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The Houston Fire Museum Showcases History in a Unique Way

I live in Houston, and I have worked as a nurse. My interests include art, traveling, reading, gardening, cooking, and our wonderful pets.

1895 Ahrens Fox Horse-Drawn Steamer at Fire Museum of Houston

1895 Ahrens Fox Horse-Drawn Steamer at Fire Museum of Houston

Houston Fire Museum

The Houston Fire Museum is in the Midtown area of Houston. This historic building dates back to 1898. The oldest firehouse in Houston, it was designed by Olle J. Lorehn. It opened for business as a fire station in 1899 and today has an official historical medallion on the exterior of the building.

Fire Station #7 was the name assigned to the building. Visitors to this museum can learn about the history of firefighting in the early days of Houston. There are many old photos along with printed information on the walls relating to those times.

Early Days in Houston

The following text was found on a plaque at the museum:

The first settlers came to the Houston area in 1822 and founded a small community called Frosttown. The site of the town was near the present-day intersection of McKee and Race Streets. In 1836, with the war for independence in Texas over and a new republic born, two brothers Augustus and John Allen, began surveying and platting the future site of the city of Houston. Within a year, General Sam Houston, the first president of the Republic of Texas, signed an act authorizing Houston to incorporate and named Houston the new capital of the Republic.

A person can learn much history by taking the time to read, look at the photos, and watch a video showing those rapid fire fighting efforts. Times evolved from all of the firefighters being volunteers to the first paid staff who called this building home.

Evolution in firefighting techniques also changed dramatically with the times. From lines of men passing buckets of water to the first hand-drawn pumper…that was an improvement. But it was still exhausting work for the men.

When horse-drawn steam engines first came into existence, that was state of the art at the time! Fire Station #7 opened during this period.

Rules for Paid Firefighters

Those first paid firemen certainly did not have cushy jobs! According to posted information, the regulations of employment were stringent.

Firefighters were required to work 15 days in a row, followed by 24 hours off duty. The firefighters were allowed an hour off, three times a day for meals. Firefighters were entitled to 3 days off each month but still had to report to first alarms downtown and second alarms elsewhere. There were no vacations.

Every night they rotated the duty of an outside fire watch in two-hour shifts. Drinking on duty was punishable by firing.

A fireman caught absent from his work post received a warning the first time and was terminated the second time.

Second Floor of the Museum

Upstairs in one room of the Houston Fire Museum are lockers as well as sinks and showers. Inside each cabinet are artifacts, including uniforms, magazines, and other items. It portrays a timeline from 1890 to 1980.

In the other upstairs room are various artifacts, including old firefighting equipment.

Signs accompanying the artifacts are informative. Do you know who invented various types of fire extinguishers? You can learn that and more by visiting this Houston museum. Poignant is the display of those firefighters who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

Kid’s Room Inside the Houston Fire Museum

Children can have tons of fun here, as there is a room created especially for them! The day my husband and I were touring the museum, two darling kids were playing there. According to their nanny, it was one of their favorite places! I was permitted to photograph the children playing. The little girl had the brightest smile as she slid down the child-sized fire pole. I am only showing her from the back.

This room is an excellent venue for children’s parties. Contact the museum to make reservations. At the current time, the cost to reserve the entire Junior Firefighter play area is $275 for 1 1/2 hours. Up to 35 guests can have fun in this space, and this price includes admission to the museum.

What a memorable birthday party this would be for children! Where else can they dress up just like a firefighter and slide down a fire pole pretending to save people from the flickering flames of fire?

Gift Shop in the Houston Fire Museum

The gift shop has many appropriate toys as well as t-shirts and other items to tie the entire event together if giving presents to those attending.

Many Displays

In front of the kid’s playroom is a 1937 Chevrolet pumper on display.

There are numerous photos and other displays of a smaller nature. One of them relates to 9/11 and is a portion of a steel beam from the World Trade Center. Many firefighters lost their lives on that day of infamy when rushing to the scene to rescue people. The helmet by the beam has signatures by survivors of the New York Fire Dept. Station #54, along with the former mayor’s name.

There are two books with multiple pages showing different firemen patches from around the country as well as the world. Firefighters like to trade such items with one another.

Renovation Plans Complete!

We first visited this historical museum several years ago before the renovation, which added some much-needed air-conditioning. The kids' room was nicely air-conditioned, but much of the old structure only had fans and an occasional window unit.

Plans at that time included a much larger facility in which to showcase even more items while still maintaining this historic structure. Time for another visit!

