Archive for January, 2014

Pittsburg Police and Fire Equipment Upgrades

By Bryan McLoone
Four States – January 31, 2014


Two safety departments in Pittsburg will be making equipment and personnel upgrades with more money coming to their budget. The city of Pittsburg started collecting a public safety sales tax on January 1st. Now, city leaders hope to use the half-cent sales tax to buy a new truck and equipment for the fire department. The police department is looking to hire more officers to their staff. Pittsburg Fire Chief Mike Simons says the additional funds will allow both departments to be better in emergency situations.

“It will benefit the community as a whole because it’s going to increase our abilities to, to respond in a fast and safe manner, and to assist the community in a quicker way,” said Mike Simons, Pittsburg Fire Chief.

Pittsburg City Manager Daron Hall says the sales tax will bring in an estimated $1.8 million a year for the departments.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Group looks to form new fire district

By Alan Rusch
Ellsworth County Independent Reporter – January 30, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 31, 2014

Ellsworth County could soon have a third fire district, if a January 16 discussion at the Holyrood Fire Department bears fruit.

The new district would potentially include the cities of Holyrood and Lorraine, plus Palacky, Green Garden and Valley townships.

The new fire district has to be formally initiated by July 1, said Carey Hipp, Holyrood City attorney.

“That means before that, if you are a city, you have to take special action in order to actually go to the county commissioners for approval,” she said. “You have to pass a resolution that says we want to take part in this.”

The townships would have to make a similar recommendation.

Hipp said she’s concerned if a new district is formed by July 1, can it get a board of trustees selected and a budget written and turned in to Ellsworth County clerk Jan Andrews by August 1, the county’s deadline for budget submissions. Budgets need to be approved by the county commissioners by August 10 and certified by the end of August.

“It would be new territory pretty much for everyone in this process,” she noted. “There are reasons why you guys want to hand together, obviously, to try to get the biggest bang for everyone’s buck.”

With regards to funding, Hipp said the best case scenario would see money flowing into the new fire district in January 2015. But it could be a year later than that.

“Really, I think that (a new district) might be the best route,” said Lorraine City Council member. “With the amount of area that you have, and the townships you have, I think that might be the fairest way for all of us to support it evenly.”

“I think our board is in agreement to go ahead and proceed with looking into the fire district,” said Green Garden Township trustee Brent Rolfs.

“The discussion has been brought up at city council meetings, but there has been nothing official,” said Mayor Kenny Schepmann of Holyrood.

Before a motion is put forth and passed by the city council, Schepmann said he would first like to get legal advice from Hipp on what Holyrood’s obligations and liabilities would be if a fire district were established.

“I think the city council is in favor of something like this, but before it’s made official, I’m sure there are some answers to questions we’d like to have before that,” Shepmann said.

Susan Thornton of the Lorraine Fire Department voiced concerns of where monies being raised by her department in building a new fire station in Lorraine would go if the new district were formed.

“That’s something that would have to be discussed,” said Paul J. Kasper, Lorraine City Attorney. “I don’t think anyone in this room wants anyone else to feel like they are being taken advantage of or getting ripped off for doing this.”

“We’re for it if it is going to better our fire department,” Thornton said.

“I really don’t know how the equipment part is going to go–I don’t understand that yet,” Mark Breford, Holyrood Fire Chief, said. “But as far as the buildings, I think the ownership will still be through the City of Holyrood, and then the fire district would pay a rent every month for the use of this building, and the same way for the City of Lorraine.”

Palacky Township trustee Ernie Jezek said he was concerned about the investment Palacky and Valley townships share in equipment, and also how future funding will take place.

“But as far as doing the fire district, we’d be acceptable to that,” he said.

“As far as Valley Township goes, I think were all for it,” said trustee Tony Heitschmidt. “We’ve got a lot invested right now–it’s just how that investment works out in the agreement.”

Hipp said the formation of a new fire district leaves a lot of discretion for those involved to figure out what will best suit them in the process.

“I, obviously, don’t have any expertise in fire, safety, and providing services, so I’m going to leave that up to you guys,” she said.

Hipp noted, however, there are several legal statutes that deal with how a fire district is formed and operated.

“The county commissioners really are in control of it,” she said.

Hipp suggested talking with commissioners to see if they approve of forming the new fire district, and then ask them to initiate the district themselves.

“I think they do have some positive experiences with fire districts, and I think they are probably open to it,” she said.

If the commissioners are not in favor of initiating the start of a new fire district, Hipp said a petition process must be completed.

“That becomes a little bit more complicated, because you have to get signatures, you have to trace those signatures to landowners, maps, and so forth, so it’s more time, obviously,” she said.

If the county commissioners say they are going to initiate a new fire district, Hipp said they would adopt a resolution stating they think it is advisable.

The resolution would then be published in the official county newspaper, and a hearing date set.

“Any taxpayer or elector residing in the county can be heard at that meeting,” Hipp said.

The commissioners then will determine whether or not to move forward. If they do, they pass a resolution, name the district, and set the boundaries. That resolution also has to be published.

Hipp said cities interested in joining the fire district have to publish a notice of intent to the public 20 days before a public meeting on the matter stating they are considering doing so.

“At the meeting they will discuss it and determine whether they want to do it or not,” she said.

The cities will then pass a resolution asking the county commissioners if they can be included in the fire district.

“Then the county commissioners can cover it at any of their meetings,” Hipp said.

If commissioners establish a fire district, Hipp said the next step would be to establish a district board of trustees.

“The statues really say the board of county commissioners will oversee, supervise and control the fire district when it’s formed,” she said. They do have the ability to pass those responsibilities on to a board of trustees.”

The commission decides who will sit on that board of trustees, usually three to nine members.

Hipp said within 60 days after the creation of the new fire district, a governing body composed of three to five members must be appointed. These members all have to be residents of the fire district area for three years preceding their appointments.

“Each person would hold office for three years, and the first ones appointed will be in staggered terms,” she said. County commissioners or the board of trustees will choose replacements to the governing body.

Hipp said the governing body has the power to enter into contracts, buy and sell property, issue bonds, pay compensation, and insure volunteers.

“Essentially, your fire department answers at some point to the city council,” Kasper said. “There already essentially is a board of directors for the fire department, and that is the city council. It (the board of directors) is essentially a city council for the fire district. They aren’t involved in the day-to-day operations, but they do review the overall operations if there are issues.”

Kasper said it is important to keep in mind that anytime a new fire district is created, those taking part lose some local control.

“Right now Holyrood has to make its own decisions, Lorraine has to make its own decisions, and the townships can make their own decisions, so, obviously, there is going to have to be more cooperation and working together to make these decisions,” he said. “We encourage communication–it has to actually work, and not just look good on a budget.”

“I don’t know what time frame you guys are thinking, but if you want to move ahead right away, we need to get our cities on board, make sure all the townships are on board officially and then get to the county commissioners and get that part done so we can move on to the board of trustees, governing body and, eventually, budget,” she said.

Hipp said the fire district can generally levy up to five mills, but could levy more under certain situations. If Holyrood, Lorraine and the three townships all became part of the district, one mill would be able to generate an estimated $26,000 per year.

Hipp will attend the January 21 county commission meeting and let officials know a group is discussing formation of a new fire district.

The next meeting of the group will be at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 10, at the Holyrood Fire Department.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster



Firefighters from four counties battle Sunday grass fire

By Alan Rusch
Ellsworth County Independent Reporter – January 30, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 31, 2014

Howling north winds of more than 60 miles per hour kept firefighters from four counties busy for almost four hours battling a grass fire late Sunday afternoon southeast of Wilson.

Firefighters from Wilson, Holyrood, Ellsworth, Kanopolis, Bunker Hill, Dorrance, and Sylvan Grove, Lucas, and Claflin were paged at 5:50 p.m. to a fire in a creek between Avenues L and M. Winds pushed the fire north to south along fence rows and pasture ground nearly two miles before it was brought under control just north of Avenue N.

“I’ve never seen a fire move that fast in my life,” Holyrood Fire Chief Mark Breford said.

“It was rolling,” Ellsworth Fire Chief Bob Kepka added.

Because of blowing dust and near zero visibility, fire crews had difficulty getting to the scene. In addition, temperatures in the 50s quickly dropped into the 30s as the cold front worked its way through the state.

Wilson Fire Chief Larry Langerman said the cause of the fire remains undetermined. He confirmed, however, there were no electrical powerlines nearby.

“I was amazed they got that thing under control the way the wind was blowing,” said Ellsworth County commissioner Al Oller, who lives in the area.

The fire was the second page of the day for Ellsworth firefighters. At 6 p.m., they responded to an area north of the Ellsworth Correctional Facility’s east unit where the high winds brought down an electrical transformer and destroyed 18 individually-owned golf cart sheds near the driving range at the Ellsworth Golf Course.

According to Mark Lein, Ellsworth superintendent for Western Cooperative Electric Association, one of the sheds blew over and knocked down the main transformer. As a result, one-third of Ellsworth–from south of Eighth Street to St. Louis Street east to Blake Street, including the downtown area–was plunged into darkness for 45 minutes until repairs could be made.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Rollover accident Friday

Greeley County Republican – January 22, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 31, 2014

On Friday, January 17, at about 1:47 p.m. the Greeley County Sheriff’s office received a 911 call reporting a rollover accident at the curves on K27 south of Tribune. The Greeley County EMS, Fire Department and Sheriff’s units responded.

The Fire rescue units found a 2008 Dodge Pickup had left the road and flipped over several times. The driver, Troy Barnett, age 60, of Elkhart, Kansas was trapped inside of the vehicle. Fire Chief Dustyn Smith related that the Jaws of Life and airbags were used to cut the top of the vehicle to enable Burnett to be removed from the vehicle. Barnett was transported to the Greeley County Hospital where he was treated. Then transferred to St. Catherine Hospital in Garden City.

