Hudson Fire Department was formed in 1873.
The “Great Fire” of 1866 led the community to think about having a better organized and larger department. In 1872 there were several fires that sealed the deal to get an official fire department. These fires were in Chapin Hall House, the Coon & Platt’s Elevator and Warehouse and C.D. Powers’ Warehouse. On April 3, 1873 the Hudson fire Department was created. It was housed on Walnut Street where City Hall now stands. The fire department was its own company and it wasn’t until later it became a municipal department.
In the early 1900’s the Police and Fire Commission was created and they appointed police and fire chiefs to their positions. When the commission formed, it appointed Charles H. Olson as the first fire chief. He was elected by the department in 1903 and officially appointed by the commission in 1910. In 1914 the Hudson Fire Department published a small booklet of its activities. Since then the structure of the department has not changed.
In the early days of the fire department a bell was used to let firefighters know when they needed to get to the station. Because of its limited sound range, the bell was most useful at night. If they were at work outside the town, they didn’t hear it during the day. A siren was later used, but the same problem would come up. It had a farther range than the bell, but still could not be heard outside of town. Next the department used the telephone and this was used until 1977. The sheriff’s department used to get the calls before the development of 911. They would call all the firefighters at once and keep repeating the location of the fire until they thought everyone had gotten the message. Now all firefighters are issued pagers that allow them to travel greater distances and still receive the call.
Currently the fire department has 40 members which all but one are volunteer. The only full-time department staff is the Fire Chief/Fire Marshall and the Adminstrative Assistant. The department’s structure is a Chief, 1st and 2nd Assistant Chiefs, 2 Captains, and 3 Lieutenants.
The department responds to around 430 calls a year and the number keeps rising. Some of the calls are alarms, vehicle accidents, structure fires, grass fires, bomb threats, chemical spills, water rescues, downed power lines, mutual aid to other cities and many more. Members go through the same training as full-time firefighters and are continually going to classes and drills. All members must be State Certified in order to be on the department. The department currently has 3 engines, 1-95 foot ladder truck, 2 tankers, 2 brush trucks, 1 suburban, 1 mini pumper for hazmat/decon and 1 zodiac boat for water rescue.