SHINE on Salem 150, celebrating the sesquicentennial of our city's 1860 charter, continues (and concludes) with the 2012 entry.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Our Salem Fire Station Museums

This is Salem Fire Station #5 at 1520 Glen Creek Road NW. It houses one of our three fire museums with historic equipment.

At Fire Station #5 you will see this Hand Pumper equipment. In 1857, Salem volunteer fire company fought fire with leather buckets filled with water, ladders, and a few basic tools. In 1883, Salem purchased this Hunneman hand-operated fire engine and 300 feet of leather hose. Without horses, it was necessary to hand- pull the 4000 pound fire engine to the fire. Notice the tubing along the top: one end dropped into one of the four cisterns downtown, the other end connected to the hand pumper hose. Fireman forced water from cistern through hose to the fire using the hand rails along the side of the Hand Pumper. This equipment was retired in 1904.



This fire station is is dedicated to George Ventura who joined the Salem Fire Department in 1962 as a firefighter. In April of 1980, he was promoted to Deputy Fire marshal where he remained until his unexpected death in 1986. At the time of his death, George was attending a seminar in Yakima, Washington. In his honor, flags at all Salem Fire Stations were lowered to half-staff.


At this Fire Station #10, 3611 State Street, you will see an original hose cart. Considerably lighter than the engine, it required fewer man to transport. The rod has handles for two men, although there may have been a cross bar to enable more men to move it through the streets. This station museum, like the others, has numerous historic photographs and firefighting exhibits.


At Fire Station #7, 5021 Liberty Road S, you will see Salem's second and last steam engine, the 1889 La France, a horse drawn pumper. By 1893, using horses had saved human labor to such an extent that the 220 man volunteer force was reduced to 14 paid firemen. A select number of apprentice firefighters known as "Call Men" would continue to volunteer until 1923 when the department was able to maintain a fully paid force.


The last use of steam power was in 1935 when the State Capitol burned and every piece of usable equipment was needed. Salem Fire Department's only line-of-duty-death occurred when Floyd McMullen, a 19 year-old volunteer fireman"sleeper" for the East Salem Engine Company, was struck and killed by falling debris at the capitol. This station is dedicated to him.