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Today's Family Magazine

Western Reserve Fire Museum––educational and fun for the entire family!

By Deanna Adams

Fire trucks and firefighters have always caught the fascination of children—from the shiny red trucks to the long ladders, to the sound of the sirens.  So it makes perfect sense that fire museums are a terrific place to visit for children, and adults, who want to experience what it takes to fight fires, while being fully entertained in a number of ways.

The Western Reserve Fire Museum and Education Center, located across from Progressive Field, began as Cleveland Fire Station #28 in 1926, where it also served as the Cleveland Fire Alarm Office and Dispatch Center until 2002.

When it became a museum in 2013, its mission was clear –– to provide a first class fire museum and education center to increase fire safety programming and reduce the numbers of fire deaths and injuries in northeast Ohio.  This includes all the 12 counties of the “Lands of the Western Reserve”–– Erie, Huron, Lorain Medina, Cuyahoga, Summit, Lake, Geauga, Portage, Ashtabula, Trumbull & Mahoning.

This goal includes preserving the historic two-story, 20,000 sq. ft. sandstone building that serves as the perfect repository for learning local firefighting history and teaching fire safety to children and adults.

“I was one of those kids who always wanted to be a firefighter,” says Jim Bell, who served as a Cleveland Heights firefighter for 26 years before retiring in 2014.  “I had a great career living my dream job.”

Now, as president of the museum, Bell has time to volunteer his services and share his expertise. He adds that the museum isn’t just for kids.  “We have a wide variety of groups that come here: daycare centers, school groups, boys and girl scouts, parents with kids, and many senior citizens.” 

Some things you can expect to see and experience begin in the main gallery that displays a different exhibition each year.   The current exhibit, “Sound the Alarm: Suburbs Respond to the Need for Fire Protection,” focuses on the development of fire departments in Cuyahoga County, highlighting the communities of Collinwood, Fairview Park and Parma.

The museum’s programs are presented in an interactive environment with role playing in simulated settings that demonstrate what to do in the event of a fire.  Visitors of all ages can learn about historical events (such as the famous 1908 Collinwood school fire) and hear firsthand accounts while viewing historic artifacts, photographs and videos.

Perhaps most impressive in the education center is the miniature house with simulated smoke-filled room that includes an actual bedroom and kitchen where children can physically practice getting to safety by climbing up onto a small roof. Interactive activities such as this take children beyond the familiar "stop, drop and roll" technique.  This wing also includes a play area, the Kids Korner, where children can dress up in fire gear, read colorful books, and create artwork they can then post on the bulletin board.  And starting in January 2020, the museum will host birthday parties. (Call the Museum for details.)

Here comes Santa Claus!
And if you’re seeking a fun new way to see jolly St. Nick, head to the Western Reserve Fire Museum and Education Center on Sunday, December 15 from 1 to 3 pm.  Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive in fine style—on a fire truck!  There will be plenty of goodies and photo opportunities (bring your cameras), and best of all, the event is free! 

The Museum is located at 310 Carnegie Road in Cleveland.  Hours are Wednesday through Saturday, from 10 am to 4 pm.  Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $5 for children.

For more information, call (216) 664-6312, or visit