New York City Fire Museum

New York City Fire Museum This renovated 1904 firehouse contains a comprehensive collection of fire-related art & artifacts from 18th century to the present. Visitors explore firefighting history from buckets to motorized apparatus, from a volunteer to professional service.
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The New York City Fire Museum is the official museum of the FDNY and houses one of the nation's most prominent collections of fire related art and artifacts from the 18th Century to the present. Among its holdings are painted leather buckets, helmets, parade hats and belts, lanterns and tools, Volunteer-era hand pumped fire engines, horse drawn vehicles and early motorized apparatus. Admission is $8.00 for adults and $5.00 for children, seniors and college students; Admission is free for active FDNY, NYPD, DSNY and NYNJPA members.

We are pleased to announce the launch of our new website.  Most content is the same as before, although some new section...
02/27/2020
New York City Fire Museum

We are pleased to announce the launch of our new website. Most content is the same as before, although some new sections have been added. Most importantly, it is now mobile device-friendly. Make sure to check it out!! www.nycfiremuseum.org

TBT – It was shortly after midnight on the cold night of February 27, 1975 when Manhattan Box 465 was transmitted.  The ...
02/27/2020

TBT – It was shortly after midnight on the cold night of February 27, 1975 when Manhattan Box 465 was transmitted. The fire was located in the New York Telephone Company building at 206 Second Avenue, just south of 14th Street. The building housed switching equipment and hundreds of miles of cable that made it possible for the world to be connected to the commercial and residential heart of Manhattan. The stubborn fire that began three-stories below ground took more than sixteen hours and five alarms to bring under control.

In a time period when “going sick” was highly frowned upon, 239 of the 699 men who were at that fire reported sick the next day. This alarmed some of the physicians at the FDNY Medical Office, so they marked the personnel card of each member that was at the fire with a red star. This became known as the ”Red Star of Death” because so many of them developed diseases that caused their early demise. But with this knowledge in hand, and based on the concern over the persistent fires and gases given off at the World Trade Center site, the FDNY Bureau of Health Services advocated for the World Trade Center Monitoring Program.

The photograph of a member of the FDNY Photo Unit at the Telephone Company fire that appeared in the Third Issue of WNYF in 1975, is in the collection of the NYC Fire Museum along with many other prints and contact sheets from the film in all of the photographers’ cameras on that day. Although these are not on display, they demonstrate the valuable resource that the Museum’s collection is in preserving the history of the FDNY.

TBT – Edward Franklin Croker was appointed to the FDNY on June 22, 1884.  He shocked everyone with his promotion to Assi...
02/20/2020

TBT – Edward Franklin Croker was appointed to the FDNY on June 22, 1884. He shocked everyone with his promotion to Assistant Foreman (now called Lieutenant) just forty-seven days later and with equal speed to Foreman (today’s Captain) on February 25, 1885. This rapid advancement was said to have been for one reason only; that he was the nephew of the most powerful political figure in New York City at the time, Richard Croker, head of Tammany Hall (who served as a fire commissioner 1883-1887.) And while this might be true, over the next twenty-seven years, Chief Croker proved himself, time and time again, to be an outstanding firefighter and leader.

On January 22, 1892 Foreman Croker became Battalion Chief Croker. He became Chief of Department on May 1, 1899. He was the first Chief of Department who did not serve during the volunteer period. He was also the first Chief to use an automobile to respond to alarms. He kept his horse and carriage handy in case the new machine broke down.
Croker epitomized the dichotomy of the fire service; that is to put their expertise to use in fire prevention. He was an outspoken advocate of improving fire safety throughout the City’s commercial and residential buildings. As early as 1894 he testified before the Tenement House Committee that a fatal fire was due, in part, to “the combustible nature of the building and its open construction.” The culmination of this was when he used the fatal sweatshop fire in Newark, New Jersey to once again call attention to the threat of such a catastrophe being repeated in New York. Just four months later it did at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company. As a result, he retired and spent the next forty years in the fire prevention business. His company was a leader in the field and exists to today. In 1912 he authored the seminal book, “Fire Prevention.”

The NYC Fire Museum has several artifacts related to Chief Croker, including his life-size portrait and his horse-drawn Chief’s buggy. Both are on display – come see them!!

TBT - Clarence Eldridge Meek was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1889.  He began his fire service career in Montgomery, A...
02/13/2020

TBT - Clarence Eldridge Meek was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1889. He began his fire service career in Montgomery, Alabama in the early 1900’s. Clarence {a tillerman} was thrown from a horse-drawn ladder truck and broke his shoulder, ending his career as an active-duty firefighter. He always remained close to the fire service during his professional career serving as New York Sales Manager for Ahrens-Fox Fire Engines, as Eastern States Representative for Mack Fire Apparatus and as Vice President of Garrison Engineering Corporation, a fire control products company.

In 1938, then as the east coast sales representative for Mack fire apparatus, Clarence Meek suggested to Chief-in-Charge George McKenna of the Fire College, that a library be established for the use of all members. The idea was approved and the library was opened on the seventh floor of the new FDNY building at Queens Boulevard and Van Dam Street in Long Island City. Chief McKenna further ordered that the Department’s Museum be set up along with the library. Mr. Meek was placed in charge with the honorary rank of Captain. He fulfilled this role on a part-time basis until his professional retirement in 1954, then dedicating all of his time to this labor of love and continued to do so until his health faltered in February 1972.

A true historian of the FDNY, he committed himself not only to oversight of the library but also to documenting the history of the FDNY. His first published article appeared in WNYF in 1949 after which he became Associate Editor of that journal. His reputation grew throughout the fire service, not only in New York, and his expertise and knowledge were sought by many organizations and publications. He advanced through the ranks of the Department with promotions to Battalion Chief in 1953, Deputy Chief in 1959 and Assistant Chief in 1967. He served the Department as librarian and resident historian for thirty-four years. On February 9, 1973 the Department Library was officially named in his honor.

Chief Meek effectively served as the FDNY’s first designated Museum Curator and Librarian. Yesterday, we had the honor and pleasure of having Chief Meek’s granddaughter visit the NYC Fire Museum and the FDNY Library for the first time.

TBT – In honor of Black History Month, we highlight Commissioner Robert Oliver Lowery. Not only did he serve the FDNY fo...
02/06/2020

TBT – In honor of Black History Month, we highlight Commissioner Robert Oliver Lowery. Not only did he serve the FDNY for over thirty-one years, he holds the distinction of being the first African–American Fire Commissioner in the United States.

Born on April 20, 1916 in Buffalo, New York, Commissioner Lowery started his career with the FDNY on July 1, 1941 assigned to Ladder 34 in Manhattan. He transferred to the Bureau of Fire Investigation on April 1, 1946. During his seventeen-year tenure as a Fire Marshal, he made seventy-two arrests resulting in sixty-five convictions. On December 29, 1960 Fire Marshal Lowery witnessed a wanted, and armed, arsonist in the process of setting a fire in a rooming house and captured him before he succeeded in his felonious action. He was cited numerous times for his “outstanding investigative ability.”

On June 23, 1961 Commissioner Edward Thompson made Fire Marshal Lowery an Acting Lieutenant. In this capacity he was responsible for establishing a community relations program for the Bureau of Fire Investigation. Just two years later, on November 19, 1963 he was appointed Deputy Fire Commissioner and was sworn in as Commissioner by Mayor John V. Lindsay on January 1, 1966. Commissioner Lowery ushered the FDNY into, what became known as, “The War Years.” For nearly ten years, the City experienced an unprecedented amount of fires, many of which were caused by arson. At the same time, the City’s financial health was rapidly deteriorating making the resources to combat the blazes that were razing entire sections of the City, scarce.

Commissioner Lowery retired on October 11, 1973. After years of threatening, the Uniformed Firefighters Association went on strike four weeks later, for the first time since 1835.

The New York City Fire Museum is proud to have several artifacts from Commissioner Lowery, including the turn-out coat shown below and many photographs from his illustrious career.

The NYC Fire Museum was honored to be visited today by a delegation from Daegu Metropolitan City Council in Korea.  They...
02/03/2020

The NYC Fire Museum was honored to be visited today by a delegation from Daegu Metropolitan City Council in Korea. They received a tour with the assistance of Paramedic Kwa (Paul) Jung Yoon from FDNY EMS Station 8, a member of the FDNY Phoenix Society.

TBT – Turnout Gear.  Over the centuries, the protective gear worn by firefighters has changed dramatically, and continue...
01/30/2020

TBT – Turnout Gear. Over the centuries, the protective gear worn by firefighters has changed dramatically, and continues to do so. For today’s Throw-back Thursday we take a look at some old FDNY turnout gear circa 1940’s – 50’s. This set is comprised of a rubber coat – typically issued to engine company members – fold-down rubber boots, and a helmet without Burke eye shields but with a pre-1959 solid front. This gear offered little protection, particularly from burns. In fact, by changing over to bunker gear after the fatal Watts Street fire of 1994, burn injuries in NYC firefighters was reduced by 70%, even though the number of structural fires rose during the period of the study.

