In July 2005, a group of individuals gathered in Frederick, Maryland to discuss a concept that had been in the incipient stage for years. Retired California State Fire Marshal Ronny J. Coleman who had been elected as a chair of a planning committee, brought the group together for the primary reason of determining what future course of action could or should be executed on behalf of protecting the intellectual property of the American Fire Services and allied professions based on the FEMA Document.
The National Fire Heritage Center includes the National Fire Heritage Archives, The National Fire Museum System, and the National Fire Heritage Foundation. These organizations within the Center are 501 (c)3 nonprofit organizations, all working to preserve the history of "fire in America." Our preservation efforts not only include firefighting, but also fire prevention, fire protection engineering, fire equipment manufacturing, and any discipline associated with fire protection.
We support researchers, historians, individuals, and organizations interested in fire protection. This includes municipal and rural firefighting, aviation fire fighting, wildland firefighting, firefighting in the military, design and engineering, architecture, fire training and academic programs, rail and utilities, equipment manufacturing, regulations and standards, fire equipment distributors, and any other area of fire protection. Prior to establishing the NFHC, there was no centralized, coordinated archival of fire protection in the United States. Much of the written history of "fire in America" is challenging to locate and sadly, much information is permanently lost.
The National Fire Heritage Center is the result of a study done by the U.S. Fire Administration, where it identified that a "need to collect, preserve, and provide access to the historical records of the fire service/fire protection disciplines in the United States." In spite of the study, the project never acquired government funding. However, Chief Ronny Coleman of California and several other interested fire protection experts took it upon themselves to create an independent nonprofit organization called the National Fire Heritage Center. The organization has expanded from the original mission to protect perishable items, to include three-dimensional objects and other important fire protection materials. The Center also is home for the Fire Service Hall of Legends, Legacies and Leaders, Who's Who in Fire Protection and the Benjamin Franklin Fire Writer's Award. Today, the National Fire Heritage Center is a vibrant organization supported by private donations and grants. The Archive is growing so rapidly, that the Board of Trustees has been given the task of finding a new home - from which the NFHC will continue to preserve the history of the American Fire Service for generations to come.