Dunbar Fire Department celebrating new firehouse

Kirt Manion
Nebraska City News-Press

When the fire call goes out, Dunbar’s 23-member all-volunteer department responds, and, thanks to a new firehouse, the department has put itself in position to serve the community and the greater area around Dunbar for years to come.

The new firehouse became a service necessity when the department began looking for a new utility truck. 

A utility truck is the vehicle the fire department counts on to carry all of the support equipment that a crew might need for a call.

The old truck that the department was using didn’t have the capability of safely carrying all the gear, so the search for a new truck began.

But with the firehouse maxed out on space, a larger utility truck could not be accommodated.

The only work around for the utility truck situation was to load the truck per call with the items that were thought to be needed for a specific job.

Of course, this came with its own set of problems as the crew had to attempt to outfit the utility truck right before deploying to the scene. The possibility would then exist that the truck would arrive without the needed gear or would get to a scene later at a time when every second counts.

Since the old firehouse wouldn’t be able to accommodate a new utility truck or any other new addition to the fleet, the project of establishing a new firehouse was undertaken.

The cost of a new firehouse is substantial, however. Although the community of Dunbar has been generous with its support, the members of the department knew that a project of this size would need funding from outside sources.

So finding funds was the next goal to be achieved.

Thanks to a grant from the Paul, John, Anton, and Doris Wirth Foundation and a grant from the USDA, the Dunbar firehouse was on its way toward construction. 

A late addition to the construction project could have foiled the efforts, however, as it was discovered that the new firehouse would need a fire suppression sprinkler system. Fortunately, another grant kept the project on track with funds coming in from the Landgraf Charitable Foundation.

The grants received for the Dunbar firehouse project continued the support the organization has received from Kropp Foundation, the Steinhart Foundation, and Nelson Foundation, the Paul, John, Anton, and Doris Wirth Foundation and the Landgraf Charitable Foundation.

Construction of a new firehouse, right next to the old firehouse at Dunbar, began in the spring of 2019  and was completed in January of 2020.Although the funding for the project was entirely covered by grants, it still took the effort of many to get the project to the finish line.

The department had donations for members which covered such things as the dirt work for the project and all the necessary construction equipment to complete the firehouse. The contributions of members of the department allowed for new bathrooms, a kitchen and a mezzanine. In short, everyone stepped forward and brought something to the table.

The Dunbar Fire Department has been enjoying the use of its new space for a year and a half now and it has been as outstanding as everyone had hoped it would.

There’s more room for the firefighters to get into their gear, more room for vehicles and even space for the fire department to work on truck repairs, thus keeping operational costs down.

All of that leads to a better ISO rating for the fire department. 

Every fire department has an ISO score which is basically a report card on the department that takes into account all of the variables that make for excellent service, from response time to training, tools and much more.

A lower ISO score is a big boost to the community because it leads to better insurance rates for home owners in the district.

Speaking of that community, the residents of Dunbar are certainly proud of their firehouse. 

The department had its first fundraiser of 2021 before Easter and the turnout was big. Part of that was just to see the new place. After completion of the firehouse and before a celebration could be marked, COVID-19 made public gatherings impossible.

The fundraiser offered a first chance for community members to see what the new place looked like.

Members of the department are certainly proud of the firehouse because it means that better service and continued service are possible.

In order to be successful, a department must have volunteers, folks who will take out time from their personal loves to train many hours so that they can serve the department and then also to make themselves available, on days, nights, weekends and holidays.

In order to keep members working at the department, 

it’s important to make sure firefighters have the right equipment to help citizens on what could be their darkest days.

Not having that equipment could lead to frustration, the loss of members, a reduced level and quality of service, and, eventually, the end of a fire department’s work.

By addressing needs and finding funding for projects like the new firehouse, the Dunbar Fire Department has assured those negatives won’t soon be realized.

Pictured is the mezzanine view of the interior of the Dunbar Firehouse.