COLUMBIA COUNTY, NEW YORK
By Captain Franklin Ellis117
The people of Hudson, from the time of the first settlement, exercised great caution to prevent the spread of fire, and willingly carried out the measures adopted by the authorities to that end. Immediately after the organization of the city government, it was ordained by the council (July 5, 1785) that there be appointed certain persons "to be viewers of Chymnies, Hearths, and places where Ashes are or shall be kept, who shall view and inspect the same once in every Fortnight," and that any person who permitted his chimney to take fire for want of sweeping should forfeit the sum of forty shillings for the neglect.
An ordinance was also passed requiring the owner or tenant of every house to furnish leather buckets, marked with the owner's initials, to be kept hanging conspicuously in view near the front door for use in the extinguishment of fire. If these were furnished by a tenant, he was authorized to deduct their cost from the amount of his rent. Houses having three fire-places were required to have two buckets, and those with more than three fire-places, three buckets. The capacity of the buckets must be at least two gallons, and of those kept by innkeepers, brewers, and bakers at least three gallons.
In case of fire, two lines of persons were formed, extending (if possible) from the burning building to the water. Along one of these lines the full buckets were passed from hand to hand, and when emptied were returned by the other line, which in cases of emergency was sometimes made up of women and boys.
When the citizens' night-watch was formed, in 1788, a chief object of its organization was declared to be "to guard against the ruinous effects of fires."