- Associated Press - Monday, February 2, 2015

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - The Council Bluffs Fire Department is working to restore a bell that rang throughout the city for more than 100 years.

The fire station bell, forged in 1876, once tolled for fire calls and firefighter funerals at several Council Bluffs stations, said Fire Chief Justin James. The bell had been relocated to a city storage facility for three years during station construction, and the department now wants it back in action.

James told the Council Bluffs Nonpareil (https://bit.ly/1zN4yOQ ) that plans include erecting a tower outside the department’s new headquarters station. He says the tower would feature pictures and plaques depicting the history of the department, which was established in 1854 and declared a professional department in 1883.

“People sometimes forget how long the city and fire department have been around,” James said. “A lot of the city’s history has been in conjunction with the fire department.”

Cal Petersen, who served with the Council Bluffs Fire Department from 1963 to 1995, said the bell hung in many locations throughout its lifetime. It first rang downtown near city hall, and then moved to the department’s old headquarters.

Petersen said structural issues resulted in its removal and relocation to another city fire station, where it primarily tolled for funeral processions after more modern means of transmitting fire calls were implemented.

“We hope to again be able to ring the bell as funeral processions go by,” he said. “A tolling of the bell would be a nice touch.”

Though final plans for the tower haven’t been completed, the department estimates the project will cost between $80,000 and $120,000. James said donations and grants will likely fund its construction.

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Information from: The Daily Nonpareil, https://www.nonpareilonline.com

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