Originally published 24 August 2008
While first learning which stops on the 16th Street Mall bus line let me off close to my destination, I found myself serendipitously on the wrong corner. There on the signpost above my head was an arrow pointing to “Denver Fire Department Museum.” Not needing to be any particular place at any particular time, I headed off to find it.
We’re seriously spoiled by our computers and the like. The first two pics in the slideshow below are the older communications gear. According to the sign in front of this display, the first communications system used by the Denver Fire Department was word of mouth. Someone yelled fire, and every able-bodied person would grab a bucket and join in the line to put out the fire. Maybe a hundred years from now, people will look back at our methods and shake their heads at our bravery. I don’t know about you, but standing nose to flames with a fire, armed only with a bucket? And even now, only with a hose spouting water. These guys are nuts, and I’m glad of it.
The second two pics show the fire alarm control panel in use from its invention in the early 1960s thru 1990, when it was replaced by computer aided dispatch. The left side had tape units that recorded conversations, allowing the operator to replay the information if needed. The right side, which doesn’t show in these pictures, was the Register transmitter that identified which alarm was sounding, and the Gong Shunt Control, sending the alarm only to those fire stations that needed to respond.
Some of the wonderful old equipment on display. An 1867 Gleason and Bailey Hand Drawn Pumper, purchased on October 1, 1867, and was only in operation for five years. Hand drawn Pumpers were pulled by twelve to fifteen volunteer firefighters to the fire, who then pumped the water from the source out to the guys at the end of the hose. According to the notes, the Steam Fire Engine with dog is from the New York Fire Museum. Denver had its collection of steamers, and when they were retired, they were sold to greenhouses and cemeteries as irrigation pumps. Following those are a collection of pics of horses, pumpers, dogs, and a hook-and-ladder truck. If you want to read the signs, double-click on the gallery. It will enlarge into a lightbox.
An intrepid young fireman…
Followed by more equipment. A truck with a “horseless carriage” license, and various pics of the truck. The pic of the sign came out blurry, so I don’t know the name of the truck. Those are followed by a “toy” truck, called so because of all the “toys” it carries for the firemen. When I did my CERT refresher, I got to see the latest version. It’s an awesome piece of equipment. The last truck is a 1953 Seagrave Engine. That’s followed by a couple of pictures of the lockers upstairs the firemen used. The pics I took of the inside locker display didn’t come out so well. They had glass doors, and the best image in the picture is of me and the camera.
And some reminders that the job is not an easy one.