Wait, there’s a Fire Museum in Carmel?

They say if you want to keep something secret you should hide it in plain sight. This is so true of the place I’m about to tell you about.

Much like fight club, the first rule of The Carmel Fire Buffs and Fire Department Museum could be “Don’t. Talk. About. Fire. Buffs. Museum.” Obviously, I’m not one for rules.


So here’s the skinny on this sweet spot: CFBFDM (it’s a long name) is a museum started and maintained by Jim Martin, a man who truly loves his fire trucks. You thought your kid loved a good fire engine? Your kid has nothing on Jim. Jim was a firefighter for over 30 years before retiring. In fact he fought fires out of the very same building until 1987. During retirement he began collecting out of service engines and restoring them to their former glory.

CarmelBuffsFireDeptMuseum-Indy's Child Magazine
This isn’t the Jim that Luis speaks of, but he sure does look adorable on this mini fire engine!

Everything you see in the museum is Jim’s handiwork. One of the engines is a working 1920’s rig that serviced Indianapolis in its hay day. Ask him to show you the photos of how it looked before he got to work on it. He describes the restoration as “a lot of rubbing and sanding.” I’d say thats putting it mildly.

CarmelBuffsFireDeptMuseum-Indy's Child Magazine

Here’s another secret: You’ve seen these fire trucks before and didn’t even know it. They were at the Festival of Machines at Conner Prairie. They were at the Carmel High School Touch a Truck. So, why would you want to see them again? Two words my skeptical friends: No lines. That’s right. You and your little ones can go check out all of the awesome historical fire trucks you can handle without feeling the pressure that can only come with another kid’s eyes bearing into the back of your skull waiting for your child to get down so they can have their turn.

CarmelBuffsFireDeptMuseum-Indy's Child Magazine

Your child’s enthusiasm doesn’t have to be limited by lines and crowds. Take your time – hear Jim tell you the story of each individual engine. Kids can score a firefighter helmet from Jim. And without stepping on any copyright toes lets say that if your little one is a fan of a certain fire marshall Dalmatian, they will find a stuffed pal with paws to help them patrol the museum in a miniature engine!

CarmelBuffsFireDeptMuseum-Indy's Child Magazine

Now that the word is out, head over there quick. Talk to Jim, hear about his plans for future restorations and make sure you leave a donation on your way out: this museum depends on them to keep the doors open!

MORE INFO:The Carmel Fire Buffs and Fire Department Museum is located at 210 1st Ave SW in Carmel. During Winter, the Museum keeps sporadic daytime hours. During Summer, the Museum is open daily and on weekends. Operator Jim says visits may be arranged by calling him at {317} 370-6437 or emailing him at [email protected]. Don’t forget that donation at the door as thank you for your visit!


Luis Ruvalcaba - Indy's ChildIn late June, 2007 Luis Ruvacalba removed his laundry from the dryer to find that he had rendered all of his undershirts pink and shrunk his favorite red University of Arizona sweater.

At that point – as he says: “I realized: I need a wife. I married Katie in Sept of 2007. Aside from one lousy pen left in my pants pocket and numerous dried on Conner Prairie stickers, the laundry has gone pretty well since then.” Luis has four children: Maggie- 7, Micah- 5, Millie- 2, and Merritt- 1. Each of them helps him sharpen his parenting skills in new and unique ways. “Without Maggie I’d never have learned to put on tights. Without Micah I would have the weakest MMA fighting skills on the block. Millie challenges me to improve my search and rescue abilities. Merritt gives me weekly lessons in Matrix style urine dodging. Together we are the greatest family to ever ruin your family’s nice quiet afternoon at the park.”

Follow along with Luis as he helps shows you the best places to let your family run wild.

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