The investigation revealed that Barnett was North Bound on K27, on his way to a ball game in Sharon Springs when his tires fell off of the shoulder, the vehicle swerved back onto the highway crossing the center line and then went into the east ditch and rolled several times coming to a rest on its side. Barnett was wearing his seat belt at the time of the accident. The Sheriff’s office continues to investigate the accident to determine to what extent alcohol contributed to the accident. Charges are possible upon the receipt of blood test results.

–Mark Rine, Sheriff, Greeley County Kansas

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Wesley J. Wilson, Jr.


Feeling the weight on firefighters’ shoulders

By Clinton Dick
Ottawa Herald – January 31, 2014


(Editor’s note: The following is a first-person report of Herald Staff Writer Clinton Dick’s recent visit with colleague Abby Eckel to the Ottawa Fire Department. ]

Capt. Tim Matthias has saved many people in his nearly 24 years as a firefighter, but it’s those he wasn’t able to rescue who stick out in his mind, he said.

“I remember the ones we save, but I really remember the ones we didn’t,” Matthias, with the Ottawa Fire Department, said. “In my time, we’ve had 13 fire fatalities that I’ve been a part of. Those are the ones I think about.”

The life of a firefighter isn’t easy, and I got a little taste of that Tuesday morning at the Ottawa Fire Department, 720 W. 2nd St., Ottawa. Matthias, as well as Lt. Shawn Dillon, took Abby Eckel, Herald staff writer, and I on a tour of the station, built in 1973, and put us in full firefighter equipment for some firsthand experience of what it feels like inside the dense protective gear.

As a 140-pound guy, putting on more than 50 pounds of protective equipment felt more like doubling my body weight. Firefighters are trained to put on their protective gear, which includes pants, a coat, hat, a 30-pound air tank that straps around the shoulders and an air mask, in one minute and 45 seconds to go out on a call. Dillon performed this task at the end of our tour in an impressive one minute and 28 seconds. I did not fair quite as well.

Training is of utmost importance to a firefighter, and even when someone has mastered everything, training doesn’t end.

“We don’t fight fires every day,” Matthias said. “We don’t go out to car crashes every day, so it is important to train to keep up with your skills. We try to train two to three hours a day. A typical training day would be some kind of classroom setting for 30 to 45 minutes, and then, weather permitting, we’ll go outside. We have a drill tower out back we run some drills on.

“We do a lot of medical training,” he said. “We do fire training consisting of reviewing buildings, putting our gear on for time, pulling hose, ladders … stuff that we do on a pretty consistent basis, but you can always get better.”

Firefighters also train in specialty rescue areas — rope, water and confined space — where they spend considerable time, Matthias said.


Eckel and I went through some training drills ourselves, including crawling on all fours wearing the protective gear, putting on and using an air mask hooked up to the air tank, and attempting to pick up a hydraulic cutter used to cut into vehicles at wrecks. Thanks to my skinny arms, I could barely hoist the 50-pound metal cutter above my waist in the protective gear, while Dillon was able to swing it over his shoulder with relative ease. Practice does make perfect.

With 20 full-time firefighters and seven to eight volunteers at the Ottawa Fire Department, down time is important too, even when everybody is almost always doing something.

“We stay busy,” Matthias said. “After 5 p.m., it is kind of our time. A lot of guys are going back to school right now. Myself included, we’ve probably got three, four, five guys taking college courses trying to do some college work. Everybody’s doing something.”

When a call comes in, Matthias’s captain duties are to make sure everyone, including his firefighters, are safe, he said.

“On a call, my initial duties are to make sure we get there safely, make sure we know where we are going and that we have enough resources,” he said. “Once we get there, I make sure the scene is safe and that I’m putting my people in the safest situation I can. Ultimately, my overall job is to get my firefighters home to their families. I take that to heart.”

On average, the Ottawa department goes out on calls six to seven times per day, Matthias said. Whenever a fire is reported, a firefighter’s battle isn’t always just with the flames, but with nerves.

“People who say they’ve never been scared going into a fire have either A) never fought in a fire or B) aren’t telling the truth,” Matthias said.


The job is 90 percent mental, Matthias said, and sometimes the physical and psychological wear and tear of fighting fires can be soothed not only by talking to co-workers, but by having a loving family outside the station, Matthias said.

“Of course you’ve got to have a strong support group at home,” he said. “You try not to take [the job] home, but you do, and I think most of us are lucky to have that support. As a captain, my job is to look for those signs of stress and all that comes with those types of calls.”

Family time might be very important to firefighters, as with any profession, but part of the job also is realizing that a firefighter spends a lot of time away from home. Matthias, who has been a firefighter for more than two decades — 17 years with the Ottawa department — said his family understands.

“Being a firefighter in a career department, you have the opportunity to be off [of the job] because you work kind of an odd shift, but you do miss a lot,” he said. “If you have to work Christmas, then you work it … all those birthdays, anniversaries and stuff. Your family understands that. Of course after 20 some years, that is kind of the norm at our house.”

While I didn’t fight any fires, I was able to glimpse why Matthias is connected to his work. His co-workers are his favorite part of the job — they’re what make it all worthwhile, he said.

“You get into this job and you have to trust the person on your left, and on your right, and the person in front of you and the person in back. So I think the best thing for me is the people I work with and have worked with through the years,” Matthias said. “Very, very seldom do I come to work not wanting to come to work. I’m fortunate in that way because a lot of people aren’t as fortunate as I am, I guess.

“This is always what I’ve wanted to do,” he said. “Somebody asked me the other day, ‘What are you going to do when you retire?’ I don’t know. I’ve always been a firefighter and I always wanted to be a firefighter, so I guess I’m living the dream. The saddest day for me is the day I’ll have to retire.”

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Grass fire contained

By Mark McCoy
Ellsworth County Independent Reporter – January 31, 2014

Rick Seiler (driving) and Dave Rankin fight a small grass fire Thursday afternoon northwest of Ellsworth.

Rick Seiler (driving) and Dave Rankin fight a small grass fire Thursday afternoon northwest of Ellsworth.

Three units of the Ellsworth Fire Department responded to a grass fire Thursday afternoon at 12th Road and Ave H northwest of Ellsworth.

The fire was called in at 1:26 p.m. and the firefighters had the fire extinguished by 1:49 p.m.

The west ditch of 12th road and the south ditch of Ave H were burned in the fire.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Fireman’s Brew Expands to Kansas

Brewbound – January 31, 2014

Fireman’s Brew, a Los Angeles-based craft beer company founded by two firefighters, today announced a partnership with Standard Beverage to distribute its award-winning beers throughout Kansas. Now, craft beer lovers across the “Jayhawker” state will be able to enjoy Fireman’s Brew handcrafted beers at their favorite on-premise or off-premise locations. Kansas marks the thirteenth state that this rapidly growing craft beer brand has expanded into since 2012. Fireman’s Brew is now available in its home state of California along with Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Illinois, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, Virginia, Rhode Island, New York and Hawaii.

“We are thrilled to team up with Standard Beverage for our debut in the great state of Kansas,” said Rob Nowaczyk, founder of Fireman’s Brew. “With the addition of Kansas, we’re continuing towards our goal of developing Fireman’s Brew into a national brand.”

Roger Baer, CEO of Fireman’s Brew added, “We’re excited for the opportunity to partner with Kansas’ leading full-line distributors to launch Fireman’s Brew, and look forward to working closely with everyone at Standard Beverage to build the brand throughout the market.”

Already one of the fastest growing craft beer brands in its home state of California, Fireman’s Brew newly expanded distribution network provides an opportunity for the company to reach thousands of on-premise and retail outlets throughout Kansas. Through the agreement, Standard Beverage will distribute Fireman’s Brew signature beers in 12-ounce bottle six-packs, twelve-pack samplers and kegs including:

 Fireman’s Brew: Blonde (Pilsner-style Lager; 5% ABV)  Fireman’s Brew: Brunette (German-style Doublebock; 8% ABV)  Fireman’s Brew: Redhead (Amber Ale; 5.5% ABV)

“We at Standard Beverage are looking forward to launching Fireman’s Brew into Kansas,” commented Tyler Fayard, Director of Premium Beer Division at Standard Beverage. “With their three award-winning beers, inspirational brand story and firefighter community tie-in, Fireman’s Brew is a great fit for our growing craft beer portfolio.”

Conceived by two Los Angeles-based firefighters after extinguishing a brushfire in the local mountains, Fireman’s Brew grew out of their vision to create a premium line of handcrafted ales and lagers that would quench their thirsts after an exhausting day on the firelines. Fireman’s Brew collection of micro- brewed beers are created using only the finest of all-natural ingredients to deliver bold, full-flavored, traditional tastes and easy drinking refreshment. In addition, the company is committed to giving back to the firefighter community upon which it was founded by donating a portion of company proceeds to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation – the nation’s leading non-profit organization dedicated to honoring fallen firefighters and providing assistance to their surviving families.

For more information on Fireman’s Brew visit  ###

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Ash issues

Osawatomie Graphic – January 15, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 31, 2014

osawatomie fire 1312014

An old smoke house being used as a storage shed caught fire about 3:15 p.m. Thursday at 31668 West 359th St., bringing Osawatomie’s Fire Department to the scene. Deputy Fire Chief Brian Love said the residents had recently dumped ashes from a wood stove outside, and they believed those ashes had blown into the structure, starting the fire.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Fire leaves Augusta garage in ruins

KAKE – January 31, 2014


An early-morning fire left a detached garage in Augusta in ruins, while leaving minor damage to surrounding homes.

