Peter Nora, longtime Scandia resident, business owner and firefighter, is celebrating 40 years on the Scandia Fire and Rescue Team. The city of Scandia will be honoring Nora with a cake and pizza party Tuesday, May 16, at 6:30 p.m. at the Scandia Community Center.
“I'd like to thank the community and the city of Scandia for all the continued support they've given the fire department,” he said.
Nora grew up in Dinkytown, but his family had a cabin on Big Marine Lake.
“I liked the area so much I made my business in Scandia and raised my family here.”
He was 26 years old when he moved to the area and just starting a small company in downtown Scandia.
“Marv Sandgren was a friend and a fireman. He recommended me to the department. I've got a passion for machines, so the fire department's equipment was really cool. The people too.”
Nora says that being on the Scandia Fire Department has been a very fulfilling commitment. “There's training and more training. It lends to developing strong lifelong bonds. There's a high level of trust and I'm proud to be a member of such a department run so professionally.”
Fire Chief Mike Hinz has been on the fire department with Nora for 30 years. Hinz started working for Nora’s company PN Products a year before joining the fire department and went on to work for Nora for 28 years.
“Peter is the one that recruited me to the department knowing that they needed daytime responders. As an employer, he was willing to let employees leave the job to respond to calls,” said Hinz.
“He has gone above and beyond by letting his employees leave the job for the fire department. At one point there were three people leaving his shop for calls. This shows Peter's commitment to the fire department. He was and is willing to stop production at work to help the community…If we need to fill a position or need something done we can always rely on Peter to step up if needed and do a great job at it. He donates time and materials to the department from PN Products.”
Hinz added, “Almost everyone in the community knows Peter and people have a tendency to call him first to see if they need to call 911.”
Nora has held many positions in the department including assistant chief and training captain (at least two different times.) A lot of things have changed in the 40 years he has been fighting fires.
“When I first started, we would go to fires holding on to the back of the firetruck,” he said. “Thank goodness it is not that way today! Our personal equipment - jackets, helmets, etc., keep improving. The technology has gone from not having thermal imaging cameras to having them, which helps us locate people and fires. The hazardous gas meter helps us read carbon monoxide and other hazardous gases. Another advance we have is cordless auto extrication tool (Jaws of Life). We've always carried pagers, but now we have an app on our cell phones which allows us to acknowledge our availability and tells us the location and nature of the call.”
Along with being involved with the fire department, Nora has enjoyed time with the Lions organization, is an active ski patroller for Trollhaugen with the Courage adaptive ski program and is also very committed to Elim Lutheran Church in Scandia.
Unfortunately, Nora’s family experienced their own house fire in January 2021.
“We really felt the love from our Scandia firemen and Washington County Sheriff Zach Boesel, as they put out the fire and made sure we were safe,” said Nora.
As a result of the accidental fire, Nora’s family was unable to live in the house.
“Though many, many people offered to let him stay with them or at their home while out of town during the winter, he didn't want to impose, so he lived in his RV instead,” said Hinz.
Nora said they moved into their new home just three days before the two-year anniversary of the fire.
“We look back now and shake our heads as to how could we have lived in the RV for two years.”
According to Hinz, “Peter is the kind of person that would give you the shirt off his back. He will always help and is not looking for anything in return. He is willing to give you something that will make his life harder just to make yours better.”
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