Skip Navigation
Fire Museum of Greater Cincinnati
Support the Museum | Contact Us
Join Us on Facebook®

About the Museum

September 11, 2001: A TIMELINE

Our Current Exhibit

REMEMBERING THE 1937 FLOOD

 Now though May 2012, commemorating the 75th anniversary of the BIG ONE,

with original photographs & a real boat for photo ops with the kids.

Call (513) 621-5553 more information.

Learn More About This
Exhibit and Other Exhibits

 

Fire-Safety Tips

No one ever expects to be the victim of a fire. But if it ever happens to you, you can be prepared then by learning fire-safety tips now. Discover these key fire-safety tips to help yourself and others stay safe.

Learn Important Fire-Safety Tips

The History of the Fire Museum of Greater Cincinnati

In 1906, the building that now houses the Fire Museum of Greater Cincinnati was home to the Engine Company #45 Firehouse. Because of this, the Fire Museum of Greater Cincinnati is now included in the National Register of Historic Places. Find out more about the building.

When the building still housed Engine Company #45, Cincinnati architect Harry Hake, Sr. (1871 to 1955) was the chief architect for the Cincinnati Fire and Police Departments. When designing this building, Hake used Renaissance Revival symmetrical design elements and detail (such as cornices, dentils, half columns, and horizontal stone bands) to create two distinct facades: the main elevation that faces Court Street and the other elevation on Richmond Street that faces City Hall.

Hake also designed many other distinctive landmarks (such as the Queen City Club and the Cincinnati Bell building).

Timeline of the Fire Museum of Greater Cincinnati

1794
Cincinnati had its first major fire.

In early spring of 1794, a brush fire was started to clear the land for farming, but wind spread the fire more than 100 acres east. Amid the chaos, the terrified settlers managed to save a small-frame law office that was owned by Thomas Goudy. Because of this, the fire was named "Goudy's Fire."

1802
Cincinnati Council passed an ordinance to organize firefighting efforts.

Soon after the ordinance was passed, Cincinnati created the Fire Bucket Company. A willow basket about 10 feet long and 6 feet high was placed on four wheels, and this was used to carry leather fire buckets to a fire.

Every Cincinnati homeowner who paid an annual fee of $35 was required to own two blackjack leather fire buckets. Men ages 16 to 50 who did not help with firefighting efforts were charged $5. Men who did not pay this fine were required to spend five days in jail.

1808
The Fire-Alarm Drum was implemented as a fire alarm.

This gigantic drum served as a fire alarm when it sounded from the top of a carpenter shop on Walnut Street in downtown Cincinnati.

Before this time, fire alarms were sounded by shouting or blowing horns. The Fire-Alarm Drum was used until 1824.

1816
Pumpers replaced buckets.

The people of Cincinnati learned that using the Hunneman pumper was a more effective way to fight fires than using buckets. This hand pumper could throw a stream of water up to 133 feet to douse flames quickly. This pumper was called "Pat Lyon," named after a famous fire-engine builder in Philadelphia.

1820
Cincinnati implemented its first "fire hydrant."

When firefighters arrived to the scene of a fire, they dug for the nearest wooden water pipes. They made a hole in the pipe to retrieve water.

After the fire was put out, the holes were closed with wooden plugs and marked so they could be used in the future. Sometimes, modern fire hydrants are still called fireplugs.

1834
One of Cincinnati's most devastating fires occurred.

An overwhelming fire happened at a Cincinnati pork house called Pugh and Alvord. The explosion lifted the roof, capsized the walls, and threw debris all over the street. This fire killed nine people and injured 14.

1853
Cincinnati established the first full-time, paid, professional fire department.

This fire department used steam fire engines pulled by horses. These steam fire engines threw a large, powerful stream of water on fires.

Then, Cincinnati inventors Able Shawk and Alexander Latta created "Uncle Joe Ross," the first practical steam fire pumper. Cincinnati became famous throughout the world for its design, development, and manufacturing of firefighting apparatus.

1890
Cincinnati's firefighting repertoire expanded.

Buildings began to be built taller and taller. Firefighting units called "ladder companies" were specially created to fight fires on the upper floors of tall buildings.

1907
The building that currently hosts the Fire Museum of Greater Cincinnati was built.

This one-time firehouse was constructed to hold horse-drawn fire apparatus.

1977
The Fire Museum of Greater Cincinnati Association was founded.

This independent, not-for-profit organization needed a permanent home to display various artifacts (which had been preserved by the Cincinnati Fire Department since 1853) and to institute a fire-safety education program.

1980

The Fire Museum of Greater Cincinnati Association chose its current home, and then opened to the public.

Present
What Is It Like to Be a Firefighter Today?

Today's firefighter is a highly trained, specialized professional. He or she must be experienced in the use of complex techniques and equipment in order to combat fires. Today's firefighter must be prepared to battle fire anywhere: on the 20th floor of a high-rise building, in the crawl space of a factory warehouse, or beside the main tank of an oil refinery.

In the dead of a winter night, today's firefighter must be prepared to battle searing heat and numbing ice. During a clear midsummer day, the firefighter must be prepared to run through pitch-black smoke.

Firefighters know that the safety of the community and the lives of other firefighters depend on their performance.

Firefighting is tough, demanding work. It requires strength, endurance, intelligence, and courage.

Do you want to earn the title of "firefighter"?