As we climbed out of the car, the loud whine of an ambulance siren cried out as it circled the parking lot and backed into a space. It both startled and excited Jameson, who begged for Papa to convince the driver to sound it again. It was a catalyst for the enthusiasm the followed as he noticed the plethora of shiny red trucks all around him.
We were visiting the Hall of Flame Fire Museum for the first time. It was a place we had driven past many times, but had never taken the time to stop in. Now all we could think is why hadn’t we been here before?
In the parking lot we were greeted by a very friendly and welcoming man named Chuck. He introduced himself to us as the Director of the museum and said what we were witnessing was a very rare treat. Several fire trucks and an ambulance were lined up in the parking lot getting a spa treatment of sorts to wash away the dust and dirt that infiltrates its way into everything during Arizona’s summer monsoon season.
We followed Chuck’s advice and stopped on the way into the building to ring the bell outside. Jameson eagerly clanged the bell several times, but Hunter was not quite so sure about it. I stepped up to give a try and took one hard pull on the rope, only to be stunned by the magnitude of its deafening boom followed by pulsating reverberations that seemed to shake the ground beneath our feet.
Bells, whistles and sirens have long played a role in firefighting to alert firefighters and bystanders to an emergency, and signal the right of way of the emergency vehicles enroute to their destination. This was just the first of many emergency alert systems we would see on display at the museum. In addition to the bells and sirens on the vehicles themselves, they also have a comprehensive display of fire alarms ranging the evolution from that manually rung bell outside the front door to telephone based, semi-automatic and automatic alarm systems that are more similar to those we use today.
Seeing the building from the outside it doesn’t look like much more than a small warehouse, but once you walk inside you notice there is much more than meets the eye.
With over 70,000 square feet of total space the facility has 5 large exhibit halls that display firefighting apparatus ranging from hand and horse drawn carts to the larger motorized vehicles.
They also have a theater, a wildland firefighting gallery, the National Firefighting Hall of Heros. And for the little ones there are children’s exhibits with trucks to climb on, helmets, boots and coats to try on, and even a pole to slide down.
In addition to the vehicles and alarms, the museum also displays other equipment, uniforms and gear used by firefighters and paramedics throughout history as well as artwork portraying and honoring firefighting, emergency and rescue services.
Best of all, its all inside a big beautiful air conditioned building, which makes it a fun outing during those hot summer days.
Ready to plan your trip? Visit https://hallofflame.org/ for more information about hours, location and pricing. Maybe we’ll see you there!