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Antique Fire-Fighting Memorabilia Donated to EKU

Antique Fire-Fighting Memorabilia Donated to EKU

Retired California State Fire Marshall Ron Coleman, wanted a secure and permanent home for some pieces of his private collection of historical artwork, equipment and memorabilia.

He couldn’t have found a better, or more appreciative place to accept them than Eastern Kentucky University College of Justice & Safety’s Department of Fire Protection and Paramedicine Sciences Fire Protection and Safety Laboratory.

Chief Coleman’s connection to EKU’s SSEM students and faculty, especially former CJ&S associate dean Larry Collins, grew over the years through interactions at fire science conferences like FDIC.  Coleman eventually became a Fire Protection & Safety Engineering Technology Advisory Board member.

The donated pieces, some of which date back to the late 1800’s, are extremely valuable monetarily.  But their real value may be as teaching aids for EKU’s College of Justice & Safety fire protection students.

Framed case studies of the great Boston fire of 1872 and the Baltimore fire of 1904 that destroyed hundreds of city blocks, show students how quickly an urban catastrophe could spread and how many fire units, some as far away as Cincinnati, were needed to contain the fire.

Other pieces from Chief Coleman’s collection, like a chemical engine used in the oil fields of Los Angeles, CA in the 1940’s or an antique hose cart (circa 1928) illustrate the development of fire fighting over the years.  And a French hand pumper from 1847 is the “crown jewel” of the collection according to William Hicks, associate professor, SSEM.  “These items show the evolution of fire-fighting equipment and represents how fire services operated in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s,” said Hicks.

The collection also includes dozens of helmets from all over the world, including some pre-1900’s ones from Belgium, Germany, France and New Zealand.

Eventually, the donated items will be displayed throughout the laboratory.  “Our students were immediately excited as they saw these items being unpacked,” said Hicks.  “In addition to the educational value, having these items here make this place a home for our students,” said Hicks.  “It will make this place feel like a fire house.” 

Published on April 12, 2016

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