The foundation for the present Honesdale Fire Department was laid in 1840 when citizens signed a petition requesting that the town form a fire department. It took nearly three years for the legislature to authorize the borough to spend the money and then to raise the needed funds.
In 1843 the first company called "Deluge" was formed. Later that same year a second company called "Rescue" was started. Such was the humble beginning of what today is the largest, most modern department in the county. "Protection" company was formed in 1853 and served the community along with "Rescue" and "Deluge" until the now "Protection Engine Co. No. 3" acquired their first Silsby Steamer, #483, the A.M.Atkinson, in 1875. Following the first major fire where the steamer was used the two earlier organizations disbanded.
In 1880 a second steamer was purchased and named the "R.W. Ham". The two steamers operated by Protection Engine Co. No. 3 were the sole providers of fire protection to the area until 1898, when in May, Alert Hook and Ladder Company, and in October, Texas No 4 Fire Company were formed. The Honesdale Fire Department was finally filled out when in August of 1909, Hose Company No. 1 was formed. Nearby Seelyville Fire Company was formed in 1905.
Those early years saw rapid change and modernization both in apparatus and tactics used to fight fires. Even with this progress the venerable steamers continued in service for many years. The last recorded fire for either of them was on October 16, 1934. In 1936 the steamer A.M. Atkinson was used steadily for several days to keep the old hospital on Court Street above flood waters.
Today, HFD is a modern efficient department operating seven motorized apparatus of various types and a foam tender trailer. In addition to the four independent companies the department operates four integral support elements, Rescue 7, Tanker 6, the Foam Tender, and Fire Police, under the direction of an elected Chief and appointed Deputy. The department is presently all volunteer.
Each company has it's own administrative and line officers. The line officers carry the rank of Captains and Lieutenants in the overall department structure. Inter Company relations are assisted by the Four Company Association to which all belong. This organization, along with the Chief and Deputy and the other line officers of the department coordinate operation of the integral units and training activities outside those operated by the individual companies.