Guy Lundquist contributes to the Manhattan Fire Department in a multitude of ways – as a former firefighter, current custodian and unofficial department historian.
Lundquist, born and raised in Manhattan, served as an MFD firefighter from January 1977 until his early retirement in March 1997.
During his career, Lundquist collected articles from both The Mercury and the Kansas State Collegian, which are a part of a mural he put together in the department headquarters at 2000 Denison Avenue.
He said he didn’t have any real plans for the stories at the time, so they just remained in a box.
Lundquist said he retired because his then-wife started working at a federal job in Topeka.
“I loved everything about being a firefighter,” he said. “Any guy that becomes a fireman, you get wrapped up in the whole career mode of being a fireman and helping the community.”
Lundquist moved back to Manhattan about a year and a half ago, after he and his wife divorced, to be closer to his family.
“It definitely helped me out, in what I was dealing with, to be back home and close to family,” he said.
Lundquist’s current position became available, and he returned to the department in October of 2012.
He was among the first crew in the Denison building when it opened in 1985.
“I was very well qualified for that because I knew the station inside and out from working here for so many years,” Lundquist said.
He came back home in many ways, but old habits die hard.
“Sometimes when the bells go off and the guys are getting on the trucks and leaving, I’m kind of anxious,” Lundquist said. “Where are they going? What have they got? I want to hop on the truck and go with them, but I can’t.”
Not long after he started his current job, Lundquist said he pulled out the box with all of the old newspaper clippings he’d kept over the years.
He said there was a chance the box could have been thrown away whenever he died.
“That’s a three-decade history of the fire department,” Lundquist said. “I had to do something with it.”
He said the mural was originally going to be 10 feet long, but the project became too large and ended up being 20 feet long and 4 feet tall by December of 2012.
Lundquist also designed the “retirees wall” in the building, where retiree photos and old equipment and pictures are displayed.
“I wanted to memorialize some of the guys that are retired and what they did for this community in their careers,” he said.
Lundquist said the new firefighters are able to pay their respects and look at the mural, while the retirees can come back and reminisce on their careers.
“I can go look at this and remember everything about a fire,” he said as he went through the old newspaper clippings.
Lundquist said he’s been in the paper a number of times, but his most memorable experience came Aug. 31, 1993, when he rescued a worker from a manhole.
“He passed out and was basically dead underwater before we got him up,” he said.
Lundquist said he met up with the man after moving back to Manhattan.
“We kind of gave each other a hug and handshake,” he said. “It had been 20 years since I seen him. It’s a bond we share.”