The Rapidian

Explore historic Firehouse #11

Firehouse #11 was competed in 1902 and is the oldest continuously operating fire house in Grand Rapids. On a Wednesday morning I was invited to take a tour.
1937 firetruck made by La France American.

1937 firetruck made by La France American. /Eric Bouwens

Firehouse #11, located at the corner of Diamond Ave SE and Chester St SE, is the oldest actively functioning firehouse in Grand Rapids. On a Wednesday morning I decided to drop by to take a few pictures of the exterior, and was pleasantly surprised to be invited in for a tour. Three teams contnuously work shifts, and on this day Firefighter Dan Ryan showed me around. His teammates are Mike Campbell and Captain Mark Noorman.   

This firehouse was commissioned in 1895 and began operating in 1902. There was no running water or electricity when it opened. Hay was stored in the hay barn for the horses that drew the fire wagons. Over the years there have been modest improvements, but much of the building is just as it was in 1902. 

A historic attraction in the station is a 1937 firetruck made by La France American, which ran out of this station from 1937 to 1972, and is currently on loan from the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

Walking through the building, one is struck by the worn stair treads, both of wood and stone, and the minimally altered brick facades and rooms.

Eastown and East Hills residents are all familiar with the Romanesque arches and tower. The tower has a surprising function: to hang the long wet firehoses when they were not made of water resistant synthetics.

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