In Tribute to Retired Assistant Chief James R. Barger

Retired Assistant Chief Jim Barger passed away on January 1, 2015, from complications of pneumonia.

Jim joined the Kearney Volunteer Fire Department (which was a city department with rural memberships outside the city limits), May 1, 1972 as a firefighter.

He was one of the first three EMT’s for the department that completed their training in one of the first field EMT classes in 1973, and was elected to Assistant Chief in 1975. He began participating at the State Fair Fire Department in the mid 1970’s serving in many positions including Chief.

In 1981, a successful bond issue was passed in Kearney to build a new station and purchase a new pumper. Jim was one of the volunteers that spent a lot of hours in the construction of the station, as well as the maintenance of the equipment. He attended numerous training classes including the first Midwest weekend at the National Fire Academy.

In 1985, the firefighter’s association began conducting bingo as a fund raiser to purchase the extra items that the firefighters felt were needed. Jim was known as �Mr. Bingo� because he was the primary caller for the five years that bingo was conducted from September through May of each year. Over $80,000 was raised from this venture which purchased our first rescue tool, rescue vehicle, and the first years lease purchase payment for a new 1,800 gallon tanker.

The bingo fund raiser ceased when the Kearney Fire & Rescue Protection District was established in August of 1990 that also included the establishment of the ambulance service in Kearney and the hiring of the first three full time personnel. Jim participated on several of the vehicle replacement committees retiring as volunteer Assistant Chief February 1, 2000, with almost 28 years of service.

The Fire District Directors, Officers and members would like to offer their condolences to the entire Barger family on his passing. The station flag will fly at half staff until sunset Thursday, January 8, 2015 in his honor.
Read Jim’s obituary.