Non-Profit Venue

This gem of a museum operates as a non-profit entity established in 1980. The building was fully operational as a fire station until its closure in 1969. In addition to being a very educational and fun place for kids to play, it serves as a unique venue for all types of gatherings.

The garage doors can open, and spaces cleared to accommodate tables and chairs. They have even had the street blocked off in front of the museum for one event we were told.

My husband and I truly enjoyed our introduction to the Houston Fire Museum and would heartily recommend visiting it to others. The video below shows it in some detail.

Hours are from 10 AM to 4 PM Tuesdays to Saturdays. The location is 2403 Milam St., Houston, Texas 77006.

When a man becomes a fireman his greatest act of bravery has been accomplished. What he does after that is all in the line of work.

— Edward F. Croker

Sources

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Peggy Woods

Comments

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 10, 2020:

Hi Donna,

I am pleased that you found this informative. Thanks for your comment.

Donna Rayne from Greenwood, In on March 10, 2020:

Peggy, this was an interesting article with a lot of information. Thank you for sharing all those pictures and I enjoyed your article very much!

Have a lovely day,

Donna Rayne

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 10, 2020:

Hi FlourishAnyway,

It sounds like your daughter had extra fun as a toddler being able to climb on a working fire engine. She and your nephews would probably have loved visiting a fire museum such as this one in Houston when they were kids. It is interesting, even for adults!

FlourishAnyway from USA on March 10, 2020:

I bet this is a huge hit with the little kids. When my nephews were little they had full fireman costumes from helmets to boots. I like the history you offer including that gorgeous old fire engine. I used to take my daughter to climb on a fire engine on occasion when she was a toddler; I had a friend who was a firefighter and they humored her and let her climb all over (safely).

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 08, 2020:

Hi Manatita,

It would seem that you have found your place in life and it is exactly where it was meant to be. Bless you!

manatita44 from london on March 08, 2020:

Well Peggy,

I followed a Path mapped out by the Divine. I missed the scholarship at 9 years old and again at 11, I was very bright but my mom had a few children to feed and the teachers did not push me. I never went to high school.

I left primary at 15 and worked as a clerk for a year or so, then on a building site then joined the police force. I did correspondence courses while a policeman and sat a couple or so of GCE's.

I travelled to London at 21 and started nursing. The few chemistry and physics words were easy to pick up. I never did this at school. Not even Maths but just arithmetic. That is why I'm so much faster at working out drugs as I grew up without calculators.

Anyway, I suppose I'm trying to tell you, that had I followed the norm, I might have been a Professor somewhere and not hear the call of God. Karma is always merciful or is it Grace? Same difference.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 08, 2020:

Hi Ruby,

Firefighting is dangerous work, and they deserve a good salary and recognition for what they do. Many of them outside the City of Houston are volunteer firefighters. That is even more amazing! I am glad you liked the look at this Houston Fire Museum.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 08, 2020:

Hi Pamela,

The rules for those early firefighters were stringent. I am pleased that you found this post about the museum informative.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 08, 2020:

Hi Manatita,

Just wait! There is much more to show off about things of interest in our area. One could probably spend a lifetime here and not see it all!

You have lead a busy life! I knew you were a nurse, but not also a policeman.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 08, 2020:

Hi Bill,

It is a great venue for kid's parties. You may not have something like this in your area, but I am sure you probably have other good venues for kid's parties.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 08, 2020:

Hi Louise,

It would make for a long trip for you to visit the Houston Fire Museum. At least you know a bit about it now.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on March 08, 2020:

The history of the firefighters in Houston is interesting. I have never thought a firefighter received enough recognition, or probably enough pay for what they do. The fire museum is really nice. You have much to be proud of in Houston.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 08, 2020:

This museum has a lot of history about the firefighters. I can't imagine working 15 days in a row. It seems like firefighters are such good guys. This museum looks so interesting and the kids room makes it a family event. I like all your pictures. I think this would be a good place to visi.

manatita44 from london on March 08, 2020:

I like the idea of a fire Museum. Never heard of one but makes sense and room for kids too. I also like the idea of a gift shop.

We are taught how to fight fires in nursing. It's mandatory and also in police training, which I did in the Caribbean. 15 days is a lot and can tell on the health in later life. I suppose most retire early. Things and shifts - as in nursing - have changed though.

How are you managing to come up with so much in one place, I mean, at least Mary used to travel around.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on March 08, 2020:

What a fascinating place. And what a great place to hold a kids birthday party. I don’t think we have anything like this here in western Mass. Too bad, my grandkids would love it. Enjoyed the tour.

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on March 08, 2020:

This looks really interesting. I'd love to visit here.