Hall of Flame

Museum of Firefighting


Graphic Objects


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The Hall's collection of graphic materials includes lithographs, prints, engravings, paintings, and photographs of a wide variety of subject material.

There are many Currier and Ives lithographs, including the "Life of a Fireman" series, as well as lithographs of fire engines and famous fires.

We have dozens of prints and engravings from Harper's Magazine, the Scientific American, Leslie's Magazine, and similar publications. 

The majority of the graphics collection, however, consists of photographs. We have a number of apparatus photographs by manufacturers like Obenchain Boyer and Prospect, but the majority of the photographs belong to four collections:

The Chicago Newspaper Collection, the Moon Mullins Collection, the O'Meara Collection, and the New London Fire Museum Collection.




Currier and Ives Life of a Fireman - Night Alarm

Currier and Ives Life of a Fireman - "The Race"

Currier and Ives Life of a Fireman - At the Fire

Currier and Ives Life of a Fireman - The Ruins.

Currier and Ives Life of a Fireman - The New Era

The Metropolitan System



The Chicago Collection

The Chicago Collection includes about 50,000 negatives in 4x5 format, taken by a number of Chicago newspaper photographers between 1920 and 1980. About 150 have been printed, but the rest are in negative format only. each photograph is described and dated. 

Most are in excellent condition. the subjects range from firemen at leisure in firehouses to raging fires and terrible scenes of injury from fires. 


The negatives have been placed in storage, but are not yet fully catalogued. 

In the summer of 2003 museum volunteer Francis Cooper began the process of creating a database of these photographs so that they can be searched by subject and date.  The database includes a scanned image of one photo from each event.  To date about 500 events have been catalogued, representing over 4,000 photos.  A few samples are included below this text.

From the Chicago Collection: "Ice covered fire engine at 1136 W. 35th St. (36th & Morgan), on February 4, 1947." The rig is an Ahrens-Fox Model N, of which the Chicago Fire Department had a considerable number. The charged hoses show that despite the cold the Fox was doing its job.

A wrecked American La France damaged on a run on November 24, 1947 Fireman Walter Davenport carries Fritz to safety at a fire at 15 South Roosevelt St., March 8, 1958

Grain elevator fire.  October 30, 1945


Lieutenant Jerry McElligott carries a two year old baby to safety from a fire at 221 South Ashland on November 13, 1956
Three firemen struggle to open a  frozen hydrant at a fire at 214 North La Crosse. December 18, 1946.

New and old.  1947 Mack pumper at left, with a 1920s vintage American La France at right.

A fireman operates a deck pipe at a fire at 15th and Blue Island on February 14, 1946. Mack Model AC fire engine, built ca. 1920.  In service in 1947.


Fatal fire.  A fireman carries the body of a dead infant from a fire at 308 West 44th Street

Fatal fire at 915 West 51st Place on March 25, 1947.  Chief Cotter inspects the crib where a one month old baby died.  The child's mother also died in the fire.


The Moon Mullins Collection


The Moon Mullins Collection is a series of over 30 scrapbooks containing about 10,000 photographs in the form of prints, most of which are 8x10.

Mr. Mullins was a fire buff who lived in New York City. he collected press photographs of fires and fire related scenes from all over the world, although the majority are of New York City fires.

Most of the photographs have captions and dates. The Mullins Collection has not been catalogued, but the pictures are a bit more accessible because they are prints. 


However, these prints are in fragile condition and the fixer in some is beginning to fade the images.

The artistic quality of the Mullins and Chicago photographs varies from excellent to mediocre.

Their principle value lies in their historic capacity as records of fire scenes from bygone eras.

We hope within the next few years to scan these photographs and store them in computerized format.

From the Moon Mullins Collection: "Fire at Canal and Harrison (New York City) , January 26, 1939. Northwest corner fire at Canal and Harrison Street building."

A Mack pumper is in the scene, as well as a pair of aerial ladders, one of which has a pair of ladder pipes. Firemen are delivering water on all four stories, and the fire appears to be under control.

  Other Photo Collections   


The New London Fire Museum had a fine collection of helmets, trumpets, parade belts and other memorabilia from the period when the area had volunteer fire departments. 

The museum was dissolved during the 1970s and a portion of its collections was purchased by the Hall of Flame.  Part of the collection is a group of photographs of the department at various stages in its history. 

Most of the photos are stained, faded, and dirty, but their subject matter and large size make them worth the expense of restoration.  


Vincent O' Meara was a retired fireman from Flint, Michigan, who organized a museum in Hialeah, Florida.  The museum displayed about thirty pieces of apparatus as well as a large number of pieces of memorabilia and photos acquired by Mr. O' Meara during the 1950s and 1960s. 

Upon his death his museum was sold at auction by his widow.  The Hall of Flame acquired a large collection of photos, records and memorabilia, as well as several pieces of apparatus. 

Vincent O' Meara was not a wealthy man, but he was diligent and perceptive collector who saved many valuable pieces from destruction and compiled a very useful archive of notes, trade catalogues, correspondence and photographs on a wide variety of firefighting subjects. 

We are in the process of restoring several of the most important of the photographs in his collection.



Volunteers from the Elizabeth, New Jersey Fire Department ca. 1890.  From the Vincent O' Meara Collection.    From the O' Meara Collection: Chief Stephenson of the Miami, Florida Fire Department poses with his brand new 1926 Cadillac chief's car. 

The car was later modified to carry two soda chemical tanks in its rear seat area with a booster hose reel attached to the rear bumper. 

 Mr. O' Meara had the car in his collection during the 50s, but its present location is unknown.  


From the New London Fire Museum Collection: The Konomoc Hose Company, New London, Connecticut, ca 1890.  


From the O'Meara Collection:  Ladder crew in action, New York City, ca. 1910.  


From the New London Museum Collection:  Konomoc Hose Company volunteers take up hose at a cold fire scene in New London, Connecticut, ca 1900. Nobody is in uniform, and several of the helpers look like they are stopping to help while on their way to work.  


From the O'Meara Collection:  A building collapse destroys a pumper  and damages Water Tower 2, a 1900 Fire Extinguisher Manufacturing Company rig, at a New York City fire in 1917. 

The Tower was fitted in 1912 with the Webb / Couple Gear electric tractor shown in the photo.  It remained in service with FDNY until 1957.

The photographer was A. Dreyfous.



A steam fire engine with a three horse team rushes to fire, date and location unknown.  Many firemen in the horse drawn era, often drivers, were thrown from their rigs and crushed beneath the wheels of their own apparatus or by following apparatus.  The photo shows why these accidents were so common.


Above: From the Prospect Fire Apparatus Company Collection: A factory photograph of a triple combination built by the Jaeger Portable Power Company of Detroit, Michigan. The rig, on a Chevrolet chassis, was built around 1922 for the town of Hopkinsville, Kentucky. 

Most companies photographed each of their rigs as it was completed. This rig has a Prospect chemical tank and a front mounted Jaeger centrifugal pump. A rig like this was an affordable and adequate match for the needs and financial resources of a small town.

Above: From the Collection of Vincent O'Meara: A Prospect Model HT "chemical car" built for the Big Four Fire Company of Refton Pennsylvania, January 17, 1921, on a Model TT Ford chassis. 

The rig has a pair of Prospect chemical tanks, a pair of Dietz "Fireking" lanterns, a  Babcock style fire extinguisher, a twenty foot extension ladder, a ten foot roof ladder, and a pike pole.

The rig also features a hand operated gong, a searchlight, and an electric lantern, as well as a nicely upholstered leather seat.

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