Early settlers in America depended on neighbors to come to their aid during fire emergencies. Upon seeing a column of smoke, men, women, and children would rush to form the fire brigade. Community members were, in a sense, all members of a “volunteer fire department.” From the humble beginning of "neighbors helping neighbors,” organized volunteer fire departments came into being. This was true in Longwood, as in other areas of the country.
The Longwood Fire Department, staffed by volunteers, was established in 1923. When there were sufficient funds in the city coffers, the first Longwood fire engine was purchased.
The Ladies Auxiliary
Longwood Fire Department volunteers often held raffles, barbecues, and other special functions to help raise money for gear and equipment. Then, as of now, meeting the needs of the fire department was a community affair. Local businessmen participated by donating items for the raffle. The women of Longwood formed a Ladies Auxiliary to support the efforts of the fire department.
The Ladies Auxiliary played a vital role in the early days not only by helping with fundraising events but by bringing refreshments to firefighters during major fires. Today, the act of revitalizing personnel on emergency scenes is known as REHAB - Rehabilitation.
By the 1970s, the Longwood Fire Department had evolved from an “all-volunteer” department into a “career-volunteer” department. The fire service had expanded from 1 engine in the 1920s to a fleet comprised of one non-transport rescue unit, 2 engines, 1 four-wheel drive woods truck, and 1 boat for water rescue. In 1974, Longwood's first Non-Transport Rescue Unit was purchased. This unit was utilized for emergency medical response, staffed by 1 paid professional firefighter and, based on availability, 1 volunteer firefighter. Air packs were among the improvements made during the 1970s. Prior to this time, firefighters would enter buildings without the protection of air packs, making this a very dangerous task.
Much has changed since the establishment of the Longwood Fire Department in 1923. The Longwood Fire Department has evolved into a progressive agency comprised of 39 combat personnel. Among the 39 professional firefighters, there are 18 highly trained paramedics ready to provide quality medical intervention during an emergency. The dedicated members of the Longwood Fire and Rescue Department respond to approximately 4,000 Fire and EMS calls for service annually.