George C. Hale, was one of the most celebrated firefighters in the world at the turn of the last century. The Kansas City’s fire chief was an innovator and held dozens of patents for firefighting equipment, including the fire pole.
The name of Hale, nearly a century after his death, is front and center at the opening of the first of three Kansas City segments of the PBS series “Antiques Roadshow.” Those bits of history were enjoyed by Producer Marsha Bemko and viewers who have made “Roadshow” the top-rated program of the network.
This show became so popular that more than 18,000 requests were sent by people who wanted to have their heirlooms and collectibles evaluated by appraisers of the show when the production stopped in Kansas City last summer. Three thousand pairs of tickets in the end were handed out for the daylong session at Bartle Hall and 60 items made the cut for broadcast.
New York appraiser Philip Weiss described a 14-karat-gold fire badge presented to Hale in 1898 as one of the finest fire badges he’s ever seen. Other appraisals, in addition to the three shows airing this spring, recorded during the Kansas City stay could still appear next fall. “Roadshow’s” annual two-hour special, “Junk in the Trunk,” will be featuring appraisals from Kansas City and seven other cities Bemko and her crew visited in the summer of 2013.