St. Paul museum highlights firefighting history

Tubby's Firehouse Museum allows visitors a chance to see how firefighting has evolved through the years.

Ron Tubbs is the owner of the collection in St. Paul. "When I was young, I was actually born and raised on a horse ranch," Tubbs said. "I got into showing horses and rodeo, and rodeo was a bit of an adrenaline rush. I actually had a bit of a rough background, and some people introduced me to volunteer firefighting. It really straightened out my life, and that's why I got strongly got into firefighting and tried to learn as much as I could about it," Tubbs said.

Tubbs worked in various volunteer firefighting operations. As a career firefighter, he worked in Beatrice. Then he worked for the Nebraska Fire Service, which was later turned over to the Nebraska Fire Marshal's office. After that, he worked as a firefighter in Grand Island for years.

Tubbs says he's been collecting his firefighting memorabilia since 1980. "One day I was driving by this building that used to be a fire station back in 1907, and it had a for sale sign out front. I thought an old fire station would be a great place to display my stuff. I wanted to fix it up, and open it up for the public to view for free," Tubbs said.

Some of the highlights of the museum include the display of a 1926 American La France fire truck. It was the first fire truck to be purchased by the Grand Island paid fire department. Other items include equipment with wood wheels, along with helmets, and historical pictures. There's even a piece of steel from the World Trade Center. "You hate that September 11th ever happened," Tubbs said. "But the emotions are there. When people come in here and touch that piece of steel, even after this many years, people touch that piece of steel and you can see the hair stand up on their arm when they touch it."

Ron says his museum is open more often in the summer, but it is also open by appointment.