The Houston Fire Museum Showcases History in a Unique Way

Updated on March 9, 2020
Peggy W profile image

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 | Source

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Outside view of the Houston Fire MuseumAnother photo of the exteriorHistorical medallion on building
Outside view of the Houston Fire Museum
Outside view of the Houston Fire Museum | Source
Another photo of the exterior
Another photo of the exterior | Source
Historical medallion on building
Historical medallion on building | Source

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Photo in the Fire Museum of Houston Written material inside the Fire Museum of Houston Many old photos in this museum Much to read and learn 19th century hand-powered pump Back view of a hand-powered pumper Side view of 19th-century hand-powered pumperDetail on the 1895 Ahrens Fox horse-drawn steamer Fire Museum of Houston artifact
Photo in the Fire Museum of Houston
Photo in the Fire Museum of Houston | Source
Written material inside the Fire Museum of Houston
Written material inside the Fire Museum of Houston | Source
Many old photos in this museum
Many old photos in this museum | Source
Much to read and learn
Much to read and learn | Source
19th century hand-powered pump
19th century hand-powered pump | Source
Back view of a hand-powered pumper
Back view of a hand-powered pumper | Source
Side view of 19th-century hand-powered pumper
Side view of 19th-century hand-powered pumper | Source
Detail on the 1895 Ahrens Fox horse-drawn steamer
Detail on the 1895 Ahrens Fox horse-drawn steamer | Source
Fire Museum of Houston artifact
Fire Museum of Houston artifact | Source

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Information about the first paid fire department employeesA bed inside of the museum Fire Museum of Houston desk exhibit Inside of the Houston Fire MuseumInside of the Houston Fire MuseumInside of the Houston Fire MuseumInside of the Houston Fire MuseumInside of the Houston Fire MuseumOld fireman's hat
Information about the first paid fire department employees
Information about the first paid fire department employees | Source
A bed inside of the museum
A bed inside of the museum | Source
Fire Museum of Houston desk exhibit
Fire Museum of Houston desk exhibit | Source
Inside of the Houston Fire Museum
Inside of the Houston Fire Museum | Source
Inside of the Houston Fire Museum
Inside of the Houston Fire Museum | Source
Inside of the Houston Fire Museum
Inside of the Houston Fire Museum | Source
Inside of the Houston Fire Museum
Inside of the Houston Fire Museum | Source
Inside of the Houston Fire Museum
Inside of the Houston Fire Museum | Source
Old fireman's hat
Old fireman's hat | Source

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Lockers The Fire Museum of Houston showers Sinks Upstairs display room The Fire Museum of Houston upstairs display room Old fire extinguishers Antique fire extinguishers Honoring firefighters who died in the line of duty
Lockers
Lockers | Source
The Fire Museum of Houston showers
The Fire Museum of Houston showers | Source
Sinks
Sinks | Source
Upstairs display room
Upstairs display room | Source
The Fire Museum of Houston upstairs display room
The Fire Museum of Houston upstairs display room | Source
Old fire extinguishers
Old fire extinguishers | Source
Antique fire extinguishers
Antique fire extinguishers | Source
Honoring firefighters who died in the line of duty
Honoring firefighters who died in the line of duty | Source

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?

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Fire Museum of Houston Kids’ Room Kids’ Room Dressing up as a firefighter Playtime at the museum Sliding down a fire pole
The Fire Museum of Houston Kids’ Room
The Fire Museum of Houston Kids’ Room | Source
Kids’ Room
Kids’ Room | Source
Dressing up as a firefighter
Dressing up as a firefighter | Source
Playtime at the museum
Playtime at the museum | Source
Sliding down a fire pole
Sliding down a fire pole | Source

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.

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Museum gift shop Museum gift shop Museum gift shop
Museum gift shop
Museum gift shop | Source
Museum gift shop
Museum gift shop | Source
Museum gift shop
Museum gift shop | Source

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
1937 Chevrolet Pumper at The Fire Museum of HoustonAnother view of the 1937 Chevrolet Pumper Part of steel beam from World Trade Center at The Fire Museum of Houston On display at The Fire Museum of Houston Old fire alarm Stained glass windows in the museum Firemen patches
1937 Chevrolet Pumper at The Fire Museum of Houston
1937 Chevrolet Pumper at The Fire Museum of Houston | Source
Another view of the 1937 Chevrolet Pumper
Another view of the 1937 Chevrolet Pumper | Source
Part of steel beam from World Trade Center at The Fire Museum of Houston
Part of steel beam from World Trade Center at The Fire Museum of Houston | Source
On display at The Fire Museum of Houston
On display at The Fire Museum of Houston | Source
Old fire alarm
Old fire alarm | Source
Stained glass windows in the museum
Stained glass windows in the museum | Source
Firemen patches
Firemen patches | Source

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!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Fire Museum of Houston display Old Historic Photo
The Fire Museum of Houston display
The Fire Museum of Houston display | Source
Old Historic Photo
Old Historic Photo | Source

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

Have you ever visited a fire museum?

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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

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    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      4 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Donna,

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

    • Donna-Rayne profile image

      Donna Rayne 

      4 months ago from Greenwood, In

      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 W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      4 months ago from Houston, Texas

      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 profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      4 months ago from USA

      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 W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      4 months ago from Houston, Texas

      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 profile image

      manatita44 

      4 months ago from london

      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 W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      4 months ago from Houston, Texas

      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 W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      4 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Pamela,

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

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      4 months ago from Houston, Texas

      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 W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      4 months ago from Houston, Texas

      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 W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      4 months ago from Houston, Texas

      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.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      4 months ago from Southern Illinois

      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.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      4 months ago from Sunny Florida

      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 profile image

      manatita44 

      4 months ago from london

      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.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      4 months ago from Massachusetts

      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.

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 

      4 months ago from Norfolk, England

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

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