patches.
The SFFDHS muster team continues to represent the SFFD at community events and parades. The team has won many awards for their performance and for preserving the physical techniques of firefighting used in the past, creating a museum of living history.
Although the museum may be small and unknown it is a wonderful museum that tells the story of the Fire Department and the city.
There are also many vintage Firehouses throughout the city of San Francisco. Take a look at each one along with a short history of each here. (http://guardiansofthecity.org/sffd/firehouses/vintage/index.html)
For more information on the San Francisco Fire Department Museum visit their website (http://guardiansofthecity.org/sffd/index.html) or visit the Museum in San Francisco. Admission is free.
Featuring more than 300 years of firefighting history
Museums that chronicle the history of firefighting are located in small towns and urban centers around the country. No doubt each one has something unique to offer. We scoured the Fire Museum Network and chose one museum to feature in this post—the FASNY (Firemen’s Association of the State of New York) Museum of Firefighting, which contains some of the world’s top collections of firefighting apparatus, equipment, gear and memorabilia. This museum totals more than 50,000 square feet, so the best way to experience it is by going there yourself. Still, we uncovered a few gems located in the museum. Here’s what we found.
- A 20-foot-long brass sliding pole from the City of Auburn Fire Department in Auburn, New York.
- A bucket carriage used by the Continental Bucket Co. No. 1 of Jamaica, Long Island, New York.
- Speaking trumpets used as early as 1752 by fire chiefs and officers to shout orders to their men.
- Fire axes, ranging in size and style from a small hatchet to a large battle axe.
- A Browder Life Saving Machine, measuring 9 to 9 ½ feet in diameter and once used to catch individuals who escaped a fire by jumping from a high-story window.
- A leather firefighter mask manufactured in London in 1878. The mask is attached to a hose, which is attached to a foot bellows. A second firefighter provided air to the firefighter wearing the mask by operating the foot bellows. The firefighters communicated via signals: 1 tug meant more air; 2 tugs, less air; 3 tugs, help me out.
For more information about the museum, visit www.fasnyfiremuseum.com.
There are more than 200 fire museums in the U.S. and Canada.
Firefighting has a rich historical background that is documented in the numerous firefighting museums located throughout this country and Canada. Years ago, the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) recognized the need to link these institutions, which vary greatly in their makeup, primarily as a method for exchanging ideas. In 1989, the IAFC sponsored a fire museum seminar which took place during the Fire-Rescue International Conference. Representatives from nine fire museums attended, and they decided to make the seminar an annual event. Still, many of the museums wanted even more interaction, something they could rely on throughout the year. They formed a committee to research the possibility of developing an organization of fire museums, and in 1995, the Fire Museum Network was established.
Today the Fire Museum Network is a non-profit organization that allows for networking among the various fire museums, while also promoting the interests of collecting, preserving and interpreting the artifacts, history and traditions of the fire service. It is run by a volunteer board of directors. In addition to the annual Fire Museum Seminar, the organization maintains a comprehensive Web site with a directory of fire museums that belong to the network. This information can be accessed at www.firemuseumnetwork.org.