History of Cincinnati Fire Museum

The mission of the Cincinnati Fire Museum is to celebrate and present the history of Cincinnati area Firefighting and deliver fire safety education experience.

The Cincinnati Fire Museum Association was founded in 1977 and subsequently raised $1.5 million to restore an historic City firehouse, Engine House #45, as home to the new Cincinnati Fire Museum. Cincinnati is known throughout the world for its prominence in the technological and organizational development of the American fire department. It was here in 1853, that the nation’s first paid professional fire department was created by law, and its organizational plan became a model for other cities across the country. Opened to the public in 1980, the museum displays our collection of significant historic firefighting artifacts in interpretive exhibits centered on the First Volunteers, First Paid Professional and the Modern Firefighter. Most importantly, the Museum promotes the mastery of self-protective fire safety for children through our school tour program, as well as general fire safety public education programs for all.

Since 1980, the Museum has welcomed visitors to learn about fire safety and the proud history of America’s first professional firefighters. Through our interactive exhibit, the Safe House, our audience is empowered with fire safety understanding in a model home environment; among the topics covered are appropriate use of 911; kitchen, appliance, match and lighter safety; and the self-preserving STOP, DROP & ROLL technique.

The Museum attracts a wide audience from the Greater Cincinnati area, Southwest Ohio and the Tri-State region, as well as from many other states and foreign countries. Our interpretive focus, on the history of the Cincinnati Fire Department from 1853 to the present, enhances appreciation of the heritage and lasting significance of Cincinnati and surrounding area fire departments.

As a leading nationally recognized fire museum, our goals and objectives are to:

  • To preserve and exhibit the history of firefighting in Greater Cincinnati, the birthplace of paid professional firefighting in America
  • To present exhibits and education programs on fire prevention and safety, with special attention to those most at risk – children, families, the elderly, as well as the mentally and physically disabled
  • To encourage local historic preservation efforts with the preservation of the historically significant Engine House #45, a striking Renaissance Revival building designed by prominent local architect Harry Hake, Sr., included on the National Register of Historic Places
  • To actively support revitalization of Downtown Cincinnati and the inner city
  • To contribute to Cincinnati’s tourism industry and cultural appeal.

An independent 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, general operating support comes from admissions, gift shop sales, memberships and site rentals, as well as from contributions from individuals, foundations and businesses/corporations.