Over 100 years ago, in a little town nestled in the Mid Hudson Valley, a calamity occurred which set the stage for the development of the Highland Fire Department. On March 16, 1891, flames burst out in an apartment on River Road, Highland. The fire spread along the southwest part of the town and before long had engulfed and destroyed the entire business section of the village. Without an organized fire team, Highland was relatively helpless. With the aid of a pumper from Poughkeepsie that crossed the railroad bridge on a flat car the destruction was halted. One child’s life was lost in the disaster.
About a year later, Highland had organized its first Volunteer Fire Department. A reservoir was built with a pipe line down to the village and twenty-five men volunteered as members. Its first vehicle was a two wheeled cart carrying 200 feet of canvas hose and a 30 gallon chemical tank. Highland’s department grew over the years and with an old Ford Model T, the men built their first homemade “engine”. They no longer had to “push” the old cart up the hills to a fire. Atop the Model T another 30 gallon tank was added to the other equipment.
The Highland Hose Company was incorporated in 1925, and has grown tremendously over the years. In 1979, the Highland Fire Department expanded from a hydrant district and protection district to the Highland Fire District. In 1982, a second station was added on New Paltz Road. In 1989, a heavy rescue truck was introduced to its fleet of trucks. In 1992, the Highland Fire District moved into its new headquarters on Milton Avenue.
Today the Highland Hose Company consists of 55 members, male and female who as their predecessors had done before them willing volunteer their time and skills in protecting their community. Long gone are the wheeled hose carts and Ford Model T homemade engines. The Highland Hose Company, and Fire District vehicle fleet is comprised of three 1750 gpm fire engines, a 750gpm fire engine, a 1500 gallon Engine Tanker, and a Heavy Rescue.