Scheet inducted into firefighter hall of fame
Growing up in Balta, Gabe Scheet knew even as a youth that he wanted to become a firefighter.
“I’ve always had an ambition to be a fireman,” Scheet said, “never knowing after I became a fireman what a lot of times happens when you are in the force.”
Scheet, 90, recalls that on visits to Rugby he would want to go by the fire hall.
“A lot of times, the door would be standing open and, of course, I’d wander in and look over the fire truck they had,” Scheet said, adding the fire truck at the time had a hand-cranked siren.
But once he was of age, Scheet didn’t become a fireman right away.
After graduating from high school Scheet served in the military. Coming back to the area from the service he was working across the street from the fire hall. However the Rugby Fire Department’s roster was full.
Scheet was voted onto the department in 1960 and he served on it for more than 20 years.
“When I first joined, we didn’t have all the technology [firefighters] now have,” Scheet said, adding that today’s fire departments are “so technical and and so well-trained.”
Fast forward 57 years, Scheet was inducted into the N.D. Firefighters Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Garrison on Oct. 14. Inductees, which are announced by the Garrison-based N.D. Firefighter’s Museum, are recognized based on contributions to and leadership of fire services within the state.
“To me it’s quite an honor and it’s unusual for me,” Scheet said about being inducted. “It just didn’t register right away that I would be nominated, or even inducted into the Hall of Fame, and I’m very happy about it.”
In his time on the department, Scheet served as a lieutenant, secretary-treasurer, assistant chief, and chief. His three consecutive years of being voted chief qualified him as a life member of the North Dakota State Fireman’s Association. As part of that association, Scheet was elected second vice president in 1971, first vice president in 1972 and president from 1973 to 1974.
Scheet also brought the association’s state convention to Rugby two times, once in 1970 and the second in 1980. The only other time the convention had been held in Rugby was in 1959, before Scheet became a member of the department.
In July, current Fire Department Chief David Schneibel, Jr., sent a letter of recommendation to the museum board for Scheet’s induction, citing activism at the state and local levels, even beyond his two-decade career.
“Even in retirement, his enthusiasm for the Department is evident,” Schneibel said of Scheet in his recommendation letter. “He still attends the annual meetings and visits with the current roster. He always has a story he is willing to share, and he is well respected by every member on the department.”
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