DALLAS — When the State Fair of Texas kicked off in the fall of 1972, there was a new attraction in an old building that sat just across the street from Fair Park. The Dallas Firefighter Museum opened that year in an old firehouse built in 1908.
Now 50 years later, the museum is set to celebrate some big milestones while remaining nearly untouched by time. A 1972 WFAA story on the opening of the Dallas Firefighter Museum is preserved at the SMU Jones Film Library and if you walk through the museum today, it will look strikingly similar to how it looked in the old film.
“A lot of things have not changed in the museum,” said museum president and former Dallas Fire Battalion Chief Trixie Lohrke. “We still have a lot of the same artifacts.”
Several fire engines past and present are housed in the museum, but the centerpiece and crown jewel is “Old Tige,” a horse-drawn fire engine purchased by the city in 1884 and named after former Mayor W.L. Cabell. Currently, Old Tige is in Ohio where it is receiving some restoration work as preserving history is not free.
“We are supported by members of the department,” said Lohrke. “They donate out of their paychecks monthly to support this museum.”
The year 2022 marks many anniversaries for first responders in Dallas. Dallas Fire Rescue turns 150 years old while Dallas EMS and the Dallas Firefighter Museum both celebrate 50 years.
Though it has kept most its history in the original form, the museum is currently in the middle of a $10 million capital campaign. The proposed renovations would add a fire safety educational center for children on the building’s second floor among other improvements.
The “Ladders and Lagers” festival scheduled in October will help benefit the museum’s fundraising effort as well as celebrate the many birthdays for city services.
“It is a really great way to celebrate the community,” said Cali Franks, a museum board member and local attorney.” We want to make sure our first responders are celebrated and we continue this legacy.”
The festival will take place at Community Beer Co. in Dallas from October 28-30. The family friendly event will feature music, vendors and a firefighter games competition.