Bedford's Oldest Volunteer Fire Department Turns 150
By The Katonah Fire Department 150th Anniversary Committee
January 16, 2024

A fire that started in Old Katonah’s “Old Hotel” November 19, 1874, very nearly resulted in the destruction of the entire town. However, courageous efforts by Katonah residents, coupled with copious amounts of water from the nearby Katonah Water Company reservoir, prevented the fire from engulfing all in its path.

Despite heroic efforts, however, the fire, in addition to consuming the hotel, also destroyed Smith Drug Store, Beacon’s Oyster Saloon, a millinery store, and two houses belonging to Bernard Travis.

Two days later, an important meeting was held in Hoyt Brother’s Furniture Store, chaired by the Honorable Judge W.H. Robertson. Two committees were appointed—one to hire a night watchman and to collect assessments of $1.50 to $10.000 paid weekly by property owners. The surplus from this fund would be used to purchase ladders and buckets. The second committee was to study the cost of fire engines, extinguishers, and other equipment.

In early December 1874, the Fire Apparatus Committee made their presentation, which included price lists of engines and extinguishers, specifications on some available second-hand engines, and a favorable report on a new engine—the “Little Giant” hand pumper.
This engine, along with miscellaneous supplies, was purchased for $1,000 and arrived in January 1875. When it arrived it was dubbed the “Pride of Katonah”.

The Katonah Fire Department still proudly owns and displays the “Pride of Katonah” in the glass display case outside fire headquarters and on all of our apparatus and patches.

We are so excited to celebrate our 150th anniversary with our community and neighboring fire departments. Stay tuned for all the exciting events we have planned this year both for our own members and our community. The parade will be Wednesday June 5th and Mother Nature has already been advised that her bad smoking habit from last year won’t be tolerated this year.

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