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National Fallen Firefighters Foundation

The Brainard-Griego Collection

The Brainard-Griego Collection, a treasure trove of historical significance, is proudly on display in the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Chapel.

Chan Brainard began collecting firefighting memorabilia in the 1940s in Hamden, Connecticut. Over the next 70 years, Chan and his husband, Gil Griego, amassed a collection of over 10,000 pieces, including vintage helmets, equipment, alarms, photos, documents, toys, and other memorabilia. In 2020, the entire collection was donated to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation to create a permanent home for the collection. His collection is now available to delight and educate visitors to the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Among the many pieces, you’ll find 20 high eagle helmets, two Cairns War Baby helmets, Chan Brainard’s helmet, a dress cap, and a childhood photo on one of New Haven’s engines. Other items include a firefighting study guide from the early 1960s, speaking trumpets, fire buckets, lanterns, box alarm cards, books, and firefighter toys. Each item is a testament to the rich history of firefighting and the dedication of those who served.

Photos from his display in Signal Hill, California
Chan Brainard and Gil Griego

Board of Directors presented Chan and Gil with an appreciation plaque and a Hamden, CT fire truck replica (July 2021)

Display in the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Chapel

With support from the U.S. Fire Administration and the U.S. Fire Academy, memorabilia is also placed at the National Emergency Training Center (NETC) Library, two locations in S Building at NETC, and the NETC Recreation Association’s Command Post Pub.

Helmets on display at the NETC Library

Helmet Collection

The NETC Library has more than 100 helmets on display from the collection, and the librarians created a guide with information about each helmet.

Book Collection

In addition, the collection’s books are now searchable in the NETC Library online database. Thank you to the NETC Library staff and contractors for supporting the collection and being part of the library.

Books from the collection on display during the 2024 World Fire Congress at the NETC Library