The display shown below was just featured on Operation 7 Save-a-Life on January 25, 2020 as part of a segment on firefighter protective gear. (Watch the third segment, "Protecting the Protectors, Begining at 3:13) https://abc7ny.com/society/operation-7-save-a-life---january-25th-only-on-abc7ny/5821932/

TBT – The NYC Fire Museum joins many other organizations and members of the FDNY in remembering the tragic page in FDNY ...
01/23/2020

TBT – The NYC Fire Museum joins many other organizations and members of the FDNY in remembering the tragic page in FDNY history that has become known as “Black Sunday.” At a fire on this day in 2005, at Box 2997, 236 East 178th Street, Bronx, Firefighters Joseph P. DiBernardo and Jeffrey G. Cool of Rescue 3 and Firefighters Eugene Stolowski and Brendan K. Cawley of Ladder 27 along with Lieutenant Meyran of Battalion 26 and Firefighter Bellew of Ladder 27. were forced to jump from the fourth-floor window to the ground below to escape the flames. Lieutenants Meyran, and Bellow died that day. Firefighter, later Lieutenant, DiBernardo died as a result of his injuries, in 2011. This fire prompted the adoption of an improved Personal Safety System in the hope that such a tragedy would never strike the FDNY again. May these members rest in peace and may those who sustained serious injuries continue to represent them and teach the lessons learned that day.

Come see us at the New York Fire Alarm Association meeting!
01/15/2020

Come see us at the New York Fire Alarm Association meeting!

TBT - Whether in the FDNY or elsewhere, firefighters take great pride in their apparatus; the fire engines and fire truc...
01/09/2020

TBT - Whether in the FDNY or elsewhere, firefighters take great pride in their apparatus; the fire engines and fire trucks. (There’s a difference, you know!) In the olden days of the 18th and 19th centuries, long before the LED lighting, oil lamps festooned both working and parade apparatus. They typically had glass panels, some of which were ornate and often displayed the name and/or number of the fire company. The NYC Fire Museum is proud to have several 19th century apparatus with very beautiful examples of these lamps. We also have a back-lit display of some of the glass panels so that you can see just how beautiful they are. These are all on display in our second-floor gallery. Please stop by and “enlighten” your day.

TBT - Williamsburgh was an independent city in Kings County, New York.  The Williamsburgh Fire Department was formed in ...
01/02/2020

TBT - Williamsburgh was an independent city in Kings County, New York. The Williamsburgh Fire Department was formed in 1829. In 1855 Williamsburgh was annexed by City of Brooklyn, being known as its Eastern District with the former Williamsburgh Fire Department being absorbed by the Brooklyn Fire Department. Just prior to consolidation, Richard H. Harding was elected Chief Engineer of the Williamsburgh FD, getting 92 votes over his opponent, William M. Meeks’, four votes. Mr. Harding was Secretary of the Brooklyn Life Insurance Company. He died in 1867.

The NYC Fire Museum is honored to have an oil portrait of Richard H. Harding commemorating his election as Chief Engineer in 1854, on display in our second-floor gallery. The Museum also has other artifacts from both Williamsburgh and the Brooklyn Eastern District, many of which are not on display.

(The area is still known as Williamsburg but the spelling was changed by the loss of the final letter “h.”)

Posted @withrepost • @fdny Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro today announced the death of FDNY’s chief historian and @US...
12/19/2019

Posted @withrepost • @fdny Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro today announced the death of FDNY’s chief historian and @USarmy Veteran, Jack Lerch, age 88. Jack was a supporter of the FDNY his entire life. For many years, he worked at the Mand Library at the Fire Academy, which houses historical documents, books, and publications about the FDNY. He has been collecting data and photographs of New York City fire apparatus since 1945. Jack is an FDNY Honorary Chief of Department and often took part in fundraising to support the Department and the NYC Fire Museum. He was a constant presence at FDNY memorial services and the Department’s annual Medal Day celebration, including taking part in funding the Thomas A. Kenny Memorial Medal through his role as President of the Honorary Fire Officers Association. The Department also presents the Honorary Chief of Department Jack Lerch Medal each year to a uniformed or civilian member of the Bureau of Fleet Services for outstanding service. He was the founder and editor of the Bell Club News Notes, which contributes a vast amount of time and effort to the Fire Museum. Commissioner Nigro says, “If you had a question about the history of the FDNY, you didn’t need to google it or go to an encyclopedia, you just had to ask Jack Lerch. He was our Department’s chief historian, he proudly served his country, and he was a great friend to everyone who ever wore the uniform of the FDNY. He will be sorely missed by all of us.”

