COLUMBUS, Ohio — In the heart of downtown Columbus sits an unassuming building with a centuries-old history. Though the bells still ring at the former Fire Station 16, trucks will no longer be seen rushing out of the old engine house.

“It was built in 1908 and was in service as a fire station until 1982,” said Michael Shimko, the museum's director. “The Central Ohio Fire Museum was started in the 80's by a couple of firefighters who later moved into this space to store their collection.”

The retired fire captain spent 20 years with the public safety program at the Grandview Heights Fire Department.

Now, Shimko spends his days sharing the history of the fire service, showing off old trucks, gear and tools used by crews spanning back to the 1800s. He also takes guests into the museum's safety kitchen and bedrooms, showing them safe ways to escape, prevent and put out fires.

“A big portion of fighting fires is preventing them,” said Shimko. “And making sure that folks who get involved in a fire can get themselves out safely.”

But perhaps the highlight of the museum is the heart mobile, the first mobile coronary care unit in the United States which ran out of the Ohio State University Hospital.

“It was a part of a study done here in Columbus, Seattle and Los Angeles in 1969,” said Shimko. “What they found is that people who got treatment early did so much better.”

The museum also features a kids’ play area, complete with boots, hats and jackets for junior firefighters to wear while sitting in the front seat of a life-size truck.

The Central Ohio Fire Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday for personal guided tours. The space can also be rented out for private events.