İstanbul Kont Szechenyi Fire Museum

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The Fire Department Museum was opened for the first time in 1931 by the firefighters of the time by constructing an additional building next to this historical building, which is used as the Fire Department Headquarters in Fatih district today. The museum has remained closed from time to time for reasons such as maintenance and repair of its collections and renovation of the building. the museum, which was opened in 1989, was closed again in 1997 due to the renovation of the museum building. It was reopened on 23.09.1998 with the instruction of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the mayor of İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality, on the occasion of the Fire Department Week, and renamed as KONT SZECHENY FIRE DEPARTMENT MUSEUM.

Count Szecheny, as a person who has dedicated 48 years of his life to the İstanbul Fire Department, has written his name in our firefighting history with golden letters. When the building of the Fire Department Museum located in Fatih was renovated in 2008 within the framework of a general restoration, the museum was evacuated from here as well. After being preserved in Başakşehir Fire Department for about two years, it was moved to its new building known as the Kılıç Ali Paşa water cistern in the Beşiktaş district. The museum collections were re-sorted by experts with a brand new concept and presented to the public in the building here. The museum was affiliated with the Fire Department until 29/05/1996, and after that date, it was transferred to the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality Library and Museums Directorate. Museum collections; contain a history of three hundred years from the present. The first pump (pumps with arbors), neighborhood pumps, hydrophore pumps, the first motor pump, horse-drawn pump car, cloth cistern, ladder, fire ladder, gloves, fire lanterns, life-saving ropes, masks and filters, telephone switchboard, distribution taps, pumper and firefighter clothes, fire helmets, chief fire axes, and various hats are exhibited.

Our museum is a continuous education and information center due to the fact that it is a museum of a profession and a living institution. Students of all ages and categories, from preschool to university education, are provided with information about the history of the fire department and the Fire  Museum.

The 4-stage historical process is exhibited in the Fire Department Museum.

First stage (Tulumbacılar Ocağı, aka “Dergah-ı Ali Tulumbacıları Ocağı): Tulumbalar was a tool used only to drain the water that filled the ships in the 17th century. The developed form of it for extinguishing fires is dated to the beginning of the 18th century, that is, to the year 1714. Nevşehirli Damat, the grand vizier of the time, was successful in responding to the fires in the districts of Tüfekhane and then Tophane, with a didon-changed tulumba (pumpkin with a bow) made by a French engineer who later converted to Islam and took the name Davut and called himself the real David or Davud Hakiki. He was appointed as the head of the Tulumbacı quarry (Dergah-ı Ali Tulumbacıları Ocağı) by İbrahim Pasha and was given the title of “Aga”. He remained at the head of this organization until the death of David in 1733. The "Tulumbacılar Ocağı" (fire brigade) was established by placing an administrative officer, a clerk, a sergeant's lieutenant, a chief of staff, fifty firefighters, and a few water carriers under the command of the real Davut Ağa. (1720) A total of 50 law enforcement agencies were established in various districts until 1759 in order to extinguish the fires that would occur in Istanbul. Tulumbacılar Ocağı (fire brigade) continued for 106 years from 1720 to 1826 as an organization affiliated with the Janissaries and ended with the abolition of the Janissary Corps in 1826.

The Second Stage (District Tulumbacılar) Janissary Corps was abolished in 1826, and the Tulumbacılar Brigade (Vaka-i Hayriye) came to an end automatically. However, the Hocapaşa Fire (1826), which occurred approximately one and a half months after this date, in which almost 5/1 of Istanbul was burned, moreover, there was neither a team nor a firefighter who could use a pump to intervene in this fire. With this fire, it has been understood once again how necessary and vital the fire department is. The Fire Brigade (as a semi-military organization),  which was re-established in 1827 by Sultan Mahmut II, was composed of a number of officers (officers) whose discipline was not broken when it was operating within the Janissary corps. This newly established organization would later be connected to the Zaptiye Müshiriyet (which was established in 1846 for the security of Istanbul) founded by Sultan Abdulmecit and headquartered in the seraskerat in Beyazıt. However, since this organization reminded the abolished janissary corps, this new organization was started to be called “İtfaiye” and at the same time, it started to operate within the newly established Asakir-i Mansure-i Muhammediye army. Since this period, in order for firefighters to provide better service, each district has been allocated separate overalls and a sufficient number of overalls. With the Tanzimat Edict (Gülhane-i Hatti Hümayün) announced in the Ottoman State in 1839, innovations in all fields were aimed at, the first Beledi organizations were established with a regulation published in 1857, and the fire brigade organization, which found an area of activity within them, began to operate as a new institution with the name “Daireli”. Thus, for the first time in the history of the fire brigade, local administrations were also given responsibility. There was a coverall and a sufficient number of coveralls in each municipal center. In addition, there were also “Dungarees” consisting of volunteer young people from each neighborhood, who acted as volunteer firefighters. This period is the most colorful period of Istanbul Tulumbacılık (fire brigade). This group of tulumbacılar consisted of wiry-like young men with felt cones on their heads, knee pads, (tulumbacı's underpants) cloaks, and a kerchief on their feet. As soon as the news of the fire was received, they would run through the streets of İstanbul at lightning speed with the tulumba chest they took on their shoulders, travel for kilometers, and reach the scene of the fire. After the fire-fighting work was over, the firefighters used to shout some cries as they passed through the crowds to indicate their class and hearth. It's like "Heeeyt, lion on land, the tiger in the sea, making seventy-two and a half nations smoke, we will come and go. These are the variants of Kasımpaşa, heeeyt..." Tulumbacılar would buy some gifts related to the fires they put out, for example, if they bought a sheep, they would call it a “share” and the chief would share it. In addition to the unique clothing garments of the neighborhood overalls men, the coffee house-entertainment cultures and name nicknames have created a very different harmony in terms of sociocultural sense as a whole.

