KSFFA Regional Fire School – St. Paul

KSFFA Regional Fire School
Hosted by St. Paul Fire Department
February 2-4, 2018


Friday Night – 6 to 10 p.m.

  1.  Fire Cause
  2.  Oil Tank

Saturday Morning & Afternoon – 8:00 a.m.

  1.  KSFFA Skills Trailer – 8 hrs.
  2.  Incident Safety Officer – 8 hrs.
  3.  Chief Officers – 8 hrs.
  4.  Engine Co Ops – 8 hrs.

Saturday Night – 6 to 10 p.m.

  1. Aerosol Fire Review
  2. Lessons Learned

Sunday Morning – 8:00 a.m.

  1.  Reading Smoke
  2.  Fire Behavior
  3.  LP Safety
  4.  Wildfires


For any questions contact:

Southeast Trustee – Ron Ewing

  • These courses are offered at no charge.
  • These schools are open to all firefighters/EMS
  • The KSFFA furnishes medical insurance for all participants.
  • The KSFFA is not responsible for lost or damaged clothing or equipment.
  • If you desire to have Firefighter One or Two testing, this must be pre-registered through Kansas Fire & Rescue Training Institute.
  • The KSFFA offers fit testing with its porta-count machine at all regional fire school.


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Fire/EMS gets new thermal cameras

By Patricia Middleton
Newton Kansan – January 19, 2018

Pictured: Jerrod Ashcraft
Photo by Newton Fire/EMS

One of the tools firefighters use to see through darkness and thick smoke are thermal imaging cameras. Newton Fire/EMS was recently awarded a grant to replace their cameras, which were fast becoming outdated.

“Some of our cameras were first and second generation cameras, so it was time to upgrade,” said Newton Fire/EMS Logistics Division Chief Cory Lehman.

Thermal imaging cameras are commonly used to find hot electrical lines, detect fire in walls and search for people inside burning structures.

“There’s a ton of different uses for these things, but for the fire service it’s for search and rescue and finding fires in walls and hidden spaces,” Lehman said.

By creating a heat signature difference on the lens, thermal imaging cameras give firefighters the ability to pinpoint what they cannot otherwise see.

With the cameras serving such a vital function, the department wanted to upgrade its equipment.

“They were just very obsolete. The picture quality wasn’t good,” Lehman said.

The department’s older thermal imaging cameras had batteries that were wearing out and parts that could no longer be repaired when they broke.

“Typically, we have a replacement schedule of two to three years, but our newest one was from 2010,” Lehman said.

Lehman wrote an equipment grant and submitted it to Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation, a nonprofit institution that awards grants for life-saving equipment, prevention education, scholarships and continued education, disaster relief and military support. The foundation was formed by Chris and Robin Sorenson, who started the Firehouse Subs restaurant chain.

“The original owners of the company, they were ex-firefighters,” Lehman noted.

It took three tries before Newton Fire/EMS was awarded a grant for the thermal imaging cameras.

The department tested several different models before deciding to use FLIR K45 thermal imaging cameras. They now have four new cameras in place, with a total value of $17,500.

The new thermal imaging cameras not only have the latest technology, their design has changed as well. The cameras are attached to lanyards and can be clipped onto bunker gear.

“These are much more portable, I’d say, than our old style,” Lehman said. “They’re smaller and not as bulky, so people can wear them around their neck if they want.”

Firefighters have already been trained to use the new thermal imaging cameras.

“They’re rather simple to use,” Lehman said.

The new thermal imaging cameras have been installed and are currently in service.

“These newer cameras are much better,” Lehman said. “Technology has come so far in the last 10 to 15 years.”


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Limited resources: Moundridge EMS needs volunteers

By Patricia Middleton
McPherson Sentinel – January 19, 2018

Moundridge EMS Director Brian Falco

The Moundridge Emergency Medical Services department is responsible for people scattered over 165 square miles — and providing mutual aid for neighboring departments in McPherson, Hesston and Inman — with just two ambulances and 20 volunteers.

“We kind of have a big area, but my goal is to provide the same care here that you would get anywhere else,” said Moundridge EMS Director Brian Falco.

Falco made some changes to the department since starting as the director in October 2017 — most notably changing the pay rate for volunteers.

“We’re paying an hourly wage now, which has kind of attracted some more people,” Falco said.

Depending on their certification level, Moundridge EMS volunteers earn at least $7.25 per hour while on duty. They sign up for shifts, which can be as short as two hours long, to work around their other commitments.

“I do have a lot of support, but people have lives,” Falco said.

The volunteers must be in Moundridge during their shift, and a bunk room is provided for the 25 percent of staff who live outside the city.

“I have limited resources. I do well to staff one truck,” Falco said.

Falco is the only full-time employee and teaches as many classes at the station as he can, bringing in other instructors as well to make sure everyone is on the same page.

“Bringing the education to people instead of sending people to the education is more efficient,” Falco said. “I’ve brought the education here so we’re not spending that money on education, I’m supplying it.”

Moundridge EMS handled 330 calls in 2017, which was an increase of 15 calls from the previous year. Keeping the station staffed 24/7 and trying not to rely on outside assistance is a priority for Falco.

“It’s not fair to have somebody wait while we get an ambulance from McPherson or Hesston or something like that,” Falco said. “They deserve the same care as everybody else, and that really is my drive. Just because we’re in small-town America doesn’t mean your heart attack is any less significant.”

Making sure the ambulances are outfitted with updated equipment is another goal for the department. Having gear similar to what is found in larger cities makes it easier for volunteers to transfer in and out as needed — and provides better resources for the patients Moundridge EMS serves.

“We need to provide the good stuff, but we’ve got to figure out the funding to do that,” Falco said. “It’s always a challenge.”

The Moundridge City Council recently approved $67,000 for new monitors to replace aging equipment, Falco noted.

“The council has been extremely kind to my requests,” Falco said. “I’ve had nothing but support in this city to get things kind of progressing.”

Falco said he would like to add people to the EMS department, provided that they are wiling to work to contribute to the community.

“Here’s the double-edged sword to this — I don’t just need people, I need good people. I need people who will be compassionate, have a little bit of education and are willing to learn,” Falco said.

Finding funding for payroll, everyday equipment — much of which includes single-use items like IVs— fleet maintenance and replacements for outdated medical technology is challenging, but worth it.

“That’s really our push, to provide the best patient care we can,” Falco said.


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WFD Appoints Two Deputy Fire Chiefs

KNSS – January 19, 2018

Wichita Fire Department Chief Tammy Snow announced today the promotions of both Joe Bickel and Stuart V. Bevis to Deputy Fire Chief.

Bickel, who joined the department in 1975, was appointed Deputy Chief of Emergency Operations. He had served as Acting Deputy Fire Chief since July 2017. Bickel has served as a WFD lieutenant, captain, and battalion chief. As the Deputy Chief for Emergency Operations, Bickel will be responsible for the day-to-day direction of emergency services including medical emergencies, fires, hazardous materials and rescue team operations. His direction will be critical to the 12 battalion chiefs and 22 City fire stations.

“Joe’s 43 years of fire service experience provides invaluable and irreplaceable institutional knowledge as a dedicated public safety servant,” Snow said.

Bevis, who joined the department in 1987, was appointed Fire Marshal, a Deputy Chief post. He had served as Acting Fire Marshal since October 2016. He is widely recognized for his expertise in fire investigation and code interpretation. He is a graduate of Western Illinois University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fire Prevention Technology and has previously been awarded the Kansas Chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators, Fire Investigator of the Year honors.

Bevis will direct day-to-day operations of the Fire Prevention Division. This includes management and oversight of Code Administration, Fire Investigation and Public Fire/Life Safety Education sections of the department. He will also oversee the SWAT Medic program and Security Advisory Team.

“His expertise will enhance the services and safety of the community,” Snow said.

WFD has three Deputy Chief positions. The third is Brad Crisp, the Deputy Fire Chief for Support Services.


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Stand, Salute and be Saluted Survey

Dear Member of America’s Firefighting Community,

As you probably know, the fire service, like so many institutions across the country, particularly the ones that rely on volunteers, are facing uncertain times and are in search of answers.

That said, history has shown, time and time again, that answers, ideas and solutions usually come from those ‘on the ground’.

Your receipt of this survey identifies you as someone ‘on that ground’ and we thank you very much for taking the next few minutes to share your thoughts and observations.

