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Harrisburg Museum Honors Civil War era volunteer fire fighters - abc27 WHTM

Harrisburg Museum Honors Civil War era volunteer fire fighters

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How firefighters get to a fire, and what they use when they get there, has been a process of change for centuries. It's an evolution brought to life at the Pennsylvania National Fire Museum in uptown Harrisburg.

"We try to take in all eras from horse drawn to leather for buckets to steamers, to the modern era, which would be motorized," said Museum President Dave Warren.

Since 1996, the century old, completely restored former fire house has been a showcase of historical firefighting apparatus, memorabilia and artifacts.

"We get repeat visitors that keep coming back," explained Warren. "And one of the things we try to do is rotate exhibits and change them out periodically."

For the next two years, in conjunction with Civil War commemorations in Gettysburg, the museum is featuring its own Civil War exhibit, concentrating on volunteer fire fighting in Pennsylvania during the war years. An 1841 hand pumper is one such unit, on loan from the Undine Fire Company in Bellefonte. Pennsylvania's governor during the war, Andrew Curtin, was a founding member of the Undine station.

"There's a direct tie to him and his fire department," said Warren. " And he probably operated this piece at some point."

Another rare piece is an 1867 parade carriage called the Jenny Cameron, after the daughter of Simon Cameron, President Lincoln's Secretary of War. In addition, there are displays highlighting army regiments comprised entirely of volunteer firefighters.

But the core of the museum continues to feature fire apparatus from the 18th through the mid 20th century, a fully restored and functioning alarm center and communications console, and a moving tribute to those who responded when called, but never returned.

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