About

Our Mission

The mission of the Tampa Firefighters Museum is to preserve the heritage of the Tampa Fire Department and promote life safety education and fire prevention within the community.

Our Vision

The Tampa Firefighters Museum’s vision is to preserve the rich history, culture, and significance of the Tampa Fire Department by sharing real-life events, exhibits, and life safety education while ensuring our future by encouraging the next generation to pursue the fire service as a profession.

The Tampa Firefighters Museum pays tribute to our firefighters, past and present, and the rich legacy they have left us. When you walk through the doors of the 1911 Firehouse, “Old Fire Station #1”, that our museum calls home, you can see firsthand how our mission and vision are united.

This beautifully restored two-story firehouse stands as a tribute to our city and those who dutifully served it. The museum exhibits and museum store are open to the general public from 10 am to 2 pm on Monday through Friday, available only by appointment. There is no admission charge but donations are greatly appreciated.

The 1st-floor exhibition hall displays our museum exhibits and children’s life safety education center. Measuring approximately 5,000 square feet, the exhibition hall has the original brick walls, concrete floors, and many other original features.

The 2nd-floor exhibition hall is approximately 2,500 square feet, with original wood flooring in a rich walnut tone. The entire museum is wheelchair accessible and ADA compliant.

The Museum Building

The Tampa Firefighters Museum is located in a fully restored firehouse. Built in 1911, the building served as the downtown Tampa fire station and the original fire department headquarters until 1978 when a modern new fire station was built across the street.

Features of the building reflect the unique time during which it was constructed. This fire station was the last one built in Tampa with horse-drawn fire apparatus in mind.

This building has been designated a “local historical landmark” by the City of Tampa Historic Designation Division. It has also received numerous restoration and preservation awards including the Commercial Restoration Achievement Award from Tampa Preservation Incorporated, and the Hillsborough County Historic Preservation Award.

You begin to see the exhibits as soon as you walk in the front door. You are surrounded by century old brick and photographs of how the museum looked when it was a working fire station adorn the walls. When you walk into the main exhibit space you see life-sized mannequins depicting firefighter protective gear of old and new. Then you go around the corner to see communication gear, alarm boxes and speaking trumpets, from a time when telephones were rare and radios were nonexistent.

Below your feet, the cement floor shows scars from the days when the hooves of large horse-pulled heavy steam drawn fire apparatus out of the station and to an alarm. The building and the exhibits join to help you look back at the history of Tampa firefighting life.

Museum Exhibits

From the time you pass through the main entryway, you can feel the strength of the brick construction beside you and around you.

The station was built of brick in 1911 to make it resistant to fire being spread from adjacent wood buildings. The features of the fire station itself are part of the exhibits. The brick walls, fire shutters on windows, poles for firefighters to quickly ascend from the second to the first floor, and gashes in the cement floor where the hooves of large horses dug in to get steam-powered fire equipment rolling to an alarm. All of these share stories of firefighting life in a different age.

A large communications board and fire alarm boxes speak to a time when phones were rare and radios almost nonexistent. To report an alarm, residents would have to go to the corner and ‘pull a box’ to summon help.

Hanging on one wall is a life safety net. Maybe you’ve seen them in cartoons or old silent movies. A team of firefighters would hold the net and a person, trapped by smoke and flames on the upper floor of a burning building, was supposed to jump into the net. There are few documented stories of this type of life safety net ever being used. However, this one was carried on the side of a Tampa ladder truck for many decades finding use only in training sessions.

In a solemn back corner of the fire museum sits a beautiful metal sculpture. It is a memorial to the firefighters in New York, 343 of them, who died on 9-11-2001.

Interactive Children’s Area

The Tampa Firefighters Museum includes a children’s hands-on, interactive, fire safety, and emergency awareness area.

Children can crawl through a ‘smoke filled’ hallway depicted by smoke plumes drawn on the wall. Then put on fire gear and ‘respond to the call’ on a kid-sized fire truck wearing fire garb.

There is also a small kitchen area that provides examples of some of the more common causes of fires in the home.

The Founding of the NonProfit

During the Tampa Fire Department centennial in 1995 an interested group of firefighters spoke with historians to learn how to save the history, the stories, and the traditions of the department. Out of those meetings The Tampa Firefighters Museum, Inc. was born.

About this same time the retired “old Tampa fire station 1” was of little use to the City. The building was being used for a couple of offices and some equipment storage. It was in poor condition and its fate looked bleak. Working with local community leaders including Tampa administrator Fernando Noriega, Jr and Mayor Dick Greco the title the old fire station was transferred to the newly formed fire museum nonprofit group.

From here the real work began. Fundraising, applying for grants, and laying out plans to give life, purpose, a meaning to one of the few brick buildings remaining in downtown Tampa.

The Museum stands today as a tribute to those who believed in the dream of repurposing an old building so it could continue to serve. The building, now more than a century old, is the warehouse and the showplace for storing an exhibiting stories and memorabilia of Tampa and the Tampa Fire Department.

The Museum nonprofit owns and operates the building. No direct City financial support is given for the upkeep and maintenance of the building or exhibits.

The Nonprofit Organization

The Museum stands today as a tribute to those who believed in the dream of repurposing an old building so it could continue to serve.

The building, now more than a century old, is the warehouse and the showplace for storing an exhibiting stories and memorabilia of Tampa and the Tampa Fire Department.

