Firefighter heroes in a drill downtown.

During my walk this morning through downtown San Diego I saw numerous firefighters and fire engines participating in a Sunday fire drill. It was a simulation of an emergency in a high-rise.

I thought you might enjoy a few photos of these true heroes in action!

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

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.

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Heroes at San Diego 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb.

San Diego 911 Memorial Stair Climb sign and building.
San Diego 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb sign and event building.

I saw on the news this morning that a special event was being held to remember the firemen and other heroes who responded with selfless courage during the 9/11 attack, thirteen years ago. Firefighters, wearing full gear, would climb ninety stories of stairs, simulating a climb of the World Trade Center towers shortly after they were struck.

My meandering Sunday walk around downtown started late, and by the time I was near the Convention Center, it was early afternoon. But I figured I’d swing around to the tall Hilton hotel to see if the event was still underway.

The stair climbing was over. But many firefighters and emergency responders from San Diego and the surrounding region were still in the park in front of the thirty story Hilton, enjoying food and fellowship.

I personally can’t imagine climbing the equivalent of three tall Hilton hotel buildings wearing all that awkward, extremely heavy gear! These heroes of today, with all of their might, honored the memory of those who endangered their own lives trying to save others.

Firefighters on anniversary of 911 passed under American flag.
Firefighters on anniversary of 9/11 passed under an American flag.
Heavy firefighting gear flung off after a very difficult climb.
Heavy firefighting gear flung off after a very difficult climb.
Emergency responders and the public were invited to the meaningful event.
Emergency responders and the public were invited to the meaningful event.
A piece of the fallen World Trade Center on display by stage.
A piece of the fallen World Trade Center on display by stage.
Some firemen head home with gear after the Sunday morning event.
Some firemen head home with gear after the Sunday morning event.
Used firefighter turnout bags and skateboards sold in front of Hilton.
Used firefighter turnout bags and unique skateboards sold in front of Hilton.
This little house simulated fire fighting for children. They saved a teddy bear!
This little house simulated fire fighting for small children. They saved a teddy bear!
The selfless courage of 911 firefighters is honored.
A flag, a firetruck and many heroes.  The selfless courage of 9/11 firefighters is honored.

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Peek into the San Diego Firehouse Museum.

sign at the firehouse museum in little italy

If you’re ever in the Little Italy neighborhood in downtown San Diego, you might want to check out the small but jam-packed Firehouse Museum.

Shiny red fire trucks, interesting historical photos, old fire fighting apparatus, memorabilia and even Smokey Bear are on display. And excited kids can climb into one of the cool fire engines!

This sign by the sidewalk invites tourists and passersby to take a peek into the firehouse.

a peek at a cool firetruck and smokey bear

I took a photo from outside, aiming left.

old firetrucks in san diego firehouse museum

And then the above photo aiming right.

The next pic was taken on a later day, in the early morning when the museum was still closed…

The San Diego Firehouse Museum in the early morning.
The San Diego Firehouse Museum in the early morning.

A plaque appeared on the museum’s exterior in mid to late 2015!

Old Fire Station Number Six. From 1915 to 1970, San Diego Fire Department's original Fire Station 6 proudly served the community of Little Italy.
Old Fire Station Number Six. From 1915 to 1970, San Diego Fire Department’s original Fire Station 6 proudly served the community of Little Italy.

The plaque includes this fascinating information:

In the workshop on this site some of America’s most significant fire service innovations were created by the specialty trade-skilled firefighters who worked here, including the world’s first gas engine powered fireboat, the Bill Kettner. In 1963 the National Fire Protection Association declared the national standard thread the official fire hose thread of the United States of America. The machine which enabled this federal legislation was invented here six years earlier by inventor and battalion chief Robert Ely. The common thread allowed thousands of American firefighters to connect their fire hoses together, allowing them to work as one. As a result, countless lives and priceless amounts of property and the environment have been saved.

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