The Lexington Fire Department will host multiple events, beginning next week, to celebrate the department’s 150th anniversary.
Battalion Chief Jordan Saas described the celebration as a “Kentucky Derby style” party, which will feature seven separate events starting Sunday and lasting until Oct. 3. All events are free and the public is invited.
More information can be found on the Lexington Fire Department’s Facebook page.
The department’s roots go back to Sept. 7, 1871. The department has grown tremendously from the 15 personnel and two steam engines available in 1888.
Now, there are 24 stations spread out across Lexington and 597 firefighters on staff.
Through the various events, the city’s more than 300,000 residents can see inside and compare the city’s older and newest fire stations. They’ll also get to look at antique and modern equipment up close.
Sunday: Main Street parade, more
The celebration will kickoff on Sunday with a fire truck muster and parade. The muster will take place from noon to 4 p.m. at the Regal Cinemas in Hamburg at 1949 Star Shoot Parkway.
Multiple antique apparatus will be on hand for people to discover.
The parade will occur downtown on Main Street beginning at 6 p.m. The parade will start at Midland Avenue and finish at Mill Street.
Approximately 70 trucks and apparatus are expected to be featured in the parade. It’s the first time the department has hosted a parade since 2014.
Tuesday: Tour oldest firehouse
There will be two open houses as part of the 150-year celebration, the first of which will take place on Tuesday from 6-8 p.m. at station No. 4 at 246 Jefferson Street. The open house will have a festival-like atmosphere and firefighters on site will offer tours of the station.
Station No. 4 is the department’s oldest operating firehouse. It’s named “Vogt Reel House” for Henry Vogt, a former chairman of the Fire Committee of the Board of City Councilman.
Sept. 25: Gathering highlights one station’s long history
Firehouse No. 3 on Sept. 25 will celebrate its 100-year anniversary. The station opened in 1920 but didn’t celebrate last year due to COVID-related health and safety concerns.
The event will take place at 370 Merino Street from 8 a.m.-noon.
Mayor Linda Gorton will make a proclamation at the station at 9 a.m. All past firefighters at the station — along with the public — are encouraged to attend.
“They wanted to essentially celebrate it this year, and so we just folded them into the 150th celebration,” Saas said.
Sept. 28: Important blood drive
The department will host a blood drive on Sept. 28 at its Union Hall on 2205 Thunderstick Drive. It will last from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
“Our goal, our very lofty goal is to get 150 donations in one day, one donor for every year that we’ve been around,” Saas said.
The department has partnered with the Kentucky Blood Center to ensure all blood donated will stay local in Fayette County and the bluegrass region. Saas said 110 people are currently signed up to participate in the blood drive.
The first 150 people to sign up will receive a free commemorative 150th anniversary challenge coin and travel mug. Anyone interested in participating should visit the department’s Facebook page.
Sept. 29: Newest station opens its doors to public
The second open house will occur from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sept. 29 at fire station 24 at 2754 Magnolia Springs Drive.
Firehouse No. 24 is the department’s newest station, which opened just over two years ago. The department hosted the two open houses at the oldest and newest stations to show the progression and growth the department has made in the last 150 years.
“For example, station 4, it’s a single bay. It’s a single company house. There’s only three people that are assigned there. It’s very tall, very narrow, very small plot of land,” Saas said. “Then you go out to station 24 and you see that it’s three bays. It’s several thousand square feet, big. It’s on one or two acres of land. 24 actually has the fire department’s first elevator in the department.”
Oct. 3: Festival at Lexington park
The closing ceremonies for the anniversary will take place on Oct. 3 at the department’s annual Fire Prevention Festival. It will take place at Masterson Station Park from 2-6 p.m.
Over 40 vendors are committed to the event. There will also be a vaccination station for COVID-19 and the flu.