My wife and I enjoy visiting museums and galleries, but we had never seen the Firefighters Hall and Museum in Northeast Minneapolis until we happened to drive by it when road construction forced us to take an alternate route to our church. There it was, an unimpressive looking building just a few feet west from the fence enclosing the football field of Thomas A. Edison High School. The address of the Firefighters Hall and Museum is 664 22nd Avenue Northeast, Minneapolis, MN 55418. Our local library system has a program called “Check Out A Museum,” and the Firefighters Hall and Museum happened to be one of the museums listed, so we took advantage of the program and visited the museum. Basic information about the Firefighters Hall and Museum can be found on their website.
The first thing we noticed about the museum is that it is only open on a regular basis on Saturdays, 9:00 am till 4:00 pm. Weekday tours for groups of 10 or more individuals can be arranged on an appointment basis. My wife and I went on a Saturday.
As we arrived, we saw a fire truck parked in front of the building. I thought it might be there to call attention to the museum and encourage people to visit. We later learned that it was there to give rides to the museum visitors, for $1.00 each. The ride used to be included in the admission fee, but no longer. My wife and chose not to ride the truck, but an enthusiastic group of adults and, particularly, children, filled the truck for a ride while we were in the building.
Fire trucks fascinate many people, whether because of their size, their purpose, their color, or their noise. I have heard that there are people who are excited by the opportunity to ride one, perhaps explaining why many homecoming and other parades use fire trucks to transport guests of honor.
At the heart of the Firefighters Hall and Museum is a collection of well over half a dozen actual fire trucks as well as older equipment: for example, a horse-drawn hose unit and an extractor truck (to draw dangerous gases out of buildings). I wish I had counted the fire trucks, but didn’t think of it until we had already left. For children (and adults) who want to climb around on a fire truck, one of the units inside the building is available. Imagine a picture of yourself seated at the controls of a real fire truck! It can happen at the Firefighters Hall and Museum.
While the trucks may be the drawing card for many visitors, there are also displays of firefighting tools-fire extinguishers, helmets, axes, breathing equipment, protective clothing-as well as impressive collections of department patches from across the state and across the nation. One room has photographs of the Minneapolis and St. Paul fire departments from decades ago. The same room contains a plaque dedicated to the memory of firefighters who died in the line of duty.
The museum has over 12,000 square feet of exhibit space and contains literally thousands of items related to fire prevention and firefighting. If you’ve ever dreamed of being a firefighter or just like to hang around a place where firefighting is honored, the Firefighters Hall and Museum is the place for you. The hall is also available for rent for such events as anniversaries, reunions, showers, business meetings, and birthdays. As the museum brochure says, “Great Place for a Kid’s Birthday Party.”
By the way, there is also one room called the “Police Museum,” but after the firefighting sections, the police section is disappointingly small and sparse. Because most of the museum building is already filled with exhibits of firefighting equipment, the police museum is probably going to remain small and sparse. It is, however, a fine tribute to an important group of public servants who, in their own way, look out for the safety of the rest of us.
You can also Google “Firefighters Hall and Museum” and find several helpful websites in addition to the official website.