By Mindie Burgoyne
To see all things related to firefighting including 42 antique pieces of fire apparatus, fire-fighting equipment, models, memorabilia and photographs, Marylanders need to look no further than the Fire Museum of Maryland located in Lutherville, one block north of the Baltimore Beltway. The collection includes antique fire trucks, vintage equipment, a cast iron firehouse facade and America’s largest telegraph system housed in a museum. This vast collection makes the Fire Museum of Maryland the world’s third largest collection of firefighting artifacts.
Fire Museum of Maryland
1301 York Road
Lutherville, Md. 21093
Hours: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturdays (May-December), Wednesday – Saturday (June, July, August),
Price: Adults -$12, Firefighters & Seniors – $10, Kids age 2 to 18 – $5
Offering 40 years of service to the community, the Fire Museum of Maryland gives the public a chance to trace the history of firefighting in Baltimore all the way back to the War of 1812. The Discovery Room allows visitors to see fire apparatus in action. Children can dress up in turnout gear and climb on a 1938 Mack Engine. They can ring the bell on an engine, run the lights and pull a hose up into the hose tower.
One of the most unique artifacts held by the Fire Museum is the 1871 cast iron facade of Baltimore Engine Company #8 which was located on Mulberry Street. It was the first firehouse built by the new (1859) Baltimore Fire Department that had previously been buying existing firehouses from volunteer companies. The Fire Museum has restored this facade and created a “Life of a Fireman” exhibit behind its doors, creating a firehouse within a firehouse, the only exhibit of its kind in America.
Another rare artifact is a Telegraph Alarm system, rigged up and ready to show visitors how a fire call in a busy city came in and got assigned. There’s over 7,000 feet of wire run in the museum to demonstrate how the calls were routed through the central telegraph system to identify and notify the responding company. The Telegraph Alarm system was a dramatic step forward in firefighting, and in some cases, can be just as efficient as systems used today.
Throughout the year, the Fire Museum of Maryland hosts events which include a Hand and Horse-drawn Muster, a Motorized Muster and Show, and a Lantern Night, which is an oral living history of different historical periods in firefighting.
In December, beginning on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the Fire Museum hosts a Christmas Garden which includes O-scale electric trains weaving in an out of miniature Baltimore area localities that will be familiar to locals.
The Fire Museum’s Christmas Garden marks its opening this year on Saturday, Nov. 26 with the arrival of Santa Claus. On this opening day, children will have the opportunity to visit with Santa and share their Christmas wishes. Parents receive a complimentary photo of their child with Santa, taken by staff at the Fire Museum.
Though Santa only visits the Christmas Garden on Nov. 26, the subsequent Saturdays in December and Christmas week — Dec. 27 – 31 — will feature other forms of entertainment for visitors to enjoy, along with the garden itself and the museum’s vast collection of artifacts and displays.
GROUP TOURS – RENTALS
The Fire Museum of Maryland also offers group tours and educational tours for children from toddlers through high school. Tours can be scheduled by appointment. Additionally, the Fire Museum is available for private parties and events. Contact the museum for more details.
Mindie Burgoyne is an author, travel writer and tour guide living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her blog, The Travel Hag shares information on outdoor travel for women. She is the author of Haunted Eastern Shore: Ghostly Tales from East of the Chesapeake.