The goal and hope of this survey is threefold:

  1. to shed light on ‘like minded’ characteristics of future fire service leaders
  1. to explore the idea that ownership of the fire service dress cap is a symbol of membership and reflects the understanding of personal commitment between firefighters and the social covenant between fire department and the community it serves.
  1. to identify and provide support to those who understand both the importance and potential recruitment value of ownership of the dress cap and the opportunity it presents to Stand, Salute and be Saluted.

Click this link to go to the survey and thanks in advance for weighing in. If you would like to be kept in this loop, fill out the survey’s last question.

If you would like to ‘ride in the front seat’ on this, give me a call at 206-282-5600.  I’d love to talk to you about it.

Yours in service,

Steve Cohen, Pres.
Lighthouse Uniform Company
Home of the Bereavement Uniform Program

P.S. To introduce the idea that the Fire Service Dress Cap is a visual manifestation of the social covenant that exists between firefighters and the communities they protect, a short whiteboard video The Cap and the Cape was created.  Come back and look after you’ve taken the Stand, Salute and be Saluted Survey.  If you like it, share it with your network.  It is an important first step.


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Fatal Kansas motorcycle crash

Hays Post – January 19, 2018

Law enforcement authorities are investigating a fatal accident and have identified the victim.

Just 3 p.m. Thursday, police responded to an injury accident at Interstate 235 and MacArthur in Wichita, according to officer Charley Davidson.

Suzuki motorcycle driven by Chevy Rooker, 37, Wichita, was eastbound on MacArthur when a Chrysler Town and Country minivan driven by a 72-year-old man, turned left from the northbound off ramp of Interstate 235. The motorcycle struck the van, according to Davidson.

Rooker was transported to a local hospital for treatment where he died. Davidson did not have information of whether Rooker was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident and did not release the name of the van driver.


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Where’s Shane? Exploration Place

KWCH – January 19, 2018

Photo by Aaron Thompson


Shane is at Exploration Place checking out their new Rescue exhibit.

This cool new attraction will allow visitors to see the science behind what emergency crews use to save lives.

At the exhibit, he’ll be able to try a water rescue simulation. fire escape, and helicopter simulator.

You can find more info on Rescue at www.exploration.org/exhibits/traveling-exhibit-rescue.


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Press Release: City of Hays Fire Insurance Rating to Improve

The Insurance Services Office has notified the City of Hays that the City’s Public Fire Protection Classification will improve from Class 3 to Class 2 effective April 1, 2018. This is based on an October 2017 re-evaluation of the City’s preparedness for fire emergencies.

The Insurance Services Office evaluates fire protection in over 44,600 communities nationwide. This rating is used by insurance companies to help set homeowner and fire insurance rates. Communities are rated on a scale of Class 1 [exemplary fire protection] to Class 10 [no recognized fire protection].

As a Public Fire Protection Class 2 community, the City of Hays will be in the top 4% of communities nationwide and the top 2% of communities in Kansas.

This evaluation included the 911 dispatching and emergency communications service, the available firefighting water supply, distribution of fire hydrants and the capabilities of the fire department to control fires including training, operational procedures, fire code enforcement, and the numbers of firefighters and fire trucks responding on the initial report of a fire.

Many City departments were included in this evaluation including the 911 Communications, Water Resources, Public Works, Police and Fire departments. Recent upgrades to the 911 and radio communications systems by Ellis County were instrumental in this reclassification.

The City received additional credit for the Ellis County fire station, fire trucks and firefighters located in the City. Beginning in January 2017 the City of Hays and Ellis County fire departments automatically respond together to reported building fires in the city and the built-up areas surrounding the city without regard to the city limits. This cost effective sharing of resources allows for a stronger initial response to fires, better and safer firefighting operations and increased fire insurance credit.

In general, insurance costs are lower in communities with better Public Fire Protection Classification scores. Citizens should contact their insurance agent regarding the impact of this improved score on their particular situation.

Gary A. Brown, Sr., EFO
Fire Chief
City of Hays Fire Rescue


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Atchison house fire

By Pat Weishaar
January 19, 2018

Atchison home is uninhabitable following a Thursday morning house fire. Firefighters from the Atchison Fire Department responded to the residence, located at 109 South 14th Street, shortly before 8:20 in the morning.
The fire began in the kitchen, and firefighters were able to quickly extinguish it.
A resident of the home was evaluated at the scene by EMS but refused transport for further evaluation.


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Kansas man dead, woman hospitalized after car overturns

Hays Post – January 19, 2018

A Kansas man died in an accident just after 4p.m. Thursday in Clay County.

The Kansas Highway Patrol reported a 2000 Ford Mustang driven by John Robert Linn, 49, Clay Center, was westbound on Broughton Road just east of Clay Center.

As the vehicle came upon slower traffic, the driver swerved to avoid and lost control. The Ford entered the north ditch, overturned and came to rest in the culvert.

Linn was pronounced dead at the scene and transported to Neill-Schwenson-Rook Funeral Home

A passenger Melissa Juleen Haas-Menard, 41, Marysville, was transported to Clay County Medical Center. She was not wearing a seat belt, according to the KHP.


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Dry conditions, drought play role in increased wildfire risk this year

By Chris Arnold
KSN – January 19, 2018


Fire danger could be upon us. A new study shows much of the state could see an increase in wildfires this year.

The reason, abnormally dry conditions and severe drought.

Butler County Fire District #3 is one of nine fire districts that are responsible for covering the 1,400 square miles of the county.

That area is bigger than the entire state of Rhode Island.

While things were quiet around the fire station on Thursday, Chief James Woydziak knows that might not be the case much longer.

“There was enough moisture last year that the grass grew very well and now it is all dried out and it is just a fire waiting to happen,” said Chief Woydziak.

After two years of large scale wildfires across the state, Chief Woydziak says they’ve made some upgrades.

“We’ve bought extra equipment, we’ve ordered more foam, class A foam for working on the fence posts and tree lines and stuff, they help put out the fires, we have a 55-gallon drum waiting to be delivered,” said Chief Woydziak.

Butler County Fire District #3 has a budget of about 614-thousand dollars.

That is a big part of the close to two-million dollars all the fire districts in the county are budgeted for 2018.

“We’ve had years where we’ve had fire districts run out of money and where our administration at the courthouse has had to step in,” said Jim Schmidt, Director of Butler County Emergency Management.

Schmidt says that’s why it is important for fire districts to work together.

“Almost no fire department can fight a significant grass fire on their own,” said Schmidt.

While Chief Woydziak says this fire season does pose some worries, he says they’ll be as ready as they can be to tackle the situation head on.

“We prepare every day, that it could happen today and then we hope it doesn’t,” said Chief Woydziak.

Chief Woydziak says if they get overwhelmed while fighting a fire, they can utilize help from neighboring departments.

This includes Augusta, Andover, Douglass, Derby and Sedgwick County.


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Pedestrian passing by burning house in KCK helps pull injured man to safety

By Stephanie Graflage and Makenzie Koch
FOX 4 – January 18, 2018

Firefighters responded to a KCK house fire Thursday afternoon where a brave person passing by rushed in to save an injured man.

Officials said the fire broke out around 2:22 p.m. at a home near 38th Street and Haskell Avenue.

KCK Battalion Chief Morris Letcher said when firefighters arrived at the house, the passerby had already rescued the man inside the home. That man was taken to the hospital, but information on the extent of his injuries was not immediately available.

Letcher said, in general, firefighters recommend you don’t go in a burning home because it’s dangerous and firefighters are trained to rescue anyone inside.

“But sometimes circumstances don’t allow that for some people, and they just feel the need to go in,” he said.


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Peabody apartment fire forces evacuations

Hillsboro Star Journal – January 18, 2018

One person was taken to a Wichita hospital and numerous residents are seeking alternative housing after a fire broke out at Indian Guide Apartments shortly after 8 a.m.

A dispatcher could be heard urging a resident to get out of the building as Peabody, Florence, and Hillsboro fire departments were being dispatched at 8:10 a.m. to the complex in the 500 block of N. Vine St.

Evacuated residents were taken to Peabody Senior Center for temporary shelter. American Red Cross representatives were expected to join volunteers to contact relatives and make arrangements for alternative housing.

Emergency transmissions from the scene indicated one individual’s condition as “code red,” indicating serious and possibly life-threatening condition. They were taken by Peabody ambulance to Via Christi – St. Francis in Wichita. No additional details are available at this time.

