Kearney Volunteer Fire Department recognized for 140 years of service

KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) – The Kearney Volunteer Fire Department is the latest recipient of a proclamation from the Kearney City Council.

Officials said the support they receive from the city manager and city council is a huge deal. KVFD Chief Aaron Jameson calls it another feather in their cap.

The city council believes it’s important to recognize the work the fire department does because firefighters don’t ask or expect to be recognized for putting their lives on the line. For them, it’s a token of appreciation from the city.

The proclamation also makes people aware of how long the fire department has been around while emphasizing they’re a volunteer unit. Officials said they believe the fire department means a lot to the community.

“I think the fact that we’re volunteer doesn’t play into what they think of us and that they, when they call 911 they expect someone to come that’s fully trained and has the skills to address whatever emergency or need that they have at that time,” said Chief Aaron Jameson, Kearney Volunteer Fire Department.

KVFD is the fifth largest department in the state, despite only being a volunteer unit.

“In our current state, we are fully committed to being a volunteer fire department until such time as we didn’t have the members that are willing to commit the time and effort and energy into being a volunteer firefighter, and at that point then the city council or city manager would have to make that change,” said Jameson.

Jameson believes their volunteer status will stay the same until they’re struggling to find volunteers. However, state regulations might change once Kearney’s population reaches 38,000 because they must have a paid fire chief. James is also a Kearney native, which means becoming fire chief is a dream come true.

“Ended up getting on the fire department with one of my best friends,” said Jameson. “We thought ‘Aw they’ll never take two 21-year-old kids.’ But they brought us on and then you think, ‘Aw they’re never going to, I’m never going to be the fire chief, I’m never going to be that guy.”

A veteran firefighter said satisfying the people is what keeps him motivated.

“I guess what keeps me going, and probably most people, is probably that pat on the back, you know from the citizens,” said Gene Beerbohm, President of KVFD. “You know and people say, and our officers when we get done, they say, ‘job well done’ and we are always thriving to do our best obviously. But you know those thank yous are what keeps you going.”

Beerbohm has been a volunteer firefighter at KVFD for 46 years. He’s now battling bone cancer, but still shows up to the firehouse to be with the crew.

In 2022, KVFD responded to 452 fire calls, 205 rescue calls, and 82 non-emergency calls, resulting in a total of 11,563 hours for those calls.

Written By: Leroy Triggs | KSNB

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