The department met on Sunday night at the exact time and date that the very first assembly of the department met back in 1961. As they celebrated with cake and ice cream, Reelsville Fire Department Chief John McPherson read from the records of the first meeting and read the report from its first emergency response.
"The more things change, the more they stay the same," McPherson said when he read that the department of 1961 was facing some of the same problems and issues that the current department faces today.
Of course there are many differences between then and now. In 1961, the department had 17 volunteer members, one fire truck and only $381.96 in the bank. Today, the department has 27 volunteers, several trucks and a larger budget. But both departments rely on fundraisers and donations for the majority of their financial backing.
When the staff only needed to respond to five runs in their first year, having to rely on fundraisers was not much of a problem. But with 254 runs in the last year and 14 in December, the job has had to change over time.
"It's been a lot of runs, seen a lot of things...but we're glad to have helped the community," said Roy Haddon, currently the longest active member, beginning from January 1964. "It's quite an opportunity."
Over the years, the department has had 15 different fire chiefs and 176 total members. All of those members will receive letters informing them of future 50-year celebrations as the year goes on. McPherson hopes as many former members as possible can come for the next bicentennial celebration, which will be a chili cookout on Oct. 1.
In order to commemorate the event, the department is also trying to put together a DVD photo collage of the department's 50 years of service. Anyone who has pictures of members, events or even firefighters in action and would like to contribute photos can bring them to the department or to Mike Shouse of Reelsville.
"We are officially 50 years old," McPherson said.