A firefighter at the scene reported the fire was under control at 8:40 a.m.

Peabody police chief Bruce Burke confirmed the fire started in an apartment. Two state fire marshal investigators were en route to assist with determining the cause of the fire.


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One man dead after crash in southeast Sedgwick County

KSN – January 18, 2018

Authorities said a 26-year-old man died and a 25-year-old man was seriously injured following a single-vehicle crash near Derby Wednesday night.

The crash happened around 10 p.m. near 79th St. South and 127th St. East.

The two men were pinned after a car crashed into a tree.

“We don’t know what caused the people to hit the tree, but that’s what were going to do in the investigation,” said Lt. Dan Hershberger, Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Department.

The sheriff’s department said the passenger was transported to the hospital in critical condition.


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Fire heavily damages Derby home

KSN – January 18, 2018


Fire crews in Derby battled a house fire Thursday. It happened in the 800 block of East Morningview Drive just before 9 a.m.

Crews found heavy fire on the side of one home when they arrived.

“We did have some extension to the property to the house to the east that caused some damage to the siding,” said Derby Fire Chief Brad Smith. “Now, we got that under control, and we are checking for hot spots and extension into both residents.”

Derby fire crews said all made it out of the homes safely. No word on what caused the fire or the damage estimates.


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Retired Jefferson County firefighters

Left to Right: Susan Warriner (for husband David), Jim Kennedy, Patrick Gottstein, Doug Porter and Larry Kopp.

David Warriner

When Patrick Gottstein noticed how fellow students in his classes at PLHS who were volunteer firemen got to leave school, he definitely became interested in firefighting. That interest led him to spend 31 years as a volunteer fireman for the Perry Community.
Doug Porter, who grew up in Lecompton, noticed how his dad enjoyed being a volunteer firefighter, so it was only natural that he would become a junior fireman when he was old enough. In fact, after Porter moved to Perry, he volunteered to be a fireman for both communities for a while and found he enjoyed the work as much as his dad had. That led him to spend 30 years with the Perry fire department.
When David Warriner noticed a fire up the road from his house one day, he went to see what was going on. Watching the volunteer firemen work got him hooked, and before long he was a member of the department and spent 27 years with it, often working in dispatch.
Jim Kennedy traces his involvement with the Perry fire department to the recruitment efforts of Gottstein while Doug Porter was listed as the one who got Larry Kopp interested in the fire department. Kennedy and Kopp were members of the department for 26 and 27 years respectively.
Now retired for almost a year they look back on their years of service with no regrets, despite the fact they were on call 24 hours a day and worked in all kinds of weather regardless of the temperature and conditions and how much it often disrupted their time with their families.
“I knew every time I put a steak on the fire on a Sunday, a call would come in,” Kopp said.
“I remember a call came in during a birthday party, and David had to leave,” Susan Warriner, David’s wife said, adding that David passed away shortly after retiring.
Gottstein can remember freezing to a chair when he stopped to rest while fighting a fire during below freezing weather due to the water that had sprayed onto his outfit.
However, despite the hardships they looked upon this as a necessary job to keep the community safe.
“You have to go with the flow,” Susan Warriner said, presenting a wife’s point of view, and adding that there used to be a women’s auxiliary to take food and water to the firefighters. “The radio is on all the time. I still listen to calls and hear when Kentucky Township is called out. It becomes a way of life.”
“When the fire alarm went off, you left,” Porter noted.
“It’s neighbor helping neighbor,” Kennedy said.
All talked about the camaraderie between the departments in Jefferson County and how the Jefferson County Fire Fighter’s Association has monthly meetings.
“It’s a team effort; everyone works together,” Porter said.
“When a house is on fire, four departments are called out,” Kennedy added.
“We know everyone from the other departments and have get-togethers,” Gottstein said, adding that a lot of training is done together.
“We go to school in Topeka, and KU has a fire academy, but a lot of training is in-house,” Gottstein said.
“David always said a lot of training was by fire,” Warriner added.
They also talked about some of the calls they answered.
“One of our most interesting fires was when the landfill caught fire,” Gottstein said. “It was difficult traipsing around not knowing where you were stepping.”
“There was a 4 a.m. chimney fire and it was so cold the trucks kept freezing up,” Porter said, adding that he had gone on a call to get a cat out of a tree. “Our territory runs from the river to 237 [Highway] and from Oak Road to 54th. I can remember some fires where we would have 15-18 firefighters. One older gentleman at the time would run the pumps.”
“It’s [firefighting] a wonderful experience,” Porter added. “A lot of new people coming in are afraid, but they won’t be put in a situation they can’t handle. There’s always a job you can do.”
All noted that the fact they were part of the community and known to all definitely helped.
“It was more comforting since they knew us, although it was always scary being the first on the scene,” Porter said, adding they were often called on to assist at accidents. “It was always my fear that I would know the car and occupants.”
All of the firefighters said that being comforting was part of the job, whether it be a house fire or an accident.
“I remember a family that was hit by a train,” Porter said. “I just went over and held the hand of the survivor and comforted her.”
When asked about changes they’d seen while they were firemen, Porter noted that the rules, regulations and requirements had increased. “They’ve been passed down from the big departments to the small ones. We often are lacking the funding to take them up right away.”
“Fire equipment has become more expensive, “ Gottstein said, adding that after probation, a fireman gets a radio and outfit which can add up to a couple thousand. Then there is truck maintenance, but “our department was smart with money, managing to put some back every year. We never lacked for anything.”
Gottstein also pointed out that when he joined the department in 1985, they were using two pumper trucks, a 1958 and a 1967. In 2003 they purchased their first new truck and in 2016 bought another one; while there are a lot of things they’d like to have, they don’t have a huge budget to get them all.
“There’s a lot of pride in building trucks and seeing them work,” Porter said.
“We were lucky to be able to purchase items from those no longer using them,” Kopp added.
Looking back on their years fighting fires, they once again stressed they had no regrets.
“I enjoyed every minute of it,” Gottstein said as the others agreed.


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James Joseph “Jim” Thomson

James Joseph “Jim” Thomson, 63, of Osborne, Kansas, died on Monday, January 15, 2018, at his home in Osborne.

Jim was born on January 20, 1954, in Hays, Kansas, the son of James F. and Patricia J. (Prickett) Thomson. He grew up in Plainville, Kansas, and graduated from Plainville High School in 1972. He also lived in Natoma, Bunker Hill and Kansas City, Kansas. He met, fell in love and was united in marriage to Kathy Thomson on February 05, 1977, in Plainville, Kansas. From this union they were blessed with a daughter B.J. and a son James. After 35 years of marriage his beloved wife Kathy preceded him in death on July 28, 2012. He worked as an Oilfield Pumper and a truck driver. He was a member of the Son’s of the American Legion Riders Post 166 and a volunteer firefighter. He was also a dedicated member of the Lions Club. He loved riding motorcycles, old cars, and his grandkids. He was a huge Kansas City Chief’s fan and was an avid American Eagle collector. Most of all he enjoyed spending time with his family and close friends.

Surviving family include his daughter B.J. Schultz (Mark) of Lucas, Kansas and son James D. Thomson (Lucy) of Blue Springs, Missouri and 6 grandkids Alicia, Austin, Shelby, Caleb, Ben & Sydney.

He was preceded in death by his parents and wife Kathy.

A memorial service to celebrate Jim’s life will be held at 2 P.M. on Saturday, January 20, 2018, at the Paradise United Methodist Church in Paradise, Kansas with Pastor William “Stacy” Ellsworth officiating. Cremation has been selected by the family and a graveside service will follow the services at the church. Inurnment will take place at the Natoma City Cemetery in Natoma, Kansas. Pohlman-Varner-Peeler Mortuary of Russell and Natoma are in charge of the memorial service arrangements.


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Cause of Jackson County house fire under investigation

By Brian Dulle
KSNT – January 18, 2018

Photo by Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.

An overnight house fire in Jackson County is currently under investigation.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office received a report at 11:15 Wednesday night of a fire at a home at 12170 X Road, in southeastern Jackson County. When crews arrived on scene the house was fully engulfed in flames.

Crews were able to determine that no people or pets were inside the home at the time of the fire. The occupants who live inside the home are reported to be Louis and Christina Williams and three children, according to Jackson County Sheriff Tim Morse.

