This might be the coolest free museum you’ve never heard of.

“My name is Galen Thomaier, I’m the curator of the Last Resort Fire Department Museum at Seattle Fire Department Headquarters.”

Thomaier, a retired firefighter, is the second generation to care for this collection of antique fire fighting vehicles located in Pioneer Square. The odd name was coined by his dad who was also a firefighter, and the museum’s cofounder.

“And my dad jokingly would say they’re all fully functional, as a matter of fact, if all else fails as a last resort, call us. As time went on that name kinda stuck with us.”

There is not a fact about “antique fire apparatuses” — don’t you dare call them firetrucks — that Thomaier doesn’t know.

He’s been learning all his life.

“I had been in every Seattle fire station and had pictures of all the rigs by the time I was 12, so I knew right away at an early age that I wanted to be, not just a firefighter, but a Seattle firefighter.”

Naturally, Thomaier became a Seattle firefighter.

And after he retired, he carried on what his father started — collecting and restoring these big red beasts.

“If my dad and I hadn’t saved some of these many years ago, they would have been cut up for scrap,” he said.

Saved from the scrap pile: a “Hand Drawn Hand Pumper” from the mid 1800s before firefighters used horses to pull their rigs. It predates the Great Seattle Fire.

There’s also a horse drawn fire wagon from 1899 with wood spoke wheels and original gold leaf decorations.
“It’s a work of art,” Thomaier said. “It really is.”

Also, Seattle’s first “modern” truck, a 1937 Seagrave 100-foot aerial ladder truck. Ladder 1 still sits in the spot where it served its entire life in the Seattle Fire Department.

The museum is free — but donations are appreciated to help make sure the Last Resort Fire Department lasts.

And this man who was born with “smoke in his blood” is happy to spend his retirement sharing everything he knows — and that’s a lot — with anyone who’s interested.

“The word I would use is passion, it’s been a lifelong passion,” Thomaier said. “Some might call it a sickness but I consider it a passion.”

The Last Resort Fire Department Museum is located at 301 Second Ave. S. in Pioneer Square, is free, and is open Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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