Victoria Fire Celebrates 100 Years

It was a wonderful day in many ways as the Victoria Fire Department celebrated their 100-year Anniversary on Saturday, July 13th, 2013.  It was a family occasion with the Victoria Fire Department and the community.  Retired firefighters and the wives of deceased firemen joined the 28 current members of the VFD on stage for recognition and applause.

Editor Sue

Seated in front (l-r):  Nancy Sohns (wife of the late Fireman Dale Sohns), Caroline Schmieg (wife of the late Fireman Bert Schmieg), Mary Moore (wife of the late Fireman George Moore).  Front firefighters (l-r): Doug Jurek, Bob Diethelm, Jerry Hilgers, Morrie Leuthner Jr., Tom Schmieg, Doug Schmieg, Dean Adams, Matt Weber, Marvin Storms, Morrie Leuthner Sr., Tom Walsh.  Middle firefighters:  Laura Wood, Tim Walsh, Jason Hesse, Rick Leuthner, Jeff Nordeen, Kari Nordeen, Tim Stedman, Joe Forrer.  Back firefighters:  Troy Walsh, Aaron Jurek, Jon Wongdock, Glen Row, Gary Sohns, Brian Pyne, Justin Jurek.

Front firefighters (l-r):  Tom Walsh, Dalles Notermann, Bill Schneider, Jim Schmieg, Ken Schmieg, Roger Leuthner, Steve Schmieg, Jerome "Chub" Schmieg.  Middle:  Kari Nordeen, Tim Stedman, Joe Forrer, Andrew Heger, Ryan Rivers, Jacob Servais, Mike Mulheran, Jason Hukriende.  Back:  Brian Pyne, Justin Jurek, Dave Shoger, Brady Lee, Clint  Matvick, Russ Wall, Steve Dahl.

Wives of past Victoria firefighters (retired or deceased) included (l-r):  Marge Leuthner, Ruthie Hilgers, Karen Notermann, Caroline Schmieg, Marie Storms, Mary Moore, and Nancy Sohns

Chief Andrew Heger welcomed everyone and gave a short history report.  There have been 18 fire chiefs in the past 100 years, he said, and the Department remains rooted in tradition.

He said that people got together in 1913 to start the Department, to build a team, to succeed together, to fail together.  Cisterns have been replaced by fire hydrants.  “Our mission is the same as it was 100 years ago.”

Mayor Tom O’Connor spoke next.  “What a special occasion this is!” he stated.  “How long is 100 years?  Woodrow Wilson was the President of the United States 100 years ago and we’ve had 16 more presidents since then.  Back in 1913, a first class stamp was 2 cents.  It was July 7th, 1913, that the Victoria Fire Department organized.  As they say, ‘We’ve come a long way, Baby!’”

Mayor O’Connor said that firefighters certainly don’t join the Fire Department for the money.  They get $8.50 an hour for their training and time.  “ Congratulations and a hearty thank you,” he said.

Carver County Commissioner Randy Maluchnik also addressed the firefighters.  “Why would you run into a burning building?” he asked.  “The answer is, commitment.  The county commissioners all support volunteer firefighters.  It was the best idea that Benjamin Franklin ever had.  Now let’s enjoy the evening.”

Daughter Jenny and her kids Addie and Gunnar were in town and the first thing we had to do was go visit the Carver County Mounted Posse.  Gunnar loves horses and guitars.

We learned that it is sometimes possible for a family to adopt a horse for a month or so during the summer. 

This is the first fire truck purchased by the Victoria Fire Department in 1930.  It’s a 1929 Chevy.

Gunnar found more controls in the new Victoria Fire Engine than in some airplanes.

Jenny discovered that one of her classmates, Jon Wongdock, a fellow graduate of Chaska High School, is a Victoria Firefighter.

Jon responded to a little girl with questions about the new firetruck.

Retired Firefighter Bob Diethelm and his wife Darla looked back on the history of the Victoria Fire Department.

Retired Firefighter Bill Schneider’s children Paula Ward, Ellen Rolf, and Dan.  Son Randy not pictured.

It was fun to run into members of the Hilgers family — not literally.  This street was closed.

Retired Firefighter Jerry Hilgers and his wife Ruthie posed with two of their four daughters, Lisa Brueggemeier (left) and Nancy Boyle and some of the grandchildren — Kendall Brueggemeier, Jameson Boyle, Colby Brueggemeier, Jaylyn Boyle.

Jenny met Victoria Mayor Tom O’Connor.

The Game Truck was a hit with a lot kids . . .

. . . including Gunnar . . .

. . . and Addie.

The kids also enjoyed the dunk tank, the live music, the outstanding fireworks that night, and just being with their mom and their Grandma Sue.

Thank you, Victoria Fire Department, for treating us to a wonderful afternoon and evening.  Thank you for all of your work in preparation for the celebration and in cleaning up afterwards.  Thank you for 100 years of service to the community.