Do you have a kid who wants to be a firefighter? Then this museum stop is a must when visiting Charleston. It is not too big and has interactive displays that both kids and parents can enjoy.
When you first enter there is a great steam powered engine from the 19th Century to see in the lobby. After you see the preview pay your admission ($6/Adults, Kids 12 and Under are FREE) and see the main event. The museum is in one very large room. It was not crowded when we went and I could see my children from almost any vantage point in the room so I was able to allow them to explore on their own.
As you walk in, there is a fire engine simulator and a name badge machine. The simulator is the size of an actual fire truck and there is room for your entire family to come in at one time. It continually cycles a movie on the inside of the windshield that shows what happens when a fire house gets a call. It starts from the alarm and continues until the engine gets to the fire. Once you get out of the simulator make sure to use the computer to the right of the door to make custom name stickers for your kids. They can put their name in, choose an icon and decide what part of the team they want to be on (Rescue, Squad, Fire, EMS, etc.) and a custom badge is printed to take home.
Along the walls are antique fire engines starting with steam powered all the way through modern engines. Each has a display board that tells you its history and what it was used for. As you move around the room there are also interactive exhibits including a fire engine that you can push a button and highlight and learn about different parts, a show about fire hazards and what can happen with flammable liquids, candles, etc. There is also a fire simulation you can watch complete with smoke. They were all very entertaining and educational but if you have a child sensitive to noise be prepared. A few of the alarms are real and loud.
In the middle of the museum was my kids favorite part – a playscape! There is a regular ladder on one side and an ladder from a fire truck on the other. To get down the kids had a choice of a fireman's pole or a tube slide.
If you venture to Charleston on vacation be sure to take your kids to visit. It is a great solution to a rainy day. The museum also shares its building with the North Charleston visitors' center so you can find more things to do in the area on your way out.
Family Fun Facts
Hours: Monday through Saturday 10AM to 5PM Sundays 1PM to 5PM
Cost: $6/Adults, Kids 12 and Under FREE