The history of firefighting in an old firehouse
Nestled in the narrow streets of Philadelphia’s historic district, Fireman’s Hall is dedicated to the art and science of firefighting through the last three centuries. Displays of firefighting equipment illustrate how firemen control blazes; mock-ups of recreation areas, dressing rooms and a chief’s room show how firefighters have passed the hours between fighting blazes.
You can see all sorts of badges, helmets, parade hats, and fire marks, which people affixed to their homes to indicate which insurance company was protecting them. The centerpieces are surely the 10 antique fire trucks scattered throughout the museum, including early hand- and horse-drawn engines. The firefighter-docents keep these machines spotless and shiny, creating an almost romantic view of the dangerous world of firefighting.
Fireman’s Hall is located on the site of Engine Company Number Eight, a descendant of the Union Fire Company, which was founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1736. The museum is operated by the Philadelphia Fire Department, whose members serve as docents and offer warm hospitality and enthusiastic explanations of the memorabilia housed there.
Open Tue – Sat
See the exhibit on Philadelphia’s own “Great Fire,” when 52 buildings were destroyed on Oct. 4-5, 1839.
Great Kids’ stuff
Don’t miss the upstairs gallery, with an old wooden pumper, a chief’s office and the firefighters’ rec room with an old-fashioned checkerboard.
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