The job of a firefighter inherently comes with risk, hazards, and dangers that we sometimes are unable to control. Risk responding to a call, risk performing the job functions of a fire, ems, hazmat, and/or technical rescue call. When taking the oath as a civil servant, we as firefighters understand and respect these dangerous elements of the job. Unfortunately there are times were everyone does not get to come home. When that happens, it’s our duty to never forget those individuals who were taken from us all too soon. It’s our duty to honor them every day when we put on our uniform, climb on the rigs, and respond to calls. This page is one of the many ways to honor those who are gone, but most certainly will not be forgotten.
On Saturday, October 17th of 1936, Chief Payne and fireman Francis Fitzgibbons were going down West 4th Street and were at the intersection of Jefferson and 4th Streets to fight a grass fire near Cody School on the outskirts of North Platte when tragedy struck. Payne was traveling in his little red coupe ahead of the fire trucks when a car driven by Ira P. Wright (radio operator), clipped the rear of Payne’s coupe. Wright was traveling south and didn’t stop at the intersection. Wright claimed that he looked both ways and didn’t see or hear the approaching sirens. He had slowed down, but never came to a complete stop at the intersection. There was no stop sign at the intersection, so instead of stopping, he just did a quick look, and continued through the intersection. At that time, West 4th Street had a narrow ditch running down the middle of the street. Wright’s car struck the left fender of Payne’s car, causing Payne’s car to hit the curb along the center ditch, causing both men to fly out of the roof of the car. The car turned over twice and ended up in the ditch about twenty feet ahead of the two men, who landed on the pavement. Unfortunately both men died from their injuries related to the crash.
On Wednesday, August 6th of 2003, Firefighter Holmes was the driver of an ambulance during a long-distance transport of a patient to a Lincoln, NE area hospital. As they traveled eastbound along interstate 80, they came to a section of the highway where the left-hand lane was closed due to road construction. The ambulance was behind a tractor-trailer truck that was proceeding slowly. The ambulance was struck from behind by another tractor-trailer truck and pushed into the rear of the truck in front of the ambulance. Firefighter Holmes was crushed in the impact and unfortunately died from his injuries suffered in the crash. The firefighter attending to the patient in the rear of the ambulance received severe injuries and was transported to a Lincoln hospital via a flight for life helicopter. The patient was injured but the injuries were not life threatening and was transported via another ambulance to a Lincoln hospital.