Main Entrance Exhibits

The painting of Memphis firefighters at work was donated by the artist Diane Hoffman.

Display case
With obsolete gas masks dating to World War I and examples of American and European fire fighter helmets. Reproductions of antique fire truck toys made of cast iron. Fire fighting tools and sirens no longer in use.

Helmets & Pump Cans
Thousands of these blue pump can were distributed to civilians by Civil Defense authorities during World War II in case of a bombing. Combination hose clamp and door opener, various types of firefighters helmets. Two and half gallon water pump can.

Hale Water Tower (1897)
The oldest equipment in the museum, was used to fight fires in tall buildings. Originally pulled by two horses, it is pictured in 1930s parade pulled by a tractor. The 1934 Pirsch attached now pulled it from 1956 until it went out of service in 1974. Second picture shows the water tower in use at a 1965 warehouse fire.

Smoke Alarms Save Lives
A very important fire safety display showing different smoke alarms and how they work.

Emergency Flasher/ Aluminum Fire Helmet
Aluminum helmets were used in Memphis until the 1960′s and were replaced by stronger plastic helmets. Battery operated flasher used at emergency scenes to signal danger.

Fire Alarm Register
Punches out the fire alarm box number on a moving paper tape. Firemen would then respond to that box location.

Fire Extinguishers/Life Safety Belt/Nozzle
Obsolete fire extinguishers – some contained baking soda but others contained chemicals which were harmful to people. Life-safety belts are used by firefighters to prevent falls from tall ladders or platforms. This piercing nozzle was designed in Memphis and was used around the world for fighting fires inside walls and concealed spaces.

Log Book/Leather Fire Helmet
This log book dated 1899 was used to record information from each call. The leather helmet is from Boston, MA and never used by the Memphis Fire Department.

Modern firefighters at work
Modern turnouts (uniforms) weigh about 45 pounds; air-tank and mask weigh an additional 20 pounds.

Firefighters at work in early 1950s
Wearing aluminum helmets, heavy cotton cloth turnouts coated with rubber and hip boots.

First Class African American Firefighters – Memphis Fire Department 1955

TOP ROW:  John D. Cooper, William C. Carter, Richard H. Burns, Robert J. Crawford, Leroy Johnson, Lawrence E. Yates, Elza L. Parsons, Chief John C. Klink, Commissioner Claude Armour

BOTTOM ROW:  George W. Dumas, Norvell E. Wallace, Floyd E. Newsum, Sr., Carl W. Stotts, Murray Pegues

Memphis Fire Department 1955. See painting on the adjacent wall for additional information.

Fire Chief’s Desk
Given to the department in 1849 is adorned with firefighting symbols.

Grandfather Clock
Made in 1857, tells time from three separate dials and still keeps virtually perfect time today.

You Can Count on Me
A painting by Floyd Newsum, Jr., recognizes the professional dedication and excellence of African-American Firefighters in Memphis.

American LaFrance Pumper (1929)
Was in service until late 1960s. Pumpers carry hoses that hook up to hydrants or to draft water from other sources. Fire trucks carry ladders and other rescue equipment.

Fire Brigade Buckets
Were used before pumps were available especially in cotton warehouses. The conical shape had several advantages and also discouraged the taking of them for other uses.

Fire Alarm Box
Used to summon the fire trucks before we had telephones. When hook was pulled the box automatically sent telegraph signal to area fire stations. Signal was received by brass telegraph receiver like the one in the case to the left of chief’s desk.

Leaders of the Memphis Fire Department since 1882 appear on the walls overhead.

Model of New York City Fire Station
With toy trucks and memorabilia.

Toys on Fire Exhibit – Chief William N. Schwartz Collection
Fire service toys and memorabilia collected by Chief Schwartz from 1920-2003, over 1,000 toys and artifacts are displayed.