Did you know that fire trucks and fire engines are not the same thing? According the the Denver Firefighters Museum's webpage, "It comes down to the different duties of truck and engine crews. Engines are sometimes called 'pumpers.' Simply put, their main job is to put water on a fire. In Denver, they’re also usually the first crews to respond to a medical call. Fire trucks are like gigantic toolboxes on wheels. They’ll be the first called to technical rescues that may need specialized equipment, such as car crashes or high-rise fires."
Located at 1326 Tremont Place, the 11,000 square-foot museum was once home to Fire Station No.1 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors will see antique fire trucks, vintage tools and gear, and a fun gift shop, and kids can try on uniforms and slide down a pole. There are also events, such as Firehouse Tales for Tots (story time and a craft for kids ages 3 and up) and Free Night at the Museums.
We recently caught up with Jamie Wilms, the executive director of the museum, to ask her a few questions:
What brought you to the Firefighters Museum?
I came to the Firefighters Museum at the end of April. The position for Executive Director popped up, and I thought I would apply. I have been working in the museum field for over 15 years and have my master's in historical administration. My father just retired after decades as a volunteer firefighter and EMT, so I grew up in this atmosphere. It felt like a natural fit to put my love of history and firefighting together.
What type of visitors come to the museum—is it mostly children?
We have all different types of visitors. Our biggest population is families. We have many interactives and hands-on activities for children that makes it very appealing for families. Our second biggest group is firefighters, both Denver Fire Department (DFD) and departments from around the world.
What's surprising about the DFD's history that people may not know about?
DFD started as an all-volunteer department in 1866. The first station wasn't built until decades later, but building the department was in response to the great fire of 1863, when this area was basically wiped out due to buildings being made of wood. This is why brick became the main building material for buildings in the area.
What's your favorite exhibit or aspect of the museum?
Just the building itself. This is one of those buildings that, if it could talk, oh, the stories it would tell! It was an active station from 1909-1975, and it saw generations of firefighters come through. I love historic structures, and I consider it an honor to take care of this one.
Although the entry fees to the Firefighters Museum are modest (ranging from $6-$9) you can score some free passes from the library, just one of the many cultural passes from our Library of Things, available to DPL cardholders.
The Denver Public Library has several great resources for nonprofits such as the Firefighters Museum, including the Colorado Grants Guide and the Foundation Directory Online. If your organization is seeking a grant, please contact us for a one-on-one appointment to learn the most effective ways to use the databases.
Questions? Ask Reference Services or call 720-865-1363 today!