Unlike many small Nebraska towns, Paxton, Neb. (pop. 614) realized a 28% increase in population according to the 2000 census. Paxton is located near Interstate 80 and two very heavily traveled Union Pacific railroad tracks in southwestern Nebraska. In fact, one of those tracks is the “busiest track in the world” with about nine trains passing by in an hour.
It was this increase in population, along with the heavily traveled interstate and railroad tracks that concerned Paxton residents about the wear and tear on public services. Most notably, the fire department experienced a major strain on its fire equipment.
The Paxton Fire Department had successfully served the area with a 1959 Chevy Pumper-Rescue rig. However, the Pumper, operated as a first response vehicle, was now so outdated that it posed a safety hazard to the 26 volunteer Paxton Fire Department staff who shared it with the Rural Fire Protection District.
Due to the age of the equipment, village leaders and the fire department were determined to find funding for a new pumper-rescue rig to better serve their residents. To kick-off this project, residents were surveyed to discover the needs, strengths and weaknesses of the Village of Paxton for the 2002 Community Action Plan. Ranking second in the community needs category was updating the fire equipment, and second in community strengths, were the Paxton Fire Department and its volunteers.
To fund the new fire equipment, village leaders applied for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development. Subsequently, the Village of Paxton was awarded $104,000 in CDBG funds by Governor Mike Johanns to purchase a new pumper-rescue rig. Along with the CDBG funds, the Village of Paxton and the Rural Fire Protection District both contributed $50,000 toward the purchase price of the rig.
On May 20, 2003, the Village of Paxton welcomed the newest edition to their fire department, a 2003 Pierce Commercial Contender mounted on a Kenworth Chassis.
This new addition will allow the Paxton Fire Department and the Rural Fire Protection District “to better serve the Village of Paxton and the rural residents,” said Lori Gamet, Paxton village clerk. “It is nice to have this state-of-the-art fire rig and the fire department looks forward to testing and putting their latest equipment to good use,” said Gamet.
With the potential for more fires in the future, the Paxton Fire Department and the Rural Fire Protection District are better equipped to handle these fires. The new equipment hopefully will go a long way toward improving fire safety and easing the minds of Paxton residents.
Paxton Fire Equipment
West Central Nebraska Development District (Partner)
PO Box 599
Ogallala, NE 69153
Rick Zubrod (DED Representative)
(402) 471-3762 • (800) 426-6505