Get Trucked

Over the past quarter-century, the Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting has grown into one of Phoenix's finest museums. The Hall's extensive collection includes working fire alarms, photos, prints, paintings, patches and uniforms from across America and around the world, along with many superb specimens of wheeled firefighting apparatus. There are 100 examples, some dating as far back as 1725. That number is scheduled to grow by one this Saturday, May 20, when the museum welcomes its latest acquisition. A gleaming 1955 American-La France aerial ladder truck from the Baldwin, New York, fire department is en route to its new home in the Valley. The cross-country trek should end just in time for Summer Safety Day.

The Hall's curator of education and public events, James Ward, recently explained that the event is a fund raiser by Baldwin's and Phoenix's fire departments to aid the families of three firefighters from Keokuk, Iowa, who were killed in the line of duty while trying to rescue three children in December 1999. The small town's death benefits for the deceased men's families amount to a tiny sum, so fellow fire departments have stepped up to help.

The addition to the collection is making quite a trip. The ladder truck is an open-cab model, which means it is exposed to the elements. Five drivers are splitting the work and seeing the country. They're being put up by other fire departments along the way and raising funds at similar events being organized between there and here.

Activities for this family event are scheduled from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and will include fire engine rides, free food, clowns, museum tours, bucket brigades, lots of water games and plenty of fire-safety information. The admission (which goes toward the fund-raising effort) is $5 for adults and $3 for kids.

The Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting is located at 6101 East Van Buren. For details call 602-275-3473.

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David Gofstein