Crews were called to the 400 block of East Broadway Street around 3:00 a.m.  Firefighters say their work was complicated because the garage was filled with items, including possible explosive chemicals.

Three buildings surrounding the garage were at risk of burning.  Firefighters prevented the flames from spreading to them, but one home had melted siding from the heat of the fire.

No one was injured in the fire.  The cause was not known Friday morning.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Firemen called for kitchen, closet fire

Jewell County Record – January 16, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 31, 2014

Friday evening around 9:45 p.m. the Mankato Volunteer Fire Department were called to a fire at the home of Robyn Schultz, 301 N. Lincoln, Mankato. An electrical fire had started in the kitchen and closet and was contained in that location. There was smoke and heat damage throughout the house. Fireman returned to the station around 1 a.m.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Explosion takes place

By Patricia Sayre
Leoti Standard – January 15, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 31, 2014

leoti fire 1312014

On Thursday, January 9, 2014 about 1:45 p.m. there was a very loud explosion that rattled buildings and windows all over town. When you looked up outside you could see a very large smoke cloud over the northeast part of the City. The explosion came from Meyer scrap yard.

Derek Meyers had received a very large gas tank that had been removed from Auto Express formerly Fitzgerald gas station. The large tank held gasoline at one time and still had sediment in it when Meyer attempted to remove the lid. He heard a hissing sound and ran. He then heard and felt the explosion, which blew the lid right off the tank and the sediment was on fire. The lid was tossed several feet away from the tank. When Meyer saw the sediment on fire he got in his loader and moved the burning tank so nothing else would catch on fire.

Meyer was not injured but it sure made some citizens and emergency personnel take notice.

Meyer will have five more of these tanks in the scrap yard before it is all done. He will seek another way of removing the tank lids so he can crush them.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Chinese lanterns serious fire hazards

Winfield Courier – January 31, 2014

The assessment of the danger of Chinese lanterns by Winfield Fire Marshal Dennis Darby, who recently testified at a legislative hearing, is certainly worthy of consideration.

Chinese lanterns, also known as aerial luminaries, are essentially miniature hot air balloons kept aloft by burning fuel cells. When ignited, they can go a mile high. Winds can carry them great distances. Sometimes they come down before the fire goes out.

As Darby testified, “This action can result in combustibles at the landing site becoming engulfed with flames. As a direct result, the potential for uncontrolled fire involving structures or vegetation poses a serious threat to life and property.”

Within the past month, a major Cowley County fire destroyed buildings and machinery. Why should we take a chance on this type of destruction from a Chinese lantern? At the hearing, former House Speaker Doug Mays said he had concerns based on viewing lanterns floating serenely into the Flint Hills. According to Mays, the Flint Hills are a “tinderbox waiting to happen.” The former legislator told his wife, “There ought to be a law.”

It is encouraging that proposed House Bill 2240 would make it unlawful to “ignite, fire or otherwise use an unmanned aerial luminary.” Doing so would be punishable by a fine not to exceed $2,500.

Obviously, the bill is being taken seriously by members of the Legislature. House Local Government Committee Chairman Steve Huebert said he plans to put the bill on the committee agenda for discussion and vote.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Person killed after exiting vehicle following accident with semi on I-435

By Andrew Lynch
FOX 4 News – January 31, 2014

An accident that initially happened between a semi-trailer and passenger car turned fatal when the driver of the car exited the vehicle.

The accident happened near I-435 and Shawnee Mission Parkway according to the Kansas Highway Patrol. After the accident, the driver got out of the car and attempted to cross the interstate. That person was hit by multiple vehicles and died. KHP did not speculate why the driver got out of the car and has yet to identify that deceased victim.

Southbound lanes of I-435 were closed for an extended period of time but have since reopened.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Late Night Fire Destroys a Home in Galena

By Sydney Ryan
Four States – January 30, 2014

A late-night fire destroys a home in Galena. Both Galena and Baxter Springs fire departments responded to a call about a blaze at 13th and Wall around 10:45 last night. Crews worked until about 3 a.m. making sure it wouldn’t spread to surrounding grass areas due to high winds. Galena Fire Chief Bill Hall says one person was home at the time, and the occupant believes a candle could have been the cause. No one was injured. The fire is still under investigation.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Hutchinson fire officers issue warning after five structure fires in 32 hours

By Jason Tarr
KAKE – January 30, 2014


While working out at their Hutchinson home Wednesday night, Josh Felix and his family say they smelled sulfur.

Josh’s wife looked out at their balcony and saw it was in flames.

“It put things in perspective,” Felix said.  “You are sitting there on a normal night and then all of a sudden the house can be almost gone and your family in trouble.”

The fire at the Felix’s home was the fifth fire in Hutchinson in a 32-hour period that began Tuesday at noon and extended through Wednesday night.

Hutchinson Fire Department officers say none of the fires are related.  None of them were caused by arson.  Instead, they say it is simply a string of unfortunate accidents.

“In this day and age that we are in, it is very rare to have that many structure fires that close together,” Deputy Chief Doug Hanen said.

The fires have, thankfully, been split almost evenly on different shifts, Hanen said.  He says they’ve been far enough apart not to put a strain on resources.  But there’s an emotional strain that does come into play.

“The word around today is ‘hopefully, the streak has been broken.’  None of us what to see anyone’s property get damaged,” Hanen said.

The first fire began Tuesday around noon.  It was a small garage fire in the 1500 block of E. 11th.  Hanen says the cause appears to be careless smoking.  The fire caused about $10,000 in damage.

Just a few hours later, a fire began in the 1500 block of E. 3rd.  The damage was limited, about $5,000.  Hanen says the attic fire was likely caused by an electrical failure.

The most devastating of the fires came early Wednesday morning around 1 a.m.  The fire in the 1400 block of E. 2nd caused significant damage.  The home did not have any gas service and those living there were using propane heaters inside for warmth.  Hanen says that was likely the cause of the fire.

Wednesday morning around 9:45 a.m., the fire department then responded to the 100 block of N. Main Street at the landmark Wiley Building.  There was limited damage.  The fire most likely began when sparks from the saws that construction crews were using in the building ignited the old wood construction in a chute, Hanen said.

Finally, Wednesday night around 6:45 p.m., crews responded to a fire at the Felix’s home in the 1400 block of N. Jefferson St.  That fire began on the outside of the home.  Investigators are still working to determine if a faulty hot tub next door or careless smoking caused that fire.

Fire officers tried to find the silver lining Thursday.

“The one good thing about all this, is that no one has been injured in any of these fires and that’s what it is all about: to make sure people are safe and their homes are safe,” Hanen said.

Hanen issued a warning Thursday given the unusually high number of structure fires in such a short period of time.

He says even though it’s cold, people should not heat their homes with ovens or stoves.

“That can produce Carbon Monoxide and that gets us into even another problem,” Hanen said.

Secondly, he urges people to clear brush, debris, and trash away from their homes.  With the cold weather, much of that has blown up against the sides of houses.  He says removing that material could help prevent a spark from igniting that debris and causing a home to catch fire.

Finally, he says to be especially careful when throwing out fireplace ashes and cigarette ashes.  He says the department has responded to a number of fires, especially in rural areas, in which those ashes had been thrown out a week before and had continued to smolder, eventually turning into a fire.

“The more you can do around your house to protect your house, the better off you’ll be when that event does occur,” Hanen said.

Much like the firefighters, the Felix family says that’s all they can do: deal with what comes their way while preparing for the future.

“It’s a lot to take in all at once,” Josh Felix said.  “All we can do is push forward and try to get on with it.”

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Fire Causes Over $100,000 In Damages To Manhattan Home

By Nick Viviani
WIBW – January 30, 2014

 Firefighters say an early afternoon fire at a Manhattan home caused more than $100,000 in damages on Thursday. Investigators are still trying to determine what caused it, which closed down Brierwood Drive for several hours, but believe it was an accidental, electrical fire.

Fire crews were first called to the home, 729 Brierwood Drive, around 1:15 p.m. They said they could see smoke and flames shooting from the roof by the time they got there.

They were able to contain the fire to the attic within 30 minutes.

Nobody was home at the time of the fire, firefighters said. They estimated the damage at $100,000 to the home and $20,000 of contents.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Bickford retires after 33 years of service with Burlingame fire department

By Wayne White
Osage County News – January 30, 2014

Kansas State Firefighters Association Treasurer Dan Romine presents a certificate to longtime Burlingame fire fighter Elora Bickford, commemorating her 33 years of service to the Burlingame community.

Kansas State Firefighters Association Treasurer Dan Romine presents a certificate to longtime Burlingame fire fighter Elora Bickford, commemorating her 33 years of service to the Burlingame community.

On January 18, 2014, Osage County Fire District No. 6, Burlingame, held its annual awards banquet and honored long time volunteer Lt. Elora Bickford for 33 years of dedicated service to the community of Burlingame and surrounding area. She was presented with a custom painted traditional helmet, a certificate from Kansas State Firefighters Association, presented by treasurer Dan Romine, as well as certificates from the Kansas Board of EMS and the Kansas State Fire Marshal.

Elora began her volunteer service on April 2, 1981, when she signed up with a newly formed group called the Burlingame Rescue Squad. This was a group of several community-minded people that saw a need for what we now call “first responders”. Their operating budget came solely from donations. The group was very well supported by the community.

As time went on liability insurance and other costs were more than the squad could afford. In July 1987 the group made a deal with the local fire department and they joined forces. Elora stayed until this day as one of only two of the original group that merged with the fire department.

