Warren Engine Company to compete with 1847 fire engine

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An 1847 Hunneman hand-pumped fire engine, meticulously restored by Carson City's Warren Engine Co. No. 1, will compete against other historic fire engines at the Virginia City firemen's muster Saturday and Sunday.

Thee competition will offer a rare opportunity to see how firefighters fought blazes during the 19th century.

The two-day firemen's muster, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the nonprofit Comstock Firemen's Museum, with competition sanctioned by the California Firemen's Muster Association.

The firemen's muster will feature motorized pumper and hosewagon competition with apparatus built between 1900 and 1970, hose cart races, a steam fire engine demonstration, bucket brigade contests and the hand-pumper competition, which will take place on Saturday after a 9 a.m. parade. Sunday's competition will begin at 9 a.m.

The Warren hand-pumper was built in 1847 by a former apprentice to Paul Revere. William C. Hunneman, who apprenticed in a Boston foundry owned by Revere, began making his Hunneman fire engines in 1792, building a manufacturing name that became synonymous with the best in fire protection. Hunneman built an estimated 716 hand-pumpers and 29 steam-powered fire engines through 1883.

Hunneman originally built the Warren for Cataract Engine Co. No. 14 in Boston. It was later acquired and restored by Warren Engine Co. No. 1. With its ornate gold scrollwork and lettering and deep red pump box, it is the featured element in the organization's fire museum at the Carson City Fire Department, at 777 South Stewart St.

The museum also features a four-wheel hose carriage, two-wheel hose carts - one of which was built in the Virginia & Truckee Railroad shops - tools, firemen's belts and helmets, photographs, and other fire memorabilia from Carson City's three volunteer fire companies, the Warren, Curry Engine Co. No. 2, and S.T. Swift Engine Co. No. 3. The museum also houses the state's first motorized fire engine, a 1913 Seagrave fire engine that was in service with Warren Engine Company No. 1 in Carson City through the late 1940s.

The Comstock Firemen's Museum is hosting the muster as part of its celebration of the 150th anniversary of the organization of the Virginia Fire Department in Virginia City, which was the state's first fire department. The muster is a virtual living museum, according to event organizers. They say almost every major change in firefighting technology over more than two centuries will be represented during the competition, which will take place on E Street near the historic Virginia & Truckee Railroad freight depot.


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