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Video: OPPD fire brigade helps keep Nebraska City Station safe

October 9, 2023 | Danielle Beebe-Iske | generation, Nebraska City Station, OPPD at work, OPPD employees, safety
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Members of the Nebraska City Station fire brigade battle a controlled fire during annual training in September. In this exercise at the training pad on NCS grounds., pallets are burned in a inside the training facility, which is made from steel shipping containers. Brigade members work to safely extinguish the fire, practice search and rescue, and more. All photos by Danielle Beebe-Iske

A group of 65 employees at OPPD’s Nebraska City Station (NCS) power plant share the responsibility of covering operations 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

They supply fuel to the plant, operate the equipment that produces electricity, and continuously monitor conditions to ensure the plant is safely meeting the demand. They wear a lot of hats to execute their duties, but perhaps the most unexpected one is a firefighter’s helmet.

NCS is nestled alongside the Missouri River, about eight miles southeast of the city center. The nearest municipal fire department has a 20-minute response time to the plant, so an on-site fire brigade was created before construction was even complete on units one and two at the plant. The brigade’s responsibility is to prepare for and respond to plant emergencies to safely protect people and equipment.

Though not activated often, the brigade responds to emergency calls that include fires or chemical management following equipment failure, spontaneous coal activation, or nearby brush fires approaching the property.

The NCS fire brigade recently held its annual training in the weeks leading up to National Fire Prevention Week, which runs October 8-14 this year. You can see the brigade in action in the video and photos below.

Ready to respond

The brigade must be ready to respond to an emergency with a moment’s notice at any time of the day. This is why the same crews that are always on site are required to be brigade members. Volunteers are also welcome.

“Electricity production can be dangerous if not executed properly,” said Chris Romaire, senior instructional technician and fire brigade trainer. “Having an on-site fire brigade is one of many tools OPPD uses to safely and reliably produce power.”

This was Romaire’s last year to lead the training exercise. He plans to retire next year.

“I’ll miss my coworkers most,” he said. “I enjoy getting everyone ready and making sure that they’re safe and prepared for this job. Sometimes people don’t wear this equipment for a year. This preparation is so important.

“If I see someone is uncomfortable, it might seem weird but I’ll keep them in the training fire longer. I’ll talk to them and challenge them a bit more until they find their confidence.”

‘No day is exactly the same’

Having a dedicated fire brigade is unique to NCS. Similar generation facilities, such as North Omaha Station, are located closer to municipal fire departments and partner with their staff for regular education and trainings.

The NCS fire brigade trains regularly to ensure their equipment and knowledge are in top shape. While the fire brigade members don’t prepare for the wide variety of scenarios that career or volunteer firefighters do, they must thoroughly understand the same equipment and fire and hazardous materials management. They also need a thorough understanding of the facility, equipment and materials on site.

“Being on the fire brigade goes hand in hand with my normal job, really,” said Andrew Lingerfelt, equipment operator. “One thing I really love about it is that no day is exactly the same. It’s a lot of responsibility, but it’s satisfying, rewarding and pays well.”




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Chris Romaire, fire brigade instructor, shows a glimpse of the controlled fire inside the training facility at Nebraska City Station during training in September. The training includes battling a controlled fire inside the training facility, which is made from steel shipping containers.


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Crews enter the training facility with a charged fire hose.


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Above left: Fire brigade members use a large training platform  connected to propane gas to practice extinguishing a fire. Above right: Les Barrett, a material handling crew leader, ignites a burn cage filled with pallets for a training exercise.


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Chris Romaire, fire brigade instructor, center left, leads a safety briefing ahead of training activities. This year marks his final training session as he plans to retire next year. With a wealth of experience and a deep commitment to safety, Romaire is a pivotal member of the NCS fire brigade. Part of Romaire’s job is to ensure his coworkers are well prepared for any situation, especially since they may go an extended period without responding to a fire. He makes an effort to build his coworkers’ confidence during training exercises.


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Above left: Equipment Operators and NCS Fire Brigade Members Mike Holaway and Todd Munsen disconnect a fire hose from a hydrant on the plant campus. Above right: Chris Vermeer, equipment operator, maneuvers a fire hose to drain and dry it as Chris Tracy, unit operator, supervises.


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Mike Smith, equipment operator, prepares for training activities.


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Brandon Schreiter, material handling crew leader, hydrates after entering the training facility with a live controlled burn.


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Rob Elson, supervisor of utility operations training, points out evidence left behind from the hottest part of the fire. Temperatures in the training facility can easily top 400 degrees.
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About Danielle Beebe-Iske

Danielle Beebe-Iske serves as OPPD's photographer and videographer. Previously, she worked in communication and marketing roles in the health care, lottery and railroad industries. She studied journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In her free time, Danielle enjoys all things outdoors, DIY home renovation and fostering kittens with the Nebraska Humane Society.

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