Tuesday evening, the St. Louis Park Fire Department celebrated the opening of its recently constructed with two ceremonies: one a somber reminder of the dangers a firefighter faces, the other an optimistic look toward the future.
The first ceremony unveiled a wall in the new firehouse with a memorial dedicated to St. Louis Park firefighters who have died in the line of duty.
On it—under the words, “The Ultimate Sacrifice”—are three names: Kurt Scheibe, Arnold Johnson and Robert McElmurry. Scheibe died of a heart attack while on duty in 1964, while Johnson and McElmurry both perished during the same fire in October of 1971.
As family members of the deceased firemen watched, a tearful Luke Stemmer, chief of the department, led the dedication ceremony.
“I hope and desire that no other names will be added to this wall,” Stemmer said to the assembly. While speaking to the families of the three deceased firefighters, he added, “We’re here today to bring them home.”
After dedication of the memorial ended, a second ceremony took place outside the main entrance of the firehouse. Family of current firefighters, as well as city officials and community members, gathered to dedicate and celebrate the new firehouse—an environmentally friendly structure designed to be the hub of the St. Louis Park Fire Department.
Following the conclusion of the ceremony, there was an open house at which those present—especially children—got a hands-on look at fire department and city vehicles, went for fire truck rides and operated a fire hose.
As they walked around the new firehouse, the spouses of deceased firefighters Johnson and McElmurry talked about the touching evening.
“They’ve been so nice to us,” Marva Johnson said.
Mary McElmurry agreed.
“It’s been a long time coming, but worth the wait,” she said.