Press Release

Friendship and Firefighting in Alexandria: Celebrating 250 Years of Friendship Fire Company

Friendship Firehouse (Phot: Jim Halloway)

ALEXANDRIA, VA-Gather Saturday, May 18 in front of Friendship Firehouse Museum at 107 South Alfred Street for a muster of antique, hand-drawn firefighting apparatus. Participating vehicles will include 19th-century suction fire engines and hose reel carriages. Suction engines, invented in the early 19th century, drew water from wells, hydrants, and other sources through a hose, and provided a powerful and constant stream of water. The first hoses were typically made in 50-foot lengths, and only a few pieces could be carried on the fire engine itself, so additional vehicles were created specifically to carry extra lengths of hose.

Fire was a constant danger in a town of mostly wooden buildings, where open flames provided heat, light, and cooking. The Friendship, Sun, Relief, Hydraulion, and Star volunteer fire companies served the community faithfully, particularly during enormous blazes in 1827, 1855, and 1871.

Friendship Firehouse Museum’s historic firefighting vehicles includes the Prettyman Hose Reel Carriage, built in Alexandria in 1858 by coachmaker, and Friendship Fire Company member, Robert Prettyman. It was ornately decorated and fitted with two large bells to sound the alarm as the vehicle bounced through Alexandria’s streets. Thanks to fundraising efforts led by the Friendship Veterans Fire Engine Association, the Prettyman hose carriage recently underwent much needed conservation, returning to Friendship Firehouse in 2022.

Friendship & Firefighting in Alexandria is sponsored by the Friendship Veterans Fire Engine Association and the Office of Historic Alexandria. Admission is free.

For reasonable disability accommodation, contact Nicole Quinn at or call 703.746.4554, Virginia Relay 711.

If you prefer communication in another language, free interpretation and translation services are available to you, please email or call 703-746-3960.

Alexandria at 275: Connecting to our past to define a brighter future.

Since its 1749 founding, the historic city of Alexandria has played a major role in our nation’s story and reflected its progress toward inclusivity. Join us at events from April through September as we mark Alexandria’s 275th anniversary and embark on the next chapter in our city’s vibrant history at

[SEE ALSO: Alexandria Agencies Release Report Describing Solutions to Mitigate Resident Challenges]

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