Question: Outside of saving people’s lives, when does a fire department make history? Answer: When the fire department has been in service for 225 years and is the oldest volunteer squad in New York state.
The Hudson Fire Department marked its amazing anniversary Wednesday with a party at City Hall and invited dozens of friends and supporters to share the celebration.
In 1794, the first 19 Hudson firefighters were appointed to protect the city. The 19 were members of the first organized fire department in the state. To put things in perspective, when the Hudson Fire Department was formed, George Washington was president of the United States, Congress changed the U.S. flag to 15 stars and 15 stripes, the U.S. government established a permanent navy and the first session of the United States Senate was open to the public.
Today, under the rubric “Pride is our pay,” the department’s 80 active members regularly suit up to answer the fire alarm, anytime, day or night. In 2018, the city’s bravest answered an astonishing 425 calls – the highest number since 2003 – averaging more than a call a day.
Even more astonishing, the HFD is a volunteer department after more than two centuries, even as volunteer departments fall by the wayside in an era of more stringent training and demands imposed by jobs and families.
Indeed, if pride is the reward, then the city should be proud of its fire department. The story of the Hudson Fire Department is all the more amazing because it still operates today with all volunteers. And there is no sign that interest in serving with the department is waning.
The Hudson Fire Department and its impressive record set a gold standard for volunteerism, both in the city and in the Twin Counties. At a time when many ask what’s in it for me, the firefighters of Hudson continue to serve their city selflessly, asking for nothing but the pride of their community in return.