Redbull hangár

Redbull hangár

2012. december 14., péntek

Back Draft – visit in the fire museum of Charleston


Text and photos: Balázs Gampel

The United States of America is rich in sights even whether it is the beauties of nature or the well preserved piece of history. They put a lot of effort to conserve the vehicles of past ages, whether it is a car, an aircraft or a watercraft.

We can meet interesting and exciting collections in the most unexpected places. Today’s post introduces such an accidentally discovered pearl.

Maybe some of you remember that movie from the 90’s which name is in the title. It gave some insight to the closed world of firemen. Watching it as a kid, my admiration for the flaming red monsters pushed the story into the background. These special vehicles are still amongst my favorites and I can still watch them with enthusiasm even as an adult.

That’s why I was happy when I had the opportunity last summer to visit the “LeFrance Fire and Educational Center” in Charleston, North-Carolina. 


With the help of the well preserved vehicles, we can follow the evaluation of the fire engines from the beginning to the present.

The museum and the collection is quite young, the complex was opened to the visitors in 2007. The opening of the exhibition coincided with the inauguration of the “American LeFrance” factory’s new headquarters, which was built in the nearby Summerville. 


The factory (with its predecessors) is the oldest manufacturer on the North-American continent which is specialized to the production of fire equipments. The story of the company has begun in the 1830 years, with the production of manual, horse-drawn and steam-powered fire-machines. The newer technologies brought new challenges for the factory. The manual and the horse-drawn machines were gradually followed by the completely power-driven fire engines. The Type 5 debuted in 1910, was the first series-production fire-engine of the company, they made 48 of it. 



After the initial difficulties, new types appeared in almost every year, which were built onto the undercarriage of the typical automobiles of that time. The manufacturer has become a reliable and iconic symbol of the North-American fire service world.
The material of the educational center is an integral part of the exhibition. It draws attention (in an interactive form – sometimes in a playful way) to threats around us and the importance of the right behavior in emergency. 



The little theater shows us the dangerous situations in the house and around it with a half an hour show. 



The exhibition starts with the presentation of fire equipments and everyday work with the help of different things and photos. 



After the short insight, a horse-drawn fire chariot used in 1850’s opens the series of sights,



which followed by beautifully restored fire-engine rarities. 

One of the kids' favorite vehicle (AL 775-PJO)

Type-40 pump fire engine from 1920


We can experience the excitement of the firemen as they rush to the fire in the traffic in a fire engine simulator at the end of the exhibition. 

The simulator cabin
Unit 6 in action

  After these thrills, we can create our own fireman badge in a couple of minutes, which will make us remember later to the time we spent in the museum. We can enrich our souvenir collection with some little things from the gift shop, which is standing by the exit.

The oldest piece of the exhibition is the Enjin manually-drawn pump chariot from 1785 which served in the city. 



Beside it, we can find the legendary automobile of that era, the Ford T model’s fire-engine version. 



All of our question will be answered by the enthusiast volunteers of the museum who are mostly retired firemen.

So this museum is worth a visit if you are in Charleston, because it provides a plesant chill out to the whole family. After this little prolog, I rather let the pictures to speak.


Further information on the webpage of the museum and the manufacturer:

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