Warbirds and Airshows
By David D Jackson

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Indiana Museums - Aviation, Military, Automotive and Fire

Fort Wayne Firefighters Museum
Fort Wayne, IN
Date Visited:  11-15-2014

The Fort Wayne Firefighters Museum is located in Fire House No.3, which was originally built in 1893 and then added on to in 1907.  Contained inside is an excellent collection of firefighting equipment that goes back 165 years.  For the historian, or fire engine enthusiast, this museum is well worth the visit.  The museum is open all year but is limited to five days a week.  Originally the station housed six firefighters, four horses, a hose wagon, and a chemical wagon.  Fire House No. 3 served Fort Wayne until 1972.


The original fire house was the section consisting of the two bays shown on the right.  The other two were added in 1907.




This photo show some of the equipment that is in all four bays.


This is the oldest piece of fire apparatus in the building, and is a 1848 Button hand pumper.  It actually arrived in Fort Wayne from Waterford, NY via the Erie and Wabash Canal system.  The pumper was pulled by twelve men to the fire and then twelve men would man the long handles along the side and start pumping.  Due to the exhausting nature of the manual pumping, a man would only last about 2-3 minutes before having to be replaced.  It would take a large crew of volunteers to keep one of these going. 


The hose that is overhead would need be placed in a source of water, such as the Wabash Canal.  If that was not available a bucket brigade would have to manually fill the reservoir at the back of the unit with water.  The Button pumper is located in what originally were horse stalls.


In today's world, fire chiefs and battalion commanders arrive at the scene of a fire in some sort of SUV.  Before the age of the horseless carriage and SUVs, fire chiefs arrived at the fire in a one horse buggy like this replica.  Behind the buggy are the doors to four horse stalls.


From left to right the horses' names are Bumps, King, Pete and Max.


After the hand pumpers came the steam pumper, such at this 1893 Amoskeag Steamer that served with the Detroit, MI fire department.


The boiler and related parts are all nickel plated.


At the bottom rear is the location of the coal furnace that produced the steam to fire the boiler.  While in the station the boiler would be kept at a near boiling point by a gas fed burner that was inserted, and then removed with the alarm bell went off.  Then a lighted kerosene soaked piece of wood would be thrown into the furnace to start the coal on fire.


When the alarm bell sounded, the horses were trained to move to their positions in front of the steamer, or other apparatus they would be pulling.  As seen here there were quick release harnesses located over the horses, which are being dropped down by the driver and which had quick fasten hardware.  A steamer could be out of the station house and on the way to the fire in 30 seconds after the alarm sounded.  Even if the horses were out of the station being exercised, if the alarm bell sounded, they were trained to run back to their positions.


On their way with the horses at a gallop and smoke pouring out of the boiler.  The steamers weighed up to five tons and needed three strong horses to pull it.  (Taking photos of a picture behind glass in a museum with overhead lights and lots of windows is always a challenge!)


Next in chronological order is this 1927 Ahrens-Fox pumper which served with the Fort Wayne FD until 1964.


The Ahrens-Fox trademark front end pump and pressure dome.

The next three pieces of fire apparatus are unique in that they were not built by a company that specialized in this type of equipment, but were three of 12 units built by the Fort Wayne Fire Department at its maintenance garage between 1938 to 1943.  Money was tight in the late thirties as the country was still struggling with the depression, so Fort Wayne bought the the chassis's and drive trains from International Harvester, which was located in the city, and then one at time the mechanics added the rest of the equipment.  Some of the added equipment was new and some was salvaged from obsolete apparatus.


1938 International, Fort Wayne Fire Department "Home Built" Fire truck.  This was the first of the 12 fire trucks built.


This 1942 International  "Home Built" Fire truck underwent three years of restoration and is used as a "Last Ride" vehicle.


When a retired Fort Wayne fireman passes away, the family can request this truck be used at the funeral truck, or to lead the precession to the cemetery.


This 1940 International was one of two that in were built into combination rescue and hose trucks.  Later this one was rebuilt into a oxygen/air truck and served with the Fort Wayne Fire Department until 1982.


All three of the "Home-Built" trucks on display still carried the International Emblem.




The youngest vehicle in the museum is this 1953 Cadillac ambulance, that originally served as a hearse for seven years, before serving with a local volunteer fire department as an ambulance for another seven years.

 
The museum has a very nice display of the equipment that determined where the alarms were coming in from.


Upstairs in the station when it was active not only served as the residence for the working firemen on duty, but when the horses were located here, was storage for oats, hay and straw.


There are some very nice displays upstairs.



 
The toy collection.


In one corner of the upstairs was this display of equipment and the uniforms worn by members of the 122nd Fire and Emergency Services with the Indiana Air National Guard at the nearby Fort Wayne International Airport.


A water color depicting Station No. 3 in 1927.

Other historic sites and museums in Fort Wayne.


Less than a mile to the north-east from the Fire Museum is a re-creation of Historic Fort Wayne.  The Fort is open the year around for visitors to look at.  Also in area is the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society in New Haven that has limited hours.  I have not yet had an opportunity to visit this museum, but it is on my list.

More photos of Fort Wayne
 

 

 


 
Home  Indiana Museums    Indiana Tanks on Outside Display   The Beginning    Revisions   First Flight of P-38F Glacier Girl  
USS Theodore Roosevelt    WWII Aircraft Manufacturing Sites    Gateguards
 2007 Airshows   2008 Airshows  22009 Airshows   2010 Airshows    2011 Airshows    2012 Airshows   2013 Airshows   2014 Airshows    2015 Airshows  2016 Airshows  
Aviation Museums of the Pacific Northwest
   Display Helicopter Locations   CAL FIRE   PV-2 Harpoon Photos     F6F Hellcat Photos
   Warbird Sightings   WWII US Air-Air Victories   Guest Photos    Indiana Warbirds   Featured Photos  Other Items   Links

Historic Sites   Historic Forts   Historic Texas Independence Sites   Pre-Historic Sites   Historic Manhattan Project Sites   GM Heritage Center


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