The Shaker Road-Loudonville Fire Department is celebrating 75 years of service to the area, its neighborhoods and businesses.
It all began March 11, 1932, when 30 residents met at a West Albany social club to form and elect the first officers of the new department. The following month, the district acquired the old Sunday School building on Albany Shaker Road and purchased a 1918 fire truck from the city of Albany. In its first year, the department responded to eight emergency calls.
"I was 18 years old. As soon as I was eligible I joined because that is what we did," said John Brizzell, 55, a 38-year member of the department.
Brizzell, his brothers, Jim, 61, and George, 57, are all life members of the department. In all, 20 members of Brizzell's family account for 500 years of service in the department.
"It was to give and help the community. It was fun and exciting and seemed like the right thing to do," said Brizzell.
All members, whether 40-year veterans or those still in basic firemen training, share similar stories as to why they join. Most admit, though, that it is harder now than it was then to serve the community. There are stricter guidelines and certifications to meet, and many new recruits won't make it past being told what is expected of them and how much of their time it may require.
Some members of the Shaker Road-Loudonville Fire Department, like the Brizzells, are of families that have been with it since the beginning. The department is still very much family-oriented, Brizzell said.
At the department's 30-year mark, these families were more than sufficient in providing fire services to the area, said Brizzell. For one, there were on average 50 to 60 fires a year and more than 250 members in the department.