Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department Museum
The Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department Museum collects and preserves artifacts of the GVFD including antique firetrucks, uniforms, equipment, and pictures of historic Greensburg Fires. In addition, the museum cares for a large collection of toy and model fire trucks. Today, the museum houses three fully restored fire engines. Both the 1805 Pat Lyon engine and 1825 Goodwill engine were used in the Great Fire of Pittsburgh on April 5, 1845 before being sold to the GVFD. The third, a 1949 Seagrave Pumper was purchased new for Hose Company No. 3.
Backstory and Context
While the first fire department in Greensburg wasn’t officially formed until January 12, 1891, there is evidence of firefighting activities, such as a bucket brigade, as far back as the 1700s. Hose Company No. 1 and No. 2 were the first created, and the department moved quickly to supply the Hose Companies with the supplies and equipment necessary. Greensburg Borough already possessed one 4-wheel wagon which went to Co. No. 1, and funds were raised to purchase a 2-wheel cart for Co. No. 2. Included in the initial fundraising efforts were monies to buy the first rubber uniforms for the fire department.
Over the next 15 years, Greensburg expanded, and four additional fire companies were added to cover the growing territory. Hose Co. No. 3, or the “Bunker Hill Hose Company”, was formed in 1894. Prior to completion of the fire house in 1895, meetings were held at the Bunker Hill School House. The Ludwick Fire Company formed in 1896 and became part of the Greensburg Fire Department in 1906 as Hose Co. No. 6. With the consolidation of East Greensburg and Greensburg, Hose Co. No. 7 was established in the 7th ward. The last Hose Co. started was No. 8 in 1906.
Before the days of motorized fire trucks, equipment was often pulled by the firefighters themselves. If the firefighters were headed in the same direction as a streetcar, oftentimes the wagon could be hooked up to the streetcar, or horses could be borrowed from the residents to pull engines.
In the 1950s and 60s, the fire department recognized that the history and artifacts of the Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department were being lost. In an effort to preserve the history, the department initially acquired space in an old trolley freight station behind city hall. The museum remained there until the 1980s when a councilman no longer permitted them to stay.
The museum then found space on the 4th floor of the Troutman’s building; however, the 1805 Pat Lyon and 1825 Goodwill Hand Fire Pumpers couldn’t be brought to the 4th floor. Finally, in 1998, the Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department Museum found its permanent home behind City Hall where 3 fully restored engines and hundreds of artifacts are displayed. While the Pat Lyon and Goodwill are kept at the museum, the 1949 Seagrave Pumper is brought out for various ceremonial and parade duties throughout the area.
Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department Museum, Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department. Accessed April 8th 2020. https://gbgfire.com/museum/.
History, Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department. Accessed April 8th 2020. https://gbgfire.com/history/.
Tierney, Jacob. Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department Adds New Hours, TribLive. April 1st 2019. Accessed April 8th 2020. https://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/greensburg-volunteer-fire-department-musuem-adds-new-hours/.
Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department Museum website, https://gbgfire.com/museum/