History of firefighting at San Diego Firehouse Museum.

"Old La Jolla" hand drawn fire engine dating from 1886, on display at The San Diego Firehouse Museum.
“Old La Jolla” hand drawn fire engine dating from 1886, on display at The San Diego Firehouse Museum.

A simple but elegant old firehouse stands in downtown San Diego at the corner of Columbia Street and Cedar Street. Those who step inside are in for a very big surprise.

The San Diego Firehouse Museum today occupies what was once an active fire station–San Diego Fire Station No. 6. Located in Little Italy, this unique museum isn’t large, but it’s crammed with so much cool stuff and so much fascinating history, you could easily spend an hour enjoying the many exhibits. There are shiny red vintage fire engines, a steamer equipped with a huge boiler, antique hand pumpers, firefighting apparatus of every sort, helmets, badges, a big display of model vehicles, historical photographs . . . and just lots and lots of firefighting artifacts, dating as far back as the mid 1800s. Much of what you’ll see represents the history of firefighting in San Diego; other objects in the museum come from fire departments around the United States.

Here are some photos which I took during a recent visit. The volunteer on duty was very friendly and provided some interesting historical information. I learned that private events can be held in the old firehouse, and that kids love having birthday parties among all the fire engines. Museum admission is only 3 dollars for adults and 2 dollars for children and seniors. Quite a bargain!

The San Diego Firehouse Museum is manned by friendly firefighter volunteers. It's located in old Fire Station No. 6 at 1572 Columbia Street in Little Italy.
The San Diego Firehouse Museum is manned by friendly firefighter volunteers. It’s located in old Fire Station No. 6 at 1572 Columbia Street in Little Italy.
A look inside the Firehouse Museum, which is absolutely jam-packed with cool historical exhibits. Kids love this place.
A look inside the Firehouse Museum, which is absolutely jam-packed with cool historical exhibits. Kids love this place.
Two vintage fire engines in the old firehouse. The museum's walls are lined with interesting objects that tell the story of firefighting since the mid-1800s.
Two of the many vintage fire engines in the old firehouse. The museum’s walls are lined with interesting objects that tell the story of firefighting since the mid-1800s.
The San Diego Firehouse Museum was founded in 1962 and is operated by the nonprofit Pioneer Hook and Ladder Company.
The San Diego Firehouse Museum was founded in 1962 and is operated by the nonprofit Pioneer Hook and Ladder Company.
A closer look at a 1914 Seagrave Pumper. During my visit, I learned that fire engines are also called pumpers.
A closer look at a 1914 Seagrave Pumper. During my visit, I learned that fire engines are also called pumpers.
Three additional old fire engines can be seen in a second room inside old Fire Station No. 6.
Even more old fire engines can be seen in a second room inside old Fire Station No. 6.
Water pressure controls on the side of one pumper.
Water pressure controls on the side of one pumper.
This white fire engine was stationed at the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park. It can be seen in old photographs and postcards.
This white fire engine was stationed at the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park. It can be seen in old photographs and postcards.
Another look at the historic 1915 Panama-California Exposition fire engine. This section of the Firehouse Museum is a bit dark and close, which makes it hard to take a good wide photo.
Another look at the historic 1915 Panama-California Exposition fire engine. This section of the Firehouse Museum is a bit dark and close, which makes it hard to take a good wide photo.
One glass display case in the museum contains all sorts of old fire fighter helmets and protective headgear.
This glass display case in the museum contains all sorts of old fire fighter helmets and protective headgear.
One corner of the Firehouse Museum showcases many old fire insurance marks which were affixed to buildings. One of these marks dates back to 1714.
One corner of the Firehouse Museum showcases many old fire insurance marks which were affixed to buildings. One of these marks dates back to 1714.
Smokey Bear welcomes visitors to The San Diego Firehouse Museum.
Smokey Bear welcomes visitors to The San Diego Firehouse Museum.
One wall features a collection of old fire extinguishers.
One wall features a collection of old fire extinguishers.
The Ely Adapter was invented by San Diego Fire Department's Assistant Chief Robert Ely.
The Ely Adapter was invented by San Diego Fire Department’s Assistant Chief Robert Ely.
Felt and paper stovepipe hats once worn by firefighters during parades.
Felt and paper stovepipe hats once worn by firefighters during parades.
Model of 1899 Metropolitan Steamer with 1911 Christie tractor.
Model of 1899 Metropolitan Steamer with 1911 Christie tractor.
Another display case at The San Diego Firehouse Museum contains all sorts of interesting old artifacts.
Another display case at The San Diego Firehouse Museum contains all sorts of interesting old artifacts.
A third room in the Firehouse Museum contains this 1903 coal burning steamer. Fire heats the boiler water making steam which activates a piston that pumps water.
A third room in the Firehouse Museum contains this 1903 coal burning steamer. Fire heats the boiler water, making steam, which activates a piston that pumps water.
Stairs once used by scrambling firefighters when old Fire Station No. 6 was operational.
Stairs once used by scrambling firefighters when old Fire Station No. 6 was operational.
An old photo of San Diego Fire Station No. 4 and its personnel.
An old photo of San Diego Fire Station No. 4 and its personnel.
Photos of the San Diego Fire Department testing their new Ahrens Steamer at the courthouse on Broadway and Front Street in 1906.
Photos of the San Diego Fire Department testing their new Ahrens Steamer at the courthouse on Broadway and Front Street in 1906.
A collection of colorful old hand pumpers at The San Diego Firehouse Museum.
A collection of colorful antique hand pumpers at The San Diego Firehouse Museum.
The San Diego Firehouse Museum is fantastic place to learn a bit about San Diego and the history of firefighting.
The San Diego Firehouse Museum is fantastic place to learn a bit about San Diego and the history of firefighting.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of interesting photos for you to enjoy!

Published by

Richard Schulte

Downtown San Diego has been my home for many years. My online activities reflect my love for writing, blogging, walking and photography.

4 thoughts on “History of firefighting at San Diego Firehouse Museum.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s