Elora spent 33 years working for the VA hospital in Topeka, as well as being a dedicated wife to her husband, Ron, and raising a family of three girls. Elora passed on her sense of community to her daughters. Her oldest daughter, Teresa McNellis, was honored for 25 years of service at the banquet and is still an active member; Marisa Lacoe is married to Eric who volunteers for Beloit Fire Department, and Alicsa Mayer and husband Dana both volunteer for Alta Vista Fire Department. Ron Bickford spent many years as a volunteer for Burlingame Fire Department and served several terms on the Burlingame City Council.

As with all volunteer service there is always training and new things to learn. Elora took that very seriously. She became certified as a first responder June 9, 1988. She was later promoted to lieutenant over the medical program for the fire department on Jan. 7, 1993. As she challenged herself more, she became a certified EMT April 13, 1995, Firefighter I certified in June of 1997, and became an EMT-I on Sept. 11, 1998. You could always find Elora attending the SCAFFA school in Topeka every spring as well as numerous other training opportunities.

“Elora has been a very active volunteer for Burlingame,” said Burlingame fire chief Jim Strohm. “She has participated in and played a big part in the progress of the department, especially with the first responder medical program.

“There is no doubt she has touched many lives in the community,” Strohm said. “It takes a special person to do what she has done selflessly for 33 years. Burlingame Fire Department and the community wish her the best in her retirement.”

Information thanks to Osage County Fire District No. 6.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Atchison Fire Department statistics for 2013

By Adam Gardner
Atchison Globe – January 11, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 30, 2014

The Atchison Fire Department experienced an increase in responses to incidents in 2013, mostly due to medical emergency calls.

The department staffs 19 firefighters with an average of just more than 12 years’ experience. The AFD covers approximately 6.45 square miles, divided into four districts. The average response time for units to all districts in 2013 was 3.77 minutes.

The department had a total of 1,141 responses in 2013 after recording 971 in 2012. There were about 150 more rescue and EMS calls in 2013 than in 2012.

Firefighters work in a three-shift system with six personnel assigned per shift and a five-man minimum. AFD shifts last 24 hours, ranging from 7 a.m. to 7 a.m. the following day.

The AFD fleet inventory includes four full-size pumpers, a 1980 aerial ladder truck, and one each of: Hazmat support trailer, hazmat trailer, rescue boat, pickup truck, and chief officer’s vehicle.

City commissioners included in the 2014 budget funds to purchase a new aerial ladder truck, as the current truck is due for replacement. The next vehicle due for replacement is the chief officer’s vehicle in 2015. No other vehicles are due for replacement until 2019.

Department vehicles traveled 13,204 miles in 2013, down from 13,678 miles in 2012 despite the increase in responses. Car 1 and Engine 3 had the bulk of miles traveled.

A total of 2,428.6 gallons of fuel was consumed by AFD vehicles in 2013 with the large majority used by Engine 3.

The AFD also takes part in public education, including 225 fourth grade students participating in the four-week Junior Fire Marshal Program.

The AFD facility had energy efficient doors and windows installed which will reduce overall energy consumption. The department’s mission is to minimize the loss of life and property resulting from fires, medical emergencies, and other disasters.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Public Service Award Nominations Sought

By David Elliott
KRSL – January 30, 2014

Russell County Emergency Management and the 911 Communications Advisory Board are requesting nominations for the Volunteer/Emergency Worker of the Year.

This is your opportunity to recognize and honor an emergency worker/volunteer for their dedication and service to our communities and county. There are many volunteers and emergency workers in Russell County who deserve this award and we would like to know your opinion so we may award a deserving candidate or candidates.

The formal rules are that the person should serve or support Russell County Emergency Services. The person can be a member of a police, fire, sheriff, EMS, hospital, health, dispatch or public works department. Consideration is also given to volunteers who support any of these agencies or volunteers for groups/agencies that support the emergency services such as Rotary Rescue, The Salvation Army, United Way, The American Red Cross or other volunteer organizations active in disasters.

The nominations will be considered and evaluated by the 911 Communications Advisory Board. The Board will render a decision on the best entry. The winner or winners will be presented a Public Service Award Certificate at the National Weather Service Weather Spotter Meeting on Tuesday, March 25 at 6:30 PM at the Dream Theater in Russell.

Last year Russell County recognized Sam Schmidt as the Volunteer/Emergency Worker of the Year.

Previous recipients of this award have included Wayne Grabbe and Gordon Gorton in 1998, Cindy Janssen in 1999, Alan Kuntzsch in 2000, Mike Finkenbinder in 2001, Tim Borders in 2002, Craig Langdon and Karl Houck in 2003, Steve Knopp in 2004, Gail Ogle in 2005, Tom Hirst and Lowell Vonada in 2006, Rod Steckel in 2007, Ron Major, Donna Fay Major and Tom Batt in 2008, David Evans in 2009, Larry Vaughan in 2010, Doug Janssen and Darlene Rose in 2011, and Keith Koelling in 2012.

There are many qualified and deserving emergency workers and volunteers in Russell County. Please write a nomination letter of endorsement and deliver it by March 5 to Greg Rose at 911 Communications Dispatch Center, 339 East 8th Street, Russell, Kansas 67665 or to Keith Haberer at Russell/Ellsworth County Emergency Management, 850 Elm St., P.O. Box 158, Bunker Hill, Kansas 67626.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Coffeyville Fire Department report kitchen fire

Independence Daily Reporter – January 14, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 30, 2014

The Coffeyville Fire Department responded to a kitchen fire at 1403 S. Maple on Sunday at 12:56 p.m.

Firefighters found the top burners of the gas on the stove were left on, which ignited grease that dropped beside the burner.

The gas was turned off from the stove and the residence was vented for light smoke. Damage was estimated at $200, said Captain Bob Roesky.

The residence is owned by Bill Sprague, of South Coffeyville, Oklahoma and currently leased to Kelly Anthony.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Many respond to fire near Westfall

By Jyll Phillips
Lincoln Sentinel Republican – January 23, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 30, 2014

Fire crews from Westfall, Beverly, Lincoln, Ellsworth, Kanopolis, Saline County and Ellsworth County, along with the Russell County Emergency Management Director and Salina’s Red Cross responded to a grass fire Thursday, January 16, in the west half of section 22 in Madison Township.

Westfall Fire Chief Jeff White said the fire covered 86 acres of pastureland. No structures were involved.

“Northwest winds over 40 miles per hour caused the fire to jump railroad tracks and spread quickly,” White said.

The fire was reported around 3 p.m., and crews were able to bring it under control within two hours. Crews remained on the scene until 7:30, and returned at 10 p.m., Saturday, January 18, to extinguish hot spots.

White said the fire was a rekindling of a mid-December controlled burn, when there was snow cover. The high winds removed enough ash from the previously burnt tree pile, disturbing buried embers. He said large trees and pieces of wood can burn, buried in ash, for months with no visible sign of fire, adding in this case, the high winds and dry conditions were to blame for reignition and distribution of hot embers, starting the grass on fire several yards away.

White said he was appreciative of responding fire departments.

“This fire would have been several times more destructive if not for the cooperation and more-than-willing efforts of our neighbors and neighboring departments, both within our county and our community,” he said.

The area continues to be monitored by fire personnel and landowners for flare-ups.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster



Winning battle

Hays Daily News – January 13, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 30, 2014

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Daniel Honas, left, and Megan Lofton, both with Ellis County Rural Fire Department Co. 5, accept the winning trophy on behalf of the city and rural fire departments for the 11th annual Battle of the Badges blood drive competition Saturday during halftime of the men’s basketball game at Gross Memorial Coliseum. The fire department won with 73 votes. Jolie Green/Hays Daily News.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Ice Rescue

By Ryan Carlson
Lyons News – January 10, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 30, 2014

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It is tough to plan advance training for frozen water hazards but effective rescue skills are vital for first responders. Hutchinson Community College’s Fire Science students were honing their ice-rescue skills, Thursday at Sterling Lake.

Professor Craig Smith, a firefighter and diving enthusiast directed students both in and out of the water. Smith has taught the class since 2002 and explained that while the ice incidents are rare in Kansas, they do happen, making emergency rescue training essential.

According to Smith, most ice rescues involve children, fisherman and hunters who misjudge the strength and depth of ice cover. Nearly two-thirds of rescues involve more than one victim with companions falling through together or when inexperienced people becoming trapped in an attempted rescue.

“Ice rescues are very serious. When a person falls through the ice, they typically don’t have very long before hypothermia sets in,” Smith said.

Smith said time is critical. “In a young child, hypothermia can occur within five minutes and an adult can typically last 15 to 20 minutes. Many times, firefighters only have the time it takes to get their gear on and get to the victim before hypothermia sets in.”

Occasionally, a first responder may fall through the ice, compounding the rescue. Smith replicated the scenario directing primary rescue students to submerge as victims. Team leaders shouted for a secondary responder to rescue both victims. The exercise is designed to prepare students for a variety of emergency situations.

Thirteen students were divided into two groups approximating a real-life rescue team. In an actual rescue, victims are not tethered so the risk is significantly higher than in training.

The number of annual ice-related fatalities usually number in the 100s with Kansas contributing between two to four to the total.

Smith said he enjoys winter weather and appreciates the opportunity to train students in ice rescue skills. Students rotated between victim, rescuer and on-shore personnel. They were required to practice until all skills were completely mastered.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster


Franklin Dean Gustus


Alarms for Angels

Pratt Tribune – January 11, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 30, 2014

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Pratt Pilot Club donated $100 to the Pratt Fire Department’s “Alarms for Angels” program. Smoke detectors will be installed free by the fire department in homes that do not have one. Mead Lumber will provde the Pratt Fire Department with the smoke detectors for $5 each. Pictured are (from left) Chad VanSlyke, Pilot president Diana Harris, Pilot secretary Ulanda Stiebben and Eric Welch.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Wind snaps power pole, fans fires along I-135

By Erin Mathews
Salina Journal – January 28, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 30, 2014

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Strong winds were expected Sunday evening, but the house-rattling, tree-felling, 60-mile-per-hour gusts that knocked out two major power lines, causing the closure of Interstate Highway 135, came as a surprise to weather forecasters.

