Showcasing Nebraska’s Firefighting Heritage

Pure Nebraska
Published: Feb. 16, 2023 at 1:59 PM CST
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KEARNEY, Neb. (KOLN) - An attraction just off Interstate 80 at Kearney helps highlight and memorialize the work of firefighters and EMS workers across the state.

We caught up with Jennifer Slater, who is the director of the Nebraska Firefighters Museum and Education Center. She told us the center not only preserves the history of firefighters, but it also serves to educate kids and adults about fire prevention and fire safety. When you walk into the museum, you’ll encounter a grand display of artifacts both old and new. “It’s like a walk-through of firefighting history. Some stuff is what your great grandparents used, your grandparents, maybe your dad, or someone you know,” Slater said. “We also do a change out every October, where we change the fire trucks and displays to feature other Nebraska fire departments.”

Outside the museum is a memorial, where firefighters are remembered. “The firefighters and EMS memorial out back is where we memorialize the firefighters in service now, and the ones who’ve passed on,” Slater said. “We also have a memorial every September where we memorialize the firefighters who were killed in the line of duty.” The museum is now working to raise money to make room for more names on the monuments, to honor those who’ve died in the line of duty.

Along with the exhibits and the memorial, the public is encouraged to use the museum building as a place for gatherings. There are a couple of rooms available for use. “We have some facilities here you can rent for birthday parties, graduations, or any kind of event,” Slater said.

In addition, when you visit the museum, you may come away with a new perspective about volunteer firefighters and EMS workers. “Working here now for over a year, I’ve grown to appreciate fire service and EMS even more,” Slater said. “I have a greater appreciation of the training and hard work our volunteers do.” So, the next time you are in Kearney, don’t just drive by the Nebraska Firefighters’ Museum and Education Center, be sure to stop in.