If you live in Sedona long enough, you will inevitably have a story about how Sedona Fire District crews have assisted you or a neighbor with a fire or medical emergency.

While we at the newspaper regularly deal with firefighters and emergency medical technicians who let us shoot photos of blazes, car accidents and fire investigations, we also have more personal stories such as a few years ago when SFD crews treated and airlifted one of our copy editors who had suffered a head injury in a bicycle fall.

Major blazes like the Brins Fire and the 2014 Slide Fire united our community as we came together to support those neighbors affected by evacuations. SFD was on the front line battling those fires to protect Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon. After SFD extinguishes residential fires, neighbors come together to offer assistance, temporary lodging, food and money to help families suffering life-changing loss to get back on their feet, often with the help of SFD.

SFD has been serving our region for 60 years, which we honor in today’s special section. With all the stories and historic photos the fire district wanted to include, we bumped up the section from 16 to 20 pages, so the district would have more space.

We thank all the residents and merchants who helped us cover the publication costs with their ads in the section thanking SFD for six decades of service.

The two predecessors of the fire district predate the incorporation of the city by 30 years. Of all the major organizations that serve our city, only two are older than SFD: The Sedona Airport, founded in September 1955, and the Sedona Chamber of Commerce, which did not officially incorporate until August 1960, but dates back to at least 1950, when its early members helped collect funds to hire the first fire chief.

The first of the two fire agencies, the Sedona-Oak Creek Volunteer Fire Department, served Oak Creek Canyon and the Coconino County side of the Sedona area starting in April 1957. Founded three years later in 1960, the Red Rock Fire Department served the homes and businesses of Grasshopper Flat, the part of town we now call West Sedona, in Yavapai County.

Modern-day residents still deal with the oddity of a single city divided by two counties, resulting in different tax rates among other things. Despite that division before the city came to be in 1988, firefighters from both agencies assisted each other with resources and on calls when needed. That dedication to come together as a community regardless of the arbitrary county line helped define Sedona as a community long before we became a municipality.

Those early volunteers were local merchants, property owners and long-time residents. In looking through the list of those first volunteers found in our special SFD 60th anniversary section, you will notice the same surnames appear in the center of the section, which thanks the more than 900 people who have worked for the departments and the district over the last 60 years. Many of those surnames also appear in our news stories even today, proving that SFD is deep in our community’s DNA. We hope you will enjoy this section thanking SFD for 60 years of service and take a look at the stories and historic photos included inside.