Fort Wayne firefighters and employees at the Fort Wayne Firefighters Museum have been working on a few projects and are ready to share them with the public Tuesday during an open house.
For the past several months, firefighters and others have been working to put the finishing touches on a renovated conference room and display area on the second floor of the museum, 226 W. Washington Blvd.
The project has been in the works since the start of the year and cost about $4,000 to complete, said Doug Krawczyk, head of public relations for the museum’s board of directors.
It’s been a neat project to be involved with, Krawczyk said, describing how firefighters worked together to complete the renovations. It’s been neat to be able to be part of sharing this history.
The renovated rooms will be presented to the public during an open house from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday. There will be no charge for admission, but donations are welcomed.
Free parking during the open house will be in the lot east of the museum. The entrance to the parking area is off South Harrison Street.
The museum will also sell raffle tickets for a children’s fire truck bed built by Duane Allen, son of the Fort Wayne Fire Department’s Don Allen.
Raffle tickets are $5 each or $20 for five tickets, and the drawing will take place during Fire Prevention Week in October, Krawczyk said. All proceeds will benefit the museum.
The museum, which is housed in the former Station 3, was opened to the public in 1981. The station was built in 1883 and at the time was one of six firehouses in Fort Wayne.
The station closed in 1972 and was deeded to the museum in 1987.
The renovated conference room, which was the chief’s office when the museum was a functioning firehouse, was named after Robert A. Kiles, who died in 2010.
Kiles was a firefighter with the department for more than 27 years before retiring from the position of assistant chief in 1974.
The conference room features a meeting area and table with memorabilia and photos from throughout the years, including a portrait of Kiles.
In the attached upstairs room, two new displays – one in honor of female firefighters and a second exhibit featuring a 1900s firehouse bedroom – fill the area near the front of the museum, with areas for more exhibits to come.
Krawczyk said a revolving exhibit is planned where the bedroom display currently sits, with hopes that bringing in new items to see will continue to draw visitors to the museum.
The museum has about 160 visitors each month and last year saw more than 1,700 visitors.
Groups of children, including school trips and other organizations, accounted for half the total visitors, he said.
Krawczyk said the board of directors and the fire department would like to see the museum continue to grow, not only in popularity but also in the amount of space it has available for displays.
We have about the same amount that is on display here in storage, just waiting to be cleaned and put on display, Krawczyk said.
It’s just a matter of space.
Two rooms in the back of the museum are already being prepped to be renovated, with the hope that future visitors can explore more of the former firehouse and learn more about the history of the Fort Wayne Fire Department.