Wednesday, March 19, 2014

An Anniversary for Hudson

Two hundred and twenty years ago, on March 19, 1794, at the first meeting of its seventeenth session, the New York State Legislature passed "An ACT for the better extinguishing Fires in the City of Hudson," which enabled the creation of fire companies in Hudson. 

The text of the legislation reads:
I. Be it enacted, by the People of the State of New-York, represented in Senate and Assembly, That it shall and may be lawful for the mayor, recorder, aldermen, and commonalty of the city of Hudson, in common council convened, or major part of them, to nominate and appoint a sufficient number of men (willing to accept) not exceeding twenty, to every fire engine now provided, or hereafter to be provided for the use of said city, out of the inhabitants being freeholders or freemen of the said city, to have the care, management, working, and using the said fire engines, and the other tools and instruments now or hereafter to be provided, for extinguishing fires within the said city; which persons so to be nominated and appointed as aforesaid, shall be called firemen of the city of Hudson, who are hereby required to be ready at all times, as well by night as by day, to manage, work, and use the said fire engines and other tools and instruments aforesaid.
II. And be it further enacted, That each of the persons so to be nominated and appointed a fireman shall, during his continuance in office, be exempted and privileged from serving in the office of constable, and from being impanelled upon any jury or inquest (except in the mayor's court of the said city) and for this purpose the name of each fireman to be appointed by virtue of this act shall be entered with the clerk of the said city, and his certificate shall be sufficient evidence in all courts and elsewhere, of such exemption and privilege; And further, that the said mayor, recorder, aldermen, and commonalty, in common council convened, or the major part of them, shall have power, from time to time, to remove any firemen so to be appointed, and other to appoint in the stead of those removed, when, and as often as they shall think proper; And further, That it shall be lawful for the said mayor, recorder, aldermen, and commonalty, or the major part of them, in common council convened, to make, establish, and ordain such rules and regulations for the government, duty, and behavior of the persons so to be appointed firemen as aforesaid, in the working and frequent using and trying the said fire engines, tools, and instruments, and to impose such reasonable fines and penalties upon such firemen, or any of them, for default in performing the duties thereby to be enjoined or required from them, as they from time to time may think proper.
III. And be it further enacted, That upon the breaking out of any fire within the said city, the marshal and constables then being in the said city, upon notice thereof, shall immediately repair to the place where such fire shall happen, with their staves and other badges of authority, and be aiding and assisting, as well in extinguishing the said fires, as in preventing any goods from being stolen, and also in removing and securing the same; and in the execution of the duties required of them by this act, shall, in all respects, be obedient to the mayor, recorder, and aldermen of the said city, or such of them as shall be present at any such fires.
IV. And be it further enacted, That it shall be lawful for the mayor, recorder, aldermen, and commonalty of the said city, or a major part of them, in common council convened, to direct and require the inhabitants or owners of dwelling-houses and other buildings in the said city, to provide themselves with such and so many fire-buckets, to be ready in such houses and buildings, for the purpose of extinguishing fires, and to impose such reasonable fines and penalties for disobedience thereof as they shall think proper.
A month after the enabling legislation was passed, on April 17, 1794, the Common Council authorized the creation of the first company in Hudson, known today as J. W. Edmonds Hose Company, No. 1. Seven months later, in November 1794, Hudson's second fire company was authorized, H. W. Rogers Hose Company, No. 2. The tradition established two centuries and two decades ago continues. Hudson is one of a very few cities in New York that still has an all-volunteer fire department.

Many thanks to Neal Van Deusen for bringing this important anniversary to Gossips' attention and for providing the image of the pages from Laws of the State of New York on which the act appears

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