Francis M. Nichols, 42 years old, was a member of the Imperial Volunteer Fire Department in Imperial, Nebraska.
Francis was one of 19 firefighters who responded to the 7:19 p.m. call Saturday, January 23, 1993 to a farm north of Imperial, Nebraska. The fire had started in an automatic soybean processor housed in a metal building. The processor, from which roasted soybeans were augured to a nearby bin, had apparently malfunctioned and slowed down, causing some of the beans to overcook and burn. The burning beans continued to be augured into the 10 to 12 foot bin and the fire then started in the bin.
After the fire had been extinguished the firefighters, in shifts, began removing the beans with shovels, Francis took his turn at a shift inside the bin and that is where he collapsed. He was moved outside and CPR was started and he was transported to the Chase County Community Hospital in Imperial where he was later pronounced dead.
Francis was on the Imperial Volunteer Fire Department for 3 years and he had just finished taking all of the classes for the Firefighter 1 Certification class. He was awarded his certificate and patch after his death. Francis and our neighbor, Bryan Dannatt, were taking this class together and after the class they would set outside one of our houses for hours in one of the pickups and discuss what they had been taught that night.
Francis and I were married in 1984. He took on the job of Dad to my 2 daughters Brenda and Amy just like they were his own. We had eight wonderful and way too short years together. A friend said that we made Francis’ life complete when we married but we made each other complete and that made a wonderful family. We always laughed that when the girls were grown and gone we were going to golf all the time. He was a very loving and caring husband and a very special dad and you will never be forgotten.
He was always ready to help anyone in need. He was admired for his honesty, character and high integrity. He enjoyed woodworking, camping, hunting and fishing. Francis loved watching football especially the Nebraska Huskers. Francis made friends very easily and they stayed friends for life. He had a very witty personality and could always make you laugh, he was a wonderful listener and would help anyone that needed him. He was active in our community with the Chamber of Commerce, planning commission and the fair parade.
As the days, and years go by I miss him as much today as the day he went away. You will always be our hero and we will miss you today and everyday.
Love you, Julie, Brenda and Amy.