Fire Museum of Maryland commemorates 26th anniversary with Founder's Day activities Visitors 'can see all the firetrucks they want'

September 08, 1997|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,SUN STAFF

David Dean couldn't resist putting on the firefighter's gear, even though the helmet nearly touched his chin, the jacket's hem touched the floor and the boots came up to his knees.

"Fire engine!" David, 7, said, to the cameraman who snapped his picture on a 1957 Seagrave red fire engine, with large bulbous fenders, a big motor and chrome-plated trim.

It was an event at the Fire Museum of Maryland, which celebrated its 26th anniversary with Founder's Day yesterday. The museum has 42 fire engines on display dating from 1806 to 1957, including hand-pulled, horse-drawn and motorized firefighting apparatus.

The ornate chrome and gold-leaf trim on some of the fire engines speaks of bygone eras. On the walls of the museum, paintings show how Colonists fought fires by passing buckets of water down a line of neighbors and friends.

"People think you need a lot of money these days to take kids places and expose them to different things, and you don't," said Shirley Dean, as her son David posed for more pictures on the fire engine with a friend's daughter, Ashlyn Womack, 5.

Leslie Womack, Ashlyn's mother, said they thought it "would be nice for [the children] to come out and learn a little history."

"We try to do that on the weekend and take them to different events."

Inside the museum on tables, collectors displayed miniature fire apparatus. Outside, antique cars were displayed in the parking lot.

Stephen G. Heaver Sr., a retired real estate developer, grew up a block from the firehouse on Upland Road in Roland Park. As a youth, the clang of the fire engines' bells and the sound of the trucks rushing by fascinated him.

In 1962, he bought his first fire engine, an American LaFrance from 1828.

Heaver opened the nonprofit museum in the back of Heaver Plaza off York Road in Lutherville in 1971 with fire engines from his collection.

But he said he never wanted to be a firefighter.

"The big charge I get out of it is seeing people enjoy themselves, that's mothers and fathers and children," he said. "They can come out here for very little money and see all the firetrucks they want."

Museum information: 410- 321-7500.

Pub Date: 9/08/97

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