Historic Engine House No. 6
The year is 1910. Imagine a pair of matched fire horses, Tom and Dick, in their stalls, one on each side of the apparatus floor, awaiting their next run. The Armstrong harnesses are hanging from the ceiling in readiness. (The pulleys are still there.) The four firemen on duty may be gathered around the potbellied stove at the rear of the floor or perhaps have retired to the bunk room on the second floor. Their names are W. R. Snow, Willie Spenser, Fred Davis and Charles Duffner. The red Seagraves combination chemical and hose wagon sets facing the accordion door that opens out to Old Lawrence Avenue.
But that scene is short-lived. Engine House No. 6 was the last horse drawn station in Wichita. By 1918 the horses were gone, and Wichita had become the first all-mechanized fire department in the United States and the second in the world.
By 1953, the old classic neighborhood station was obsolete and closed. It was used for storage and reserve firefighter training, but it fell into disrepair and was destined for demolition.
In 1993, concerned firefighters and neighborhood residents cooperated to restore the building and develop the first Kansas firefighters museum. This grassroots endeavor was accomplished mainly by a half dozen loyal volunteers who faithfully worked one day a week on the project for several years.
The structure was placed on the National and Kansas Registers of Historic Places in 1994. The Kansas Firefighters Museum was designated as the official Kansas firefighters’ museum by the Kansas Legislature in 2007.
Things to Do
- Have your photo taken on a steam pumper
- Buy a memento from the gift shop
- Ring a fire bell
- Watch a computer slide show of firefighters in action
- Browse through old fire records and photographs
- Listen to lectures on historic firefighting
- Warm yourself by the old potbellied stove
Things to See
- American LaFrance Metropolitan steam powered pumper purchased by Wichita FD in 1902
- 1921 American LaFrance fire truck
- 1909 horse drawn chemical and hose wagon
- 1880s Howe hand pumper
- 19th Century hand drawn chemical extinguisher
- 19th Century hand drawn hose reel
- Fire helmets, uniforms, badges, caps
- Wooden water mains, hydrants, nozzles, alarms
- Leather buckets, extinguishers, ladders, toys
- Fire related photographs, fire manuals, books
- And much more!