The San Antonio Fire Museum Society
In 1997, a group of fire fighters banded together and came up with the concept of creating a fire museum for San Antonio; to preserve the rich historical culture of the department; to collect, preserve, and archive the records of the department and to continue an educational program aimed at educating the San Antonio citizenry regarding fire protection and prevention.
The original Chairman of the Group was John Duennenberg, who along with others paved the way for the eventual formation of the Fire Museum Committee. Twelve years later, the Society is finally moving forward with fulfilling its dream of establishing a museum. And the most tenacious members of the original cast are still with us today, to wit:
These individuals had a vision and they were not going to be deterred from its achievement. Year after year they were promised a site, were promised assistance and artifacts, yet the promises fell on deaf ears. It wasn’t intentional as the City was experiencing budgetary cutbacks, the fire department was not alone in the mandate to reduce expenses. Further, there never was a truly convenient site to be designated as the official site for the museum.
In 2007, the above group of founding members, recruited new members to re-energize the committee and to further its goals with a new focus and direction. By then, they had established permission to use the then abandoned Fire Station No. 7 on Alamo Street as the temporary storage site for artifacts and equipment. The Committee elected Carlos Resendez as its President, who immediately scheduled a series of meeting to establish where we were and what needed to be done to move towards the common goal.
Among the things that Resendez determined that had to occur were the incorporation of the Museum Society as a 501 (C) (3) corporation (a non-profit entity) whose primary interest would be to preserve the rich cultural history of the San Antonio Fire Department, to obtain the federal and state tax exempt status and to negotiate with the city to obtain a lease on Fire Station No. 7 to house equipment and artifacts, thereby legally allowing the Society to be on the site for the period negotiated, and to further look for a more proper site regarding the future site of the Fire Museum.
After Chief Charles Hood’s appointment as Fire Chief in February of 2007, Resendez set up several meetings and together they decided on the accomplishment of the stated goals. Resendez took care of preparing and completing the legal infrastructure for the Museum Society and the jointly worked with Chief Hood to designate Station No. 1 as the proposed site for the new Museum pending its relocation in late 2010 or early 2011. Together, they advance a Memorandum of Understanding that spells out the series of events that must occur to effectuate the accomplishment of the dream.
In early 2010, the Board of Directors will be installed at a ceremony launching a $5 million capital campaign to raise funds necessary to refurbish Station No. 1 once it is officially relocated. The funds will be used to create a high tech communications room to offer educational programs to the public at large, and to show the development of the history of the Fire Department, its living history through past legends that have already been recorded. Other funds will be dedicated to preserving antique equipment that the Department has rendered obsolete and to perhaps purchase certain pieces of equipment needed to complete the story of the mechanical evolution. The entire site will be painted; the exterior sandblasted; the bay doors brought to their original condition; the floors restored; the basement waterproofed to accommodate additional storage; the shops area utilized to restore future apparatus; and the kitchen area restored and made functional as if in use currently. This all will take time, talent and money to accomplish.
Labor of Love Campaign
One of the ideas advanced by Resendez is to retain the services of a project manager to coordinate the activities of the rehabilitation of Station 1. In that vein, the Museum Society will be asking individual fire fighters to undertake specific functions needed in the restoration process. For example, if a particular person wants to undertake the restoration of all the windows or painting the interior of the station, this activity can be undertaken in coordination with the project manager as an IN KIND contribution to the Fire Museum Society. This will alleviate the Museum Society's having to solicit the millions of dollars needed for the project during a period when everyone is feeling the pinch of a tight economy. Not all functions will lend themselves to an IN KIND contribution, but we will try to discern which functions can be executed in this fashion and the amount of work that will be required to entertain this objective. This will also enable us, active and retired fire fighters, to claim ownership of the project. We can and will give back to our community through this endeavor, as thanks for the support our community has given us since our formation in 1891.
The following are the current executive board members of the San Antonio Fire Museum Society:
The following are the current board of directors of the San Antonio Fire Museum Society: