Archive for December, 2014

KSFFA President Article – January 2015

January, 2015

Greetings fellow firefighters!  I do hope the start of this New Year has found you all happy, healthy and safe!  There are so many events coming up this year and I encourage you to keep an eye on our website, , and also in the FIREWIRE for details.

The first event I want to remind you of is the FRA Seminar in Salina at the Bi-Centennial Center on January 17 beginning at 9am and concluding at lunch.  Ken Selzer, the newly elected Commissioner of Insurance will be on hand to meet the fire service and this will be a great time for us to get to know him.  I am very pleased to announce that Commissioner Selzer has recruited an old friend of ours to lead the FRA Department, John Boyd will be on hand to detail the FRA program.  We will have the roundtable sessions with vendors again this year and I do hope you take advantage of this format to gather information to ensure your FRA is using the monies to provide the very best benefits possible for your firefighters.  Of course there are no fees and pre-registration is not required.  I highly encourage every officer or those who wish to be an officer of your local FRA to attend.

I also want to remind everyone we will again host our Legislative Reception on February 9, 2015 at Topeka’s historic fire station number 2 at 719 SW Van Buren Street beginning at 5pm to 7pm.  This is one block north of the State Capitol.  I highly encourage everyone who can attend to please be there by 4:30 so that we can be ready to welcome our legislators.  One thing I have been asked is that we try to park away from the building and give our guests the courtesy of a close parking space.  Last year was very well attended by over 75 legislators and around 60 fire service personnel from across the state.  We really need to have a firefighter from every legislative district present because that is who the legislators want to see, someone from their home area.  As we identify the issues affecting our fire service, we need to have those relationships in place.  If you can attend, please take the time to let your legislators know you will be there and invite them to attend.  This does make a difference!  If I failed to mention, we will also have FREE FOOD!  The BBQ Shack from Paola, KS is our caterer again this year and I can tell you the food is GREAT!  Please do RSVP to so that we will be able to have plenty to go around.  Also, if you have not signed up for our Legislative CapWiz tool to track legislation affecting the Kansas fire Service, I highly recommend you do so.  On our website, click the link KS Legislative CapWiz .  This is a free service to you and only generates email when we need you to take action or notice of legislation affecting us all.

It’s not too early to remind each of you of our Annual Conference coming up on April 22-25, 2015 hosted by the Junction City fire Department.  Motel information along with the 2015 KSFFAA, James A. Todd Memorial Scholarship applications can be found on our website.  Please, if you know of anyone who may qualify for these scholarships, encourage them to apply!  Applications must be received by March 1st.  Just below the scholarship application link is the application for KSFFA Honorary membership.  We want to honor those who have helped make the KSFFA what it is today.  The scholarships and Honorary memberships are announced at our conference.  The KSFFA Auxiliary also conducts the Firefighter Memorial Service at our conference and we do want to honor all those who have passed on this last year.

As you all know, Conference is also where we get to help shape the overall direction of the KSFFA.  The committee work is very valuable to the executive board and gives the guidance needed to fully provide for the needs of the Kansas Fire Service and our membership.  Elections for officers will also be held for the following positions: President, 2nd Vice President, Treasurer, NorthWest Trustee and SouthWest Trustee.  I can tell you there will be changes on our board this April.  I have informed the executive board that I will not seek re-election at this coming conference.  That decision was not easily made and one that I have thought through, prayed over and fully discussed with my wife and family.  It is simply time for me to devote my time and energies to my family as I take the glide path to retirement.  I truly do love serving as your President and will always cherish the memories and friendships I have made over the last 9 years.  Elected as your 1st Vice President at Lawrence in 2006, I came to this board with ideas and visions of improving the FRA system and our training deliveries.  As a local secretary/treasurer, I knew something was very wrong with the FRA distribution system.  I am proud to say that with your help and the patient leadership of a few key people at the Kansas Insurance Department, that situation is resolved and the system is fair for all.  The FRA Seminar in Salina has a special spot in my heart as that is where I was first named the President of this association in January, 2011.  Attendance at regional fire schools has been a top priority for the last few years.  I still challenge every firefighter in this great state to attend at least one regional fire school.  I think once you do, you will come back.  Our class list and delivery methods are constantly changing and we are always striving to deliver the highest quality educational experience our firefighters deserve.  We can’t do this alone, we need your help.  If you believe you are the next person to help lead this association, please consider running for office at our next conference.

As always, I close with the message of service to our firefighters.  Your executive board serves at your pleasure and we do want to be of the very best service to you.  I ask you to please contact any of our officers if you have any question, suggestion or complaint.  We are and will remain “Dedicated to the Safety and Education of the Kansas firefighter”

I wish each of you a very Happy New Year.

JL Ellis, President KSFFA



Small fire on S. Washington

Wellington Daily News – December 31, 2014

A fire started in the attic of a one-story house at 1221 S. Washington at about 1 a.m. Wednesday in Wellington. The fire was put out by 1:20 by the Wellington Fire Dept.

Firemen suspect wiring ignited insulation in the attic area. Firemen gained access through the roof and put out the fire. There was no damage to the living area of the house. Occupants smelled smoke and called the fire department.

“Older wiring such as knob and tube are susceptible to starting a fire when the wiring is overloaded. If you have knob and tube wiring and/or an older breaker box have an electrician inspect the wiring to prevent a fire. Always have working smoke detectors throughout the home,” Fire Chief Tim Hay said.

There were no injuries reported.

The occupant of the house was listed as Christina Lyne.

Investigators on scene of house fire on Alabama Street

By Conrad Swanson
Lawrence Journal World – December 31, 2014

A firefighter breaks through a side roof as crews work the scene of a house fire. Photo by Nick Krug.

A firefighter breaks through a side roof as crews work the scene of a house fire. Photo by Nick Krug.

Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical is investigating a fire at a home at Eighth and Alabama streets on Tuesday night.

Fire Chief Bill Stark said Wednesday morning that fire investigators were on the scene at the home, at 825 Alabama St. The department had not yet issued a report on the fire as of Wednesday morning.

Two people were evacuated from the home late Tuesday as a fire spread through the residence.

About 9:30 p.m., firefighters were called to the home on reports of heavy smoke and flames coming from the exterior of the building. By 9:45, two people and two dogs had been evacuated to safety, but a house cat was unaccounted for, said Lawrence police Sgt. David Hogue.

Standing outside in the cold, next-door neighbors Jim and Debbie Alldritt said they were asked to evacuate their house as a precautionary measure while firefighters battled the nearby blaze.

“How tragic,” Jim Alldritt said as he threw his coat around his shivering wife, who was wearing only a robe. “This is everyone’s nightmare.”

Alldritt said he wasn’t aware of the fire next door until they were asked to leave their home. After that, firefighters quickly converged on the house.

“They attacked this thing. It’s amazing,” he said. “It’s all hands on deck.”

Firefighters put out blaze in smoldering Christmas tree

Topeka Capital Journal – December 31, 2014

The Mission Township Fire Department extinguished a blaze in a smoldering Christmas tree late Tuesday in southwest Shawnee County.

Mission Township firefighter Patrick Stueve said the department was called at 10:49 p.m to 4420 S.W. 61st, Lot 49, where firefighters found a Christmas tree smoldering outside a mobile home.

The blaze did no damage to the mobile home and no one was hurt, Stueve said.

He said firefighters remained on the call until 11:58 p.m.

Van Catches Fire; 10K in Damage

Western Kansas News – December 31, 2014

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garden city fire 12312014b

Firefighters were called out to a car fire reported outside the Golden Plains Credit Union on East Kansas Ave Tuesday afternoon. Garden City Fire Chief Allen Shelton says no one was injured. The van has been deemed a total loss with damages totaling $10,000. Some minor damage may have been caused to the side building. Shelton says the fire started in the van’s engine. The exact cause of the blaze is still under investigation.

Photos courtesy of Jeneria Bennett-Burgardt and Garrett Janda

Structure blaze

Lawrence Journal World – December 23, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – December 31, 2014

Click on photo to view full-size image.

Click on photo to view full-size image.

Wakarusa Township firefighters combat flames at a fully engulfed building at 1678 East 1100 Road around 1:30 p.m. Monday. The building, which was uninhabited, was located across the street from the Lawrence Nature Park.

