Its reopening was more than anticipated. Year after year, the Madrid firefighters joined the hundreds of fans who, religiously, visited the traditional Classic Madrid in the Glass Pavilion of the Casa de Campo. They always have their own stand, which is almost always located on the ground floor of the complex where the fair is held, and there they show, to the delight of the attendees, some of the cars and trucks that the firefighters guard. Also the most observant may have seen some of these vehicles in the Cabalgata de Reyes Magos in Madrid, where any of the historical pieces of the fire department are never missing.
More than one will have wondered where these particular vehicles come from, and if they can be visited. And yes, they can be visited. Very close to the Rayo Vallecano Stadium is the Fire station number 8 of Madrid. Until 2016 in these facilities there was a collection of multiple objects of all kinds related to firefighters, which, of course, included vehicles, but all this was in a kind of warehouse that did not do justice to any of the elements exposed there.
For this reason the museum decided to close its doors, to renovate and recondition the available space. As a Vallecano, I remember visiting the museum as a child and being amazed at the old trucks that were kept there. For this reason, everyone passed by the Classic Madrid stand and asked about the museum, although the answer was always the same: “It is being reformed and we do not have a date for reopening".
But this year 2022, and after the break of almost two years in the classics halls due to covid, I returned, once again, to ask about the beloved Vallecas museum. To my surprise, this time the answer was different. March of that same year, that is, just a few weeks after the celebration of the Classic Madrid. As soon as I heard the news I closed a visit through its website.
A good sign of the return of the firefighters' exhibition was that there were already many full dates on its agenda, a sign of its popularity is that it is one of the preferred destinations for schools. And the truth is that I can think of few better destinations, and that is, what child has not dreamed of being a firefighter at some time?
AFTER YEARS OF WAITING, THE MUSEUM REOPENED ITS DOORS AT THE END OF MARCH
So, after years of waiting, I was able to cross the fence that separates the street from the museum, where old Magirus-Deutz trucks rest in the open, waiting for a restoration, which, according to what the museum managers confirm, will come.
Once inside, the attendees are greeted by the piece, automobile, yes, the oldest in the museum, a 1909 British Merryweather fire engine. That perfectly combines the beauty of the time of the dawn of the automobile with the craftsmanship of all the machinery, made mostly of bronze, that firefighters at the beginning of the XNUMXth century used.
Later, it goes to a time before the automobile, that of horse-drawn carts, which, although it does not occupy the theme of this magazine, it is especially striking to see how all the equipment that today is transported in powerful trucks, was urgently carried by animal traction. The different periods are combined with the material, clothing and even documents corresponding to the treated historical moment.
There is also a section that recalls the events in the history of Madrid in which firefighters have been working for almost 500 years and in which they have played a fundamental role. Some of the trucks present in the collection have witnessed first-hand some of the most notorious fires in the capital in the XNUMXth century. It draws particular attention the 1923 Benz autoscale, which, in the Almacenes Arias fire in the central Calle Montera, helped to mitigate the fire, to its, already at that time, more than forty years.
Also curious, and participating in that same intervention, is the Crossley truck, whose interior is painted sand brown, and it is not by chance, since this vehicle was used during the Second World War on the African front, and after the conflict it was brought to Spain to provide service to firefighters, a function for which, years later, a Barreiros engine was installed.
EACH OF THE FIRE TRUCKS IN THE COLLECTION HAS ITS OWN STORY IN ITS YEARS OF SERVICE TO THE CITY
In total there are more than a dozen vehicles, including trucks and cars, including Magirus-Deutz trucks from different eras stand out, due to their numerous in the collection. With which you can clearly see how technology evolved by leaps and bounds in those years.
Thus, the museum has several functions and extensive and modern facilities that promise not to leave anyone indifferent. The prevention of fires and educating the citizen in its procedure is one of the functions that the visit fulfills, in addition to serving as a tribute to these professionals who risk their lives to save others, and who enter where no one dares to enter. And it also serves as a review of the history of an institution that has always been closely linked to the capital, and that once again pays tribute to its heroes with the reopening of this Madrid Firefighters Museum after the long-awaited renovation, and that, firefighters like Eliseo and Elías, who treated us with great kindness to make this report, are very proud to show.