Ho`oikai`ka - The Volunteer Fire Department
Ho`oikai`ka, "together strong" is the Kalaupapa’s volunteer fire department’s motto. Composed mostly of park service employees the volunteer fire department exists to protect both life and property from loss through fire.
Unfortunately, Kalaupapa has a long history of fires. In 1906 St. Francis Catholic Church in Kalaupapa burned to the ground. In 1914 the Bayview Home burned, in 1928 the McVeigh Home burned, and as recently as 1990 the old Kalaupapa hospital was destroyed by fire. Most of the buildings in the settlement are historic structures, with many of them dating to the 1930s or earlier.
With the nearest fire department located at Ho`olehua on "topside" Moloka`i, a mere 2,000 foot-high cliff away, Kalaupapa has had to rely on its own residents to fight fires. The National Park Service volunteer fire department was founded in January 1993 and has a 1992 Pierce Responder fire engine, with the ability to hold 750 gallons of water and to deliver up to 1,250 gallons per minute.
Since 1993 the fire engine has been called out on several occasions, to combat brush fires, structural fires, and automobile fires. The Kalaupapa volunteers have yet to rescue a kitten from a tree, but with on-going training and monthly practices, they will protect Kalaupapa’s people and architectural legacy.
Did You Know?
Brother Joseph Dutton went to Molokai in 1886 to assist Father Damien and worked among the patients for 44 years. He kept the world posted on Kalaupapa, so his address book contained over 4000 names and bags of mail delivered to him sometimes weighed as much as 50 pounds.