WESTLAKE, Ohio — The Western Reserve Fire Museum and Education Center is featuring an exhibit on the Westlake Fire Department through December.
“We are honored to be included in the exhibit and it is a privilege to tell our story,” said Westlake Assistant Fire Chief Michael Freeman, who gave a presentation when the museum reopened to the public on Oct. 3.
The exhibit is focused on suburban fire department history. Featured are a Solon fire engine and Westlake’s 1937 Ahren’s Fox fire engine.
“The Ahren’s Fox was the first commercially produced engine purchased for Dover Township — the name of Westlake at the time. We took possession of the engine in 1938 and it still runs today,” Freeman said.
“We use it frequently in parades, but it still pumps water, as far as I know,” he said.
Freeman gave a bit of the history of the city’s fire department at the opening of the exhibit.
“In the 1920s, in the basement of the library building, an 11-member Dover Township Fire Department moved from the library into a garage in the police building. The guys would come running to the fire alarms from their homes and farms to get to the two fire vehicles we had at that time,” he said.
The very first fire engine was actually built by the fire chief, said Freeman.
“He owned an auto dealership and a mechanic’s garage, where he used a 1911 Cadillac chassis to build the engine. The engine in the museum today was the second engine and the first commercially built one the department had.”
The rest of the story is a primo chunk of local history and worth having a look at in the Western Reserve Fire Museum and Education Center. The museum is located at 310 Carnegie Ave., across from Progressive Field, in an historic landmark building that was former Fire Station 28 and the Cleveland Fire Alarm Office and Dispatch Center, which operated from 1926 until 2002.
The museum’s information states: “Our museum will allow visitors to step back in time and explore the rich firefighting history of Northeast Ohio through our rotating exhibits and displays. It will educate the young and old in fire safety and emergency preparedness, as well as inspire the inventors of tomorrow to develop new technologies in firefighting and fire safety.”
The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Entrance fees are reasonable at $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $5 for children. Face masks are required.
For more information, visit https://wrfmc.com/ or call 216-664-6312.
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