The Museum nonprofit owns and operates the building. No direct City financial support is given for the upkeep and maintenance of the building or exhibits.

Educational Outreach

Our interactive and educational presentations teach the basics of life safety and fire prevention and are perfect for:

  • Families
  • Public Schools
  • Private Schools
  • Homeschoolers
  • Boy & Girl Scouts

To discuss how our educational outreach can benefit your students, send email to dispatch at dispatch@tampafirefightersmuseum.org or call (813) 964-6862

Board Members

From the beginning the Board of the Tampa Firefighters Museum has volunteered their time and donated their money to help nurse to life the goal of having a place to showcase the history of the Tampa Fire Department.

Since the inception of a museum came to life the Board members, past and present, have come from many different walks of life. Credit union presidents, historians, community activists, architects, and government officials have toiled alongside active and retired firefighters and fire department spouses to move their dream forward.

Today the Board of the Tampa Firefighters Museum stands tall on the shoulders of those who have come before them but the Board does not stand still. Much work has been done to create a fire museum in Tampa, even more work has to be done to keep the museum relevant and to help it prosper and grow.

Current Board Members

Matthew Rametta is a retired Tampa Fire Captain. He is currently employed (part-time) as a Fire Inspector with Tampa Fire Rescue.

Matthew is a graduate of Jesuit High School and has Bachelor’s Degree from Loyola University. He has 8 brothers, 3 of whom currently serve with Tampa Fire Rescue.

Matthew is a Past President and has served on the Board of Directors for the Tampa Fire Museum for many years.

Bill Wade is a retired Tampa Fire Captain. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of South Florida.

In retirement Bill teaches EMS classes. He has been involved with the fire museum for more than 10 years.

Margaret Hamrick was one of the first civilians that the City of Tampa hired to work in the Communications Division (dispatch) over 35 years ago.

After close to 30 years of service in Tampa she accepted a position as Manager of the 9-1-1 center for Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.

Marcelo J. Sempe’ is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a Certified Management Accountant (CMA).

He graduated from the University of Tampa and is the sole shareholder in the accounting firm of Marcelo J Sempe’, CPA, PA.

Marcelo has been a board member for over ten years.

Randall Jordan is a lifelong resident of Tampa.

He retired from Tampa Fire Department after 30 years of service.

He is a founding member of the Tampa Fire Museum and a past president of the Board.

Matt Kohan is a Tampa native and second-generation Tampa firefighter.

He also serves on the Executive Board of Tampa Firefighters Local 754.

Matt is a past president of the Museum Board.

Todd Spear retired as Tampa’s Fire Marshal.

He is a founding member of the Fire Museum.

Todd is a past president of the Board.

Steve Fredlund is a life-long Tampa resident and has served on the Board of Directors for the Tampa Fire Museum for many years.

Steve is currently the Secretary. He is retired from Tampa Fire Rescue.

Wes Adwell is a retired Fire Captain of 30 years with Tampa Fire Rescue.

He is currently a Financial Advisor with Lincoln Investment in his 2nd career.

Wes has been a volunteer board member with the museum for 6 years.

Ken Bass is a Tampa native who graduated from Chamberlain High School. He has an Associates Degree from Hillsborough Community College.

In addition to his career with Tampa Fire Department Ken has worked for Pepin Distributing as a CPR Instructor, Photographer, and Videographer.

Eric Bunch joined the Tampa Firefighters Museum 4 years ago shortly after the passing of his brother, Tampa Fire D/E Matthew Bunch.

Eric is committed to preserving the History of Tampa Fire Rescue and volunteers with renovations and events.

Eric is the owner of NTP 2, LLC, a Photography and Video Production in Tampa

Joy Bunch joined the fire museum as the Store Manager in 2016.

She has recently been placed on the Board to help guide the development of the museum store and the museum exhibits.

Joy has a background in retail, her family ran a successful Tampa-based business for more than 20 years.

Cindy Fredlund, District Manager for a national REIT, Camden Property Trust. In her role with CPT, she is responsible for 2738 apartment homes in Tampa Bay.

This is her second time as a Board Member for Tampa Firefighters Museum.

Cindy has been married to retired Tampa Fire Captain, Steve Fredlund for 30 years.

Jan Gorrie is a lawyer/lobbyist with Ballard Partners and Panza, Maurer & Maynard, PA.

She is a lifelong resident of Tampa and she has been a board member for over 15 years.

Dan Hamrick has been involved with the museum, through his wife, for more than 25 years.

Retiring as a Nurse Anesthetist after 35 years at the VA hospital he has decided to take a more active role in the museum and has joined the board.

Nicolas Ligori is a Tampa native. For about 2 years he was the docent/manager for the museum.

He earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Florida State University.

Nicolas is currently is a firefighter/EMT with Tampa Fire Rescue.

Scott Mays is a lifelong resident of the Tampa Bay Area. He is an active Firefighter with Tampa Fire Rescue.

Scott has been involved with the Tampa Firefighters Museum for 8 years as a docent and board member.

Rolando Reyes served as a firefighter and paramedic for Tampa Fire Rescue retiring as a Lieutenant.

Mr. Reyes also holds a Nursing degree that he earned at St. Petersburg College.

The Tampa native is currently the owner-operator of a small business, Covadonga Cigars.

Karl Wolf is a longtime supporter and Board member.

He retired as a Captain from Tampa Fire Rescue in 2014.

Michael Rametta is an active member of Tampa Fire Rescue and a family man.