TBT – As many of you know, the NYC Fire Museum is located in the former quarters of Engine Company 30.  Although many ot...
12/19/2019

TBT – As many of you know, the NYC Fire Museum is located in the former quarters of Engine Company 30. Although many other companies and units of the FDNY have called 278 Spring Street home, we identify with our original house mates.

Engine Company 30 was ushered into the FDNY (at that time called the Metropolitan Fire Department,) on October 20, 1865 in the former quarters of Alert Hose Company 41 in the volunteer era of the FDNY. The quarters were located at 18 Renwick Street, one block from our current location. On May 1, 1866, they moved to 253 Spring Street, on the east side of Varick Street, into a building leased by the City. The photograph below (believed to be taken in 1873) shows the company in front of that building along with their Amoskeag second-size, crane-neck, steam fire engine (FDNY registration number 362). The move to 278 Spring Street was made on June 1, 1905.

We are fortunate to have this photograph of Engine 30, who we celebrate every day here in their old home.

Thankfully, FDNY Ladder Company 1 showed up and rescued Santa from the roof of the NYC Fire Museum today.  He brought ev...
12/15/2019

Thankfully, FDNY Ladder Company 1 showed up and rescued Santa from the roof of the NYC Fire Museum today. He brought everyone inside to sit with him, to listen to the music and to have a fun day for the entire family!!!

Thankfully, FDNY Ladder Company 1 showed up and rescued Santa from the roof of the NYC Fire Museum today. He brought everyone inside to sit with him, to listen to the music and to have a fun day for the entire family!!!

Last day to purchase tickets to the Santa Rescue is tomorrow! Get your tickets today!
12/13/2019
Annual Santa Rescue

Last day to purchase tickets to the Santa Rescue is tomorrow! Get your tickets today!

Get in the holiday spirit during the Santa Rescue on Sunday, December 15 at 11:30am sharp! Watch as an FDNY ladder truck rescues Old Saint Nick from the very top of the museum and bringing him inside to warm up. Once safely inside, Santa will take gift requests and pose for photos. Admission to the....

Museum docent, retired Captain Joe Russo, shows some visitors from Arizona what its like to be a NYC firefighter.
12/13/2019

Museum docent, retired Captain Joe Russo, shows some visitors from Arizona what its like to be a NYC firefighter.

TBT – As winter creeps in to New York City, we bring back a summer event on this Throw-Back-Thursday.  Long forgotten in...
12/12/2019

TBT – As winter creeps in to New York City, we bring back a summer event on this Throw-Back-Thursday. Long forgotten in FDNY history is a firefighter by the name of Joseph Angyal, Jr. who was not only an accomplished athlete, he went so far as to represent the United States at the 1948 Summer Olympics (in London,) in the sport of rowing. He was a fifteen-time national champion and had over 100 other wins. Born in NYC in 1916, Angyal was appointed to the FDNY on March 1, 1938, being initially assigned to Engine Company 177. He later worked at Engines 8 and 320. His service record is peppered with unpaid leaves of absence, undoubtedly so he could participate in various rowing competitions and events.

Angyal’s rowing and FDNY careers were interrupted by the Second World War. He was granted unlimited Military Leave from the Department on August 20, 1942. He enlisted in the Navy, becoming a US Marine Corps fighter pilot, flying 85 combat missions in the Southwest Pacific. He returned to the Department on December 7, 1945 and was assigned to Ladder 116. He remained in the US Marine Corps Reserve attaining the rank of Major.

Sadly, on June 27, 1954 after taking off on a training mission from Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn in a USMC Grumman F9F Cougar, Major Angyal’s plane plummeted 22,000 feet out of the sky, crashing near Point Lookout, Long Island. Angyal was still on active duty with the FDNY in Engine company 320. In his memory, a regatta sponsored by the New York Athletic Club was named in his honor. In 1984, he was named to the NYAC Hall of Fame.

The NYC Fire Museum is proud to hold eight of Firefighter Joseph Angyal, Jr.’s trophies in its collection.

Address

278 Spring St
New York, NY
10013

1 train to Houston or Canal Streets; C or E to Spring Street

Opening Hours

Monday 10:00 - 17:00
Tuesday 10:00 - 17:00
Wednesday 10:00 - 17:00
Thursday 10:00 - 17:00
Friday 10:00 - 17:00
Saturday 10:00 - 17:00
Sunday 10:00 - 17:00

Telephone

(212) 691-1303

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