The fire was contained by 12:25 a.m. The house is reported to be a total loss.

Hoyt, Mayetta, PBPN, and Rock Creek Township Fire Departments along with Jackson County EMS assisted the sheriff’s office.


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HCC, fire department forge internship program

By Michael Stavola
Hutchinson News – January 18, 2018

Sam Conger had mixed emotions as he started his first shift at Hutchinson Fire Department’s Fire Station No. 4, 11th Avenue and Halstead Street.

He won’t be paid or even receive college credit through the Hutchinson Community College Fire Science Program. The 19-year-old even needs to cut back his hours as a security guard at HCC.

“This is what I am wanting to do as a career when I graduate and I am willing to spend as much time as possible in it,” Conger said. “To tell you the truth, I am completely terrified but at the same time excited to go on some of these calls.”

Conger’s first 24-hour shift ends at 7 a.m. on Thursday. He’s one of three interns in HCC’s Fire Science program to start the inaugural internship in partnership with the Hutchinson Fire Department.

HCC Fire Science Coordinator Bobby White said talks about the partnership began four years ago, but the talks turned into action after Fire Chief Steve Beer took over the city department last year.

“That’s what really got it moving and got it into place. He is a big supporter,” White said, adding the program benefits the students and the fire department.

The internship, which takes first-year students in a two-year fire science program, allows the participants to learn early on whether or not they wish to forge a firefighting career. It also gives the fire department a better look at potential candidates.

White expects the new internship program to be an accredited class this fall. HCC Fire Science already offers accredited internships but nothing to this extent.

The current Fire Service Internship classes require four, 24-hour shifts with different fire crews, and the students usually only tag along.

The new internship program requires up to eight, 24-hour shifts a month for the semester with the same fire crew — the fire department runs 10 24-hour shifts a month. And in this internship, they may even fight fires.

Department Training Capt. Chris Ledbetter said after the interns work more with their crews, they will be given more responsibility and, eventually, act “just like a firefighter.”

The three interns all have Fire 1 certifications and are covered by the fire department’s insurance policy. The trio was expected to start their first shift this week out of Fire Station No. 4.

They were the only ones to apply for the program. Ledbetter said he hopes the program grows and becomes more competitive.

“I think it’s gonna be a great thing,” Ledbetter said. “We are really excited.”


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Fire destroys rural Parsons home

By Ray Nolting
Parsons Sun – January 18, 2018

Photo by Ray Nolting

Firefighters from three departments fought a house fire Wednesday morning northeast of Parsons.

The call came in at 10:08 a.m. Wednesday to Labette County’s 911 Center. Firefighters had difficulty getting to their fire barns and to the scene because of icy road conditions. Firefighters remained on scene until after 2 p.m.

The home at 1724 26000 Road, owned by John Colbert, is considered a total loss, along with contents. Colbert, a retired railroad worker, said he was outside when the house caught fire.

Colbert said the fire started in the attic, where he was using a space heater to thaw frozen water pipes. He had hot water tanks in the attic.

He said he’s done this before without a problem, but this time the heater started a fire in his home of the last 15 years.

The Labette Health Ambulance Service responded to the fire as did the Labette County Sheriff’s Department.

Neosho Township Fire Chief Keith Keller said having a fire that starts in the attic can be difficult to stop.

“One of the major issues on that is when you have an attic fire you’ve already burned through the roof. Once you get ventilation, you’re in trouble,” Keller said.

Fire was venting through the roof when firefighters arrived. The roof was collapsing, so firefighters couldn’t attack the fire safely from inside, Keller said. Firefighters attacked the fire from the sides and front with hoses directed toward the roof and in through the front door.

The fire was under control in about 34 to 45 minutes, Keller said, but firefighters worked longest on knocking down hot spots and checking for smoldering material in the walls and under floors.

The icy conditions complicated the fight, as water froze to firefighters’ gear, making it heavier.

Keller said firefighters upon arrival also had to move six vehicles away from the home. They also had structures nearby, including a garage, to keep from catching fire.

Firefighters from Neosho Township, Labette No. 9 Fire District and Oswego responded. Oswego brought an air truck.

Water is always an issue on rural fires, but Keller said Neosho’s tanker truck and another tanker made trips to Parsons for water.

Personnel were going to contact the American Red Cross to assist Colbert, who is a dialysis patient and needed supplies lost in the fire.


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Equipment, training aid rural fire departments

K-State Research & Extension – January 17, 2018

What we are doing:

K-State Research and Extension directs the Kansas Forest Service. In addition to trees and programs supporting tree growth, the Kansas Forest Service oversees fire management programs across the state, providing training, excess property distribution, prevention materials, grant funding and consulting for the state’s 486 rural fire departments.

One way the Kansas Forest Service increases the state’s fire departments’ capacity is the federal excess property program. This program serves as a conduit for fire departments to be loaned excess federal property – generally military vehicles and fire equipment that have been outfitted to serve their needs. The property remains under federal ownership. When it is no longer needed, the equipment is returned to the forest service for reassignment or disposal.

Our impact:

  • Ninety percent of Kansas is protected by volunteer fire departments —13,000 volunteers out of 16,000 firefighters statewide.
  • Deployed 793 pieces of large equipment and trucks to rural and volunteer fire departments across Kansas, worth $26.5 million.
  • Provide equipment free of charge through a federal program administered through the Kansas Forest Service.
  • Provide salvage parts and access to new replacement parts at a greatly reduced cost.

“The current economic climate has made it difficult for fire departments to budget for replacement equipment, and the Kansas Forest Service has been a reliable source for several years.”

– Ken Staatz, Herington Fire Department chief 


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Fire Sunday destroys detached garage at Saline County home

By Eric Wiley
Salina Journal – January 17, 2018

A detached garage at the home of Kurtes Blomquist, 8180 S. Halstead, was destroyed by fire about 3 p.m. Sunday, according to Saline County Sheriff Roger Soldan.

Soldan said Blomquist called 911 after noticing the blaze.

Firefighters from Rural Fire Districts 2 and 6 fought the fire and were able to prevent it from spreading to the house.

Soldan said a 2013 Nissan Murano that was inside the garage also was destroyed.

Blomquist told authorities he thought the fire might have been started by a heating lamp he was using to warm the garage for his cats. Soldan said the cats escaped the fire.

Loss was estimated at between $45,000 and $50,000.


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Fire results in ‘substantial loss’

Leavenworth Times – January 17, 2018

Firefighters returned to the scene of a weekend house fire on Tuesday after the fire flared up again north of Tonganoxie, an emergency management official said.

Firefighters returned to the scene of a weekend house fire on Tuesday after the fire flared up again north of Tonganoxie, an emergency management official said.

The initial fire was reported early Sunday morning in what Leavenworth County Emergency Management Director Chuck Magaha described as the 21000 block of 207th Street.

Magaha said residents of the home had smelled the odor of an electrical fire earlier that night but did not find anything. At about 1 a.m. Sunday, they discovered that a front room of the house was on fire.

The residents were able to safely exit the house.

Magaha said the house had a concrete floor. But wood supporting the floor burned, and the floor caved in.

Firefighters from multiple departments responded to the fire.

Magaha said firefighters used tens of thousands of gallons of water while battling the fire Sunday. He said the closest hydrant was several miles away in the city of Tonganoxie, and water had to be shuttled to the scene.

“The cold weather did not help,” Magaha said.

He said equipment can freeze in cold conditions.

Magaha said firefighters also had to watch out for concrete tiles that slid off the roof during the fire.

He said firefighters did not clear the scene Sunday until around 2:30 p.m.

One of the responders was reported to have suffered from overexertion but was not transported to the hospital, Magaha said.

Magaha said the fire is believed to have been caused by an electrical problem.

He said the loss was substantial.

“They have basically lost everything,” Magaha said.

Firefighters returned to the scene Tuesday morning. They were at the scene for about 30 minutes, extinguishing a flare up.


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Crews respond to structure fire Tuesday evening

By Kaley Conner
Hays Daily News – January 17, 2018

A structure fire was reported Tuesday evening at a home in the 2300 block of East Seventh Street in Hays.

Upon arrival, crews found fire smoldering in the insulation under the home, according to a media release from Darin Myers, Ellis County fire chief and emergency management coordinator.

Fire crews removed insulation and other materials and extinguished the material using one hoseline. There was no damage to the interior of the structure.

