Grand Island Firefighters Remember Comrade Killed on Duty a Century Ago


Grand Island firefighters remembered August 17, 1913, on Saturday -- a day that marked the 100th anniversary of a young firefighter who died on duty.

Firefighters -- both currently in service and retired -- prayed for the loss of Tony Fleischer, Grand Island's only firefighter to ever die in the line of duty.

At Grand Island's Fire Station 1 on Saturday, they thanked God for watching over their current firefighters serving today.

"Firefighters live and work like a family," retired fire chief Jim Rowell, who has 35 years of service under his belt, said. "We depend on each other. On the days off, you help each other -- you go hunting and fishing and do things like family, so when you depend on each other for your very life it tends to create a great bond."

Preserving Fleischer's memory wasn't easy.

Firefighter Ron Tubbs helped organized the memorial ceremony. He became interested in Fleischer's story when he joined the Grand Island Fire Department, after realizing that information printed in a handbook about Fleischer was incorrect.

The crew dug into newspaper archives to piece together his real story.

"We respect that sacrifice, even though we didn't know him we know him as part of the brotherhood or as a family," Rowell said, "and we try to remember that his sacrifice should remind us that we all can have that same thing happen. So we have to be sure to remember what happened, honor it and avoid it in the future."