In a town that means “a settlement by the lime trees,” New Leipzig was established in 1896. Nearly 125 years later, the New Leipzig Fire Department is one of many services that the community still has to offer. The department is made up solely of 32 volunteers, ranging from men in their 20s to their 70s, and six trucks. They cover about 480 square miles including the western part of Grant County, one township in Adams County as well as one township in Hettinger County.
With mostly agricultural fires seen including prairie fires, hay fires, and crop fires, they also receive calls for structure fires and leaking anhydrous tanks once in a great while. Though they are not a rescue squad, as that is stationed six miles away in Elgin, the men who volunteer their time and efforts are greatly appreciated by all in the community.
Each year they have a barbeque supper fundraiser during the city’s annual Oktoberfest celebration. Brad Stern fire chief of 20 years mentions that the department’s fire hall is currently landlocked and there is nowhere to go. In need of more space, these recent fundraisers have been geared toward working to build across the street from their current hall.
In 2019, Dakota Community Bank & Trust (DCB&T) paid for all of the upfront expenses of the barbeque supper fundraiser in hopes that all money raised during the event would go right back to the fire department. In addition to that, DCB&T also gave a monetary donation to the New Leipzig Fire Department in an effort to boost the timeline for getting the fire department more space.
“In the past, they had also been instrumental in our Fireman’s Ball. They would pay for the orchestra and stuff. They helped us there. All around, they have been very good to us with everything we have done, and they have donated very generously,” says Stern. Stern also mentioned that there are DCB&T employees on the volunteer fire department. “They support the entire community, not just the fire department. The bank supports everything here in town and everything that comes along including a recent donation to the ambulance squad and us, just to help us out,” maintains Stern.
The addition of four trucks in Stern’s time with the department, gives them better fire coverage. “Farming practices have changed. People are farming bigger acres. Fires get bigger too, so you need more equipment for that. This way, we can get more men out to the fire and we have more equipment to better fight it with. Through the years, it costs more money for the equipment as well, so we try to keep up to date with what we can,” mentions Stern of helping the local community.
Stern states they are still hoping to draw support for additional funds and that they are very thankful for the past support they have received from both DCB&T and the community. “We get supported really well and we do appreciate it. We have a lot of good volunteers and we work hard.” With a goal of getting the new fire hall built sooner rather than later, they are optimistic to start building on it later this year in 2020 but may need to wait for some additional grants to break ground.
Written by Lindsey Hefta, Marketing Director