Fire crews stayed on scene until approximately 6:15 p.m. to monitor the residence.

The fire started during an attempt of the tenants to thaw frozen water lines under the home.

A total of 24 Ellis County Fire Department firefighters responded, assisted by Hays Fire Department and units from Munjor and Victoria.

Ellis County EMS and the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office also responded to assist.


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Fire chief: Too soon to say if Lawrence hotel fire was intentional

By Charlie Keegan and Andres Gutierrez
KSHB – January 17, 2018


Fire investigators said it is too soon to determine if the fire that destroyed a Lawrence hotel was intentionally set.

Division Chief James King of Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical said America’s Best Value Inn is a total loss. A fire sparked before noon Monday, shooting flames through the roof. Firefighters took a defensive approach, and the wood-framed building burned for hours.

King said investigators would work with a contractor to create a safe pathway to enter the rubble and search for the fire’s point of origin. The ATF said Tuesday they have two fire investigators who are assisting the Kansas State Fire Marshals Office and the Lawrence Fire Department.

Even with all the damage, King is hopeful investigators will piece together what happened.

“Fire always leaves a lot of clues behind that we can rely on to guide us,” King said. “Right now, a lot of our information is coming through interviews of staff that was present in the building, any witnesses and residents.”

He added investigators already have a few leads based on those interviews.

King also revealed Tuesday there were 11 guests staying at the hotel and four staff members on duty at the time of the fire.

The sheets of ice that covered America’s Best Value Inn Tuesday made for a picturesque moment in the midst of the destruction caused by a raging inferno.

But hotel guests like Brandy Bohann told 41 Action News it didn’t start that way.

“The owner came in, opened my door but I had my latch locked and he was screaming, ‘Fire! Fire!’ And so I got my pants on, I had been sleeping, so I put my pants and opened the door and saw smoke in the hallway,” Bohann said.

Bohann and 10 other guests made it out of the hotel before firefighters showed up Monday.

Initially, firefighters had the upper hand attacking the blaze.

“We sat there for three and a half hours watching it gradually get worse on the south side and my car was in the back and full of ice and what not and I couldn’t get it moved before they ended up coming in and putting the hoses up and I prayed my car would be OK,” Bohann said.

Despite saying no one was injured Monday, King said new information showed three firefighters and one hotel staff member suffered minor injuries due to the fire.

“I didn’t think it would be this bad. You know I’ve never experienced a fire in my life ever,” Bohann said. “I have my life and things can be replaced, so I’m praying to God that my car is OK and it seems like it is right now.”

For the time being Bohann is staying at another hotel down the road.

Firefighters briefly evacuated a neighboring apartment complex Monday fearing a wall of the hotel might collapse onto the apartment. Construction crews removed the wall, and the eight displaced tenants returned to their apartments before 11 p.m.

The hotel on McDonald Drive did not have sprinklers in it. King said city codes did not require sprinklers at the time crews built this hotel.


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Wildland fire risk is above normal in central, southern Plains

By Kathy Gehl
K-State Research & Extension – January 17, 2018

The central and southern Plains, including much of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas have a higher than usual potential of wildland fire through April, according to Kansas State University scientists and a government organization that assesses such risks.

In its latest report, the National Interagency Coordination Center shows an elevated risk because of dry conditions in several states. The center is comprised of representatives from the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service, Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Federal Emergency Management Administration, and the National Association of State Foresters.

The report, the “National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook” provides an assessment of current weather and fuel conditions and how they will evolve in the coming months in order to assist fire managers in making decisions that will improve protection of life, property and natural resources, increase fire fighter safety and effectiveness, and reduce firefighting costs.

For the months of February through April in Kansas, the outlook highlights all but the northeast part of the state as having above-normal significant large fire potential that would require the mobilization of resources beyond the typical local response.

“Some parts of Kansas, especially the south central and southwest areas, saw above-normal moisture during the growing season, with many reports of large to significant fuel loads as a result,” said Chip Redmond, meteorologist with the K-State Mesonet and an incident meteorologist. “Areas west of US-81 have seen considerable drying the previous months with many locations exceeding 90 days without a wetting rain. This, combined with persistent dry air masses, sunny skies, and breezy winds, are rapidly depleting any remnant moisture.”

While that’s not unusual for this time of year, he said, any deficit developed will be difficult to overcome without a period of above-normal moisture between now and March.

“With recent forecasts of mid-to-long range dryness continuing, we are setting the stage for some large fires in Kansas with heavy fuel loading and flash-type drought,” Redmond said.

Precipitation received during the crop growing season, April to September, is a determining factor for the upcoming fire season. In 2015 and 2016, above-normal precipitation was received which encouraged plant growth which then contributed to large fires the following winters. Despite a marginally drier period in 2017, the timing of above-normal moisture received in April and May was critical for supplying ample grass and fuel growth.

“This increased fuel load (plant growth) is a large concern for the next few months which are typically the driest period of the year for Kansas. With any strong system, the potential exists for large fires similar to what we have seen the last two years,” said Jason Hartman, the statewide Fire Protection Specialist with the Kansas Forest Service.

Current and Future Weather

Much of Kansas began to dry out this past September. Areas of western Kansas haven’t received 0.1 inch of rain in more than 90 days. Above-normal temperatures in November and early December combined with gusty winds dried the soil surface. As a result, drought conditions are expanding across much of Kansas. According to the Drought Monitor at www.droughtmonitor.unl.edu, the condition of the entire state ranges from abnormally dry to severe drought.

Long-term forecasts suggest the dry period will continue through January, especially in western Kansas. Conditions may be aided somewhat by slightly below normal temperatures the rest of the month.

Beyond January, trends are more difficult to discern, said assistant climatologist, Mary Knapp. The February through March period is typically very dry in Kansas, averaging only 3.1 inches of total precipitation statewide. Any precipitation that does occur will only have short-term impacts on the dried out fuels until the arrival of spring rains.

“The biggest concern during the next few months,” said Knapp, “will be the occurrence of very warm days. These are typically associated with very dry air and high winds in advance of a strong storm system. Kansas’ largest wildfires are usually dependent on the shifting winds and the lack of moisture associated with these systems. Normally, Kansas will see several of these systems before one can eventually tap into the Gulf moisture and provide much needed rainfall.”

Finally, the influence of precipitation type on wildland fires is important, she said. Snowfall can knock down or flatten standing grasses, which removes the vertical fuel load and can significantly decrease fire behavior. Despite some recent snows, a lack of heavy snowfall through January will continue to make grasses available and lead to suppression difficulties until a significant snowfall occurs.


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Sumner County sheriff deputy critically injured in crash

KSN – January 17, 2018

A sheriff’s deputy was critically injured in a two-vehicle crash on Kansas Highway 15.

The crash happened around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday night south of Mulvane.

Sumner County Sheriff’s Deputy Steven Williams was driving south on K-15 when he began to slow down onto the shoulder.

A 2006 Chrysler Town and Country van traveling behind the deputy then moved over to pass the deputy. That’s when the deputy tried to make a u-turn and the van collided with the cruiser.

Deputy Williams was taken to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita in critical condition. He is now in stable condition.

The passengers in the other vehicle only suffered minor injuries.


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2 injured in early morning east Topeka fire

By Brian Dulle
KSNT – January 17, 2018

Two people were injured in an east Topeka house fire early Wednesday morning.

The Topeka Fire Department responded to the structure fire just before 3 a.m. at 521 SE Leland St. When crews arrived, they could see light smoke coming from the back of the house. Crews found two people who were able to self-evacuate from the structure, however they sustained non-life threatening smoke inhalation injuries. They were treated at the scene and transported to a local hospital for observation.

Crews searched the rest of the house and found no other occupants inside and were able to extinguish the fire within a bedroom of the house.

Early investigation indicates the cause of the fire to be accidental, most likely caused with the malfunction of a portable heater.

The estimated amount of damage is estimated to be $2,000.

No working smoke detectors were found inside the home.


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Large Shop Building Near Udall Heavily Damaged By Fire

By Shane Farley
NewsCow – January 16, 2018

Photo by Fire District #4

A large shop building near Udall sustained considerable damage Saturday morning in a fire thought to be caused by a wood burning stove.

Cowley County Rural Fire Dist. 4 firefighters were sent to 6499 100th Rd. for the report of a structure fire and arrived to find heavy flames and smoke coming from the roof of a shop and aircraft hangar building. The fire was quickly under control but the building – which was roughly 20 feet by 40 feet – sustained heavy damage.