“We were expecting winds of about 40 miles per hour, so we knew it was coming, but we didn’t expect it to be that strong,” said Scott Smith, meteorologist for the National Weather Service Office in Wichita.

He said a strong cold front moving into the area collided with warm temperatures that had prevailed earlier in the afternoon, creating the strong winds as high and low pressure systems collided.

“Everything came together to really have strong winds behind it,” he said.

The Salina Regional Airport weather monitoring station recorded 60 mph gusts, which were topped by 63 mph gusts in Chase County near Cottonwood Falls, southeast of Saline County, Smith said.

Tom Sydow, Westar Energy regional director for the Salina area, said crews will be continuing to clean up from the storm for much of the week.

“There’s a lot we need to clean up,” he said. “It’s more than a one-day job.”

Sydow said Westar lineman had devised temporary solutions to get power restored to about 2,100 customers who lost power when the tops of three poles snapped off in the vicinity of the I-135 overpass at Schilling Road, downing a 12,000-volt line that powers southwest Salina and a 34,000-volt circuit to Marquette.

He said power was restored to most southwest Salina customers within an hour and a half, and Marquette had power in about two hours.

But Sydow said it took longer to get power restored to businesses in the immediate vicinity of the poles. Walmart, two motels and several restaurants and other businesses in the immediate area were without power from about 6:10 p.m. Sunday to 4:50 a.m. Monday, Sydow said.

Sydow said Westar crews were also addressing about 1,000 isolated wind-related power outages throughout the Salina Abilene region.

“That was more than a usual day, but for what we had, that was pretty minimal,” he said. “That wind was ferocious.”

Sydow said about 30 Westar employees from Salina and Abilene and backup crews from Manhattan were out working in freezing temperatures to restore power.

“It was cold out there last night, and those guys really pushed it to get our customers on,” he said.

Sydow said he believes what happened is that the wind snapped off the top of the first 70-foot pole along Schilling Road, and then possibly the low hanging line or the broken top of the pole was hooked on a passing semitrailer, which pulled the line until two more poles broke, one on each side of the interstate overpass.

He said the line that usually crosses over the top of the Schilling overpass fell down onto the road.

He said sparks from the line ignited grass in the I-135 median, and flames fanned by high winds raced down the middle strips to the Water Well Road interchange before they were contained.

He said firefighters did “a heck of a job” getting the blaze stopped.

Salina Fire Marshal Roger Williams said city firefighters were assisted by crews in brush trucks from Rural Fire District Nos. 6 and 2. He said the median fire would have been impressive for witnesses driving by.

“That wind was just blowing that almost like a blow torch,” he said. “It was a pretty impressive glow. It lit up the night sky for sure.”

He said embers from the median fire blew into the west ditch and started a second grass fire on the side of the highway, but that fire did not cross the off ramp at Water Well Road.

He said the arc flash from the falling power line “had to be pretty impressive for anybody who saw that come down on the interstate.”

Williams said firefighters assisted Salina police, Saline County sheriff’s deputies and Kansas Highway Patrol troopers in traffic control efforts, as both north-and south-bound lanes of traffic were diverted off of the interstate and away from the power line and fire.

“In a live situation like that, it’s great to see everything come together and work,” he said.

He said about 30 cars and a recreational vehicle that were stuck on the interstate were turned around and led off an exit ramp once a detour was established. However, semis were too big to turn around, and four or five on the northbound Schilling off-ramp and five or six on the northbound lanes of the interstate were stranded there until travel was restored at about 10:30 p.m. he said.

Williams said he decided he needed to assist after hearing a loud bang in his backyard and looking out to see that his neighbor’s trampoline had blown over the fence and smacked into the side of an outbuilding.

“In a storm like that it’s not that the wind is blowing, it’s what the wind is blowing,” he said.

Williams said firefighters were called to smaller fires caused by downed power lines in other areas of Salina as well. He said a tree was on fire near Fairview Street and there was a fire in a ditch near Cedar Creek.

KHP trooper Ben Gardner said three noninjury crashes occurred on I-135 as a result of the traffic stoppage.

“We had lines down, fire on the interstate, the road closed and traffic re-routed, and it was all at once,” he said.

He said initially as traffic was being diverted onto Old Highway 81 from I-135 there was a “significant traffic load,” but eventually the detour was marked well enough to become self-sufficient.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster



Fireman makes pizzas

Oberlin Herald – January 29, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 30, 2014

Click on photo to view full-size image.

Click on photo to view full-size image.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Departing fire chief’s wish: show support, appreciation for emergency services

By Donna Celaya
Montgomery County Chronicle – January 9, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 30, 2014

chad russell

Twenty years is plenty of time to put down deep roots.

But it sometimes becomes necessary to uproot and transplant…then pray for the move to take hold and bear good fruits.

Chad Russell, chief of the Cherryvale Fire-Rescue Department, joined the local fire and rescue department in 1993.

However, within three years, Russell departed for a position with the Kansas City Fire Department.

Three years of work with the Kansas City department proved to Russell that his heart and talents belong in smaller communities. He returned to Cherryvale, bringing with him a young wife and two little daughters.

“They’re 20 and 23 now,” he said of his daughters. “It’s amazing how quickly 20 years have gone by.”

Russell started his firefighting career as a volunteer in his hometown of Udall, Kansas, a town of about 900 people south of Wichita.

“I don’t really know why I volunteered, but I did. I guess it was the thing to do at the time,” he said.

When he started as a part-time firefighter here in 1993, “I remember we were really excited that we had gotten 35 calls that year,” he said. “Now the department gets between 650 and 850 calls a year.”

The department converted to a computerized record-keeping system several years ago, he said. He said most of the calls then and now were mostly vehicle wrecks and calls from elderly residents. However, he says he remembers quite a few calls 20 years ago focused on people involved with drug or alcohol abuse.

“It’s good to be able to say that times have changed a lot, and the change has been definitely for the better,” he said.

Training standards also have undergone tremendous changes.

“It used to be that if you had your heart in the right place, you could just come on down and help,” Russell said. “Now, you still have to have your heart in the right place, but state and federal regulations require pretty extensive training at every level.”

Russell’s parting wish is that the law enforcement and emergency service agencies throughout the county and surrounding areas continue to strengthen bonds and work more closely together.

For the last several years, the Cherryvale Fire-Rescue Department and the Montgomery County Rural Fire District 1, with a division in Cherryvale, have had a mutual assistance agreement.

“It has ushered in a new era of cooperation between the two departments,” Russell said. “Cherryvale Rural is all volunteer. If they get a call and none of their guys can show up for whatever reason, our guys will jump in there and respond. We have dropped all of the egos. People don’t care which department’s name is on the truck, just as long as someone is driving it who can help them.”

The two departments also train and drill together without charge to the volunteer department.

That kind of cooperation makes him proud of both departments, he said.

Russell, who was named interim chief in December 2012, was hired as full-time chief in May 2013. He said he had plans to hire one more full-time firefighter/EMT, and he has in motion applications for $1 million in grants, “And I hope the department gets them all,” he said.

Russell said he considers it an honor to have been able to serve Cherryvale.

“We loved making this community our home,” he said. “We have been really happy at Cherryvale. The schools are excellent. If we still had kids in school, we wouldn’t even consider moving.

“The staff runs the department and they are all committed to providing excellent levels of services,” Russell said. “Whoever inherits this department is inheriting an excellent staff. They will work for the new chief’s success.”

He said he believes Cherryvale residents want the best fire protection and emergency services the department can provide. In exchange, he would like to see residents express their gratitude and appreciation for the firefighters and EMTs.

“When all of the feedback you get is complaints, it’s discouraging and we wonder if people have any appreciation for the work we do,” he said. “We get a lot of flack about the weeds and nuisance enforcement part of the job. But when my staff gets an occasional thank-you card or note, they appreciate it so much. Tell us, drop us a note, send us an email. We are here to help you. Tell the guys you appreciate them. That’s all I ask for at this point.”

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Cherryvale’s fire-rescue chief accepts position in Andover

By Donna Celaya
Montgomery County Chronicle – January 9, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 30, 2014

A leadership change is forthcoming in the Cherryvale Fire-Rescue Department.

Fire-rescue chief Chad Russell announced Monday night that he was resigning his position to accept a fire chief position in Andover, Kansas.

“I announce with trepidation and excitement my resignation, which takes effect January 31,” Russell said at Monday’s Cherryvale City Council meeting.

“This is a really big decision and a really big move for us. We love Cherryvale and it was a very hard decision for us to leave. We raised our kids here. This has been home for us for 20 years.”

Russell received the council’s congratulations, and Mayor John Wright said Russell “will be sorely missed.”

Russell will be the new chief of the Andover Fire-Rescue Department in February. Andover is a suburb of Wichita, Kansas and located in one of the fastest-growing areas in the Sedgwick County-Butler County area.

Russell said the job position already is posted on a state employment website. All of the city’s job postings and the applications are processed through that website.

Russell expressed his pride in the fire and rescue crew. “Every employee has given an award-winning performance this year,” he said.

