Local Firefighter Inducted into Hall of Fame
Rugby volunteer fireman Dave Schneibel, Sr., was the recipient of a “great” honor last week, when he was inducted into the N.D. Firefighters Hall of Fame at a ceremony at the Garrison City Auditorium.
Schneibel was inducted along with Chris Helgesen, of Sawyer, and Ron Narum, of Rutland. Inductees are selected based on leadership, service actions and fire service contributions on a regional, state or national level.
“It’s a great honor because I didn’t expect it,” Schneibel said. “The department put my name in and I got drawn. I think there’s lots of great firemen that deserve it more than I do.”
At 64 years of age, Schneibel has served as president and as first and second vice president of the N.D. Firefighters Association. Within the Rugby Fire Department, he has served as chief, assistant chief, secretary-treasurer, captain, training officer and as a safety officer. He still serves with the department, but Schneibel said he wants the younger guys to gain experience.
Schneibel started fighting fires in 1975.
“I didn’t really know what it was going to be like when I started. When I got on as a fireman I thought it was just jump in the truck and go squirt water and go home,” Schneibel said. “Now as the years evolved, we’ve got better equipment, we’ve got schools, we’ve got training.”
Schneibel said that at the time he started, the fire department was limited in its equipment.
“We had one city, one rural truck and a three-quarter-ton Chevy pickup; that was all the equipment we had,” Schneibel said.
Since then, Schneibel said the department is on the third set of trucks he’s seen, and the department has also added a rescue van, four grass rigs, fire-retardant gear and personal air packs as well as a machine to fill them.
“We had three [air packs] when I first got on, but we couldn’t use them because we had to haul them to Minot to get them filled with air again,” Schneibel said. “We stress wearing them with all the chemicals in the houses nowadays.” Schneibel said that the materials used to make sofas and wood glues give off toxic fumes when burned.
Schneibel said a science to fighting fires has also developed over the years.
“Before it was just put wet stuff on the red stuff and be done with it,” Schneibel said. “We’re finding out [things like] if you take the heat out of the building with the exhaust fans we’ve got, it’ll cool it down faster as we’re adding water.”
Schneibel said some of the best memories he’s had as a firefighter come from the “camaraderie of the guys.”
“It’s just a joy coming up here,” Schneibel said. “I couldn’t pick a special time, they’re all special to me.”
Schneibel said some of the worst memories to come with firefighting came with responding to car accidents.
“You know know the person and you know he’s deceased, that sticks with you for a long time,” Schneibel said.
Schneibel said that his worst experience came not when he was a fireman, but when he was an ambulance driver. He recalled responding to a house fire on 9th Street, in which two girls lost their lives.
“Being an ambulance driver, you got to carry them into the ambulance and bring them to the morgue. That will stick with me for the rest of my life,” Schneibel said.
Schneibel’s son, Dave Jr., is currently the fire department chief.
“I kind of look over his shoulder from the back side, but I gotta let him make his decisions,” Dave Sr. said of his son’s leadership. “I don’t see nothing wrong with the way he’s handled firemen and I don’t think anyone else does neither. You get elected three years in a row, that’s saying something pretty good about you.”
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