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Dallas Fire-Rescue celebrates 150 years of service to the city

150 years ago on July 4, 1872, a unit of firefighters was first recognized by the city. Dallas Fire-Rescue has now grown into a 2,000 member department.

DALLAS — July 4 marked the 150th anniversary of Dallas Fire-Rescue. 

On Monday morning at the Dallas Firefighter's Museum, DFR held a sesquicentennial appreciation block party.

One-hundred and fifty years ago, in 1872, one unit of volunteer firefighters was recognized by the City of Dallas. The department has since grown to 2,000 members with 58 fire stations. A 59th fire station is opening soon.

Over the century and a half, a lot has changed. Putting out fires is what DFR was traditionally known for. But now, Dallas Fire-Rescue has an all-hazards approach, including teams for HAZMAT, urban search and rescue, swift water, emergency medical services and more.

This year also marks the 50th anniversary for DFR's emergency medical services (EMS), and 50 years of the Dallas Firefighters Museum.

"It's a privilege, it's an honor to be a part of a team that has served the city and the citizens for 150 years, and it's a select few," Special Operations Deputy Chief Chief George Gamez said. "To be a part of that group of women and men that came before us, that created this culture and this history, we stand on their shoulders."

Around 150 members were in attendance at the block party Monday morning.

"We started small and we've grown to over 2,000 members, " Dallas Fire Chief Dominique Artis said. "We're the ninth-largest fire department in the country, but we're the sixth-busiest. We've seen some dark days as a department. We've also seen some triumphant times."

At the ceremony, they rang the last alarm, as a bagpiper played a familiar song to follow. They honored those Dallas firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty.

For some, like Driver Engineer Ron Hall and Capt. Chris Gadomski, they celebrated the fact that they were able to be at the event. The two were severely injured at an apartment explosion in September. Much progress has been made, and they're both walking on their own, but more surgeries are ahead. 

"Mainly just excited we're here to see it," Hall said.

Hall has been on the department for more than 38 years, and he's seen the changes for firefighters. He remembers his first job back in the early 80s. 

"I literally was fighting fires in welding gloves and a little plastic helmet," Hall said.

Before the explosion, and immediately after, he was considering retirement. But Hall hopes he has a little more left in him. What seems like a career-ending incident makes him appreciate his job even more.

Gadomski has spent 23 years with Dallas Fire-Rescue. The fire captain is hoping to become a chief soon. 

"This department has grown with us, and we've grown with it, so it's a pretty incredible day," Gadomski said.

Both of them are ready to see Dallas Fire-Rescue through its 150th year, and more.

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