RALEIGH FIRE MUSEUM
105 Keeter Center Drive
The Raleigh Fire Museum has suspended all monthly museum openings and tours until further notice.
Hand Hose Reel
Displayed in Fire Museum
In November 2012, a newly restored nineteenth century hand
hose reel was unveiled at the Raleigh Fireman's Ball at the
Raleigh Convention Center. The private event capped a year of
celebrations for the Raleigh Fire Department, which celebrated
its 100th anniversary as a career fire department this year.
The hand reel was stored in the basement of Station 8 on
Western Boulevard for a number of decades. It was disassembled
during storage, and the frame and wheels were suspended from the
ceiling. They were later moved to a storage building behind the
Early in 2012, the wheels were sent to Lancaster County, PA,
to be rebuilt by Amish craftsmen. The Raleigh Fire Museum paid
for the repairs. Upon its return, the hose reel was restored by
Captain T. N. Duke, Captain N. L. Murray, Senior Firefighter P.
M. Rogers, First Class Firefighter C. W. Langston, and Junior
Allen. They donated their time and materials.
Hose Reel History
This hand-pulled hose reel dates to the nineteenth century,
when the Raleigh Fire Department was comprised of volunteer fire
companies. Hose for both hand lines and supply lines was carried
to fires using two-wheeled, hand-drawn "reels." The Rescue
Company Steam Fire Engine company, for example, had a hand reel
along with its 1870 Gould steamer. The steamer carried its own
suction hose. The reel was pulled behind the horse-drawn
apparatus, either by hand or towed by the engine.
In 1887, the first fire hydrants were installed in Raleigh.
The volunteer firemen could connect their hose lines directly to
the hydrants. No pumping engines were required. New fire
companies formed, with apparatus consisting solely of a
hand-drawn hose reel. These companies included the Capital Hose
Company and the Independent Hose Company.
Hose reels were developed for metal-riveted leather hose,
which was difficult to roll or fold. It required a lot of
maintenance, including the application of oils. Cotton-jacketed
rubber hose, developed in the late eighties, was more flexible
and could be packed on a flat plane. It would develop mildew and
rot when wound on traditional hose reels.
In the 1890s, hose wagons began replacing hose reels in the
Raleigh Fire Department. The bed was ventilated, with wooden
slats on the bottom and sides. Water could easily drain, and air
could easily enter. The hose wagons were horse-drawn, and used
until replaced by motor apparatus after the organization of the
career fire department in 1912.
Hand hose reels were also used in the nineteenth century in
Raleigh by institutions and private fire departments, including
at Dorothea Dix Hospital, North Carolina College of Agriculture
and Mechanical Arts, and Saint Augustine's College.
This page was last updated on November 21, 2017
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