1850s fire trumpet returns home to BG Fire Division

One of the age-old tools for first responders is their ability to communicate reliably in emergencies. Before the conveniences of technology, fire engineers and officers would use “speaking trumpets” to amplify their voices over the noise and commotion of a fire scene to direct the company in effectively fighting the blaze.

On Tuesday, retired Bowling Green firefighter Stuart Warner presented the City of Bowling Green with an 1850s fire trumpet that had previously belonged to the Bowling Green Fire Division.

Warner had been a volunteer firefighter-student for Bowling Green in 1968 when the department was planning to utilize old memorabilia as a weathervane. As a favor to a colleague, he saved this historic fire trumpet, but had forgotten about it while serving in the Army.

A few years ago, while going through his collection, Warner found the trumpet and decided, “this belongs back in Bowling Green.”

Warner has been a long-time collector and restorer of antique fire apparatuses, toys and memorabilia. His restorations, including a 1919 Cedar Point fire engine, are on display at the Port Clinton Aviation Museum.

BGFD Chief Bill Moorman said that he greatly appreciated this donation.

“This is a piece of Bowling Green history we don’t normally see,” Moorman said. “It is nice to welcome it back home.”

The BGFD, which was established in 1834, is proud of its history as historic pictures and memorabilia decorate the walls of the Court Street fire station.

While the fire trumpet has not been a practical tool for fire stations for many years, many still pay homage to its important past. Today, the fire division uses collar pins with increasing numbers of trumpets to indicate rank. Lieutenants wear pins with one trumpet, captains wear pins with two, battalion chiefs receive three, the deputy chief wears a pin with four crossed trumpets, and the fire chief wears a pin with five.

While Moorman sees great value in this piece of history, the fire division will continue to rely on MARC’s radios to communicate during emergencies. The BGFD plans to display the fire trumpet and other historical items in a display case once a new fire station is constructed.