Helping the community
For David Schneibel, Jr., better known to his buddies as Junior, firefighting is almost as natural as breathing.
“My dad is a firefighter,” said Schneibel. “I grew up around the fire station. Dad started when I was a year old.”
His dad is Dave Schneibel, a 35-year veteran of the Rugby Fire Department. They are the only father and son duo on the present Rugby Fire Department.
Does he worry about his dad or does his dad worry about him on fire calls?
“We haven’t gone on too many calls together,” he said.
“You’d have to ask him if he worries about me,” laughed Junior. “I don’t worry about him because he no longer goes into the fire.”
Dave is usually an on-scene supervisor at a fire. Junior is proud of his dad.
“He’s a hard worker and is respected by all the guys,” said Junior.
Junior has been a firefighter at Rugby for six years. “I joined just to help out the community,” he said.”Its a good group to hang out with. Everybody helps everybody.”
The Rugby Fire Department is a volunteer firefighting unit. No one has a specific job. They can’t, because some like Junior work in nearby towns. He works in Dunseith at Benchmark Electronics. He would not be able to respond to a fire in Rugby during the daytime hours. Others who are here in town respond to the daytime fires.That’s one of the reasons that the firefighters are all cross-trained.
Junior is the trainer. The third Monday of every month is training night. He plans different drills to keep the firefighters’ skills sharp,and demonstrates and trains the firefighters on new equipment. The business meeting for the fire department is on the 2nd Monday of each month.
“Junior is one of the most dedicated fireman I’ve ever seen,” said Fire Chief Jerry Kurtyka. “He is everywhere doing everything. He is a team player.”
Junior credits the guys he works with as a great bunch. Firefighters in Rugby are hard working and well-trained, he said. The first thing he teaches new recruits is “Proper training is the most important thing you can do.”
“We do more than just fight fires,” added Junior. “We help with community service projects. At the yearly open house during Fire Prevention Week, October 3 – 9, the public comes to visit the fire hall. Kids can tour and watch demos and learn from them.
Junior along with Gary Kraft, another firefighter, decided to try their hands at grant writing. FEMA has an assistance grant for fire departments. Junior and Gary wrote the grant. It was accepted and the department received a $90,000 grant.
Since this week is Fire Prevention Week, Junior has this advice to offer residents: If there is a fire in your home, evacuate first, then call 9-1-1. “Don’t try to fight the fire yourself.”
It won’t be long before the five Schneibel boys grow up to be just like their dad. Maybe one or more of them will carry on the family tradition of firefighting. David is married to Nicole who is a medical transcriptionist at Heart of America Medical Center. Their five sons are: D.J., 9, Cole, 7, Brody, 5, Austin, 4, and Zack, 1.
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