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National Fire Heritage Center opens in October

Joining the National Fire Academy, National Fallen Firefighters Memorial and Frederick County Fire Museum, the National Fire Heritage Center will open in Emmitsburg on October 14. The centerís goal will be to preserve and ensure access to important print materials detailing the nationís fire services.

The center will initially be open on a part-time basis in the rear of the county fire museum located at 300 South Seton Avenue.

Fire insurance companies, fire equipment and apparatus manufacturers, fire and building code administrators, technical writers including leaders with the nationís fire press, fire departments, and related organizations and individuals will how their documents preserved in the National Fire Heritage Center for future use by researchers and other interested parties.

Much of the written history of fire in America can be hard to locate with far too much of it having already been lost.

"And, more is being lost each day, too," according to Chief Ronny J. Coleman of California, who serves as the centerís president. "Most such documentation that does exist is held in private collections where access is exceedingly difficult," Coleman points out. Often those locations are not readily known and/or where they do happen to exist there typically have no support personnel on hand to properly collect, repair, preserve, catalog and then digitally upload materials for electronic access by others.

Even items that some may describe as mundane might indeed be on the Centerís radar screen of potentially wanted items if they no longer exist elsewhere. And, as well are all manner of unique written items in individual collections, family storage, public and private libraries, as well as items that may be locked away in governmental and corporate closets which may otherwise be tossed by those who might not have given much thought to the importance of documenting the advances in technology in numerous fire-related fields over time.

The NFHC effort has been designed to not supplant but rather to support existing fire libraries, which generally contain documents of the second half of the 20th Century, or fire museums, which often contain limited written materials for ready reference or only hold materials specific to one locality thus normally not national or global in scope.

"And, input is very much welcome regarding our plans," Coleman said. "Our NFHC Strategic Plan is posted on the website for all to see along with our groupís Vision Statement, Value Statement, Goals, Principles, Organizational Motto and the identification of both strategic and long-range Initiatives, too."

Upon being incorporated in the State of Maryland, the National Fire Heritage Center received its IRS 501c3 non-profit organizational status in the fall of 2006 allowing it to receive tax-deductible contributions and collection-suitable donations. When first launched, the original concept was referred to as "Heritage Hall." The National Fire Heritage Center of today is a more encompassing organizational title which can be thought of as a central repository of significant written history of the fire services and fire protection disciplines from throughout our nationís history.

The center will be open to the public every Saturday from 10 a.m. Ė 2 p.m., except holidays. To learn more, visit the National Fire Heritage Centerís website, www.nationalfireheritagecenter.org. A Membership Application and a Donation Form can be found at the secure on-line site, too.

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