Building and contents damage was estimated at $40,000, according to Udall fire officials.

An official cause has yet to be determined, however, the fire appears to have started in the area of a wood burning stove in an enclosed workshop inside the structure.

The building’s owner is Charles Seitz.

Because the building is about eight miles southeast of Udall, an additional tanker was requested from Sumner County Rural Fire Dist. 9 in Belle Plaine.

Winfield and Mulvane fire crews also responded. A total of five tankers carrying 13,500 gallons of water were used to fight the fire.


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Lawrence motel partially collapses during firefighters’ hours long battle with flames

By Sara Shepherd
Lawrence Journal World – January 16, 2018

Photo by Sara Shepherd

Videos & Lots of Photos

Fire destroyed a Lawrence motel Monday, with bitter cold weather creating harsh conditions for firefighters battling the blaze all afternoon and plans to continue through the night.

Firefighters arrived at Americas Best Value Inn, 515 McDonald Drive, shortly before noon and found fire inside the three-story wood-frame building, said Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Division Chief and Fire Marshal James King.

All occupants evacuated safely, but the building is a total loss, King said. He said the fire started in the lowest level but as of late Monday evening, investigators had not yet determined how.

The building, which has been a Super 8 motel in recent years, is located northwest of the intersection of Sixth and Iowa streets.

After about an hour of attacking the fire from the inside, a firefighter had a close call — he fell through a floor inside the building, King said. The firefighter was quickly rescued by nearby crews, evaluated at the scene and returned to his crew uninjured, King said.

However, the compromised floor is a sign the fire was further advanced than realized, having probably already traveled through utility passageways and voids in the structure, King said.

Firefighters made the decision to retreat and battle the fire defensively, pouring water on it from the outside.

“This fire and any fire, our priority is our safety, and then rescue, so we’re constantly monitoring conditions,” King said. “Rather than endanger the lives of the firefighters working inside, we opted to withdraw from the building.”

Over the next several hours the fire raged in intensity, with the building beginning to collapse and becoming engulfed in heavy smoke with flames shooting from the roof and sides around 4 p.m.

Shortly before 8 p.m., firefighters were still pouring water on the gutted building from multiple hoses, King said.

“Crews will continue to work through the night,” he said late Monday. “They’ll continue to extinguish any flare-ups of the fire, extinguish any hotspots.”

Tuesday morning, King said, crews planned to assess what was left of the structure, to determine whether investigators could enter the scene safely or whether heavy machinery would need to be called to raze the wreckage.

Roughly 40 firefighters worked the scene Monday, King said. Backup trucks from Wakarusa Township, Overland Park and Lenexa fire departments rolled in to help at the scene and to cover other Lawrence posts while crews were at the motel fire.

Monday afternoon, temperatures were in the low teens, with winds reaching 20 mph and a wind chill close to minus 5, according to Lawrence conditions reported by the National Weather Service.

Monday night it was 5 degrees, with an overnight low of minus 2 expected in Lawrence, according to the weather service.

Early on at the scene, ice and snow coated the parking lot around the building, and firefighters were sprinkling salt as they worked.

King said firefighters had no major problems with water supply or equipment, but did have to deal with replacing gear that got wet.

“When they came outside, their gear literally froze around them,” King said. “Nothing that we weren’t able to overcome, but these things factor in.”

A large city transit vehicle and a Douglas County Emergency Management vehicle were at the scene, providing a place for firefighters to warm up, eat and replace wet gear, King said.

King said he didn’t know how many occupants were inside the motel when the fire started, but that eight units were reported as leased at the time.

The building did not have a sprinkler system, King said; however, it was within city code. He said hotels and motels built or renovated in approximately the past 10 years are required to have sprinkler systems, but this one is old enough it was not required to have one.

King said the motel did have a monitored fire alert system that investigators believe functioned as it should — with smoke detectors triggering an alarm to warn occupants and alerting first responders.


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Crews work structure fire in Wellington Monday morning

Wellington Daily News – January 16, 2018

Just after 9:00 a.m., Wellington Fire, assisted by units from Belle Plaine, Oxford, and Mayfield, responded to a residential structure fire at 2023 E. 7th in Wellington. Upon arrival, units found the two-story wood frame house with heavy smoke showing and flames showing from the back side. Firefighters entered the house to extinguish fire in a second floor bedroom. A search of the second floor determined no occupants remained on the second floor. The ceiling and wall covering in the bedroom were removed to extinguish the fire. The fire started beside the wood burning stove flue and moved upward toward the second story. The house is un-inhabitable at this time and Red Cross was called to assist the occupants. There was a delay in calling 911 as the occupants tried to extinguish the fire on their own.


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No damage reported in chicken shed fire

Sabetha Herald – January 16, 2018

A chicken shed received little to no damage after at Sunday morning fire.

At 6:48 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 14, the Sabetha Fire Department was called out for a structure fire at the Koertland and Rebekah Beyer residence located at 2152 192nd Road. Upon arrival, the SFD found a chicken shed on fire. According to Sabetha Fire Chief Jim Johnson, the fire was extinguished quickly and the SFD returned to the fire barn by 7:40 a.m.

Johnson said the fire was caused by straw catching on fire due to a heat lamp.


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Wichita building fire caused more than $2 million in damage

KAKE – January 16, 2018


An official with the Wichita Fire Department says a two-alarm fire at a mechanic shop caused more than $2 million in damage.

The fire happened Monday afternoon at Fleet Maintenance, Inc, at 3700 West 30th Street South. Lt. Jose Ocadiz said crews arrived to find heavy fire coming from the building.

Part of the building collapsed before crews were able to contain and extinguish the fire.

Three employees were hospitalized, two of whom were later released after suffering first- and second-degree burns. Lt. Ocadiz did not have information on the third employee.

The fire was caused by compressed natural gas from a semi that came into contact with a heater. It caused $1.5 million in damage to the building and $750,000 to its contents.


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Fire damages house north of Salina

By Erin Mathews
Salina Journal – January 16, 2018

Photo by Tom Dorsey

Fire caused significant damage Monday morning to the back porch and kitchen of an abandoned house just north of Salina where someone apparently had been staying recently, according to Salina Fire Department battalion chief Scott Abker.

Firefighters were called at 10:53 a.m. to the two-story house at 1819 N. Fifth, the second house north of Stimmel Road, Abker said. By about 11:30 a.m., he said, the fire was under control.

Abker said there was no electrical service to the house, but someone had wired a generator into an electric meter box.

He said the cause of the fire probably will remain undetermined, but it most likely began accidentally.

“When a makeshift method is used to produce heat or to power things, there are always a lot more ways for accidental fires to take place,” Abker said.

Abker said firefighters searched the house for any occupants and found no one present. He said they did find clothing, prescription medications and mail that recently was delivered to the house.


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Baxter Springs Man Dies in Fire

By Stephanie Marsh
FOX 14 – January 16, 2018

A Baxter Springs man is found inside a burned home. According to Baxter Springs Fire Department crews were called Monday night at approximately 10:08pm.

Baxter Springs Fire, Police and EMS were dispatched to a report of a large unknown type fire in the area of 10th and Wyandotte.

Fire crews arrived on scene at 505 1/2 W 9th in Baxter Springs to find a mobile home fully involved with fire.

There was a vehicle next to the residence and a boat and trailer at the rear that were also involved when units arrived on scene.

There was one confirmed fatality, home owner Troy Eugene Newman age 65 of Baxter Springs was found inside the home. Fire crews from Baxter, Galena, and Columbus quickly contained the fire and extinguished it.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Kansas Fire Marshals office.


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One person injured in Wichita apartment fire

KSN – January 16, 2018

One person was injured in an apartment fire in northeast Wichita Monday night. The fire occurred at the Brickstone At Woodlawn Apartments in the 2300 block of N. Woodlawn.

A Sedgwick County emergency dispatch supervisor told KSN firefighters were dispatched to an apartment in the complex after a caller reported a cooking fire. Firefighters said a woman in the apartment tried to put water on the fire which caused it to flare up. The fire was extinguished quickly, fire officials said.

A short time later, Sedgwick County Emergency Medical Services were called to the scene after firefighters reported one person was injured in the fire.

The victim was taken by ambulance to a hospital with serious burns.

