Hall of Flame Fire Museum

The National Historical Fire Foundation (better known as the Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting) is a museum dedicated to the historical preservation of firefighting equipment used through the years around the world. The museum’s artifacts were originally the private collection of George F. Getz Jr., who opened the original Hall of Flame in Wisconsin in 1961. The collection relocated to Phoenix in 1974, and has since grown into the world’s largest historical firefighting museum.

The museum has five large exhibit galleries, a video theater, and the National Firefighting Hall of Heroes, which commemorates U.S. firefighters who have died in the line of duty or have been decorated for acts of heroism. The equipment is grouped as: Gallery One: Hand & Horse Drawn (1725–1908); Gallery Two: Motorized Apparatus (1897–1951); Gallery Three: Motorized Apparatus (1918–1968); Gallery Four: Motorized Apparatus (1919–1950) and a smaller gallery devoted to Wildland Firefighting. It also has a large collection of fire department arm patches, early fire insurance marks, fire helmets, art objects and other types of graphics, as well as a children’s play area. A number of the collection’s vehicles are taken out of the Museum by volunteer operators to participate in Phoenix-area parades and other events. It is in Phoenix, Arizona at 6101 East Van Buren St across from the Phoenix Zoo and adjacent to the Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

The name is a play on words on “Hall of Fame”. George F. Getz, Jr. founded the Hall of Flame in 1961. He organized the National Historical Fire Foundation as a 501(c)(3) non profit organization to promote the programs of a museum which he named the Hall of Flame. Mr. Getz began to collect fire apparatus after the Christmas 1955 present of a 1924 American LaFrance fire engine from his wife, Olive Atwater Getz. The couple were fascinated by the rig, and Mr. Getz began to collect apparatus of all types from all over the world. Upon Mr. Getz’ passing in 1992, Mr. Getz’ son Bert, and his two sons Bert Jr. and George continued to serve as members of the NHFF board of trustees, with George serving as President. In 1961 the collection was large enough for exhibit in a small museum in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, near the Getz summer home. A few years later, the Hall of Flame moved to Kenosha, Wisconsin, where it remained until 1970. In that year the Getz family moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, and Mr. Getz decided to move the Hall of Flame as well.

In 1974 the Hall of Flame opened its present building in Phoenix’s Papago Park, adjacent to the Phoenix Zoo and Phoenix Municipal Stadium. The Hall has grown from its original single gallery to five exhibit galleries, the National Firefighting Hall of Heroes, the museum store, a theater, a restoration shop, a collection storage building, and administrative offices. The Hall’s present size is 70,000 square feet, with 35,000 square feet of exhibit galleries. The collection has grown to over 130 wheeled pieces and thousands of smaller artifacts. The galleries contain a wide variety of exhibits, including fire apparatus, artwork, uniforms and equipment, firemarks, alarm room equipment, and a large fire safety exhibit which includes a two room safety house, a mini-theater, and many hands-on exhibits for children. In 1998 the museum opened the National Firefighting Hall of Heroes. In this gallery we honor American firefighters who have received a national award for heroism, and we also recognize American firefighters who have died in the line of duty. The Hall of Flame Museum has a membership of over 400 individuals, fire departments, and companies, who receive a wide variety of benefits in exchange for their membership fees.

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