Jan 24, 2024 - Things to Do

See firefighting history through the centuries at the Hall of Flame

A white truck with the words Granite Mountain Hotshots and Prescott Fire Department on the side.

A 2004 Ford F-750 buggy used by the Granite Mountain Hotshots. Photo: Jeremy Duda/Axios

The history of firefighting is on display in the Valley at the Hall of Flame, famous as the world's largest firefighting museum.

State of play: The museum was founded in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, in 1961, and moved to Scottsdale in 1970.

  • Four years later, it relocated to its current building on Van Buren Street, just east of Priest Drive, slightly outside the Tempe city limits.

Details: The Hall of Flame features 35,000 square feet of exhibit galleries, with more than 130 wheeled exhibits and thousands of smaller artifacts.

  • The exhibits cover hundreds of years of firefighting history locally, nationally and worldwide, with one engine that dates to 1725 in England.
  • The museum has a Phoenix Fire Department "chemical engine" from around 1890, which extinguished fires by using water and sodium bicarbonate mixed with acid to create carbon dioxide gas to propel water from its hose.
  • Another exhibit shows an exact replica of a Phoenix Fire Department alarm room as it was from 1956 to 1982.

Zoom in: The exhibits include two with ties to some of the most tragic moments in American firefighting history:

  • FDNY Rescue 4, the only one of the New York City Fire Department's five rescue trucks to survive the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Its crew died in the attack.
  • A 2004 Ford F-750 buggy that was one of two used by the Granite Mountain Hotshots before the 2013 wildfire that killed the Yarnell 19. The truck is on loan from the Los Angeles County Fire Museum.

Of note: Naturally, you're not allowed to touch the exhibits, but there's one fire truck that museum patrons can climb onto.

Our thought bubble: I made my first trip to the Hall of Flame last month with my family and was absolutely blown away.

  • My kids had a blast climbing on the fire engine, and there's a firefighting-themed playroom for the little ones.
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