Heritage, Volume 10, Number 4, Fall 1992 Page: 24
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Historic Tour of
The Fire Museum
,\Vj A of Texas
By Rebecca Woodland
Antique horse-drawn and motorized fire equipment,
leather buckets, lanterns, fire extinguishers, badges, and
1890s record books used by the firefighters of
yesteryear bring visitors to this unique East Texas
museum and historical landmark back in time.
Beaumont, a city proud of its heritage
and cultural achievements, has gained
recognition as the "Museum Capital of
Texas," with 19 museums. The Fire Museum
of Texas ranks high among the many
attractions to be seen in Beaumont. Open
since 1984, the Fire Museum of Texas
educates children and adults on the history
of the fire service and teaches fire safety in
a fun way. Showcasing exhibits on the
evolution of fire fighting apparatus, the
Fire Museum of Texas is housed in an
historic firehouse in downtown Beaumont.
The fire station, which still serves as the
communications center for the Beaumont
Fire Department, was constructed in 1927
and has been designated a historical landmark
by the Texas Historical Commission.
Influences of the Spanish Renaissance Revival
style of architecture are evident in
the red brick ornamentation and the geometric
tile work under the eaves of the roof.
Endorsed by the State Firemen's and
Fire Marshal's Association of Texas in 1986
as the official state fire museum, the purpose
of the Fire Museum of Texas is to preserve,
collect, and exhibit the history of the fire
service within the state of Texas. Special
cases highlight the recorded histories of fire
departments across the state. With more
than 9,600 visitors in 1991, the Fire Museum
is dedicated to the preservation and
interpretation of the rich history and traditions
of the Texas fire service.
Visitors can still view the brass fire poles
used for a quick response to a fire alarm. A
unique piece of fire equipment displayed
downstairs is an 1856 Howe pumper. The
vintage fire engine looks like a wagon with
a metal holding tub and was pulled by
firefighters responding to a fire. A spectacular
1909 American LaFrance aerial
ladder truck, originally horse drawn, now
sports two steering wheels - one for the
driver and one in the rear for the tillerman.
An assortment of 19th and 20th century
fire engines are flanked by hundreds of
artifacts and photographs that capture the
nostalgic atmosphere of fire fighting.
Upstairs, the Fire Safety Activity Center
is a special exhibit in the Fire Museum
of Texas. Visitors can experience up to 30
fire and home safety facts through a "learnby-doing"
approach. Included in the Center
are a miniaturized safety house, the Fire
Safety Puppet Theater, and a life-size
Smokey the Bear who talks about outdoor
fire safety. In addition, children delight in
the toy fire engines display and in the
replica of the firefighter's dormitory. The
Activity Center is designed for children
ages 6-12 and is especially well-suited for
Under development is the Museum's
international firefighting exhibit. Uniforms,
bunker gear, patches, and helmets
from many countries teach children about
the fire service throughout the world. The
oldest apparatus in the Fire Museum's collection,
a 1779 tub pumper from Guatemala
in Central America, adds an exciting dimension
to this international exhibit.
Recently, a non-profit organization, the
Fire Museum of Texas Association, Inc.,
was formed to provide community support
and financial assistance for the Museum's
programs and exhibits. Membership in the
FMT is open to any persons interested in
24 HERITAGE * FALL 1992
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 10, Number 4, Fall 1992, periodical, Autumn 1992; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45421/m1/24/: accessed August 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.