Fire officials did not give a damage estimate to the apartment and its contents.


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1 person killed in single vehicle crash on I-70 near Lecompton

By Tiffany Littler and Brian Dulle
KSNT – January 16, 2018

One person was killed in a single vehicle crash late Monday night.

Emergency crews responded to the crash just before 10 p.m. at mile marker 196.2 near Lecompton.

The crash happened in the westbound lanes after the driver of a blue 2014 Jeep Wrangler left the roadway and struck a bridge pillar of an overpass, according to the Kansas Turnpike Authority.

The driver and only occupant of the car was identified as Andrea Lea O’Connor, 43, of Lawrence, who died from her injuries.

KTA said O’Connor was not wearing a seat belt.


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Faulty wiring cited as cause of Saturday evening house fire

By Mike Frizzell, Operation 100
Shawnee Dispatch – January 16, 2018

Photos by Mike Frizzell/Operation 100

Faulty wiring is believed to have caused a Saturday evening house fire in Shawnee.

Neighbors called 911 to report a fire at 7012 Widmer Street shortly before 5 p.m.

Shawnee Fire Marshal Corey Sands said firefighters arrived to find fire coming from the roof of the two-story house

Sands said firefighters located a dog inside and carried it outside where they performed CPR. Firefighters were not able to revive the dog.

No one else was at home when the fire started.

“One firefighter was treated and released for a medical issue,” Sands said.

Damage to the home is estimated at $125,000.

The Lenexa Fire Department also responded to assist with the fire.


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Columbus Firefighters Battle Blaze Despite Frozen Fire Hydrants

By Veronica Utecht
KOAM – January 16, 2018


A home gutted by fire, flames Columbus crews arrived to fight, but faced another challenge in bitterly cold weather. Because it’s not just water that freezes, it’s fire hydrant plugs as well.
An obstacle for Columbus firefighters when they tried to hook up to a fire hydrant.

“It froze up, so we had to switch to another hydrant and that just takes a little bit of extra time.” says Chief Jason Allison, who hasn’t experienced a frozen hydrant while in Columbus.

“All cities test their hydrants twice a year, and flow them. You know, we’ve just had a lot of extreme cold weather and it was just one of them incidents that the plug happened to be froze up and so you always have a back up plan”

That plan is tanker trucks, they aren’t usually brought to fires at homes near hydrants in the city limits. They’re typically used on fires in rural area So they called other area fire agencies with tankers and their own carrying up to three thousand gallons of water in each.

Even with that help, the flames in the old house had already been working against them.

“I truly believe that if it wasn’t so far involved prior to us getting there that we would have been able to save a lot more of it than we did. But once it falls through the attic, it becomes unsafe for our volunteers to be in it, we have to make the decision to pull them out and do an exterior fire tag”
The home of Richard Sanchez and his two children is unlivable for now.. And the search is on for the cause.

His employer, Crossland Construction is taking donations for Richard and his family.


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Woman taken to hospital after apartment fire

Leavenworth Times – January 16, 2018

A woman was taken to the hospital after a fire ignited in her Leavenworth apartment, a Fire Department spokesman said.

A woman was taken to the hospital after a fire ignited in her Leavenworth apartment, a Fire Department spokesman said.

The fire was reported at 1:42 a.m. Monday at a duplex apartment at 220 Miami St.

Andy Brooks, a battalion chief for the Leavenworth Fire Department, said emergency officials initially received a report of a medical alert at that location.

A Leavenworth police officer who responded reported seeing smoke coming from the residence. The officer could hear someone inside the apartment but was unable to get to the person. After arriving, firefighters were able to rescue the woman, Brooks said.

Brooks said firefighters believe the woman’s outlook is good. No other injuries were reported.

Brooks said firefighters were able to extinguish the fire quickly. The fire is still under investigation, but firefighters believe it started in a bedroom.


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Duplex basement fire on Gilbert leaves significant damage

By Carly Willis
KSN – January 16, 2018

Wichita Fire responded to multiple calls of a basement fire inside a duplex on east Gilbert at 9 a.m. Sunday morning.

Battalion Chief Matt Bowen says calls came in reporting victims in basement, so WFD called in extra crews to battle the blaze.

“It’s extremely tough on basement fires because the products, the heat, the smoke, the toxic gases can’t escape,” Bowen said.

Multiple searches found no residents in the basement. No injuries were reported. Investigators are on scene determining a cause.

Bowen said there was “significant” damage inside.


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A birthday parade

By Tammy Seimears
Emporia Gazette – January 16, 2018

Madison friends and family came from miles around on Saturday to show love and support for a little boy whose father had died just days before his 6th birthday.

Nathan Hind lost his father, Brian Hind, to cancer on Dec. 29. Brian was a community leader and was loved by many. When people learned that Nathan’s birthday was right around the corner and he would have to celebrate it without his dad, it only took one phone call to start an avalanche that would grow exponentially over the next few hours and days. Neighbors began spreading the word and soon plans were set in motion for a celebration that would knock Nathan and his mother Amy’s socks off.

That morning, vehicles began showing up, with a line as far as one could see, all waiting for their chance to give little Nathan a ride in their vehicle. There were fire trucks, tractors, grain trucks, sheriff’s vehicles, semi trucks, a backhoe, a sprayer, a road grader and so many others that carried their precious cargo that day.

“I’m not sure who was smiling bigger — the men in the machinery or the boy watching a parade drive through his front yard,” wrote a local blogger on Facebook. “God bless all those that participated and showed their love. You are the reason rural America rocks.”

A photo was shared of the event on Facebook, with a heartfelt story of the day’s activities. That post was shared, and then shared again and has now gone viral across the worldwide web. As of Tuesday afternoon, there were over 150,000 views and almost 800 shares of the post. It has been shared across the United States, in Canada, Brazil, Italy, Spain, Australia and the UK.

“Brian made a difference in Greenwood County and now he’s still making a difference across the world,” the blogger wrote. “It is so heartwarming to read the inspiring messages people have written. We hope that Nathan and Amy feel uplifted through the power of prayers across the globe.”

A small gesture to some, but the world to one little boy.

Brian Douglas Hind


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Kitchen fire leads to damage in 2 Poehler Lofts apartments

By Elvyn Jones
Lawrence Journal World – January 16, 2018

Two apartments in the Poehler Lofts, 619 E. Eighth St., were damaged Sunday afternoon as a result of a kitchen fire.

Division Chief Doug Green, of Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical, said the department responded at about 3 p.m. Sunday to a fire at the Poehler Lofts. Additionally, the lofts’ fire suppression sprinkler system caused water damage to the unit where the fire started. There was also water damage to the first-floor apartment below and in the casement, he said.

At the scene about 90 minutes after the fire was reported, Green said he did not yet know if the residents of the two damaged apartments would be able to return to the units on Sunday. The other residents of the Poehler Lofts were able to return their apartments after a temporary evacuation, he said.


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McManaman retires

By Gale Rose
Pratt Tribune – January 16, 2018

Mark McManaman (right). Photo by Gale Rose

Mark McManaman, administrator of Emergency and Medical Services for Pratt County has retired after 40 years of service to the people of Pratt County in Emergency and Medial Services and as fire chief of Township 12 fire department.

Mark McManaman, administrator of Emergency and Medical Services for Pratt County, has been answering the call to help people in need in the county for 40 years. Whether as a paramedic or as the fire chief of Township 12, McManaman has rushed to the aid of countless men, women and children.

Now, that mantle of responsibility will fall to someone else as McManaman retires. A retirement reception was held Friday, Jan. 12 at the Pratt Community Center. It was a time for him to reflect on his career as a first responder in Pratt.

Although his career has been as a first responder, he started out working in a gas station as an auto mechanic.

McManaman grew up in Pratt and graduated from Pratt High School in 1975 then got a degree in automotive technology from Pratt Community College in 1977. He went to work at Carl Reed’s Standard station at First and Main that is now the First United Methodist Church parking lot. His duties included working on cars and working in the drive pumping gas and cleaning windows. For this young man, it was a pretty good job, one he liked a lot.

“I enjoyed that job. I didn’t mine it at all,” McManaman said.

But there was an influence in his life that would shift his career in an entirely different direction. McManaman’s father, Basil (Bud) McManaman, was one of the first EMTs in Pratt County and in the state. That influence push him towards being a first responder.

