Operating in original headquarters
For 50 years, the Hahnville Volunteer Fire Department (HVFD) has answered the call.
It officially commemorated its 50th anniversary Saturday as it put on an open house for local residents to speak to their local firemen and women and learn more about how they do what they do — while some may even offer a bit of thanks.
The HVFD was established in 1967, originally under the name KTH Fire Department, those initials representing Killona, Taft and Hahnville. Eventually, Killona formed its own fire department, and in 1979 the name was changed to what it is currently. The department’s main firehouse at 169 Lincoln St. in Hahnville has stood the test of time, operating as its original headquarters through today, while a second firehouse was later established on River Road to bolster the firefighters’ ability to make a difference.
In its early days, the group’s firefighters paid to spur on the department’s progress out of their own pockets, and also built their Lincoln St. firehouse themselves. Likewise, the pride they had for helping their fellow man has been passed down to today’s firefighters, said Hahnville fire department assistant chief Matthew Allshouse.
“I think most of our volunteers got involved because they wanted to give back to the community and provide that emergency response service,” Allshouse said, noting today there are 23 people working with the fire department in different roles, with 12 of those serving as active firefighters.
Allshouse, himself a Hahnville resident, has been with HVFD for the past six years, while he’s been a firefighter for 10 years total after beginning in Marrero. He said he, like those he noted before, volunteered as a firefighter as a means to help out.
He also admitted there’s an excitement to the occupation.
“It just comes with the job,” he said. “Who doesn’t want to rescue someone from a vehicle or stop a fire?”
That mentality may be a more special one than he lets on. He admitted at times it can be a struggle to find volunteers, which he attributes to the time restraints and work schedules the average person has to work around.
He joined the Hahnville fire department after his son announced his intentions to do so. Initially, Allshouse was hesitant to give his blessing, but he eventually not only relented, but gave in to his own itch to help and signed up alongside him.
Last year, the Hahnville fire department answered 185 calls for assistance.
The tough part about being a firefighter, Allshouse said, is that it doesn’t always yield a happy ending.
“There are cases where you’re heartbroken,” he said. “You wonder, ‘what more could I have done?’ Combating those situations can be difficult. First and foremost, you want to protect lives. Then you want to save their structure and as much of their belongings as you can. Even if we lose the structure, we try to save everything we can. It’s something to practice and we preach.”