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Into the fire

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The Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum preserves the history of battling blazes.

It's a dangerous and noble occupation to fight fires. Those who serve as firefighters take great risks to preserve life and property, and they take great care to honor their own.

Claiming the distinction of the nation's only fire museum owned and operated by firefighters, the Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum and Memorial preserves the history of the state's fire services and honors the men and women who work in this perilous profession.

The museum's collection includes helmets, axes, hoses, trucks, fire marks, ladders and many other tools " both antique and modern, domestic and foreign. Oklahoma's first fire station, an original 1869 log cabin built by U.S. Army soldiers at Fort Supply, sits in the large display hall.

Early firefighting equipment includes an 1861 horse-drawn steamer pump, as well as several examples of hand-drawn equipment. One of those early pieces, an 1869 German "tub pumper," took eight men to pull it to the scene of a fire, and then four more to operate it.

Bright red paint and shiny chrome details highlight the nine fire engines lined bumper-to-bumper in the museum's motorized room. Surrounding these massive machines, the fire department patch collection is touted as the world's largest, with 5,300 patches representing departments from all 50 states and 15 different countries.

The Ben Franklin Collection pays tribute to the earliest days of American firefighting, as well as Franklin, who is credited with organizing the country's first volunteer fire department. Items in the display date back to the 1700s.

Outside, the Oklahoma Fallen and Living Firefighters Memorial honors all who have worked in the fire service. Looming 35 feet above, the "Just Another Day" sculpture dramatically portrays the everyday dangers firefighters face, and the determination and heroism they bring to their task. Firefighters who gave their lives are remembered on the surrounding Wall of Valor.

Located at 2716 N.E. 50th, the museum is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 1 to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.  

Starting June 1, admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, $2 for children age 6-12, and free for kids younger than 6. Oklahoma firefighters and their families also receive free admission.

For more information, visit www.osfa.info.

Charlie Price writes online at www.travelblur.com.
photo/Charlie Price

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