You can tell they’re pretty proud.
Earlier this week, Lonny Niewohner and Elmer Armstrong stood inside Scribner’s new fire station. Firetrucks and rescue squads were parked in rows. Nearby, firefighters’ gear hung on red-painted racks topped with helmets ready for use.
Niewohner is chief of the Scribner Volunteer Fire Department and Armstrong is the city administrator.
Both speak with gratitude for a generous donor and cooperation between the city council and the Scribner Rural Fire Protection District.
And they speak with pride about the more than $1.3 million project which provides the department with new facilities and a central location for trucks and equipment.
The fire department took occupancy of the new fire station at Third and Baker streets in December. The old fire hall at Third and Howard streets is being used to store the city’s utility department equipment.
Built in the 1960s, the old, concrete block fire hall had served the department well, but became too small for the equipment, Niewohner said.
“We had equipment parked in several other buildings throughout the town,” Niewohner said, adding, “We were talking about some remodeling to try to make it larger.”
Then city officials learned Ken Furstenau, a 1945 Scribner High School graduate who died in 2014, had left $3 million to build a new city building on the town’s Main Street.
Funds were used to build the new Furstenau Municipal Building that houses city offices, library and a community center. That building was dedicated in 2017.
Niewohner said $900,000 of the leftover funds were put toward a new fire station.
The city council and the fire protection district manage the fire department through an inter-local agreement.
Armstrong said the district put a new roof on the old fire hall and paid off the city balance on a joint firetruck. It then purchased the land that the new fire station is on and donated an estimated $400,000, Niewohner said.
The new fire hall houses all the fire and rescue equipment, which includes two pumper and two tanker trucks, three rescue squads and three units for grass fire and a personnel vehicle. The new station enhances safety since all trucks and equipment are centrally located.
“There’s more room in the station between the units so you can safely enter and exit the units,” Niewohner added.
Armstrong noted that the new truck bay alone is almost 2 ½ times the size of the old one.
The new fire station is 165 feet by 90 feet. The new truck bay alone is 90 by 117 feet.
A smaller area in the fire station also houses an antique firetruck, which is on display.
More work is yet to be done, such as additional paving for parking, Armstrong said.
Niewohner said there have been many donors to the project throughout the community, including sweat equity and cash by firefighters.
The department has 36 volunteer fire personnel (including paramedics and EMTs), who serve an area that includes the city of Scribner and expands about 6 miles out in each direction — a 90-square-mile area. The department is involved in mutual aid with other communities as well.
“The best part about the new fire station is seeing the sweat equity—people who worked together,” Niewohner said. “There was a lot of stuff we had to do and raise money on our own for some small stuff, because the budget was pretty tight.
“It’s great to see everybody work together and with the new station, it really helps to build camaraderie in the department.”
Armstrong said the city is updating the inter-local agreement with the rural district to meet fire protection needs in the area.
“The rural fire protection district and the city council work very well together. They’re very good to work with,” Niewohner said.
Niewohner added that the Furstenau funds have been used to update equipment such as a cascade system that fills air-pack bottles for fire scenes, power washers to clean equipment and trucks, air compressors and other items.
“This guy was a godsend to the town,” Niewohner said.