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By Kayla Schmidt and Lindsey Gaynor

Photography by Ab Hassett, Justin Negard, Gabe Palacio

In November 1874, a fire almost engulfed the entire town of  Katonah. Originating in the Old Hotel, it rapidly spread, and with the absence of a fire department, there was no one to tend to it. Luckily, a group of men rose to the occasion; they gathered water from the nearby Katonah Water Company reservoir and extinguished the relentless fire. Two days later, a small group gathered at Hoyt Brothers Furniture Store, and two committees were formed: one to hire a night watchman and collect weekly assessments from property owners, and the other to study the cost of equipment.

On January 9, 1875, the Katonah Fire Department (KFD) was officially organized, and it was officially incorporated in June 1898. We tip our hats to all the KFD volunteers who have been, and still are, saving lives and putting out fires over the past 150 years.

Here are some interesting facts about the Katonah Fire Department that you may not know.

  • Their tanker holds 35,000 gallons of water and 50 gallons of foam.
  • In 1938, H.H. Park filmed the movie “Smoke Eaters” at the old firehouse.
  • KFD has never had an official mascot.
  • KFD is one of the longest running fire departments in Westchester County.
  • There are about 75 active firefighters today; three are women.
  • The oldest volunteer is 81, and the youngest is 16.
  • Want a firetruck to get to your home quickly? Make sure your house number is clearly visible from the road.
  • About one month after the establishment of KFD, H. C. Smith was named the first chief.
  • If you have a gate, please allow 9-10 feet of distance between your columns so the truck can get through.
  • To be a volunteer, you must: live in Katonah; have been a resident for at least six months; train for about three and a half months; and attend a certain number of meetings, fire calls and drills to maintain active status.
  • In theory, everyone is on call 24/7. They all carry a pager and a horn. Plus, there’s an app specifically for active volunteers that tells them what kind of call it is, and anyone who is available responds.
  • The volunteer with the most interesting job might be Chris Stanton who used to work with the NYC probation department. He was once tasked with keeping an eye on Martha Stewart while she was on probation.
  • KFD has three command cars (one for each fire chief), three engines, one ladder truck, one tanker truck, one heavy rescue truck, two utility trucks and five boats (four are flat bottom boats and one is an inflatable Zodiac). Additionally, the department has two antiques: a 1928 American LaFrance named Mary Anne and an 1874 hand-drawn pumper from when the department was founded.
Kayla Schmidt

Kayla Schmidt is a freshman at Horace Greeley High School. She is part of the newspaper and the SADD club, and she is also the co-manager of the track team. In her free time, Kayla enjoys spending time with her friends, family, and dogs, along with reading (preferably on the beach).

Lindsey Gaynor

Lindsey Gaynor is a junior at Greenwich Academy, but is a Bedford native. She dedicates her time to local and national community organizations and initiatives, including Neighbors Link and St. Jude’s Research Hospital. She is also involved in her school’s arts and athletics programs, where she sings with the Madrigals chorus and is a member of her school’s Varsity Field Hockey and Varsity B Lacrosse teams. In her spare moments, she spends time with her friends or walks her beloved dog, Buckeye. Her favorite time of the week is Sunday night, where she relaxes by the fire and unwinds with her family.