Those receiving awards for 2013 were:

  • Trent King, Eagle Award (formerly called the chief’s award): for an outstanding crew member whose accomplishments do not fit into the other predesignated categories.
  • Aaron Cook: Certificate of Excellence.
  • Mike Dressel: Certificate of Excellence
  • Sandy Alspaugh: Volunteer of the Year.
  • Jesse Reed: Employee of the Year.
  • Kim Whitley: Rookie of the Year.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Four escape house fire before roof caves in

By Kathy Quinn
FOX 4 News – January 30, 2014


Four roommates are safe after a fire gutted their house Thursday morning near 45th & Walker Avenue in Kansas City, Kan.  The men were sleeping, but one was awakened by a bright light at the back of the house around 3:45 a.m. He woke the others and they all escaped without injury before the roof caved in.

Heavy smoke and fire forced firefighters to go into the defensive mode when they arrived on the scene, which means they had to fight the fire from the outside.  Since there was no heat in the house, it’s possible the men were using space heaters to stay warm.  There were no working smoke detectors in the home.

Fire investigators are checking into the cause of the fire, which may have started at the back of the house. Since the men don’t speak English it wasn’t clear at first if everyone got out safely. One of the men told FOX 4 that he was concerned about retrieving clothes and shoes because he has to go to work in the morning.

Damage is estimated at a total loss of around $75,000.  The cause remains under investigation.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Mulvane Emergency Services news

By Mike Robinson
Mulvane News – January 9, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 30, 2014

The Mulvane Emergency Services team and officials hope to be operating out of the casino substation by the end of January. That’s only three weeks away, Mulvane Director of Public Safety Dave Williams reports.

The new EMS substation, which is located straight west of the Kansas Star Casino along U.S. 81, was started in 2012 and after a troubled start that included a completely re-bid job, the project has been running along smoothly.

Williams reports MICTs will man each of Mulvane’s ambulances “24-7”, and there will be one Mulvane ambulance at the east station (which is the main Mulvane EMS Complex on East Main Street) and one ambulance at the west station (on U.S. 81).

“All ambulances will have two paramedics on board,” says Williams. “If a third ambulance is called out, which is rare, Lt. Shawn Lamm and Capt. Judi Patterson (who is an EMT) will answer the call.”

Williams said in addition, off-duty medics and part-time EMTs will be asked to man a truck at special events, such as casino concerts and events, school football games or rodeos at the Mulvane Rodeo Arena.

Currently the staff includes 16 full-time MICTs, an AEMT and an EMT as well as four part-time EMTs and one MICT part-time plus one billing clerk.

The latest work at the EMS Substation includes domestic water and sanitary sewer services installed and concrete pavement completed on the north side of the new facility.

What’s left? Well, some site work including upgrades to the existing sump manhole (sewer lift station), site paving, sidewalks, landscaping and finish grading.

Williams said he hopes to be in the building by January 31, 2014.

According to City Administrator Kent Hixson, a Mulvane ambulance and crew will be there 24/7 but the fire equipment is still being determined. “Chief Williams will have the fire department stationed there but he is still deciding on what fire equipment will be there since we have a volunteer fire department.”

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Complex well watered

Pratt Tribune – January 14, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 30, 2014

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Pratt Firefighter Lee Van Slyke spends some time manning the nozzle of a fire hose during a training session at the Green Sports Complex parking lot. Regular training keeps firefighters ready to respond to emergencies. Photo by Gale Rose.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Injury accident

Winfield Daily Courier – January 14, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 30, 2014

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Emergency workers lift an injured passenger from a Dodge SUV that struck a concrete post about 2 p.m. Monday on the west curb of North Summit Street, near Windsor Avenue. DeeAnna Widener, 52, of Arkansas City, was taken to South Central Kansas Medical Center, where she was treated and later released, a hospital spokesman said. The driver of the SUV, Judith Hagar, 67, of Ark City, was turning left onto Summit from Windsor and had to maneuver quickly to the outside southbound lane to avoid oncoming traffic, said Lt. Chris Arnett, of the Arkansas City Police Department. The concrete post used to be the foundation of a traffic signal that since has been removed, Arnett said. (Foss Farrar/Traveler)

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Water and ashes

Winfield Courier – January 30, 2014

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Winfield firefighters thoroughly hose off the remaining ashes of a small fire on Wednesday afternoon. According to Lt. Justin Crawford, the Winfield Fire Department was dispatched to 19892 21st Road, the property of Jeff Schmidt, for a fire just before 3 in the afternoon. The cause of the fire was a resident’s pouring hot fireplace ashes in the back lawn and catching the surrounding grass on fire. (Ashlee Mayo/Courier)

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Shed damaged by fire

Leavenworth Times – January 9, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 30, 2014

An electrical fire resulted in an estimated $2,000 in damage to a backyard shed and its contents Tuesday night at a Lansing residence, a fire department spokesman said.

The fire was reported at 11 p.m. at 709 Maple Lane.

No injuries were reported, said Rick Huhn, Leavenworth County Fire District No. 1 chief.

Huhn said the fire was reported by a neighbor who saw smoke.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

ACFD responds to late night fire

By Foss Farrar
Arkansas City Traveler – January 30, 2014

Photo by Andrew Larson.

Photo by Andrew Larson.



A longtime Arkansas City resident well-known for her frequent attendance and outspoken comments at public meetings escaped injury Wednesday night from a fire that broke out as she was asleep in her home.

Pearl Turner was escorted out of the house at 1223 N. Summit St. by a policeman who broke open the front door to enter the smoke-filled residence, officials said.

Firefighters were dispatched to the scene at 9:24 p.m., Ark City Fire Chief Bobby Wolfe said Thursday morning. Within five minutes they had the fire under control, but they remained on the scene until 12:30 a.m. Thursday pulling out attic insulation that had caught fire when old electrical wiring failed.

Westar Energy was dispatched to the scene and turned off power to the house, Wolfe said.

“Hats off to neighbors who notified us, and to police for getting her out of the house,” Wolfe said. “Seeing the potential for something much worse, I like how this turned out.”

An Ark City police officer had to break open the front door to gain entry into the house and escort Turner, who had been asleep in a bedroom, to safety.

City Commissioner Chad Giles, a local attorney, is Turner’s grandson.

“I’m thankful for the neighbors who reported this and for the quick response by police and fire,” Giles said Thursday morning.

He said that Pearl was doing fine and had spent the rest of the night with his mother, Nancy Nelson, of rural Ark City.

He said family members planned to assess the damage and determine what steps to take to renovate the house.

Wolfe said the ceiling in the front of the one-story, bungalow-style house had to be taken down so firefighters could reach smoldering ceiling-joist insulation.

The house had a lath and plaster ceiling that had another layer of tile, he said.

Firefighters removed all the insulation and took it outside, he said.

He said the house could have been engulfed in flames in a short time had the alert neighbors not spotted it and reported it right away.

“It had been smoldering for quite a while,” Wolfe said. “The ceiling joist was charred completely.”

“This shows the importance of neighbors looking out for neighbors and the importance of early detection,” he said.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Firefighters battle fifth blaze in 2 days

Hutchinson News – January 29, 2014

A Hutchinson home was damaged Wednesday night in a fire that started outside.

No one was injured during the fire in the 1400 block N. Jefferson, which started about 7 p.m. The fire caught a fence on fire and went in a window of the structure. The Hutchinson Fire Department had to go into the ceiling to make sure there were no hot spots.

Battalion Chief Rex Albright said the cause of the fire is still under investigation. He did not immediately have a damage estimate.

This is the fifth fire in two days. Albright hopes this trend does not continue.

“It’s crazy,” he said.

The cause of an early Wednesday morning fire is still under investigation.

About 1 a.m. Wednesday, Hutchinson firefighters were called to the 1400 block of East Second, where they found heavy smoke and fire in the front room of the residence.

Firefighters were told that someone was inside, but they weren’t able to locate anyone, according to Doug Hanen, Deputy Fire Chief. The owner later arrived on scene.

The fire was controlled within 20 minutes. Preliminary damage was estimated at $10,000 to $15,000. Heavy damage was sustained to the front room with heat and smoke damage throughout the residence.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Home of family new to Ottawa goes up in smoke

By Clinton Dick
Ottawa Herald – January 29, 2014


Kody Henry and his family are searching for a new place to live after a fire devastated their home northeast of Ottawa, he said.

“The shock is still, you know … you don’t really know what to do or where to go,” he said.

Henry and his wife, Reannan Phillips, along with their children Kingston, 6, and Grayson, 9 months, lost their possessions, as well as the home they were renting, in a fire Tuesday afternoon. Henry and Grayson were in the home when the fire broke out about 2:40 p.m. Tuesday at 3331 Reno Road, he said.

“We had the wood stove burning,” Henry said. “Basically, it started somewhere above the wood stove in the piping. I just got a little hint of smoke so I went down to the basement of what is a tri-level house. I got down there and I look up by the pipe near the ceiling and the ceiling is on fire. That is when it all broke loose. We got out and called 911 and within 20 minutes it was a burning pile of garbage. We were pretty fortunate.”

Henry and his son made it out safely and there were no injuries resulting from the fire at the home about seven miles northeast of Ottawa. Kingston was at school at the time of the fire, and Phillips had just pulled into work in Olathe when Henry called her to report news of the fire, he said.

The Lincoln-Ottawa-Harrison Fire Department responded, with mutual aid from the Ottawa, Wellsville and Centropolis fire departments. Franklin County Sheriff’s officers and Franklin County Emergency Medical Services, as well as Red Cross representatives, also were on scene.

Though emergency officials were unable to give an exact damage estimate, the house was a total loss, both Dave Gibbs, LOH fire chief, and Lt. Curtis Hall, with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, said. The house had an appraised value of $89,330, according the Franklin County Appraiser’s website. No other structures on the 62-acre property were damaged, Gibbs said.

