I had gone to Dentonâ€™s Central Fire Station for a political forum hosted by the firefighters. If you knew me, you wouldnâ€™t be surprised that I was distracted by some historical pictures on the wall. They depicted Dentonâ€™s firefighters in the early 1900s and the very sight of them had me antsy for more. Instead of paying attention to local politics, I pranced over to a fireman and politely asked, â€œDo yâ€™all have any other historic pictures?â€
Why, yes, Maâ€™am,â€ he replied. â€œJust step around the corner to our museum.â€
Museum??? I had no clue there was a firefighterâ€™s museum in town. But, there is â€¦ and itâ€™s a gem. Perhaps it is one of Dentonâ€™s best-kept secrets (of which there are many). I was so excited that I came back the next morning with my camera dangling around my neck and a notepad in hand. I was primed and ready to explore.
A cadre of â€œfiremenâ€ dressed in fire fighterâ€™s garb from other eras greeted me at the door (click the picture to see it larger).
I swear, they looked so real I expected them to turn and speak. Look at those eyes. Is that well-done, or what?
Preserved in this museum are treasures of firefighting history, and Denton history, that amaze me. Firefighting memorabilia from as far back as 1874, when the “Fire Department” was a collection of 3-gallon leather buckets in a blacksmith shop, to today can be found here. Written historical accounts, meticulously researched, are kept on file. There were almost enough pictures to satisfy even an amateur history sleuth like me.
The chunk of steel from the World Trade Center gave me chills when I touched it. I have no words to describe my feelings. When I tried to describe it to a friend, he said, “I know what you mean. I felt the same chills.”
Perhaps what touched me most were the tributes to fallen firefighters … particularly this bell, labeled “Last Alarm” with an inscription below it.
The inscription reads:
Throughout most of history, the life of a firefighter has been closely associated with the ringing of a bell. As firefighters began their tour of duty, it was the bell that started and ended the day. Through the day and night, each alarm was sounded by the ringing of a bell, which called them to fight fire. When the fire was extinguished, the bell would ring five times to signal the end.
Today, we sound the LAST ALARM to honor all the firefighters who have fallen in the past and all who will fall in the future. The sounding of the LAST ALARM in three sets of five represents the final call for a firefighter who has completed his task and is called upon one last time.
Do not miss The Denton Firefighter’s Museum if you come to Denton, Texas. Bring your children or come all by yourself to enjoy the artifacts residing here. The museum is open from 8:00-5:00 on Monday through Friday [call (940) 349-8840 for more info]. It’s at 332 E. Hickory Street and is free to the public (although I suggest a donation to help preserve this wonderful slice of history).
While you are there, it is likely that you will see a fire fighter. Take a moment of your time to thank them … our first responders are heroes. Don’t wait until the LAST ALARM to honor them.