The Museum is in the Historic Calumet Village Fire Station on Sixth Street, Calumet, Michigan. The Museum is one of 21 Heritage sites that are affiliated with the Keweenaw National Historical Park.
The building was built by the Village as a Fire Station in 1898 when the Village population was 4668 and the local copper mines were booming. The local copper mines shut down in 1968. The 2010 Village population was 726.
The building was designed by local Architect Charles K. Strand in the Richardson Romanesque design. The Fire Station is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built using locally quarried Jacobsville sandstone.
It is a two story structure with a full walkout basement and measures 54 feet wide and 83 feet deep. The rear of the Fire Station was the stable for the eight horses that pulled the fire wagons. The hay and oats were stored in the loft on the second floor. The horses were used into the 1930's even thought the first mechanized fire truck arrived in 1919, an American LaFrance pumper truck that has been restored and is on display in the Museum and is still used for parades and special events. A twin to the 1919 pumper that was purchased by the Calumet & Hecla Mining Company at the same time is also on display.
Snow removal equipment was not used on the Village streets until the 1930's, therefore, in the winter with the 200 plus inches of snow the snow was "panked" using large rollers pulled by horses and the firetrucks would have their wheels removed and sled runners attached so that they could be pulled to the fire location by horses. Pictures of this are on display in the museum.
There are several other old fire trucks on display, including a 1930 model American LaFrance pumper purchased by the Village of Laurium, a 1942 Ford pumper truck and a 1951 American LaFrance pumper truck.
Also on display is an 1857 hand pumper wagon in excellent original condition as well as 1900 era fire wagons and fire sleds for pulling fire fighting equipment to the fire locations. Several 1800 era hand pulled hose carts are also on display, some having small water tanks attached which would use sulfuric acid and sodium bicarbonate placed into the tanks to build up pressures to 150 psi to allow the water to be applied to the fire from a safe distance.
The second story of the building contains many pieces of vintage fire fighting apparatus as well as a patch board that displays patches received from various fire departments. A replica of the brass fire pole used by the fire fighters who slept on the second floor over night and sometimes needed to get to the first floor in a hurry is on display in its original location next to the hole in the second story floor.
On the outside of the building is the original fire alarm box mounted on the building in 1898. It was a part of the fire alarm system placed by the C & H Mining Company in 1892. The alarm box still functions and is one one of the highlights of the Museum tour. The alarm function is explained and demonstrated to visitors. The system was and is a telegraph signal to all three fire stations in the local area. The bells would announce the location from where the alarm was sounded. The alarm box on the Calumet Fire Station is number 45 thus four bells then five bells would sound to identify the location. The alarm still rings the bell in the Fire Station and is a surprise hit with all visitors.
The Fire Station was used by the Village until the early 1960's when the fire equipment was relocated into the Calumet Village Town Hall by opening up a wall in the Jacobsville Sandstone Town Hall and converting a meeting room into a two stall Fire Station. The Historic Fire Station was used for storage until 1991 when a group of volunteers created the non-profit Fire Fighters Museum. The following year on October 27 the Keweenaw National Historical Park was created by Congress.