en flag
es flag


September 21, 2023 – July 7, 2024


EASTON, PA (September 12, 2023) – Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society explores the history of firefighting in Northampton County with its upcoming exhibition, Forged by Fire: the Heroism, Honor, and History of Firefighting, opening September 21 at the Sigal Museum, in Easton.

“This exhibition is more than hoses or fire trucks,” notes Curator of Exhibitions Tim Betz. “It’s about firefighters from the 18th century to the present, and the ways that communities worked to ensure that their towns and people were protected from fire. Visitors will learn about how fire companies developed, heroes past and present, the technology needed to keep communities safe, and some helpful fire animals. Even if you think you know the story of firefighting, there will be something here to surprise you.”

The exhibition traces the roots of local fire prevention back to William Penn and the Great Fire of London in 1666, highlighting Colonial Era town planning, Moravian technological innovations for moving water, the bucket brigade, the horse-drawn steamer engine, and the formation of volunteer firefighting companies. The 19th century brought the advent of Gamewell Fire Alarm call boxes and Victorian parade culture with colorful banners, uniforms, and commemorative objects. Today, firefighting has evolved with modern protective gear and tactics, including the use of drones and thermal imaging that allows firefighters to see through smoke.

Visitors will have the chance to explore this rich history as well as personal stories and objects. According to Monica Bugbee, Curator of Collections, “Many objects in this exhibition have never been on display, and we are very excited to give them a moment to shine in public view. We’re also delighted to be presenting pieces on loan from community fire companies and local collectors.”

Guests will see Easton’s first pumper truck (1797), learn about the importance of making wood pipes in the 1740s, and use a drill to make one. View firefighting tools from history, and visit an interactive display to try on real firefighter gear. Find out what it’s like to be a firefighter today, and how the profession has changed over the years.

“The majority of firefighters believe this lifestyle is a calling, and the greatest job in the world,” affirms former Easton Fire Chief John Bast, an advisor to the exhibition. “We are always there to help, even as a last resort.”

NCHGS Executive Director Megan van Ravenswaay invites the public to visit the museum and, “remember the firefighters who have served and continue to serve in Northampton County’s fire companies, then and now. We are so pleased to create an exhibition that pays tribute to their bravery and dedication.”

Forged by Fire opens to the public on Thursday, September 21, with a private Members’ Reception from 4:00-6:00 p.m.

Sigal Museum hours:

Thursday-Saturday: 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

Sunday: 12:00-4:00 p.m.


This exhibition is generously sponsored by the County of Northampton.



Information provided to TVL by:
Northampton County Historical & Genealogical Society
342 Northampton St., Easton, PA 18042