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When The Alarm Rings They Run Towards Danger Not Away From It

By Staff | May 15, 2015

Fire Chief David Schneibel, Jr. guides a fire truck into the new hall Friday, May 1. Each fire truck is backed into the fire hall to exit quickly and safely.

What is a fireman? He is the guy next door – a man’s man with the memory of a little boy. He has never gotten over the excitement of engines and sirens and danger. He is a guy like you and me with wants and worries and unfulfilled dreams. Yet he stands taller than most of us.

He is a fireman. He puts it all on the line when the bell rings. A fireman is at once the most fortunate and the least fortunate of men. He is a man who saves lives because he has seen too much death. He is a gentle man because he has seen the awesome power of violence out of control. He is responsive to a child’s laughter because his arms have held too many small bodies that will never laugh again. He is a man who appreciates the simple pleasures of life – hot coffee held in numb, unbending fingers – a warm bed for bone and muscle compelled beyond feeling – the camaraderie of brave men – the divine peace and selfless service of a job well done in the name of all men. He doesn’t wear buttons or wave flags or shout obscenities. When he marches, it is to honor a fallen comrade. He doesn’t preach the brotherhood of man. Author unknown.

The Fireman have a new hall, but their home will always be in the heart of a thankful community of Pierce County. You not only put your life on the line, but you do so at no pay. You not only sacrifice your time to the job you volunteer for, but you give up your time to raise money to help fund your department to take some of the burden off the taxpayer. You stand up to be counted everyday to let others sit and relax knowing they are safe under your watch.

The final numbers of the completion of the firehouse, per the City Auditor Elizabeth Heisey is $1,064,000.00.It is being paid for by a combination of tax dollars and monies raised by the volunteers at the fire department. The final total raised by the fire department through the fund raising events and a generous public totaled $303,420.00 to date, The reason the hall was built was not out of vanity of any sort, but according to Councilman and Volunteer Fireman Gary Kraft it was built out of a need for safety, parking and to accommodate better and more equipment to keep the public safe. The project started in 2011.

With the arduous process of building the hall finally coming to a successful conclusion it is appropriate to get the feelings of some the volunteer fireman that keep this city safe.

Joel Berg, who has been a volunteer fireman for 10 years said when, asked what the new fire hall means to him said, “I believe it shows community support for the fire department. It means the members of our fire district trust us with a new fire hall to continue serving their needs. ” We the asked Joel what it meant to him being a volunteer fireman and he stated, “Being a member of the Rugby Rural Fire District gives me a great sense of pride in serving our community. Being part of the brotherhood which is the fire department, it’s a rewarding experience.”

Will Griffin who has been a volunteer for the Rugby department, and previously for 10 years at the Rolette department shared his thoughts on the new fire hall when he said, ” Safety – it means firefighters can get their gear without dodging equipment, or worry about getting run over.” When asked what it meant to him being a volunteer fireman he commented, ” It means helping the citizens of Rugby and the entire fire district. It also means having the support and understanding of my family, friends, and employer. It’s also a sense of pride when you receive a call, and the outcome is good. When we can save a structure, vehicle, or a life.”

We also had the pleasure to speak with Jayme Berube a volunteer fireman for the past 17 years and when we asked Jayme about the new fire hall he stated, “The new location will be a big improvement for the city. Keeping the trucks away from downtown and schools will be much safer. Jayme also shared what being a volunteer fireman meant to him, ” A sense of giving back to the community. Every person has their own way of giving back something to their town and area. As a fireman I feel very fulfilled to help protect and serve the area as a firefighter/Rescue/Responder. I also believe that we need to thank our spouses and families, people do not understand the sacrifices that they have to make when we are on calls.

Dave Schneibel Sr. has been a volunteer foreman for 40 years in October (God Bless Him) when asked about the new hall repeated a recurring theme of safety when he shared, ” We are finally in a place where we are safe getting into the trucks. In addition, we can work on equipment without blocking the street uptown.” When asked after so many years of duty as a volunteer fireman what it meant to him, Dave expressed the following, “It means helping citizens of our town and our rural areas in times of need no matter if it is night or day, weekends and holidays. It means when others run out we go in to help them out, we risk our lives with all our might, but we always say everyone goes home.

Danny Raymond has been a volunteer fireman for Rugby 4 years and when asked about the new fire hall Danny said, “the fire hall is a great new home for the Rugby Fire Dept. It is something that the firemen have been working on for many years now and it is finally complete. We now have a new place for our meetings, to gather after a call and to gather as a group that has been the through the worst. When asked what it means being a volunteer fireman, Danny said, ” the first paragraph of this article sums up best my feelings on being a volunteer fireman

Troy Voeller a volunteer fireman for the past 20 years believes that the new fire hall, “will be a quicker and safer way to get in and out of town. With less traffic by our schools.” When asked about being a volunteer fireman he said, ” I am proud to do extra things for our community it has taught me how to be a leader and work with others.”

Gary Kraft a volunteer fireman for an impressive 26 years when asked his feelings on the new fire hall stated,” It means more room to train and do maintenance. It is by far a safer location for the fireman as well as the citizens of Rugby. He continued there is more room for the many training classes that are required for us to take.” In addition Kraft added, ” The new hall will gives us better space to be more productive.” He continued, “We will now be able to track our response thru active 911, and will be able to install monitors in the truck bays so the responders will be able to just look up and see what is be responded to. Kraft concluded by saying, “We will now have the space/facility to be able to respond to some of the more serious incidents that seem to be happening regularly around the state.”

When asked how he feels about being a volunteer fireman he said, “Most small towns have a certain number of individuals who do what they can to keep their respective departments operating. I feel like we have one of the best groups of hard working, dedicated, co-operative, trustworthy firemen in the state. We are told this time and again when we have trainers come in, and they are astounded by the turnout we get on a meeting or a training night. It would be a tragedy to lose any of these guys because of misunderstandings and/or lack of trust in city government. Fire departments are built on trust and respect in your fellow firemen. It isn’t all just about putting water on a fire. It’s about cutting an old classmate or someone’s dad out of a mangled wreck, or being up to your neck in water searching a car in a ditch or a lake. It’s about doing a 4-hour CPR class for the 10th time in your career just because you have to. There is day care inspections, building walk trough’s/preplanning, and helping out typically wherever you are asked, whether it be for ring the bells for the Salvation Army or preparing a meal for the Relay for Life, or whatever else. All those things are about being a fireman, and the dedication that it takes.”

Fire Chief David Schneibel “Jr” who has been a volunteer fireman for 11 years shared his feelings about the new fire hall, “The new hall is exciting. The department and equipment has grown over the years. We can now fully house all the equipment and have access to all the trucks in one facility. We have room for classroom training. He continued, “We can now work on trucks inside instead of out in the middle of the street.” When asked what does being a volunteer fireman mean to him Chief Schneibel shared, “I have been around this my whole life. It is great being a part of an organization where 36 individuals work as one unit.” He further said, ” We may not agree all the time, but when the call comes in, you can bet these guys are there and will get the job done as a department. We sacrifice family time, family gatherings, work, and whatever else that we are doing to respond. We do so with no regrets.” Chief Schneibel concluded by saying, “The Rugby Volunteer Fire Department has a long history and is well respected statewide. Many great firefighters have built this department and traditions over the years and it is an honor to serve and continue moving the department forward.

Congratulations, one and all for your new fire hall. And, thank you for all that you do. As firefighters you go where you are needed, even if it is a vacant burning building. You choose to be oblivious to the dangers, even when the only life at risk, is your own. For that, and everything else you do, by choice, and not for pay, you have an eternally grateful community.

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