Local and firefighter discount
Children 12 and under free
The Key West Firehouse Museum is a 501 C-3 non-profit organization preserving the history of firefighting in the Florida Keys. The Museum is supported by memberships, donations and sales of our gift shop items
Built in 1907, Fire Station No. 3, located at the corner of Grinnell and Virginia Streets, is one of the oldest fire stations in the state of Florida. When the station opened, the Key West Fire Department consisted of 12 paid men and 200 volunteers with horse drawn steamers and hose carriages. Each station had its own outfit name - this station housed Sunnysouth Engine Company and Tiger Hose Company No. 3.
The station has endured several hurricanes; the worst being the storm of 1909 that hit Key West with winds exceeding 100 MPH. During the storm, Chief Hyam Fulford ordered his men to take the steam engine outside in the backyard. Shortly after that order was given, the roof was completely destroyed.
The Fire Department received its first two motorized American La France fire engines in August and September, 1914. The first engine went to Station No. 1 and the second to Station No. 3. By 1917, the Key West Fire Department was completely motorized, except for one steamer which was kept in reserve at No. 3 until 1923, thus bringing the era of the horse drawn steamer to an end.
In 1931, in the middle of the Great Depression, the City had no money to pay their employees, so the firemen went on strike – all except the firemen of Station No. 3. The other firemen threatened them, but with the protection of the Sheriff’s department, No. 3 station remained open through the strike and throughout the Depression. While many fire stations around the country were forced to close and board up their windows.
During the WPA years of the mid 1930s, the firemen were paid in script instead of money. The script (like coupons) was used to purchase food, clothing, and necessities. The merchants would only redeem the script for half of its face value.
Many changes took place in the late 1940s. Interior stairs were added and a cement hose trough and wooden hose rack were built in the rear of the station.
From the early 1950s until the early 1960s, more changes took place. The horse stalls at the rear of the station were removed to make room for a new kitchen and bathroom. The sash windows were replaced with jalousie windows and the original red brick engine room floor was covered with a concrete slab.
[This history of Fire House No. 3 was written by Captain Alex Vega, Fire Inspector (Retired), Key West Fire Marshal’s Office, who was a second generation Key West Fire Fighter as well as the fire department historian. He is also president of Old Fire House Preservation, Inc.]