Living in a city, people may be used to their fire fighter’s having a full-time job with their fire department. In small towns like Smyrna, the fire department thrives on volunteers….that’s right even in today’s day and age our fire fighter’s volunteer versus getting paid for their time.
Yet with Smyrna’s continuous growth over the past several years, this facet seems to have become an afterthought especially for individuals new in town.
It’s the pride and dedication of the volunteers at Citizens’ Hose Company that has kept the fire department in Smyrna going for so long, so long in fact that they are celebrating their 125th year as a fire department this year.
To celebrate, Citizens’ Hose is celebrating with an open house and a parade.
“I think there’s a lot of tradition in the fire company. This is an extension of our tradition that we have here,” said Bob Merrill, band committee chairman.
A look back in time…
In the early days of the Duck Creek and Smyrna area, town folk depended on each other for support whenever there was a fire. As time wore on, town commissioners decided in the 1860s there was a need for a better-organized fire brigade. Therefore, in the early 1880s town officials put together an unofficial fire brigade. This decision would eventually lead to the development of an official fire department in Smyrna.
On Jan. 6, 1886, 27 members of Smyrna’s fire brigade voted to become a permanent organization. Their first location was on South Main Street where the Smyrna Public Library currently sits. One year later, the Smyrna fire brigade took the name Citizens’ Hose Company and never looked back.
A history of pride and dedication
In the 125 years of its existence, Citizens’ Hose has become a staple in the Smyrna community.
For some people, their first memories of the fire department stem from their father being a fire fighter. Others remember the sounds of student volunteers running down the hallway after an alarm went off. Whether it’s standing on West Commerce Street after a Governor’s Cup win, enjoying the band or watching the fire department in a town parade, Citizens’ Hose Company is ingrained in the Smyrna community.
It’s that sense of tradition from the volunteers of Citizens’ Hose that keeps it going, not only with putting out fires but with the various activities they participate in including the Governor’s Cup.
“It’s the tradition and pride of these guys that keeps the Cup coming home every year. This is tradition, 31 Governor’s Cups. We’ve won most in the state,” Company President Chris Hudson said after winning this year.
Page 2 of 2 - Not only is it a big part of the community but it’s family for those who join.
Sense of family and brotherhood
For several members, joining the fire department in one way or another was second nature because they practically grew up in the firehouse.
Kim O’Malley is a fourth-generation member. Eugene Tucker joined after promising his father he would give it a try. Chris Merrill followed in his father and uncle’s footsteps, first joining the band at age 15 and then the fire department at age 16.
What makes Citizens’ Hose so great…the camaraderie according to most members.
Whether it’s enjoying each other’s company any night of the week or being welcomed back by the department after returning home from Iraq, members of Citizens’ Hose have formed a close bond.
Even for those new to the area, the fire department provides a sense of family.
“I don’t mean to beat a dead horse but it’s the camaraderie, it’s great,” said Citizens’ Hose historian Mike O’Malley.
A time to celebrate
As it came time to discuss celebrating their 125th anniversary, members of the fire department decided on an open house and a parade.
The open house was originally scheduled for Aug. 27 but was postponed due to Hurricane Irene. It will now be on Saturday, Nov. 5.
The parade is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 29.
With the celebration of the 125th anniversary, some members hope to bring awareness of the fire department to the community and remind people that Citizens’ Hose is a volunteer fire company.
“I think it’s good and it’s going to bring a lot of awareness back to the community that might have either, not really forgotten about us, but are new to the area and don’t realize that we are a volunteer fire company,” said Kim O’Malley.
Email Jennifer Dailey at firstname.lastname@example.org.