Keene Fire Department celebrates 50 years

KEENE The Keene Fire Department celebrated its golden anniversary recently with a community barbecue, live music and a host of other activities. The department was founded in 1957.

Up until that time we had to depend on Keene Valley, and that wasnt enough, said charter member Richard Hartson, who attended the event.

Hartson said the department started when a group of Keene residents approached the town board to form a fire department. There were 31 charter members, who made due with hand-me-down equipment, purchasing old machines from other departments.

For Hartsons family the fire department is a way of life. Both Hartson and his son, Mike, have served as chief. His wife, Rita, was one of the first EMTs for the ambulance squad.

Second assistant Randy LeClair chaired the event for the department. He said that they held the special event in preparation for next years town bicentennial celebrations. Community members were also invited to an open-house tour of the facility.

Current Chief Jodi Whitney said there were currently 25 members on the roster, with about 12 active members. He said the department is always looking for more people as members.

Membership is one of the main challenges. Youve got to have people that are willing to take the time out, said Whitney.

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