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Cincinnati Fire Museum

Housed in a brick firehouse that operated from 1906 until the late 1950s, the Cincinnati Fire Museum was established to preserve and display Cincinnati's fire department heritage. The museum features artifacts that cover more than 200 years of fire fighting history. Among its thousands of items, visitors will find horse-drawn pumps, leather buckets used by local bucket brigades, antique uniforms, helmets, fire trucks, and fire poles. The artifacts were saved by the city for decades before it was decided to make the items available to a museum. A group of volunteers in the 1970s raised $1.2 million and opened the doors of the old firehouse near City Hall. Cincinnati was the first U.S. city with a paid, professional, horse-drawn fire fighting company, established in 1853. As the city grew, the fire department had to evolve as well, evolving from bucket brigades to simple hand-pumps and then to steam engines. They also moved from volunteers to paid professionals. The Fire Museum documents those changes in its many displays. Dating to the early 20th century, the museum building first served as a home for the firefighters employed there. Evidence of the former tenants can be found among the exhibits, ranging from a gigantic distress drum from the early 19th century, retired from its place atop a building on Walnut Street, to the 1958 Ahrens-Fox fire engine, the last of its kind. There also is a case that displays 19th-century firefighter badges.