Cooperative Grain & Supply donates to Ness County Fire District #2

Ness County News – December 25, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – December 31, 2014

The Co-operative Grain & Supply Co. Bazine, announced a donation of $1000.00 to the Ness County Fire District #2 to help with the purchase of new equipment for the firefighters and $1000.00 to the Ness City Ministerial Alliance to aid people in need of help and in support of the local food bank. These funds are specifically designed to help non-profit organizations in the community.

The donation was made possible by The Co-Operative Grain & Supply and the Land O’Lakes Foundation through its Member Co-op Match Program. The Foundation program matches the donations of Land O-Lakes member cooperatives dollar-for-dollar, thus doubling the funds available for community projects.

“We are excited about the opportunity to partner with the Land O’Lakes Foundation to support community programs where we work and live,” said Co-op General Manager Bryan Yohe.

The Land O’Lakes Foundation is committed to improving the quality of life in communities where Land O’Lakes, Inc., has farmer and co-op members, employees, plants and facilities. Land O’Lakes Foundation proactively helps rural communities prosper and prepare for tomorrow by donating resources that develop and strengthen organizations dedicated to hunger, education, youth and community endeavors.

KSFFA Regional Fire School hosted by Ness County Fire District #1

KSFFA Regional Fire School
hosted by Ness County Fire District #1
January 3-4, 2015
Location: Ness City Grade School – 500 E Chestnut

Saturday Morning – January 3 – 8 a.m.

1.  Vehicle Extrication – 8 hrs. – Full gear required
2.  Engine Company Operations for Small Departments – 8 hrs.
3.  Grain Elevator Fires – 8 hrs – Helmet required

Saturday Afternoon – January 3 – 1 p.m.

1.  Vehicle Extrication, cont.
2.  Engine Company Operations, cont.
3.  Grain Elevator Fires, cont.

Sunday Morning – January 4 – 8 a.m.

1.  Oil Tank Battery Fires – 4 hrs.
2.  Vehicle Fires – 4 hrs.
3.  Fire Cause Determination – 4 hrs.

Sunday Noon – January 4

Propane Props – Full gear and SCBA required

Motel Info:
Derrick Inn – 409 Sycamore – 785.798.3617
The Elite Suites – 121 S. Topeka Ave. – 785.798.2160

FF1 and 2 Testing offered — must pre-register through KU Fire Traininng.
Free Fit Testing offered.

For more information contact Troy Wolf, KSFFA Southwest Trustee @ 620.492.1861


1 dead, 3 hospitalized after head on crash

Salina Post – December 30, 2014

Seward County Undersheriff Gene Ward stands next to the Subaru Justy that had been driven by 49-year-old James C. McCourt Jr. of Liberal Tuesday afternoon in Hayne. McCourt was westbound on U.S. Highway 54 in Hayne when an eastbound GMC Yukon, far right, tried to pass another vehicle and hit McCourt head-on. McCourt was ejected from his car and died on the scene. L&T photo/Larry Phillips

Seward County Undersheriff Gene Ward stands next to the Subaru Justy that had been driven by 49-year-old James C. McCourt Jr. of Liberal Tuesday afternoon in Hayne. McCourt was westbound on U.S. Highway 54 in Hayne when an eastbound GMC Yukon, far right, tried to pass another vehicle and hit McCourt head-on. McCourt was ejected from his car and died on the scene. L&T photo/Larry Phillips

A Kansas man died and three others were injured in an accident just before 4 p.m. on Tuesday in Seward County.

The Kansas Highway Patrol reported a 2006 GMC Yukon driven by Nicole D. Williams, 37, Andover, was eastbound on U.S 54 seven miles east of Liberal.

The driver attempted to pass another vehicle and struck a westbound1993 Subaru Justy head on. The driver of the Subaru James C. McCort, Jr., 49, Liberal, was ejected.

McCourt Jr., was pronounced dead at the scene and transported to Brennan Mortuary

Williams and passengers in the Yukon Nathaniel Williams Jr., 38, and Nalayshia Williams, 16, both of Andover, were transported to Southwest Medical Center. Two other children were not injured.

The KHP reported McCort Jr. was not wearing a seat belt.

Rollover accident south of Udall

Winfield Courier – December 30, 2014

Photos by Tracy Wise.

Photos by Tracy Wise.

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A vehicle rollover occurred south of Udall Tuesday evening around 5 near the intersection of 21st and 92nd roads.

Jack Kistler, from the Udall Fire Department, said the female driver just a few days shy of 21, was driving the vehicle and lost control after trying to overcorrect the vehicle. He said that even though it had been snowing, he did not think the snow necessarily caused the accident, except when she may have hit the edge of the highway, causing her to react and overcorrect.

She and her boyfriend were in the car, but Kistler thought both would be fine. It was not clear whether they would be taken to a hospital to be evaluated.

Fire and Ice

By Veronica Coons & Dale Hogg
Great Bend Tribune – December 30, 2014

Photo by Veronica Coons.

Photo by Veronica Coons.

At 1:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, firefighters were dispatched to a structure fire at 301 Locust St. in Great Bend. Icy roads and lightly falling snow met the responders who made their way to the southeast section of the city.
The sole occupant of the trailer home was Bernardino Sanchez, who was home at the time of the blaze, Great Bend Fire Chief Mike Napolitano said. He managed to get out without any injuries.
Flames were coming from the front porch area of the single-wide mobile home. The flames moved quickly through the structure, and as firefighters arrived, could be seen coming through windows on all sides.
Frigid northerly winds soon carried 30-foot high plumes of black and yellow smoke over the treetops and homes on the south side of the street, blocking from sight the lights on the fire trucks parked on Third Street.
“When the firefighters arrived, it was totally involved,” Napolitano said. Bright orange flames and black smoke billowed out of the door and windows. A cloud of smoke was visible from outside of town.
The fire chief said Sanchez smelled smoke and traced its origin to the furnace room. “He opened the door and saw the fire.”
Sanchez used a fire extinguisher to try and put out the flames, but was unsuccessful. That’s when he fled the home.
The cause is listed as accidental. Napolitano didn’t have a dollar amount for the damage, but, it is considered a total loss.
Sanchez didn’t have any insurance.
The trailer is owned by Antonia Alvarez.

Wood Stove Blamed For House Fire

By Melissa Brunner & Kion Hudson
WIBW – September 30, 2014

shawnee co fire 12302014


Fire officials blame a wood burning stove for a house fire Tuesday afternoon south of Topeka.

Shawnee County dispatch received reports of a fire in the 1300 block of SW 81st around 1 pm Tuesday.

Fire officials say it started with a wood burning stove that went up a wall in the living room. The people who live there were home at the time, but got out safely.

Estimated damages total $15,000.

Two Dogs Killed In Montara House Fire

By Melissa Brunner & Kion Hudson
WIBW – December 30, 2014

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Two dogs were killed in a house fire in South Topeka’s Montara neighborhood.

The fire broke out Tuesday afternoon. Fire officials say a neighbor saw the fire and kicked in the door of home to yell for anyone inside. No one was home at the time.

The fire was contained mostly in the kitchen. The home did receive heavy smoke damage

It crews 20 minutes to get the fire completely under control. The cause of the fire is undetermined.

R. Duane Kraft


Kraft, R. Duane, 85, loving husband, father, grandfather and friend, died December 30, 2014. Graveside service 10:00 am, Friday, January 2, at Greenwood Cemetery. Duane was born on February 2, 1929 in Salina, Kansas to Leo and Edna Kraft. At an early age, the family moved to Hoisington where Duane attended local schools. Upon graduation, he proudly served in the 216th Chemical Division of the U.S. Army. Following his service, he returned to Hoisington where he worked with his father in the family business, Kraft Shoe Store. He later worked and retired from Kansas Brick & Tile as a salesman. Duane was a longtime member of the Hoisington Volunteer Fire Department, served several terms on the Hoisington City Council and was an early member of the Hoisington Auxiliary Police Department. He was preceded in death by his parents; sons, Wayne Alan and Daniel Mark; and son-in-law, Larry Wallace. Survivors include his wife of 63 years, Delores; daughters, Marilyn Wallace of Goddard and Carolyn (Bob) Downey of Cheney; grandchildren, Alicia Wallace, Michelle (Byron) Patterson, Sarah Kraft, Allison Kraft and Alex Hart; great-grandchildren, Christian, Dakota, Jaidyn, Lexi, Emma Jo and Elijah James. A memorial has been established with the Hoisington Volunteer Fire Department. Share condolences at Services by Broadway Mortuary.


Electrical problems to blame in Tuesday house fire in rural Ellis

By Jonathan Zweygardt
Hays Post – December 30, 2014

An electrical box fire caused significant damage to a home north of Ellis on Tuesday afternoon.

Firefighters were dispatched to the 1800 block of Ellis Avenue in Ellis for a house fire.

According to Ellis County Rural Fire Director Dick Klaus, the fire started in the electric junction box in the attic.

Klaus said firefighters were forced to tear the ceiling down to extinguish the fire.

The house also sustained smoke and water damage.

Fire crews were on the scene until just after 3 p.m.

Space heaters being used at increased rate, safety concerns

KMBZ – December 30, 2014

Old man winter is here and people are breaking out the space heaters, but before you get warm and toasty, you need to make sure you’re safe.

Overland Park Fire’s Tricia Roberts says there’s one rule of thumb when it comes to portable heaters.

“The saying is that ‘Space heaters need space,'” Roberts says, “and the thing you want to do is to keep anything that can burn at least three feet from the heater.”

Roberts says between January and November Overland park has had 36 electrical fires, and while those numbers aren’t broken down to specific causes, some may have been caused by those little heaters.

No injuries after bathroom fire in KCK

KMBZ – December 30, 2014

A faulty bathroom exhaust fan is to blame for a fire in KCK Tuesday morning.

The 911 call came in just after 7:15 a.m. from a home near 47th Street and County Line Road.

Firefighters said a man was in the shower when he heard a crackling sound and noticed smoke and fire coming from his ceiling. He was able to evacuate safely.

No one was else was inside the home.

Investigators estimate damage at about $10,000.

Home Health of Greenwood County damaged by fire

By Chuck Samples
KVOE – December 30, 2014

An investigation is underway after fire damaged a medical facility in Eureka on Monday night.

Originally, it was reported the fire was at Greenwood County Hospital, but the Eureka Herald and staffers with Home Health of Greenwood County say it was actually at that building across the street from the hospital campus itself.

There is currently no word on injuries or damage. Staffer Ashley Boles tells KVOE News the business is still seeing patients in the community, although operations have moved to the basement inside Greenwood County Hospital.

The Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating. We’ll keep you updated on KVOE and


Udall home sustains $30k in damage in fire

By Shane Farley
NewsCow – December 30, 2014

Photo by Cowley County Fire District #4.

Photo by Cowley County Fire District #4.

A Udall area home sustained significant damage in a fire that occurred late Monday. No injuries were reported.

Just after 11:30 p.m., crews with Cowley County Fire Dist. 4 were called to a residence at 4420 22nd Rd. for the report of a fire. They arrived to find a modular home with flames showing from the front deck and living room area.

The home was owned by Mary Edwards. Occupants were alerted to the fire by their smoke detectors and escaped without injury. The blaze was reported by a Cowley County Sheriff’s deputy out on patrol.

Firefighters needed about 30 minutes to extinguish the fire. The last fire units left the scene just after 2 a.m.

Fire officials said the home sustained about $30,000 in damage. An official cause is under investigation, however it appears the fire was caused by electrical problem on the outside of the home, investigators said.

Mutual aid was provided by Winfield Fire, Cowley Fire District 2 Atlanta, Butler Fire District 8 Douglass and Mulvane Fire.

Weekend suspicious fire under investigation

Galena Sentinel Times – December 24, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – December 30, 2014

cherokee co fire 12302014

At approximately 1:40 a.m. on Saturday, December 20, 2014, Cherokee County dispatchers received a call about a truck on fire at a residence in southeast rural Cherokee County.

Law Enforcement, along with the Baxter Springs and Galena Fire Departments responded to the scene to find the vehicle fully engulfed in flames. Ten Galena firemen and five Baxter Springs firemen responded to the call. The fire departments were on scene till approximately 3:02 a.m.

