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Central Insurance Fire Museum [OH]

Central Insurance started out in 1876 as a fire insurance company. The threat of a disastrous fire was always very real and the equipment used to fight fire primitive. F. W. "Bill" Purmort, Jr., President of Central from 1964 to 1994, first took an interest in collecting fire equipment in 1969. He gradually built Central's museum into one of the finest privately owned collections in the U.S. The museum exhibits a collection of leather fire buckets dating back to the 1700s; over 600 antique fire toys consisting of cast-iron, rubber, glass, tin, and wood construction; a large display of fire extinguishers and glass fire "grenades" dating from the 1850s; a rare and valuable collection of "firemarks" dating back to 1720; a wardrobe of antique fireman helmets and uniforms; Van Wert's first hand-drawn pumper used in 1871; an Ahrens horse-drawn steam pumper which was purchased new in 1907 by the city of Van Wert and restored by Central; and a 1926 Ahrens-Fox pumper, the Rolls Royce of firetrucks.

The museum offers exhibits and tours.