History

The First Hastings Fire Department

The first fire department was a volunteer organization established in 1878. Fire equipment that was first purchased was a hand pump engine for $680, a hook and ladder wagon, and 14 fire extinguishers for $3,300. The first fire station was built for a cost of $1,000 and was located between Third and Fourth Street and Denver and Hastings Avenue. A bell mounted on the fire station clanged to summon the firefighters to respond. The worst fire in Hastings' history occurred in 1879 when 33 buildings in two city blocks were destroyed.

The Second Hastings Fire Department

On July 16, 1881 fire destroyed the Davis drug store. Circus hands who were in town at the time assisted the firefighters, and were rewarded by local businessmen. This angered the firefighters, so they disbanded the fire department a few days later. A new fire department was organized in December 1881. A whistle three feet long was installed at the station in 1899 that was later replaced by a bell. Firefighters received $1 per month for attending drills but not for responding to fire calls. The Department's budget was $350.

The First Career Firefighters

On April 12, 1887 the first career firefighters were hired, including a fire chief and three firefighters housed at one fire station. In 1889, the original fire station was replaced by a new station & city hall building at Burlington Avenue and First Street at a cost of $4,565. A siren was installed in 1920 and the bell was moved to the street department building.

Fire Stations from 1890 to today

In 1936, an addition was added to the fire station at First Street & Burlington Avenue by moving city hall to a new building. In 1954, the police department moved to Second Street and Minnesota Avenue, and the fire department took over the entire building on First and Burlington. In 1985, it was replaced by a brand new station located at 1313 North Hastings Avenue at a cost of $1,200,000, and is still in use today as Highland Park Station. It is manned by one fire captain and three firefighters for each 24 hour shift, and the administrative staff during the weekday.

Lincoln Park Station

A second fire station was first proposed in 1943 and again in 1970. The station wasn't approved and built until 1992 and cost $375,000. It is manned by one fire lieutenant and three firefighters during each 24 hour shift.

Fire Department Staffing 1919 to 1971

  • 1919 – five career firefighters and 14 volunteers
  • 1936 – 12 career firefighters and 10 volunteers
  • 1949 – 16 career firefighters and 16 volunteers
  • 1954 – 21 career firefighters and 19 volunteers
  • 1965 – 20 career firefighters and 20 volunteers
  • 1971 – 21 career firefighters and 21 volunteers

Firefighters Who Gave their Lives to Save Others

  • Fred W. Raney died September 5, 1910 at a fire at the First Presbyterian Church.
  • Harley A. Mullen died June 17, 1931 at a fire at the Hastings Regional Center that destroyed four buildings.

Hastings Fire Chiefs

  • John D. Crans 1878 – 1881
  • John C. Williams 1881 – 1896
  • John C. Dugan 1887
  • W.L. Hoagland 1896 – 1901
  • Various 1901 – 1903
  • Ed Mead 1903 – 1916
  • Charles E. Weidman 1916 – 1920
  • Ed Mead 1919 – 1931
  • Peter Murphy 1931 – 1935
  • Robert J. VanFleet 1935 – 1968
  • Boyd Hensman 1941 – 1945
  • David Weimer 1969 – 1971
  • LaMont Kehoe 1971 – 1975
  • Ed Spahn 1975 – 1978
  • Eugene Dean 1979 – 1985
  • J. C. Mitera 1985 – 2000
  • Kent Gilbert  2000 – Today

First Fire Apparatus

  • The first fire apparatuses were hand drawn, with men pulling them as they ran down the street to the fire. These were used until 1880.
  • In 1880 the first horse, Old Seal, joined the department, serving until 1907.
  • In the 1890s, horses Bert and Miles, joined the department.
  • In 1906 Bert and Miles were replaced by Cuba and Dewey.

The First Motorized Fire Truck

  • The first fire truck was a 1917 Ford Model T that was hard to crank, but a "speed demon" going downhill.
  • The first Mechanical Ladder truck arrived in Hastings in 1926.
  • By 1929 the Fire Department was completely mechanized, with a 750 GPM fire engine, a city service truck, and 4,000 feet of hose.

Fire Engines 1935 to 1985

Engine 1

Today's Engine 1, a 1936 American LaFrance, entered service in 1936 as Engine 2. Today it is utilized at parades and other events, but is not in service as a firefighting apparatus. Apparatus designated as Engine 1 in the past includes a 1943 American LeFrance pumper and a 1956 International pumper which replaced the LeFrance.

Ladder 1

The first Ladder 1 was in service from 1926 to 1948. It was replaced by a 1948 LaFrance, which operated until 1985. In 1985, Hastings Fire & Rescue purchased a 1985 Grumman Aerial Cat. It has a 102-foot ladder and platform and is still in service today.

Squad 7 & Rescue 1

In 1940 a Dodge panel truck was purchased and equipped with various life-saving equipment and designated as Rescue 1. In 1977 a new heavy rescue unit was purchased, replacing Rescue 1, and was designated as Squad 7. In August 2002, Rescue 1 was reborn. Squad 7 was replaced by the new heavy rescue truck at a cost of $300,000. Rescue 1 is in service today and responds to all rescue incidents.

Current Hastings Fire Apparatus

Ladder 1 – 1985 Grumman
Engine 2 – 1991 Spartan / Smeal
Engine 3 – 1997 HME / Central
Engine 5 – 1976 Ford / Smeal
Rescue 1 – 2002 Spartan / Rescue 1
COBRA 2 – 2004 Ford 1 ton pickup
Quint 5 – 2009 Spartan/ Smeal
Rescue 6 – 1996 Ford Superduty
Rescue 7 – 2001 Ford E 450
Rescue 8 – 1998 Ford Road Rescue
Rescue 9 – 2011 Ford F 450 Superduty

Fire/Med 5 – 2000 Ford Explorer

Fire/Med 6 – 1998 Dodge Durango

Hastings Rural Fire District

Hastings Rural Fire District was formed in 1955 and covers 155 square miles of Adams and Clay Counties. Hastings Rural Fire District is a volunteer service and has a contract with the City of Hastings to house, maintain, and man HRFD equipment.

Hazardous Materials Team

In April 2002, Hastings Fire & Rescue became one of eight State of Nebraska Haz Mat Response Teams.
Twenty one Hazardous Materials Technicians are on staff, with more to complete training each year.

The Hastings Fire Patch

Seal of the City of Hastings, Nebraska
Gold Jaws of Life
The Star of Life
Public Fire Education – the Match & Child
Flame
Maltese Cross