The fire, which had spread to a nearby structure, was extinguished.

The cause of the fire is unknown, but suspicious in nature. The Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office was notified and the investigation is ongoing.

“We have a good mutual aid relationship with Baxter Springs Fire Department,” said Fire Chief Bill Hall. “We work good together.”

Saturday fire displaces five Junction City residents

By Mike Sellman
Junction City Daily Union – December 23, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – December 30, 2014

Click on photo to view full-size image.

Click on photo to view full-size image.

A Junction City family managed to escape a house fire Saturday night.

The fire began at approximately 9 p.m. in the east bedroom of the single-family home located at 205 E. 12th St.

Twelve firefighters responded at 9:03 p.m., and were able to control the fire through a window. First arriving crews reported heavy smoke and flames as they began an offensive interior attack on the fire.

They were able to enter the home through the front door. By then, the fire had extended into the living room.

Fire crews were able to extinguish the fire within minutes.

No injuries were reported.

The cause of the fire is believed to have come from an electric space heater placed too close to flammable materials.

The fire left one adult and four children displaced.

Junction City Fire Chief Kevin Royse said the estimated preliminary structure loss is approximately $35,000. Damaged contents are estimated to be $15,000.

The Red Cross has been called to assist the family.

Battalion Chief Dennis Wetklow mitigated the incident with the assistance of the Junction City Police Department.

Second-generation volunteer fireman

Baldwin City Signal – December 25, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – December 30, 2014



Name: Chase Coburn

Born: Coburn was born and raised in Boulder, Colorado.

Family: Wife of four years, April Coburn.

Education: Coburn has a bachelor’s in business from Baker University and a master’s in management from the school.

Hobbies: Coburn likes to golf. He played soccer and was a skier growing up in Colorado and is an aficionado of craft beers.

Career: Coburn works in Lenexa for PRA Health Sciences, doing audits to ensure pharmaceutical research is conducted following government guidelines.

Digging deeper: Coburn came to Baldwin City when Baker offered him academic and golf scholarships. He and his wife stayed because they came to appreciate Baldwin City’s small-town atmosphere.

Coburn recently joined the Baldwin City Fire Department after reading a story in the Signal about opportunities for volunteer firefighters. “It’s a way to give back to the community. It’s been something I’ve wanted to do. Both my parents were volunteer firefighters in the mountains west of Boulder.”


Caney appoints fire chief, assistant

Independence Daily Reporter – December 2, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – December 30, 2014

The Caney City Council appointed two long-time city firefighters as the new fire chief and assistant fire chief during Monday evening’s meeting.

The council appointed Tom Jones as chief and Adam Davidson as assistant chief Monday evening.

Jones replaces previous chief Tony McCammon.

Robert E. Lee Bankson


Robert E. Lee Bankson, age 92 passed away at 4:08 pm Friday, December 19, 2014 at Quaker Hill Manor, Lowell, KS following an illness.

Bob was born August 28, 1922 in Galena, KS. He was one of 15 children born to Charles Henry and Edith Viola (Smith) Bankson. He claimed Galena KS as his lifelong home.

As a young man, he served two years in CCC camps in Nebraska and South Dakota. He worked a few months at Eagle Picher, Galena, KS before moving to Antioch, CA to work in a ship yard.

In 1943 he entered the U S Army, fighting in the European Theater during World War II. In February 1945, he received the Soldiers Medal for heroism in a battle Dec 26 and 27, 1944 near Soissone, France. He also served 13 months in the Korean War. He retired from the U S Army in 1964. He was affectionately known by many as “Sarge.”

Bob then worked for Gulf Chemical, Cherokee County Highway Dept, and then retired as a civilian from Yellow Freight, Baxter Springs, KS in 1986.

He was a member of the Assembly of God, Galena, KS. He was also a member of the Masonic Lodge and was a member of the Galena Fire Department serving 26 years as a volunteer, retiring in 2002.

Bob was married to Imogene B Swager on May 4, 1946 in Columbus, KS. She passed away June 17, 2013. He was also preceded in death by one daughter Patricia Lee Bankson.

