MANISTEE, Mich. - The Manistee Fire Station at 291 First Street got an extra special birthday gift Tuesday.
The fire station was awarded the title for "Oldest Continuously Manned Operating Fire Station" by the Guinness World Records at a dedication event. This moment in history was more than two years in the making and a 130 years of proof.
The Manistee Fire Station's latest title is the first time the Guinness World Records has ever made this award designation – one that required the Manistee Fire Department to prove it has not only been in operation but also staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year as a fully manned, paid professional fire department since it opened in 1869.
“Today, we get to take a look back in time at our fire station and the inception of our fire department,” said Manistee Fire Chief Tim Kozal, who kicked off the dedication event. “Chief Fleissner opened the doors of this station 130 years ago. One can only imagine the stories, the training, the sleepless nights and how they communicated shaped the fire department.”
Kozal welcomed the audience to the event and thanked attendees, then introduced Mark Fedder, executive director of the Manistee County Historical Museum, who assisted in locating documentation in the museum’s archives to prove that the Manistee Fire Station has been continuously in operation since it opened in 1869.
“I would like to congratulate the City of Manistee, the Fire Department, and Fred LaPoint for this monumental achievement,” said Fedder. “It’s really something unique. The Manistee community has always been proud of this building and its firefighters, and this designation makes it all the more special.”
Kozal then presented the final speaker, Manistee engineer paramedic Fred LaPoint, who joined Manistee Fire Department in 1979 and spearheaded the world record project. Not long after Kozal joined the City of Manistee in April 2017 as the director of public safety, LaPoint came to him with the idea of pursuing a world record for the fire station. “I can still recall when Fred first discussed the history of the fire department and what he had on his mind,” said Kozal. “I was intrigued and asked Fred if he wanted to tackle it. Here we are more than two years later. Fred did tackle it. I am very proud of Fred and his diligence to the cause.”
LaPoint sent an initial submission to Guinness World Records in January 2017 to get the organization to create a category for Oldest Continuously Manned Operating Fire Station. Once the category was established, he began the official application process in earnest in July 2017, spending hundreds of hours sifting through archives from the library and historical museum in order to prove that the fire station was open and staffed every day for 130 years. In total, the application consisted of thousands of pages of text, hundreds of photos, and 25-plus audio/video files totaling approximately two gigabytes of data.
The dedication event culminated with LaPoint pulling a drape off of a new sign with the Manistee Fire Station’s world record designation, which will be mounted outside of the fire station. Attendees then took tours of the fire station afterward.
“This day marks an important milestone not only of our fire department, but for this fire station and the community it serves,” said LaPoint. “The Manistee Fire Station continues to tell the stories and carry the memories of all the firefighters who came before, including those currently serving and those who will serve in the future. Historic places like the Manistee Fire Station matter because they give us a deeper appreciation and understanding of our past in a way that written documents can’t. This plaque not only recognizes this incredible milestone, but is also a tribute to the many people and organizations that helped in so many ways to make this accomplishment possible.”
The Manistee Fire Station received its world record designation on its 130th anniversary as a fire station.
►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.