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Nappanee Fire Department ladder truck Fire Department

Location: 300 W. Lincoln

Phone: 773-4000 (business)
or 911 (emergency)

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Learn more about department
history and Smokey Stover

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Police Department, City of Nappanee, IN
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New Public Protection Classifacation effective 12/1/2017!

  Nappanee's 'Smokey Stovers'  

Smokey Stover  
  Until the 1890s, Nappanee residents fought fires themselves as "bucket brigrades," passing water hand-to-hand in an attempt to extinguish the flames. At least one downtown business owner even had his own fire suppression system — barrels of water on the roof.

Public sentiment spurred business owners and town leaders to establish fire companies. The creation of the waterworks at the end of the 19th century allowed for fire hydrants and more dependable water deliver.

Residents started reporting fires by telephone in 1908, and a decade later, the first motorized fire vehicle was put into service.

Early photo of Nappanee firefighters

Today, the department has several emergency response vehicles, including ladder and tanker trucks. But even with incredible technological and professional advancements, our city's firefighters are still known as Smokey Stovers — and for good reason.

Famed cartoonist Bill Holman grew up in Nappanee and developed a love of drawing while working at a five-and-dime downtown. After taking a correspondence course, he latched on as a copy boy at the Chicago Tribune and began drawing with some of the famed cartoonists of the 1920s.

In 1935, Holman first drew "Smokey Stover" about a pun-loving fireman. Smokey lived in the comic pages for nearly 40 years until Holman's retirement — and his hometown fire department honors his accomplishments with the Smokey Stover drawing proudly displayed on Nappanee fire trucks.

Information from "They Called It Nappanee ..." by Esther Metzler and James L. Weygand.

Current Department

Today's Nappanee Fire Department


Volunteer with our department
The Nappanee Fire Department provides fire and rescue services for Nappanee and the surrounding communities. Service as a volunteer firefighter rewards individuals with a great deal of excitement and a strong sense of accomplishment.

Serving as a firefighter is a serious decision that should not be entered into lightly. If you are community-minded and have the desire and commitment to serve, stop by City Hall to obtain an application. For more information about joining the department, email Chief Don Lehman.