It’s a reconstruction of a machine that was key to fighting fires in New York in the 1700s. The Newsham engine was the first fire engine brought to the city from England in 1731.

“It may not look like much compared to today’s fire engines and everything, but compared to a bucket brigade throwing little buckets on the fire, this thing could throw 40 yards, 70 gallons a minute onto a fire,” author Bruce Twickler said.

What You Need To Know

  • "Colonial Firefighting and the American Revolution" is a new permanent addition to the New York City Fire Museum, the official museum of the FDNY

  • The exhibition looks at how New Yorkers fought fires in the 1600s and 1700s, headed into the time of the American Revolution

  • The museum is located inside a firehouse building on Spring Street in Hudson Square. It features fire apparatus and other artifacts dating back to the 1600s

Twickler created a new permanent exhibit that houses the reconstruction, called "Colonial Firefighting and the American Revolution." It’s at the New York City Fire Museum, the official museum of the FDNY.

The exhibition looks back at the history of firefighting and the fire department during the 17th and 18th centuries, using state-of-the-art animation. It includes a depiction of the great New York Fire of 1776, the most destructive fire in the history of colonial North America.

“It was New York’s first big fire, and unfortunately, it happened right at the beginning of the revolution, when 80% of the people were gone out of the city. The fire department itself was still a little disorganized,” he said of the fire that destroyed 500 buildings.

Firefighters were able to stop it before it raged through St. Paul’s Chapel, which still stands in Lower Manhattan.

The exhibition accents the extensive collection of the museum, located in the former home of Engine Company 30 in a firehouse built in 1904. The mission is to collect, preserve and celebrate the history and cultural heritage of the fire service of New York and provide fire prevention and fire safety education to the public.

“Our vast collection of artifacts dates back to as early as the 1650s, and it represents the challenges that our ancestors faced,” Patti Murphy, the museum's executive director, said.

For more information, visit the New York City Fire Museum's website