Three hose companies as well as a hook and ladder company were created by ordinance in 1896, and 125 years later, the Morristown Fire Department is still serving their community.

That humble beginning was completely dependent on the work and dedication of firefighters, who wouldn’t have any horse drawn equipment until 1906. It would take another 10 years to acquire their first motorized apparatus, which can still be seen today in working order after a recent restoration. The growth of the department has mirrored the growth of the city and today there are six stations and 78 firefighters dedicated to protecting the safety and welfare of Morristown’s residents.

“Our firefighters are very dedicated and focused,” Chief Clark Taylor, the MFD’s 13th chief in 125 years, said. “I guess their biggest, most important trait is they actually care.”

Taylor started with the department over 30 years ago and said the one of the biggest changes he’s seen is the promotion of health and safety for firefighters. In addition to the dangers posed by service calls, exposure to carcinogens and other health concerns have led to a more complete picture on how to better care for public safety professionals.

“There has been a huge push on the legislative side and the fire service side,” he said. “We’re more cancer aware now. We’re more physical fitness aware, including diets.”

Technological advancements have always driven change for firefighters, and the twentieth century saw the MFD embrace each new change that led to better safety and responsiveness. Taylor said internal combustion engines, radio communications and improved turnout gear all changed firefighting for the better. He said the fire department will continue to innovate and embrace advances in technology including nozzle development and fire suppressing chemicals.

Morristown has grown from a agrarian, rural community to a regional hub that is home to a range of industry that sustains growth and development in the Lakeway region. All of the industries bring chemicals that are a source of concern for fire safety professionals, but Taylor says the department is up to the task of handling the constantly evolving industrial landscape.

He said that as time goes on, many of the more potent chemicals are retired for better, safer options as the EPA and industry work to mitigate risk factors.

Chief Taylor says their have always been those who have wanted to serve their community, and the Morristown Fire Department started out with good people 125 years ago and they still fill the ranks.

“They have a sense of wanting to help people, and a duty to do so,” he said. “We may be more educated now, but the spirit’s the same.”

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