A sampling of what you can see when you tour the Oklahoma Firefighters Museum:
OKLAHOMA RESCUE MEMORIAL
At 9:02 a.m. on April 19, 1995, downtown Oklahoma City experienced an atrocity so great it gripped an entire nation and made the whole world stand still. Two of these memorials were made - one is here at the Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum and the other is at the International Association of Firefighters offices in Washington, D.C. The Murrah Memorial is located in the main hall as you enter the Museum Building.
OLD FIRE STATION
This is a small replica of an old firehouse. It contains a version of the John Gamewell Alarm System from Enid, Oklahoma. The alarm system is still in working condition and Museum visitors can see how a fire alarm was sent, received and dispatched in the early days of the 20th century. An old logbook for alarm box locations and first out units is on display. The Logbook was used as a guide for the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for which Stations and vehicles would first respond to all Fire Callbox Alarms located within the city of Oklahoma City.
The Fort Cobb Fire Truck is a 1928 Chevrolet Chemical Truck. The service life of this truck was from 1928 to 1941. In 1931, the Jaeger Front Pump was added to give the unit more flexibility in fire fighting. In 1981, the truck was found in the back of the Fort Cobb Fire Station, where concrete blocks, sheet metal and boards had covered it for many years. Firefighters of the Anadarko Fire Department took on this project which required 758 man-hours in order to restore this truck.
The 1920 Stutz is a one of a kind. Harry P. Stutz built 100 with a full brass block, and this truck is number 62. It was restored by the Relic Patch in July 1977 and bought by Tom A. Thomas to drive back and forth to The University of Oklahoma football games. In 1986, he donated the truck to the Oklahoma Firefighters Museum for a tax write-off of $158,000.00 dollars. The radiator is a honeycomb design and was leaking. Mr. Thomas sent it to England for repair - the cost, including shipping, came to $8,000 dollars on its return.
MODERN FIREFIGHTING EQUIPMENT
The bunker coats on display range from before World War II to the present. The Morning Pride Manufacturing Co. furnished all the gear.
Before WWII, firefighters wore rubber bunker coats and rubber boots. The helmets were leather which, after being wet the first time, were very uncomfortable. After WWII, the coats were made from cotton duck material, leather boots were still used and helmets were made from aluminum or leather. In 1970, the National Fire Protection Agency standard became a flame-retardant material called Nomex. Nomex remains intact until the temperatures are greater than 800 degrees, then the material is destroyed by the heat. The NFPA also recommended the use of full-length bunker pants with boots, although most fire departments did not adopt them until several years later.
In the late 1980s, some departments went to PBI. This material is made of 40% PBI and 60% Kevlar. This suit will withstand a cigarette lighter burn for five minutes without hurting the material. This material is able to withstand temperatures of 1800 degrees. Kevlar is the same product used to make bulletproof vests.
THE LAST ALARM MURAL
The mural was created by artist Lynn Campbell and depicts different pieces of fire fighting apparatus from the period of the horse-drawn steamer to the mid-1950s. The apparatus shown on the mural are not a figment of the artist's imagination, but are real and recorded in the cities and town in which they served. The mural, 59' feet long and 8' feet high, was not created in the quiet seclusion of a studio, but was born before the eyes of the many visitors to the Oklahoma Firefighters Museum.
Ben Dancy/Arvin Fennell Memorial
Ben B. Dancy was chief of Oklahoma City Fire Department in the 1960's. On June 1, 1969, the Oklahoma Firefighters Museum opened its doors with four exhibits. Chief Dancy had four cases with fire department patches, which he placed on the wall. He continued to add to the patch collection until 1982, when he passed away. Then, retired Midwest City, Oklahoma Fire Department Assistant Chief Arvin Fennell continued to add to the patch collection in Chief Dancy’s honor. Chief Fennell took the collection from several large catalogue style wall mounted frames to 142 custom built wood wall mounted frames. Chief Fennell maintained the collection until his passing in 2015. Today, the collection is on three full walls of the Museum and contains more than 7,000 patches from around the world.