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Press Release

May 3, 2022

Contact: Steve Hawkins
Oklahoma History Center, Oklahoma Historical Society
Office: 405-522-0754

Oklahoma History Center to Open “Becoming Fearless” Exhibit Highlighting the History of Firefighting in Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma History Center is proud to announce the opening of its newest photography exhibit, “Becoming Fearless,” on May 16, 2022. “Becoming Fearless” will explore 70 years of firefighting in Oklahoma and is comprised of 25 black-and-white images, giving a unique look into the evolution of this profession. The exhibit is projected to be open for one year in the Chesapeake Event Center and Gallery at the Oklahoma History Center.

“Becoming Fearless” will trace firefighting from the early days of acrobatics, antics and volunteerism in the 1900s to the sophisticated fire safety systems in place today. Feats of agility along with a bit of humor color the early days of firefighters. Horse-drawn fire equipment was the standard from 1889, when the Oklahoma City Fire Department (OCFD) was established, until 1910 when the first motorized firefighting vehicle was introduced. The long shifts lent themselves to the creation of fire stations as second homes and families, including pets or house mascots such as dogs, goats and sheep.

The images chosen for the exhibit show great examples of firehouses, equipment and uniforms from across the state. Guthrie established its fire department in 1889, the same year as Oklahoma City. Tulsa followed in 1900, Enid in 1902 and Edmond in 1903. Most started with volunteers only, and some rural areas today still utilize volunteer firefighters. A small selection of artifacts from the Oklahoma Historical Society collections will be featured, including the 1951 Class A uniform worn by one of first 12 African American OCFD firefighters, Marvin O. Nelson. 

The Oklahoma History Center is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Chesapeake Event Center and Gallery is also used to hold meetings and events, so patrons should call in advance to make sure the room is open to the public on the day of a visit. Please visit www.okhistory.org/historycenter or call 405-522-0765 for more information.

The Oklahoma History Center is a division of the Oklahoma Historical Society and is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, National Archives and is an accredited member of the American Alliance of Museums. The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma and its people. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS maintains museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma. For more information about the OHS, please visit www.okhistory.org.


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