Did You Know: Hall of Flame Museum Sparks Interest

January 17, 2014

(Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez-KJZZ)
This 1924 American La France is the first fire truck that started The Hall of Flame Museum.

Arizona is home to nearly 200 museums, but there is one in the Valley that may interest you, a hidden Phoenix gallery.   

When you think of firefighting equipment you think of flames, firemen and those large, loud fire trucks. Sure, we know they are there to save lives. Ever think of them in a museum? Did You Know The Hall of Flame Fire Museum is believed to be among the best of its kind?

“This is the largest historical firefighting museum in the world, as far as we know," said Mark Moorhead, the education curator at The Hall of Flame Museum.

Moorhead said the museum was reestablished in Phoenix by an Illinois family who relocated to the area with its firefighting equipment collection in the early 1970s, and over the years, donors have added to the exhibit.

“We’re the biggest, and our scope is actually international. Most of the pieces are from the U.S., but we do have some from other countries," said Moorhead.

The museum is located on Van Buren Street nestled behind the Phoenix Municipal Stadium. There are more than 80 pieces of firefighting equipment on display, dating from the early 1700s to the 1970s, from hand pumpers to fire engines once used in Japan, Ireland, England, Peru and the U.S. There is even a 1951 fire truck for kids to play on.

"We have a lot of fun, and it’s little more informal maybe than some museums. We have a lot of fun with kids here, you know, lots of field trips," said Moorhead. "But it is actually a serious historical museum for adults too. Among historical fire museums we try to trace the whole social and technological history of firefighting.”

There are numerous displays showcasing the trade, from thousands of fire department patches to fire alarm, paintings, uniforms and helmets. Some of the dozens of helmets on display belonged to fire departments in Germany, Japan and Cuba in the early 1900s.

There is also a National Firefighting Hall of Heroes exhibit honoring the men and women who died in the line of duty, including the 19 Yarnell firefighters and a 9/11 memorial.

"We have the picture of all the firefighters from the New York City Fire Department, the police officers from NYPD and also from the port authority, including a K-9 officer," said Moorhead. "We have a piece of the Twin Towers which was given to the Phoenix Fire Department by the New York City Fire Department as a thank you for their help with the clean-up."

What is a firefighting story without its mascot, the Dalmatian. There is also a display honoring this devoted companion. In the 19th century, Dalmatians were used as guard dogs to protect the horses and to run and bark alongside the fire truck announcing its arrival, but not all stations followed tradition. Moorhead said the Phoenix fire department’s first mascot was actually a goat named Homer.