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Antique fire engines in an original firehouse

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wo chairs from the Cocoanut Grove nightclub, confiscated by the city’s arson squad after the deadly 1942 fire there, are among the more unusual artifacts in the Boston Fire Museum, housed in a former fire station built in 1891 and open only one day a week, with no admission charge. The building still has its original brass fire poles and is crowded with historic fire apparatus, including an 1868 Button hand pumper, a 1905 hand-drawn ladder truck, a 1945 Ward LaFrance engine, and a 1966 American LaFrance. There are also two Amoskeag steam fire engines, one each from 1882 and 1896; once horse-drawn, they are now hooked up to even rarer Christie front-drive motor trackers. The museum also has the fire memorabilia accumulated over his lifetime by Boston Pops conductor Arthur Fiedler, a collection of helmets and badges from all over the world so vast only a tiny fraction of it can be shown at any one time.

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One of the deadliest fires in American history, the fire at the Cocoanut Grove nightclub on November 28, 1942, killed 492,many of whom were trapped inside. Among other things, it’s the reason exit doors in public buildings in America now all swing out, and not in. There’s a plaque at the site of the fire at 17 Piedmont St. in Bay Village.

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