Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:

With the support of a relatively small group of volunteer members, Elgin Fire Barn No. 5 Museum remains a working piece of local history.

The city council on Wednesday unanimously agreed to move forward updating an agreement with the nonprofit that runs the museum. The city-owned fire barn at 533 St. Charles St. was built in 1903-1904 to hold two horses and a hose wagon and at the time stood at the southernmost spot in Elgin.

According to the agreement, the city will continue to be responsible for maintaining the building and property, pay for utilities, except telephone service, and continue to maintain insurance for the property. City officials said utilities for the building ran $4,456 last year, while the estimated property insurance cost to the city is $945 annually. The city also takes care of additional periodic maintenance and repairs to the building and plans to paint its exterior this year.

The previous five-year deal expired in 2002, but continued to operate under the old terms, including a $10-per-year lease. The terms of the updated agreement are substantially similar to the previous one, including a five-year term and rent of $10 per year.

Revisions to the term from 2017 through 2021 include an automatic renewal provision by which the agreement is automatically renewed for additional five-year terms unless terminated by one of the parties.

The nonprofit also has to maintain and update museum records including providing an inventory of the museum collection and to make those records available to the city.

Fire Barn museum volunteer/members Dale Betts and James Carrigan noted that members try to provide for as much of the maintenance and upkeep as they can, further curbing expenses. The group spends about $200 each year fueling the three antique vehicles it has so that they can be used in parades.

While one of those vehicles is on display in the Fire Barn, the other two are stored in Elgin fire stations. The museum has been trying for two years to find its own storage space.

The museum had 672 visits in 2016, which is a typical annual tally and is run off of donations and the work of volunteers. There are currently 77 dues-paying members.

Betts has been a Fire Barn volunteer for five years and Carrigan has been involved for seven years.

New exhibits this year include a wall dedicated to the events of Sept. 11, 2001 and a display about a fire in the winter of 1956 at the Rialto movie house in downtown Elgin in which the roof collapsed.

Carrigan said the group also has been working to put together a yearbook, of sorts, looking at the 150-year history of the Elgin Fire Department. He expects the piece will be published sometime in midsummer.

Thanks to Elgin Building Maintenance Superintendent Rich Hoke and his crew, the men said, the fountain in front of the museum, which had not been working for more than five years, will be operating again during warm weather.

Filled with fire department lore and memorabilia, the building is on the National Register of Historic Places and has been a museum since 1993.

The space is available to rent for events which have included memorial services, wakes and funerals, visits from groups such as Northern Illinois Fire Buffs, children’s birthday parties, and scouting organizations.

Since the space is run by volunteers, it is typically only open for general visiting every other Sunday afternoon, but it is recommended to call 847-697-6242 or email efb5m@outlook.com before stopping by.

Suggested admission is $2 for adults and $1 for children under the age of 7. For information, go to www.elginfiremuseum.com/.

thanks Dan