I have a tremendous amount of respect for firefighters, but it is a job I could never do. The very idea of being in a fire terrifies me. Maybe this is just a natural human reaction, or maybe it’s because I had a cousin who was horribly burned when she was a child. For whatever reason, firefighting is one job I never considered, and never would. But I do appreciate the brave men and women who do it.
Yesterday we toured the Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting in Phoenix, and to say we were impressed would be a gross understatement. Located near the Phoenix Zoo and Phoenix Municipal Stadium, the museum displays over 130 restored wheeled pieces of firefighting equipment dating from 1725 to 1969.
We saw everything from hand pulled pumpers that required as many as 50 firemen to work the wooden handles that pumped water onto fires, to elaborately decorated “parade” carriages that were used both to fight fires and to promote the fire department at community events, such as this 1904 Metropolitan steam powered fire engine that saw service in Reno, Nevada. Every item on display is in immaculate condition.
Motorized fire engines in the museum’s collection include this nice 1924 American La France unit used in San Bernardino, California, a 1950 Autocar that served the community of Ardmore, Pennsylvania for years, and dozens of other impressive pumpers and ladder trucks.
Besides heavy equipment, the museum has an impressive display of thousands of items, including firefighter’s helmets and other artifacts, communication equipment from over the years, and hundreds of uniform shoulder patches from fire departments around the world.
The museum includes the National Firefighters Hall of Heroes, which honors American firefighters who have received a national award for heroism, and recognizes American firefighters who have died in the line of duty.
One touching display here is the 9/11 Memorial Pony that Santa Fe, New Mexico artist Rod Barker created to honor the firefighters and policemen who died in the collapse of the World Trade Center. The sculpture is a saddled riderless horse with a pair of boots turned backwards in the stirrups to signify those who lost their lives.
We spent the entire afternoon at the museum, enthralled by all of the displays. The exhibit area covers 35,000 square feet, divided into six galleries. There is also a research library with over 6,000 items. The museum has a small gift shop, with firefighting souvenirs available for sale, and the friendly staff is happy to answer any questions you may have.
This is one of the thousands of lesser known attractions to be found from coast to coast that get overlooked every day by people as they head off to bigger, crowded places that get all the publicity. Terry’s family lives in the Phoenix area, and we’ve been in and out of the Valley of the Sun more times than I can count, but we never knew about this museum until recently. It was well worth the visit. You can learn more about the Hall of Flame by visiting their website at www.hallofflame.org.
Thought For The Day – It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not deserve them.