The year was 1878 and the City of Ashland was a quiet, peaceful place full of commerce and on the verge of a major growth spurt. It was during this year that the city was jarred awake by its first major fire. The fire swept through our leading business establishments along Front Street between 15th and 16th street. The disaster was the catalyst for discussion among the community and its leaders for organizing a fire department and purchasing fire equipment. Little came from these discussions and the city went on with little or no improvement.

Then in 1883 the wooden portions of the Norton Iron Works facility were destroyed by fire. The bucket brigade could not provide sufficient water to hinder the spread and destruction of the flames. The incident spawned discussion for changes in the way fire fighting operations were conducted. The city had been hit hard enough and they were ready for a change.

In 1885, the Ashland Fire Department was founded as a volunteer fire department. The new department purchased a hand-drawn hook and ladder wagon and twenty-four rubber buckets. It was an improvement to their previous methods but still left room for improvement.

In later years the city migrated away from a volunteer department to a full-time, paid, professional organization and purchased steam engines and hoses. Since that time the department has grown and expanded into tight knit group of dedicated professionals who not only extinguish fires but perform other specialized operations such as: medical assistance with our Emergency Medical Technicians(EMT), code enforcement, fire prevention, fire inspection, public safety education, smoke detector installation, various types of specialized rescue services, hazardous materials(HAZMAT) response and mitigation, and the list continues to grow as we strive to meet the needs of our community.

The steel core of the Ashland Fire Department was forged from the pillars of Dedication, Determination, Courage, Excellence, Teamwork, Pride, Leadership, Commitment and Honor; today our coal stoked furnace burns hotter than ever.

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