Fire Departments have a long lasting history with traditions. Grand Island Fire is one of those departments that is proud of its history and traditions.
The very first fire company was organized in Grand Island, on June 8, 1874. The "foreman" was C.P. Henderson and assisting him were N.P. Kelly and T.C. McCoy. Several Months Later, the first hook and Ladder Company was organized with W.J. Cuddy as foreman with P. Dunphy and H. Baumann assisting.
By 1876, there were 25 members on the department and were led by John Kraft, Fire Chief. Perhaps the first recorded determination of arson occurred in 1887, as a "touch of arson" took place when a man set fire to the general store over a disagreement on a feed bill.
In 1908, the equipment for this department consisted of some hand drawn hose carts, a ladder wagon and one hand drawn, hand-operated pump that drew water from cisterns. However, one year later the department took possession of the first mechanical, horse drawn truck. In this same year, Grand Island recorded the very first fire related death.
In 1915, the department had the first and only, job related fire death, when firefighter Tony Fliescher, died from electrical shock, during fire suppression efforts.
In 1921, the department changed from a fully volunteer, to a paid, career department. In 1973 some positive changes and improvements were made to the department. Under Chief Arnett, the department adopted the Uniform Fire Code, and pre-fire planning. In 1980 training began for paramedic services and this was implmented in 1981.
From the early days to now, the members of the Grand Island Fire Department have strived to provide professional and quality care and services to the residents of Grand Island and surrounding communities.
Below are a few fire department history facts.