Henry and his family moved into the home in late November from Colorado Springs, Colo., Ethan Harkness, Henry’s older brother from Kearney, Neb., said. Henry’s family was renting the home from Darrel Gibson, Overland Park, Henry said. The family did not have renter’s insurance, Henry said.

Henry and his family now are living with Henry’s mother, Shawn Wilson, about 1.25 miles from the site of the fire, Henry said. While they lost many of their possessions in the blaze, Henry said, they have been receiving donations to help with the transition.

“We’ve got a lot of clothes donated, so we are getting pretty good to where we can actually change and shower,” he said. “Someone’s got a crib for us and a queen size bed. It sounds like people have got a lot of stuff that they have got to bring down.

“We are just kind of regrouping and gathering up our lives,” Henry said. “ … We are just waiting around with our kids right now and getting by day by day.”

Harkness set up a donation website for his younger brother on The website allows people to make online monetary donations for the family. The current goal for “Kody Henry fire fund” is set at $5,000. The total raised Wednesday afternoon was $995.

“Any and every little bit can help,” Harkness said. “The Knights of Columbus are helping them. The Red Cross had been out there. Anybody who is friends with us or out in the area are the ones doing the physical drop off. This [website] is more for family members who don’t want to mail a big item or just want to mail a check. It is a nice site because there are millions of random people who are willing to help.”

Phillips posted on the site Wednesday afternoon from her Facebook account giving her appreciation to the donors.

“Wow! You guys are amazing,” Phillips’ post read. “You have no idea how thankful we are! I know I already said it once. But seriously this is amazing!”

Looking to the future, it’s all about finding a new home, Henry said.

“Right now, we are just trying to find a place to live,” he said. “I don’t really know where to go from here, honestly.”

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Dry, windy weather creates increased fire danger

By Sarah Hollenbeck
KSHB – January 29, 2014


Fire investigators in Kansas City, Kan., are trying to determine what caused a large townhouse fire Wednesday morning.
It happened just after 2 a.m. in the 1700 block of N. 73rd Street.

The fire caused part of the roof to collapse on a townhome.

Kansas City, Kansas Firefighters say luckily it wasn’t as cold Wednesday morning, so firefighters didn’t have to worry as much about their equipment freezing.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but firefighters warn we are experiencing perfect conditions for fire.

The Overland Park Fire Department says the dry, windy winter weather likely caused more than 15 brush fires in Johnson County in the past week.

Firefighters say if you are grilling, make sure to completely put out the fire.

If you smoke, do not flick cigarettes out of your car.

In the past week, both of those things have caused fires in Johnson County.

A house that caught fire at 129th and Switzer this week is believed to have been caused by careless smoking.

If you smoke, firefighters say to use sand or water to extinguish your cigarette.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster


Dog awakens sleeping man from fire

Great Bend Tribune – January 29, 2014

Fire destroyed a small motor home Tuesday night at 126 Kiowa Road. Great Bend Fire Chief Mike Napolitano said the man sleeping in the 1997 International Eldorado was able to escape, thanks to his dog. Firefighters were dispatched at 11:36 p.m. and the motor home was fully involved with fire when they arrived. “The occupant of the motor home was sleeping in it at the time of the fire,” Napolitano said. “Thankfully, his dog jumped up on the bed he was sleeping in and woke him up. When he woke up he found flames around the area of his space heater.” The man was evaluated by firefighters at the scene who said he was suffering from minor smoke inhalation, but he declined to be transported to the hospital. The fire was caused by combustibles too close to the space heater. The motor home was a total loss. Estimated loss, including its contents, was about $8,000.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Firefighting puts miles on truck, even when parked

By Oliver Good
Hillsboro Star Journal – January 29, 2014

According to Marion fire chief Mike Regnier, the 8-cylinder engine of the department’s 2005 International 4,300 city pumper truck is like a regular truck of that model, except for the fact that it also helps power a pump that can disperse 1,250 gallons of water per minute.

“When the pump runs during a fire, it’s like putting miles on the truck,” Regnier said. “We stop, put the truck in neutral, and put the pump in gear.”

Once the pump is in gear, firefighters put the engine back into to drive to allow the engine to power the pump during which the odometer also goes up.

Firefighters generally start the pump at a lower pressure to avoid damaging city hydrants and water pipes, but increase the pressure for normal operation.

“We can’t start the pump at full pressure because we could suck the pipes out of the ground,” Renier said, “It’s like that in any town.”

The International’s water pump has a digital display that firefighters both monitor and adjust water pressure and rpm’s depending on what hoses are in use.

Firefighters can also engage levers that tell the system to mix foam in with the water, circulate water within the system without dispersing it, and drain water off.

“A hose has about 100 psi during normal use and takes two or three guys to run,” Regnier said. “The International’s deck gun normally operates at 750 psi but can be increased to 1,250 psi if needed.”

The deck gun’s design allows one person to disperse a large amount of water without losing their footing or their balance. Firefighters operate it from on top of the truck but can also remove and resituate it if needed.

Pressures in the deck gun can shoot water from where the truck sits at the fire department all the way over Main Street, he said, which is about one city block.

“Thankfully the International doesn’t get very many miles in a year but when we are on a call we never shut it off,” Regnier said. “In a year, it’s driven maybe 40 miles but has about 40 hours of run time.”

Since it is a city truck, most of the calls it is used are near the fire station, and like other department trucks, the International’s is refueled after every call.

The water-holding tank is also refilled if needed. It has a 750-gallon capacity. However, if there is a fire in an area where there are no hydrants, hoses can also be attached to 2,500-gallon tank that are delivered by the tanker truck.

Regnier and other firefighters do regular monthly maintenance on department trucks that includes routine oil, antifreeze, and tie pressure checks.

Trucks are also scheduled regular annual inspections, usually in January, conducted by mechanics at the city shop.

He said annual checkups consist of an examination of the entire truck, a routine filter and oil change, as well as a check of all other fluids.

Regnier has been part of the fire department for 39 years and was appointed as fire chief about nine years ago. When he was 20, he was asked to join up after helping firefighters maneuver fire hoses during a blaze at the city shop.

“My wife says I don’t know when to say when,” Regnier joked.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Brief Wiley fire caused by workers’ saw

By Ken Stephens
Hutchinson News – January 29, 2014

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A saw being used by a demolition crew sparked a small fire that filled portions of the Wiley Building with smoke and closed portions of Main and First Avenue for emergency vehicles Wednesday morning.

Hutchinson Fire Chief Kim Forbes said the workers were cutting out a metal package or mail chute inside a concrete shaft on the first floor. Hot pieces of metal dripped down into the basement, where it came in contact with plywood and 2-by-4 framing from the original construction of the building 100 years ago, igniting the fire, he said.

Forbes said the workers could not have known the combustible material was at the bottom of the concrete shaft because they didn’t have access to the area.

When firefighters arrived a few minutes later, Forbes said, they could see light smoke drifting from the building through windows that have been removed and the fire had reached from the basement to the first floor within the concrete shaft.

Forbes said that because the metal chute was in a concrete shaft, there was no real danger of the fire spreading through out the building.  Firefighters went up to the fourth floor, had construction workers help cut a larger opening into the metal shaft and poured water down it to extinguish the fire.

Forbes said now that everything within the shaft has been wetted down, there won’t be any danger when the workers, who were let back into the building less than an hour after the fire was reported, begin cutting the chute out again.

One demolition worker among a crowd of workers who evacuated the building and gathered on the south side of First Avenue, across the street from the Wiley Building, said the third and fourth floors had filled with smoke.  Randy Mathews, executive director of the Historic Fox Theatre, which is connected to the Wiley Building, said some smoke penetrated a storage area of the theatre. But he said there’s no damage and the area, which is not open to the public, will just need to be aired out.

Forbes said there was no real damage to the Wiley Building because the interior was being demolished anyway to prepare for redevelopment of the building into 73 apartments and two floors of commercial space. The $18 million project, which includes construction of a new parking garage east of the theater, is scheduled to be completed in December.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Fire department meets for awards banquet

By Don Ratzlaff
Hillsboro Free Press – January 8, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 29, 2014

All 17 active members of the Hillsboro Fire Department gathered for their annual awards banquet December 27 at La Cabana restaurant in Hillsboro.

Fire Chief Ben Steketee presented involvement awards to the top two volunteers in each of three categories; most sanctioned training drills; most fire runs; and the most combined drills and runs.

Rusty Moss won the top award for sanctioned drills by participating in 41 out of a possible 45; Lloyd Spencer was second with 36 drills.

Matt Hein received the award for most fire runs with 69 out of 104 for the year. Mason McCarty was the runner-up with 67 runs.

Hein also won the top award for combined activities with 104 while McCarty was right behind with 103.

The winners of each top award received $30 in Hillsboro Chamber Bucks while the runners-up received $15 in Chamber Bucks.

Steketee also awarded service pins, based on five-year increments; Joe Alvarez 35 years, Todd Helmer 30, Murray Koop 20, Marty Rader 15, Ben Steketee 15 and Matt Hein five.

In addition to expressing appreciation for the commitment of his volunteers, Steketee said the families of the volunteers merit appreciation, too, for being willing to allow their spouse/father to be gone from home so frequently.

He also said employers of the volunteers deserve recognition as well.

“When we hire a firefighter; I go and talk to the employer and say, ‘Are you willing to let your employee go?'”

He said in most cases, the employer gives a green light. Some employers ask that the volunteer who works for them not leave until Steketee sounds a second tone, indicating the need for additional help.

“We really are fortunate in Hillsboro,” he said. “A lot of the guys work for the city, and the city allows them to respond. But still, they have different supervisors and sometimes it’s difficult to let them go.”

