Archive for Thursday, August 24, 2006

Lansing’s first fire chief

August 24, 2006

The first fire chief in Lansing was Francis D. (Skeet) Bemis.

It was with the original Delaware Township Volunteer Fire Department. When the fire department first organized, he was picked as chief because he was close by and willing to take the job.

He and his wife, Dorothy, ran the cafe on Minnie Street (now Main), and whenever a fire call came in at Wendel's Garage, Skeet would be among the first to respond. He was an Army veteran of World War II. Later he was a cook and supervisor at the Leavenworth VA Medical Center for more than 28 years.

Skeet was born on Dec. 24, 1913, and died Jan. 9, 1993 at the age of 79. I do not remember much about Skeet as he was no longer chief when I joined the fire department. I do know that Lansing was here for 100 years without a fire department, and it needed someone like him to help get things going.

In the early years of the fire department, almost all the volunteers were members of the Lions Club, as there were no other organizations in town at that time. Back then, the training and equipment was totally different than it is now. We would enter houses without any self-contained breathing equipment, and couldn't figure out why we didn't feel well for several days after a house fire.

The training now is far superior to what we had in the 1950s. Firefighters go through hours and hours of training, and their equipment is always being updated.

Thank goodness we have a dedicated department here in Lansing.

There are many things we as homeowners can do to prevent fires and keep our homes safe. Two of the easiest are to check your fire alarm batteries and fire extinguishers.

Every time we read our paper we see that our Fire District has answered a call, be it a home fire or an automobile accident or medical emergency, they are there.

Every one of us should take a minute to thank a firefighter.

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