“We have all the log books dating all the way back to the 1800’s when the fire department started. So we know what each firefighter did everyday,” said Council Bluffs Fire Chief Justin James.
The Council Bluffs Fire Department is filled with history. But one of the department's most historic items isn't even on display.
“It's all ready to go, it's just putting the tower up in the air and then hoisting it up,” said Chief James.
The City’s original 1300 pound fire bell was purchased in 1876.
“There were call boxes back then on corners and when there was an emergency, someone would pull the call box and that would send tones into the old fire station and the firefighters would go out and ring the bell to that tone, so that the firemen knew where in the city to go,” said Chief James.
As technology advanced, the bell was no longer used to signal fires. But, it was still proudly displayed at the central fire station until it was torn down.
“The old central fire station used to be like the hub of the city, I mean they had city dances in the backyard and we want people to feel like this is still theirs too,” said Chief James.
The bell hasn't hung in a tower since 1959 and has been in storage since the early 2000's, but the Council Bluffs Fire Department is determined to dust off a piece of its history.
“Sometimes in Council Bluffs we don't do a good job of telling our history, Council Bluffs gets lumped into the big sister of things with Omaha," said Chief James.
The Fire Department wants to share their story with the Council Bluffs community. It’s estimated to cost more than $200,000 to build a 24-foot tower outside of the central fire station to house the bell.
So far the city has donated $50,000 and close to $20,000 has been donated from both current and retired fire fighters. A GoFundMe page has also been set up.
“The support behind this project has been really good; I mean way more than I thought it would be. I kind of thought we would care about it, but the general public wouldn’t and I was completely wrong,” said Chief James.
The department hopes to have the tower built by the summer.
If you would like to donate to the bell tower fund head to https://www.gofundme.com/6fxcj4dp