In terms of the characteristics of the neighborhood, overalls have also formed a cultural school, for example, coffeehouses, their own communication systems, the selection of chiefs to their own groups, and public life areas where they identify in many other areas such as bath cultures are known. 

Third Stage: Military Period Fire Brigade (Szechenyi Wind) In the great Beyoğlu fire (Kurtuluş-Fındıklı) that occurred in 1870, the Sultan Abdulaziz Han, the sultan of the time, entered into a new search due to the inadequacy of the firefighters in extinguishing the fire. He ordered that experts on pumping or fire extinguishing equipment be brought to Istanbul in all European countries. Sultan Abdulaziz invites the Hungarian-born Count Ödön Szecheny, who founded the Vienna and Pashte fire departments, to İstanbul for research. Upon this invitation, Szechenyi, who came to İstanbul in 1871, gave some theoretical information to the firefighters and trained them and reported that a fire department trained with military principles was needed in Istanbul and returned to Hungary after stopping for a year. In 1874, Sultan Abdulaziz invites Szechenyi again and brings him to the head of firefighting and his friend Baroni as his assistant. From this moment on, Szechenyi laid the foundations of the first modern fire brigade in real terms in the capital of the Ottoman Empire. Szechenyi, who wants to adopt the conduct of firefighting with military discipline, establishes an organization of three battalions in the first place. September December 1876, the second battalion was established in September 1874, and the third in July 1877. The first two of the battalions were organized within the city walls, and the third was organized in Beyoğlu. In addition, he aimed to establish a naval battalion in order not to destroy the wooden architecture of İstanbul on both sides of a possible fire that could occur in the Bosporus, and in 1884 he founded the first Turkish naval fire brigade (naval battalion). Sultan Abdulhamid II  gave his full support to Szecheny Pasha in the establishment of the naval battalion, as well as in the modernization of the Fire Brigade. A month before Szechenyi's arrival in İstanbul, a fire brigade was formed on September 2, 1874, and a commission was formed for it. Together with this commission, a meeting was held in which Szechenyi and his friends Cheraki and Vulmann took part, and the systems being implemented in Europe were studied, and the issue of which of these systems would be useful for İstanbul was discussed. First of all, it was decided to establish a training center in Taksim after decisions were taken, such as the inclusion of irregular firefighters in the newly formed regiments, their training on military principles, and the purchase of a few new modern steam pumps. Water pools were to be built at various points in İstanbul, and the work of carrying overalls on the shoulder was to be terminated. Uniforms of firefighters would be renewed and uniforms resistant to high temperatures (higher fire resistance, such as felt) would be produced, metal caps would be used, long-sleeved trousers and a strong belt would be tied to hold the trousers, and leather spurs (boots) with long hoops would be worn instead of shoes. After all these efforts, Sultan Abdülhamid II granted Count Ödön Szechenyi the rank of Miralay in 1877 and the rank of Feriklik in 1883. Thus, Szechenyi won the title of “Commander of the General Fire Brigade Regiments”, which he would carry for forty years.

Count Ödön Szecheny started a new era for Istanbul, and although he had a great fight against fires, fires did not cease to be the first danger in the capital of the Ottoman Empire. Because these problems still continued, Sultan Abdulhamid II had some research done, and as a result of this research, he concluded that most of the fires were started by property owners who wanted to get money from insurance companies. Thereupon, the Sultan met with the second Abdulhamid Szechenyi Pasha and the battalion major, Refet Bey, and gave orders to take some precautions. With the eight-item regulation with the “men-i harik tedabirini havi mizamname” regulations issued with these orders, a series of penal sanctions were introduced in addition to the protective measures in the fight against fires, and thus the incidents of some people deliberately setting their property on fire were tried to be prevented. This 48-year phase of the İstanbul Fire Department ended with the foundation of the Republic.

Fourth stage: in the first years of the Republic of today's Fire Department the fire department on ongoing and fully restructured in line with the requirements of the modern world and has continued to operate within the structure of local government. At the point reached today, the İstanbul Fire Brigade has an important place worldwide.

Summer (23/07/2020 - 23/07/2020)
09:00-17:30 (Monday : Close) Saturday 09:00-17:30 Sunday 09:00-17:30
Box Office Closed 14:24
Winter (23/07/2020 - 23/07/2020)
09:00-17:30 (Monday : Close) Saturday 09:00-17:30 Sunday 09:00-17:30
Box Office Closed 17:00

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