‘50 years of service’ : Dennis Hudson offers help to his community

Published 12:48 pm Thursday, February 29, 2024

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For most people in and around Kenbridge, the name Dennis Hudson goes hand in hand with the town’s fire department. The 70-year-old Hudson is a key part of the operation, having handled virtually every role possible at some point over the last 50 years. 

Hudson was honored on Saturday, Jan. 27 for his 50 years of service during the annual Kenbridge Fire Department awards banquet. During the ceremony, awards were handed out for Firefighter of the Year, Officer of the Year, the officer who responded to the most calls, and firefighters with five, 15, 20, 35, 45, and 50 years of service with the department. 

Hudson was the lone honoree celebrated for 50 years of service. When asked what has kept him with the department for so long, his reply was simple but telling. 

“The brotherhood in the fire department,” he explained. “It’s like a big family.”

Beginning his tenure in 1973, Hudson worked his way through the department to First Assistant Chief. He has held a number of other roles for the Kenbridge F.D. and continues to do work for them, especially around the station. 

“I stepped down to let the young ones get in and went back to being a regular fireman,” Hudson recalled. 

Changes over the years  

Everything has changed over Hudson’s time with Kenbridge. He’s seen emergency service equipment, safety procedures and overall preparation vastly improve. Hudson said he has kept himself busy professionally outside the fire department over the years as well, operating different kinds of equipment. 

He held roles at construction and supply companies for numerous decades. In fact Hudson has done construction work throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Hudson’s tradework is on display as part of projects on the Sussex County Courthouse and the ranges of Fort Barfoot. He passes on this trade knowledge to the next generation in his current full-time professional career. 

Hudson is a Building Trades instructor for Lunenburg County Public Schools, which understandably he said can limit his availability for calls with the fire department. He instructs Carpentry I, II, and III, at Central High. As we continue facing a skilled labor shortage in the U.S. Hudson is working to give students the basics to build for the future. 

The Kenbridge F.D. awards presentation offers the Lunenburg County community and local officials a chance to share their support for the emergency service organization Hudson is a part of. It also provides an opportunity to strengthen the familial bond that has helped keep him with the department since he was 20 years old. 

Community honors Dennis Hudson

Hudson raised his own family here in Lunenburg County. In January, his son drove up to Kenbridge from South Carolina to join the rest of the Hudson family to share the experience of Dennis’s semi-centennial with the Kenbridge Fire Department. Hudson said he and his family were moved by the banquet ceremony that honored his fellow fighters and his own years of dedication to the department.

“(My family) was very pleased and tickled. It was very touching,” Hudson said of the banquet at the Kenbridge F.D. “I really, really appreciated it. It makes you proud to be a father.”

Dennis Hudson said he doesn’t plan on leaving the department any time soon. Almost 70% of U.S. firefighters serve on a volunteer basis according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Hudson and volunteer firefighters like him are counted on each day to save lives during dangerous situations in their communities.

Editor’s note: Reporter Nate Pentecost wrote this story for the K-V Dispatch.