New Bern Firemen’s Museum
We have come to acquire a greater appreciation for those who serve and protect. The police and firemen of our nation earn and deserve our respect with their daily selflessness as they risk their lives for strangers without hesitation. These men and women, mostly volunteers, are only the most recent of a long line of protectors that began centuries ago. North Carolina is no exception. In fact, let’s take a ride over to our coastal town of New Bern for a glimpse at the Firemen’s Museum. Here you’ll find a unique experience celebrating the first city in North Carolina – and one of the first in the nation – to charter a fire company.
The New Bern Firemen’s Museum is located just behind today’s Main Fire Station in historic downtown New Bern. Established in 1955, the museum’s mission is to preserve the history of a century and a half of fire fighting.
The New Bern Fire Department’s history reaches back to the Civil War. In fact, May 4, 1845 was the day the first chartered firefighting organization, Atlantic Hook and Ladder Company, was formed. Unfortunately, this company became inactive due to members volunteering for military service at the outbreak of the war between the states.
The next chapter in the museum’s history began when Union Soldiers established the New Bern Steam Fire Engine Company No. 1 (The Button Company) on January 1, 1865. The rivalry between the Atlantic and Button companies gained momentum when both received their steam engines. Each blaze drew a gathering of New Bern residents anticipating which company would arrive first. The Town Council decision to house both companies in a central fire station brought this rivalry to an end in 1928.
In addition to these, a junior company made up of young men – aged 16 to 18 – existed called Excelsior Bucket and Axe Company. Upon reaching manhood, these brave young men were promoted into the Atlantic or Button Fire Company. There were other companies too, but you’ll have to visit the museum to learn more about those!
The New Bern Fire Department kept abreast of city growth, with their first motorized fire truck arriving in 1914. This, along with the new water system and recently paved roads, enabled the firemen quicker response time to fires.
The city’s long and honored past has provided many of the exhibits preserved in the museum. Experience history through an extensive collection of early fire fighting equipment, rare photographs, Civil War relics and more. Animal lovers will enjoy the story of Fire Horse Fred and the reason why Dalmatians are our “Fire Dog.”
Museums provide an educational and fun look into the past. Bring the family and enjoy a positive and unique experience at the Firemen’s Museum in New Bern, North Carolina. You’ll be glad you stopped by.
added: December 30, 2008
updated: December 31, 2008