I don’t know what it is with little boys but all the ones I seem to know are fascinated by fire engines (or vehicles in general actually). If that’s the case with your little boy (or girl) then head to the Fire Services Museum in East Melbourne and give them a thrill!
The Fire Services Museum is housed in the original headquarters of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade. It is a privately owned museum run by wholly by volunteers with a background with fire services.
A retired fireman will normally be happy to tell you a few stories and show you around. The museum has one of the largest collections of fire-fighting memorabilia in Australia, with items sourced from Victoria, Australia and overseas.
Inside the museum you’ll find rooms of fire-fighting paraphernalia, starting with vintage firefighting equipment, a section dedicated to the volunteer Country Fire Association and information about modern firefighting.
The back room is probably the most interesting for little kids. There are a couple of old fire engines/carriages on display, including one that you can actually climb into.
Don a helmet and safety jacket and pretend you’re off to a fire emergency!
The back area also has a small table with fire safety colouring-in.
Upstairs was the most interesting for me, as it shows how the fire station used to be notified of fire locations. There’s an arcane system of sirens, dials and building keys – imagine getting to a fire and realising you’d brought the wrong keys! Little kids can help press the fire alarm to activate the whole system.
On the way out you won’t be able to resist the shop with fire fighting memorabilia. Note the shop currently does not have EFTPOS or credit card facilities.
If you visit on Fridays you can also go to the adjacent to the Eastern Hill Fire Station as they present fire safety demonstrations weekly at 10:30am. They show kids how they cut people out of a car using the Jaws of Life, basic fire safety and the chance to meet firefights and fire engines up close. The demonstrations are free but bookings are recommended as numbers are limited. Weekly fire safety displays happen at various times in various locations around Melbourne.
For fire fighting appliance enthusiasts, the Fire Vehicle and Appliance Restoration Workshops are located in Newport. The restoration team (all volunteers) at Newport welcome visitors by arrangement.
- parking on street is limited, try Victoria Parade or Albert Street. Closest train station is Parliament or catch #112 tram;
- go on Friday and combine it with free fire safety demonstration at Eastern Hill fire station next door;
- Shop and entry fee cash only, no EFTPOS facilities and
- Close to Fitzroy Gardens for playgrounds, cafes.
Fire Services Museum, 39 Gisborne St, East Melbourne
Thursdays and Fridays 9am to 3pm, and Sundays 10am to 4pm.
Groups and Schools At other days and times by arrangement.
Kids under 3 free
Free fire safety demonstrations every Friday 10:30am. Bookings required.