Retired firefighter volunteers to serve as the new Windsor Severance Fire Rescue Museum curator | MyWindsorNow.com

Retired firefighter volunteers to serve as the new Windsor Severance Fire Rescue Museum curator

Emily Wenger
ewenger@mywindsornow.com

As a child, Daniel Lowe remembers watching firefighters leave a fire station with their gear sitting on the truck's bumper, ready to be donned in transit to an emergency.

"And (I remember) thinking to myself 'Wow, that would be so cool if I could do that someday,'" he said.

And he did. The first time he rode in the back of a truck, putting on his gear on the way to an emergency — "Which we're not allowed to do anymore of course" — Lowe said he felt success.

"I made it," he said.

Lowe has a passion for fire department artifacts, and can hardly stop himself from talking about them as long as he can. Now, he has a chance to talk to Windsor residents about fire safety, fire prevention and the history of Windsor Severance Fire Rescue as the volunteer curator for the Windsor Severance Fire Rescue Museum.

Lowe started learning how to save lives as a 12-year-old when he took a lifesaving and water safety course. He has been an EMT and firefighter since the 1970s.

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"This isn't my first rodeo," he said.

After retiring just months ago and moving to Loveland, Lowe has been able to focus more on his passion. That passion, Lowe said, is collecting the history of the fire service.

"Being a firefighter and EMT, I always wanted to know what we were using and why we were using it," he said.

He especially loves old fire alarms, and one from his own collection currently sits in the museum. Lowe said a box, like the one from the 50s sitting in the museum, would be placed on a street corner or in a building, and once the lever on the front was pulled gears would send a signal to a bell in the fire station.

The bell would ring however many times the gear told it to, and Lowe's box makes the bell ring loudly two times, then seven, indicating to a dispatcher that the box number was 27.

A dispatcher would then match that number to a list of alarm box locations, in order to tell firefighters where to go. Some cities, he said, still have functioning alarm boxes of the same design.

The Windsor Severance Fire Rescue Museum has been without a volunteer to keep it open for regular hours after volunteers contributed their time and funds to open the new museum on 6th Street.

The old museum was destroyed by the 2008 tornado, about two weeks before the artifacts would have been placed in the museum, said Battalion Chief Todd Vess of Windsor Severance Fire Rescue.

Now, the Windsor Farmers Market pavilion stands where the museum used to be, even though public meetings on where to build a new fire station left residents divided on whether or not a structure should stand at the entrance to Boardwalk Park.

The current building was constructed in 2009 to house the collection, which includes a fire truck from the 1920s, 40s and 50s.

The 1925 REO Speed Wagon is the "pride and joy" of the museum, Vess said, and required extensive restoration before it could be displayed.

The speed wagon had a frame chassis constructed by one company, and a box and firefighting equipment from another company. Vess said that method of construction is still done today.

"So it's still done that way so it's kind of cool," he said.

Other equipment in the museum also has similar construction and uses to what is used today.

"In the fire service everything goes in cycles," Lowe said. "Some of the equipment that we have here that are antiques are actually being used again as first line pieces of equipment."

Even a high-pressure nozzle that was used from the 1940s-60s is being emulated and used in many fire departments today, Lowe said. Axes are still used today, as is a version of a late 1800s tool.

The glass bottles filled with carbon tetrachloride that are part of the fire museum's collection were made in Littleton, and Lowe said they were used from the late 1800s up until the 50s.

Now, a new, grenade-like version of the same technology is being used in many departments, Lowe said.

Preserving history is important to Lowe because he said knowledge of fire service history can lead to better firefighting.

"Without firefighters understanding history we will repeat the same mistakes," he said.

If you go

The Windsor Severance Fire Rescue Museum will be open from 4:30-8:30 p.m. Thursdays and noon-4 p.m. Saturdays from June through August at 121 N. 6th St.

Visits can be scheduled at other times by contacting Windsor Severance Fire Rescue at 720-686-2626.

The museum, staffed by volunteers, contains fire equipment, tools and memorabilia from the department’s history.

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