Don’t let the packaging fool you. Housed inside a drab warehouse on the border of Phoenix and Tempe is the largest firefighting museum in the world — the Hall of Flame Fire Museum.
Don’t let the packaging fool you.
Housed inside a drab warehouse on the border of Phoenix and Tempe is the largest firefighting museum in the world — the Hall of Flame Fire Museum.
Now, checking out a museum with the word “flame” in its name hardly seems like a cool idea when it’s 110 degrees outside. But take a chance on this hidden gem and you’ll get a refreshing look at the history of the “most dangerous profession in the world.” The museum, founded by George F. Getz in 1961, houses fire memorabilia from all over the world.
“The job itself is one of the most highly respected,” says museum director Peter Molloy. “Firemen and women are genuinely appealing characters.”
The drama of the profession plays itself out in the museum’s six galleries, particularly in the Hall of Heroes, where the bravery of firefighters singled out by Firehouse Magazine is documented. Photographs of firefighters accompany narratives written in a tone that makes charging into a building on the brink of collapse seem as mundane as heading to the Xerox machine for a few copies.
“They just look like ordinary people who really stepped up to the plate,” says Molloy.
Visitors can look up the names of firefighters who have died on the job in a database that goes back to 1981. The museum is trying to add the names of those who died before 1981, but “there will never be a complete list,” says Molloy.
What really draws visitors in are the rows of firetrucks donated by fire departments all over the world. Kids can climb onto a 1951 American La France Model 700 fire engine donated by Miami, Ariz.
“Most kids are fascinated by the trucks,” says Molloy.
Other exhibits worth visiting include Wildland Firefighting (complete with a replica of a 1930s-era L-6 lookout cabin) and Fire Safety, which features interactive games that teach children about prevention and survival.
Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting
What: The world’s largest firefighting museum
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday
Where: 6101 E. Van Buren St., Phoenix
Cost: $6 adults, $4 students 6-17, $1.50 for children age 3-5.
Information: (602) 275-3473 or hallofflame.org