Steketee said the local department currently has three openings, though he expects two “very good prospects” to be hired soon.

When people express interest in joining the department, Steketee first will ask them to attend each regular department meetings for the next six months.

“If they show up for every meeting for six months, then that kind of qualifies them,” Steketee said. “I believe now that they are serious.”

Having cleared that hurdle, the veteran volunteers then vote whether to accept the applicant.

Steketee said it’s important that the veterans be in favor of the candidate.

“You have to really rely on each other in this work and trust in each other,” he said.

If a candidate receives a majority of the votes, he or she must then be formally approved by the city council.

Once that happens, the candidate fills out an employment application with the city. Even at that point, Steketee said he has the authority to veto the process, but that has never happened.

The new department volunteer will be assigned to “shadow” one of the experienced firefighters for one year. Steketee said he also expects the new volunteer to take a Firefighter 1 course, which to complete takes two evenings a week and a couple of Saturdays for six months.

Volunteer firefighters are paid $12.50 by the city for each drill they attend and each fire run to which they respond.

Steketee expressed appreciation to the city of Hillsboro for paying for the awards banquet.

“We just have a nice time of camaraderie,” he said.

This year, Steketee asked each volunteer to list the family members and their employer so the public knows each firefighter’s primary supporters.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Fire damages home

Parsons Sun – January 11, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 29, 2014

An early morning fire Friday caused an estimated $30,000 damage to a Parsons home and its contents.

Parsons firefighters were called at 1:57 a.m. Friday to 3330 Pefley. The initial report was a smell of smoke, Parsons Fire Chief Larry Steeby said.

“Upon our arrival crews found heavy smoke coming from the roof and attic of the residence,” he said.

Firefighters used two lines to control the fire in the attic of the home. The fire was under control by 2:24 a.m. and crews were on scene until 4:54 a.m., Steeby said.

The home was owned and occupied by Kimberly Nading. She and another person were at home at the time of the fire. Everyone was out of the house when firefighters arrived and there were no injuries reported by either civilians or firefighters.

Steeby said the home was insured. The cause of the fire is believed to be accidental and electrical issues are believed to be a contributing factor, Steeby said.

The Parsons Fire Department was assisted by Labette District No. 9, Altamont Fire/Rescue, Labette County Chapter of the American Red Cross, Labette Health EMS and the Parsons Police Department.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Fire starts in television

By Becky Reeves
Coffey County Republican – January 24, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 29, 2014

Coffey County Fire Chief Randall Brown said thousands of dollars of damage occurred to a home west of Burlington Monday evening, due to a flat screen television igniting.

“The way they explained it to me was that the television made an unusual sound when one of the boys turned it on,” Chief Brown said. “It started to smoke. He yelled to his mom, who came into the bedroom to check it out. The smoke worsened and then flames started to shoot out of it, so they got out of the house.”

Gailyn called dispatch and a neighbor. While waiting for the fire department, the neighbor and a Gridley firefighter, Merlin Kaufman, who lives near the home, went into the bedroom and used a fire extinguisher to fight the fire.

“Gailyn and her son did a heck of a job,” Chief Brown said. “They made sure to shut the bedroom door, which kept the fire from breathing and left everything shut up.”

A total of 23 firefighters from Jacobs Creek, Gridley, New Strawn and Burlington arrived shortly after 9:30 p.m. with three brush rigs, a pumper, two tankers and the ladder truck. Also responding were law enforcement and emergency medical personnel.

“We basically just had to do salvage and overhaul when we arrived,” Chief Brown said. “We found smoke in the boy’s bedroom and minor flames. The television had been mounted to the wall and it burnt enough that it fell to the floor. The wall was charred and there was smoke throughout the house and some water damage. We went in and made sure all the hot spots were out and checked out the floor, wall and attic to make sure nothing was still burning.”

Brown said the lesson here is to do just what Gailyn and her son did; get out and close the door.

The Ledoms spent the night with friends. The two-year-old house and its contents are insured.

Firefighters left the scene after about one hour.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

First responders deal with stress overload

By Heather Alwin
Colby Free Press – January 23, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 29, 2014

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A simple thank you means a lot to first responders, says Colby Assistant Fire Chief Sean Hankin, and after particularly violent or disturbing incidents, it means even more.

Receiving a thank-you “just makes you feel better about the whole situation,” Hankin said.

Emergency medical personnel, firefighters and law enforcement officers responded to a series of accidents last week that killed three people and injured at least seven more. And it isn’t easy to mentally process that kind of trauma.

When firemen arrived, after driving through a blinding dust storm, and dodging cars and trucks stacked up on either side of the wrecks, they found vehicles burning, they couldn’t see and they were overwhelmed by the number of injuries.

Area first responders say they rely on each other to work through the stresses of their jobs, and agencies like High Plains Mental Health make their personnel available to help.

Friday morning in the firehouse kitchen, Colby’s firemen drank coffee together and talked about what they had seen in this crash and others. Talking about the scene with others who have been there, said Hankin, is one of the best ways to “put everything in order.”

Hankin said there are programs and training available to address work-related stress, but he doesn’t think anyone in his department has gone through them. Fortunately, he said, they don’t encounter such horrific scenes very often–maybe once or twice a year on average.

And when they do, the first-responder “brotherhood” does a “real good job of watching out for one another,” he said.

It may sound silly, Hankin said, but the emergency services team really does operate like a big family. Before Colby’s fire department even left the scene of Thursday’s accidents near Rexford, Hankin said, they talked to the Rexford firemen to make sure they were OK.

Fire Chief Bob McLemore followed up with the Rexford team on Friday, too.

One of the most difficult things first responders deal with, said Hankin, is not knowing what ultimately happens to the people they help.

“You do your job and get them on their way,” he said.

But after the few minutes it takes to get each person stabilized and transported to other care, emergency workers rarely hear whether the patients were all right.

Without a way to deal with the stress, emergencies can take a toll on those who work them. Emergency workers generally experience higher rates of burnout and posttraumatic stress disorder than other professions, according to an article in EMS World magazine and some studies suggest these rates are even higher among emergency workers than among military personnel in combat.

“While most (emergency medical services) providers never have been or will be on the front lines of a war,” said the article, “every single provider has the potential to be exposed to unexpected and unexplainable terrible accidents and events.”

Over time, stress builds up, the article said, increasing the potential for some first responders to experience stress-related mental health concerns.

Being a first responder is a “tough commitment,” Hankin said, emphasizing the training and time commitments of volunteers, adding that but many firefighters stick with it for years. Although his department currently has eight open volunteer slots, one of the volunteers who recently left served 27 years.

Thank-yous, which are less frequent now than soon after the September 11, 2001, attacks, are especially important for these volunteers, the chief said, since they put in so many hours and make such a commitment to serve people.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster


Fire damages KCK townhouse

By Chris Oberholtz and Erika Tallan
KCTV 5 – January 29, 2014

Fire investigators are still trying to find out how a fire started that damaged a KCK townhouse.

Flames burned a gaping hole in the roof, as firefighters had to work through thick black smoke to put out the flames.

Fire officials said the fire only affected one unit at the Brougham Estates.

The damaged unit was located toward the middle of the complex at 1760 North 73rd Terrace. The fire started about 2 a.m. Wednesday.

Firefighters say no other units in the complex were affected.

Of the three people that lived in the unit only one was home. He got out safely. Red Cross was on the scene to help the man.

No injuries were reported.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Firemen battle trio of blazes

Hutchinson News – January 29, 2014

(Travis Morisse/The Hutchinson News) Firefighters remove siding above the garage door of the house at 611 E. 11th Ave. after responding to a fire on Tuesday.

(Travis Morisse/The Hutchinson News) Firefighters remove siding above the garage door of the house at 611 E. 11th Ave. after responding to a fire on Tuesday.

No one was injured during two separate structure fires Tuesday afternoon, nor a third overnight.

The first happened shortly after noon in the 600 block of East 11th Avenue. When the Hutchinson Fire Department arrived, they found smoke and flames coming from the rear of the garage area.

The fire was controlled within 15 minutes, according to Hutchinson Deputy Fire Chief Doug Hanen. Preliminary damage is estimated at $10,000. Most was in the garage and attic.

It was caused by careless smoking, Hanen said. The home was occupied by two adults and a pet.

The second fire was called in shortly after 3:45 p.m. in the 1500 block of East Third Avenue. When crews arrived, they found smoke coming from attic vents.

The fire was controlled in 10 minutes. Preliminary damage is estimated at $5,000, most in the ceiling area of the laundry room.

The cause of this fire appears to be electrical, according to Hanen.

The home was occupied at the time of the fire, Hanen said, but he didn’t indicate how many people were home.

The American Red Cross provided assistance at both fires.

The third fire happened overnight in the 1400 block of East Second at about 1 a.m. The homeowner was away, and the cause wasn’t known, but the front room reportedly had the worst damage.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

Fire burns home near Kanopolis Lake

McPherson Sentinel – January 8, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 29, 2014

A house near Kanopolis Lake burned to the ground Sunday afternoon.

Firefighters were called to 1900 block of 29th Road in Ellsworth County at about 11:45 a.m. Sunday. The house was about 13 miles from Marquette, but the response was delayed by icy road conditions, Kerry Linder, Marquette Fire Chief, said.

By the time fire crews reached the home, it was fully involved. Firefighters were on scene about three and a half hours, but the house was a total loss. No one was injured in the fire.

No damage estimates have been made on the loss. The fire was so intense, firefighters have been unable to determine what started the fire or where in the home the fire began.

Firefighters were recalled to the site at about 9 p.m. Sunday for a rekindle. The Lindsborg, Ellsworth and Kanopolis fire departments provided mutual aid during the fire.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

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