After the funeral of a fellow Nebraska firefighter, Norman Hoeft (David City), Robert E. Vogltance (West Point) & Arthur “Pooch” Gulzow (Grand Island), began discussing the importance of remembering the incredible service & sacrifices of firefighters from across Nebraska. They developed a grand dream to someday create a special place to honor Nebraska’s firefighters that would preserve the proud history of Nebraska firefighting & serve as a resource for fire prevention education.
Almost 30 years later, after the death of Mr. Gulzow, after two temporary locations, one at Grand Island’s Stuhr Museum & one near the Platte River south of Kearney, & after much time & effort, Mr. Hoeft & Mr. Vogltance were blessed to see their longtime dream become a tangible reality!
In 2008, the city of Kearney approached the Nebraska Firefighters Foundation board members regarding a permanent location for the Nebraska Firefighters Museum & Education Center just west of the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument which spans Interstate 80. It was a perfect place for the facility, as it enhanced the Archway Parkway campus & offered fantastic visibility to I-80 travelers!
By August 2009, BD Construction of Kearney had completed building a beautiful new facility outfitted with professional Gallery displays designed by Hartman Historical Services of Omaha. The hose-cutting ceremony & open house for the facility was held on August 15, 2009 at 10:56AM, and Phase 1 of our campus construction was completed!
The Nebraska Firefighters & EMS Memorial was a solemn addition to the campus in October 2010. The red granite line of duty death memorial tablets provide a somber reminder of the sacrifices made by many Nebraska firefighters & emergency rescue personnel, & the black granite commemorative caps pay tribute to those of the past & of the present who have given or who are still giving so much to their community.
Nebraska Firefighters Hall of Fame became a unique feature at the Museum that serves to honor those who have made a lasting impact on the fire service locally, statewide, nationally & worldwide. The very first induction ceremony was held on April 2, 2011 and honored the following individuals:
– Dr. O.C. Kreymborg Served as a firefighter in North Platte, NE Organized & instructed firefighters in the emergency care & rescue arena, beginning in the 1940′s
– Mr. Donald Smeal Served as a firefighter in Snyder, NE Created a fire apparatus company that is recognized worldwide
– Mr. Larry Wiles Served as a firefighter in Nebraska City, NE Assisted fire departments across the state & nationally to become adept at planning & organization.