Just a block from the Alamo, in the heart of downtown San Antonio, sits a stately stone building teeming with history and character. Built in 1938 and once used as the Central Fire Headquarters, this classic historic structure now houses the San Antonio Fire Museum.
This fire station is not only embedded in the history of the city, but in my family history also. I come from a firefighter family, and my dad and great-grandfather both spent time working out of this station. Which is why it was a must-visit on my “Summer San Antonio Bucket List.”
Run completely by active and retired San Antonio firefighters, the process of creating this museum is clearly a labor of love- every piece is an authentic find, and every engine has been meticulously restored.
As you walk through the museum, you’re taken on a journey through time, becoming immersed in a visual timeline of the evolution of the SAFD.
Nothing about the museum feels cold or unapproachable. It has a warmth to it. The retired firefighters that volunteer invite you to turn the siren on one of the refurbished old fire trucks, and will engage you in stories, insights, and conversation for as long as you want to talk. They’re even working to expand and will eventually be offering a kid’s camp!
In an age when it seems so easy for everything to become anonymous and faceless, the fire museum has re-humanized the firefighter experience. The walls are absolutely covered in photographs, dating back to the first fire crew in the city. The pictures tell the story of the men and women (there’s an entire section dedicated to the women of the fire department!) that have pledged their lives and careers to ensuring the safety of the people.
They even honor the arson dogs that have served the city.
There is so much to see and experience at the museum. It’s an emotional experience, an insightful experience, and most of all- a fun experience (playing with some of the stuff is encouraged).
This is an amazing, hands-on experience for the entire family- whether you live in San Antonio, or you’re here on vacation. I’m so grateful I was finally able to check it out, and can’t wait to see what their expansion will hold.
**The museum is located at 801 E. Houston (at the corner of E. Houston and Bonham). It functions 100% through donations and gift shop purchases, making it a ridiculously affordable adventure in the center of San Antonio.