344 Congress Street - Boston, MA  02210


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Exhibits

ANTIQUE FIRE APPARATUS

     The Museum is proud to display the following pieces of fire apparatus, all owned by the City of Boston:

FIRE ALARM DISPLAYS AND ARTIFACTS

     The effective operation of a Fire Alarm system plays an important role in the fire service. The first Fire Alarm Telegraph system in the world was located in Boston, with the first alarm transmitted on April 29,1852. Among the Fire Alarm displays we have are:

  • Two early "Gamewell" glass-encased fire box receiver/repeater systems, one which served the town of Hyde Park, before it was annexed to the City of Boston in 1912.

  • A three-section, marble-mounted fire box circuit boards, c.1920's, from the City of Newton.

  • A Boston "box transmitter", c.1960's, from which box alarm  information was retransmitted to firehouses.

     The Museum is connected to the Boston Fire Department's "tapper" circuit, so when a box is "transmitted", the bells ring and the register tape records the box number.

PHOTO DISPLAYS

     Since the invention of the camera, still photography has played an important part in documenting the many facets of the fire service. We are proud to display many interesting and significant pictures which chronicle the history of the Boston Fire Department and other departments in the Greater Boston area. Among them are:

  • A special exhibit on the history of the fire service in Roxbury.

  • Engine 7's hose wagon, encrusted with ice, at the Plant Shoe Co. fire in 1976.

  • The self-propelled steamer of Engine 38, which occupied this firehouse from 1897 to 1925. 

  • The "classic" Mack hose wagon of Engine 33, in front of quarters on Boylston St.

  • Large picture of Engine 18, with a 3-horse hitch, on Harvard St., Dorchester.

FIRE FIGHTING EQUIPMENT

     A vital part of fighting a fire is the use of tools and equipment. Many specialized tools have been developed over the years to make this job easier, safer and more effective. Among the tools and equipment we have on display are:

  • Ross thawing devices, which were used to thaw out hydrants, hoses, and other equipment. The "Salt Sled" which was used to carry salt to hydrants to prevent freezing in storms.

  • Rakes, which are used to ventilate and open up walls, ceilings, windows, etc.

  • "Lowrey" hydrant, used to connect to one of Boston's three (3) hydrant systems. The "Lowrey" is connected to underground hydrants stems located under manhole covers, mostly in the downtown Boston area. Today five engine companies still carry "Lowrey" hydrants.

     The equipment worn by the firefighter is the most important part of the tools and equipment. We have on display a life-size mannequin wearing all the present-day protective equipment worn by firefighters. Among them are:

  • Helmet; made of leather, designed to protect the head.

  • Mask; connected to an Air Bottle, designed to be a Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), which allows a firefighter to work in fire and smoke filled conditions.

  • Coat; designed to be fire retardant, to protect the neck, upper body, arms, lower torso, and upper legs.

  • Boots; designed to protect the legs, keep water out and feet dry.

  • Gloves; designed to protect the hands and lower arms.

ARCHITECTURALLY SIGNIFICANT BUILDING

     The Museum occupies the firehouse, formerly Engine Companies 38 & 39, and later Engine 39 and Ladder 18, built in 1891. It is a building of unique architectural design, particularly with the granite, brick, and red tile front facade. Another unique feature is the absence of columns or poles on the main apparatus floor to support the second floor. This is because the second floor is held up, from above, through the use of a wooden truss-type roof and a series of steel columns extending downward.

     The firehouse originally had six horse stalls, because 6 horses were needed to pull all the apparatus at the time the house opened. The horses were removed from service in this fire house in 1917, at which time the building underwent considerable renovation. Engine Company 38 was disbanded in 1947. Ladder 18 moved in from another firehouse in 1953. The building was closed in 1977.

     In 1987, approval was granted for the "Congress Street Fire Station" to be granted "Landmark" status and be included in the National Register of Historic Places. One of the Museum's prime goals is to maintain, preserve, and improve this landmark building.
 

     Please click here for a quick view of the firehouse and some of the exhibits.


 

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