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Not Just Another Old Builiding: The Tampa Firefighters Museum

By Elisha Neubauer

Firefighters have long been risking their lives to protect those of the general public. It's a profession that has been around since the mid-1800s, but doesn't seem to get as much recognition as other similar professions. Unless you live in Tampa, Florida, that is.

Nestled in a small, two-story brick building that once housed the original Tampa Fire Department is the Tampa Firefighters Museum. The building was once scheduled to be demolished after the 1911 building slipped into a state of disrepair from lack of use. Once torn down, the property was intended to be utilized as a parking lot for the downtown area.

The scheduled demolition led to the foundation of the Tampa Firefighters Museum as local firefighters and community members joined forces to protect the historic landmark. The City leaders eventually conceded, selling the building to the newly-formed non-profit organization in 1995. It was another 10 years before the organization had raised enough money to fulfill their dream of a Firefighters Museum. The location finally opened to the public in 2005.

The Museum allows visitors an experience unlike any other. The original building was constructed to house a horse-drawn fire apparatus. To date, the first floor still retains the original features designed to keep the equipment prepped for quick response.

Another unique feature housed in the Museum is a rather large display of firefighting equipment dating back to the 1960s and earlier. When placed into comparison with today's modern equipment, visitors will be surprised to see such a stark contrast between the older, bulkier equipment versus the pocket-sized tools of today's firefighters. The Museum also contains a 9-11 memorial crafted from steel and bedrock. The materials used came from the actual Twin Towers after their demise. The bottom of the display features the names of every firefighter who lost their lives that day.

While the Tampa Firefighters Museum may be housed in an old city building, the organization relies on their own funds to keep the Museum running.

"To help pay the bills the large hall upstairs is available to rent for meetings or our most popular rental is weddings," Bill Wade, president, said. "Brides looking for a unique place for their special day fall in love with the red brick walls and rustic appearance of the building."

Most of the staff working at the Museum is volunteer. These individuals have their own ties to the fire service in one way or another, having previously or currently served on the department or having a family member who does.

"The TFM isn't just any old fire station," Wade said.

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About The Author

Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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