He worked at the Pratt Hospital in the mechanic division from 1979 to 1981. At the same time, he took the EMT course at Pratt Community College and got his EMT certificate in late 1979 or early 1980.

Starting in 1978, he also worked at the Township 12 Fire Department and part-time for EMS. In 1981 McManaman became director for Pratt County EMS and Township 12 Fire Chief.

Communication for emergency responders was much different than it is today. Each fire fighter had an alerting phone (pagers didn’t exist at that time) and when a fire call came in, the dispatcher would call the fire fighters and tell them where the fire was located.

Then came a single frequency low band receiver. The dispatcher would put out the fire call but a lot of times the fire fighters couldn’t answer the dispatcher until they got to the station.

Vehicles were much different back then too. The EMS was located at 409 South Main with three vehicles inside the building, a 1979 Chevy box type ambulance, a 1975 Dodge Van and a 1976 Dodge Mini Modular that had a box but not nearly as big as the boxes now.

There were people at the EMS during the day but they would go home in the evening and be on call. If a call came in, the dispatcher would call the house and take it from there.

The 1979 Chevy had battery issues and it would run down if it wasn’t used for some time. On more than one occasion, the crew had to push the Chevy out-of-the-way so they could take another ambulance.

“You had to have muscles built up to push it out. We had to do that several times,” McManaman said.

The EMS had defibrillators but they weighed from 70 to 80 pounds. In 1984, McManaman took his EMT intermediate training so he could administer IVs. In 1985, Pratt County EMS was part of the EMT-D pilot program that allowed the EMT to do defibrillation. The EMS bought 5 light pack defibrillators and put them in ambulances.

More and more improvements in equipment and vehicles followed for the next 20 years.

During that time, McManaman answered untold fire and medical calls. While each call was important, there were several that still have an impact on him today.

An accident claimed the lives of five members of a family from Liberal when their vehicle went out of control on an ice-covered passing lane just west of Pratt, a Bombardier Jet crashed northwest of the Pratt Airport in 1993. They were doing test flights and there was a mechanical problem that caused the jet to crash.

The Pratt County tornado in 2002 and the Greensburg Tornado in 2007 were memorable events. But there have been many wrecks and storms and sick calls in his career and they were all important.

“I saw a little bit of everything,” McManaman said.

McManaman also taught a lot of CPR classes to hundreds of students. He worked with Evelyn Hillard from the Red Cross to provide that training.

One of the biggest challenges for McManaman was keeping up with the advances in training. The EMS upgraded to Paramedics in the 1990s and that class earned an associates degree. McManaman took his Paramedic classes at Barton County Community College. They also had to do 60 hours of continuing education every two years.

Another big challenge was ambulance and building maintenance. They also put in a lot of radio repeater towers and Capt. Clayton Kessler helped a lot with that job.

“There was a wide range of things we did. We were also part-time EMS on the rescue squad,” McManaman said.

But most of all, McManaman liked helping the citizens of Pratt County in one way or the other. He said it was a group effort to work an accident with rescue and fire.

Working as a Paramedic and fire chief is stressful and 40 years have taken a toll.

“The last couple of years, it was working on me more and more all the time,” McManaman said. “When the pager goes off in the middle of the night, I’m not moving quite as fast as I used to.”

Lifting patients all those years have taken a toll too. He feels it in his hips, shoulders and back. Some days its pretty good but there are a lot of aches and pains.

As he ends this chapter of his life, McManaman will miss going to a training class and learning how to operate all the new equipment plus the advances in EMS and medical care.

“I enjoyed going to classes and working with people,” McManaman said.

As for retirement, McManaman has several projects to keep him busy. He has three jeeps and an antique motorcycle we will continue to work on as well as check in his brother’s cattle in the spring and summer. He also plans on doing more hunting and fishing, visiting with his brother and sister and their children in Great Bend. It seemed like he never had enough time to do that while he was working.


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One person dies in Rice County crash

KSN – January 16, 2018

One person is dead after a crash in Rice County.

The crash happened on Friday.

According to the Rice County Sheriff’s Office, the crash happened on 22nd Rd. north of Ave. Q in Rice County. The Rice County Sheriff’s Office, Rice County EMS and Rice County Fire responded to the crash.

When authorities arrived at the crash site, they found one vehicle in the west ditch with extensive damage.

The driver of the vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene. The identity of the driver is not being released at this time.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.


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Plaza Towers kitchen fire displaces two people

Hutchinson News – January 16, 2018

A Hutchinson man “narrowly escaped the smoky conditions” of a kitchen fire late Friday night on the 11th floor of the Plaza Towers that caused other residents to flee their apartments in the 12-story building, the Hutchinson Fire Department stated.

The man used a stove burner to heat the apartment when other material on the stove ignited, according to a press release. A single sprinkler went off, and the man made his way through the dense smoke and out of the apartment. The sprinkler helped contain the fire to the kitchen area. Firefighters found the blaze spread to the kitchen cabinets when they arrived after 11:45 p.m.

Firefighters used thermal-imaging equipment to locate the fire, the release said, while other firefighters evacuated the 11th and 12th floors of the apartment building at 17 E. Second Ave. Approximately 45 apartments are being rented, the fire department said.

The man was the only one in the apartment at the time, fire Chief Steve Beer said. He was treated on site by Reno County EMS and is being assisted by the American Red Cross. Beer said the man and his son were the only residents displaced by the fire.


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Firefighters battle grass fire in Haskell County

Garden City Telegram – January 16, 2018

Windy conditions on Wednesday are believed to have contributed to a grass fire in Haskell County.

Satanta Fire Chief Jared Sunderland said the fire, which was reported between 11:30 a.m. and noon about 5 miles west of Satanta, is the first of the year for the Satanta Fire Department.

Sunderland said the fire was average in size, and he didn’t have an estimate of how many acres of land were affected. He said it took fire crews until about 3 p.m. to extinguish the fire. Firefighters remained on the scene until 6 p.m., given the windy conditions, to check for hot spots and clean up the area.


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Car Fire

Dodge City Globe – January 16, 2018

Photos by Scott Edger

The vehicle owned by Shane Munoz of Dodge City burns in the back yard of his home. Munoz stated that he was returning from a friend’s house Monday when he smelled smoke inside the car. Once he arrived, Munoz said he opened the hood and saw flames coming from the engine compartment. Munoz was unable to locate a fire extinguisher so he dialed 911.


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Bitter temperatures make firefighters’ jobs that much harder

By Greg Miller
KAKE – January 16, 2018


Seconds count for firefighters to respond and save lives. But with wind chills below zero, even a few minutes can be dangerous for the firefighters themselves.

“There was some pretty good heat in there. It looked like it might’ve burned for awhile, I don’t think anybody was home at the time,” said Capt. Brent Holman with the Wichita Fire Department. “Cold day, lot of steam and stuff like that.”

At a house fire on 37th Court Monday morning, no one was hurt and investigators are now looking into the cause. But keeping equipment and the crews themselves thawed, proved to be one of the biggest challenges.

Those firefighters wear many layers, leaving as little skin exposed as possible.

The bitter cold was an obstacle at another fire. This time at a tire shop in southwest Wichita. Those were just two of many calls firefighters fought and Holman said as the temperatures get even colder overnight, those crews will put themselves at risk, again.

“We’ll get the guys back and warmed up and getting ready for the next one,” he said.

The U.S. Fire Administration released a report which said there are more structure fires in the winter season, because more people typically use electric blankets, space heaters and other devices to stay warm. But those tools can spark fires quicker.

Investigators have not determined or released the causes of the fires mentioned in this story.


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KSFFA Capitol Day


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Dodge City man killed in Kingman County crash

KWCH – January 12, 2018

A 36-year-old Dodge City man is dead after a Friday morning rollover crash in Kingman County.

That man, Ryan Michael Hixon, died at the scene on Northeast 50th Street, west of Northeast 40 Avenue in the county, the Kingman County Sheriff’s Office says.

The sheriff’s office says the emergency call was made about 10:42 a.m., reporting a vehicle overturned on the highway.

The sheriff’s office says deputies found the vehicle overturned on its top. The vehicle was traveling east on Northeast 50th when it went off the road and into the south ditch.

A fuel trailer pulled by the vehicle did not flip and no fuel leaked. The sheriff’s office says Hixon was wearing a seatbelt.

The Kingman County Sheriff’s Office says it is investigating the crash.


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