Surviving is one son Michael Bankson, Miami, OK; 3 grandchildren, Crystal Bilke, Danny Bankson, and Travis Bankson; 6 great-grandchildren, 2 brothers, Abe Bankson, Galena, KS and Charles Bankson, Cottonwood, CA: one sister, Thelma Jean Brown, Grove, OK; and several nieces and nephews.

Masonic rites will be held at 6:00 pm, Monday, December 22, 2014 at Derfelt Funeral Home, Galena, KS. The family will then receive friends until 7:00 pm at the funeral home.

Military rites will be held at a graveside service 2:00 pm, Tuesday, December 23, 2014 at Oak Hill Cemetery, Galena, KS. Pastor Jeff D. Martin will officiate.


Magaha ready to move Fairmount Township Fire Department forward

By Shawn Linenberger
Basehor Sentinel – December 30, 2014

Chuck Magaha has been associated with the Fairmount Township Fire Department for a few years now.

A 1976 Basehor High School graduate, Magaha joined the department later that year after turning 18.

He’s been involved in the department ever since, serving in various roles.

In August, Magaha was named fire chief.

“I’ve got a very good set of people who volunteer for me,” Magaha said. “Volunteers are getting harder and harder to come by.

“So when you get a good volunteer, you want to be able to hang onto them.”

The department has roughly 25 volunteers, as well as four part-time paid firefighters who staff the station two at a time from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

Firefighting runs in Magaha’s family.

His father served in the Fairmount Township department, while son Josh, 32, is a firefighter in Kansas City, Kan. His other son, Brandon, 26, is one of the part-time paid members of the Fairmount Township Fire Department. Brandon started serving in that capacity before his father became fire chief, Chuck Magaha noted.

Magaha’s wife, Darlene, is a nurse at Overland Park Regional Medical Center.

Though he’s been with the fire department for nearly 40 years, he’s also in his 25th year with Leavenworth County Emergency Management.

He started as assistant director.

Magaha recalled working as manager at Waymires IGA in Basehor. The owners sold the store to another individual and Magaha was weighing his options.

Burdell Welsh was emergency management director in the late 1980s and approached Magaha about being assistant director.

Welsh kept on Magaha needing an answer, to which he eventually said yes. Magaha recalled Welsh’s reponse to his answer.

“I’ll be by in 2 minutes,” Magaha recalled Welsh telling him. “It’s flooding in Tonganoxie. Get ready to go to work.”

A few months later, Welsh took another job and Magaha became director, a position he’s had ever since.

Magaha said he’s spent time in recent weeks establishing goals for the department.

He stressed that strong communication would be one of the department’s larger goals.

“We wanted to make sure there’s good communications between city of Basehor and Fairmount Township and the fire department in general,” Magaha said.

He also plans for more interaction with the community, whether through social media or other avenues.

Magaha takes over for Jeff Theno, who stepped down and retired from the department in late July.

In addition to his emergency management and fire chief duties, Magaha announces home football and basketball games for Basehor-Lijnwood High School.

“I’m still the voice of the Bobcats until they tell me no more,” Magaha said.

In his spare time, Magaha likes to hunt and fish. He especially likes hunting turkey, pheasant and quail.

In general, he likes being outdoors.

“I love to play in my garden, which didn’t do very well this year,” Magaha said with a laugh. “That’s OK.”

He also has two grandkids, Brock, 2, and Maddox, 1, whom he “can’t spend enough time with.”

As for the fire department, Magaha said it’s a special opportunity to serve the department, which has two stations, a main facility at 2624 N. 155th St. and a second at 16380 158th St.

“I’m honored they selected me as their chief,” Magaha said. “We’ve got some growing pains to go through and some scars to heal, but I think we’ll get through it with no problem.”

McPherson Fire Department responds to engine fire

McPherson Sentinel – December 30, 2014

At 11 a.m. Friday, the McPherson Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services responded to a report of a fire at Cimarron and Old 81 Highway. A locomotive engine had an electrical malfunction and caught fire. Once the engine was shut down, the fire was extinguished. The flame already was out by the time responders arrived at the location.

Weekend fire destroys county home

By Tracy Wise
Winfield Courier – December 30, 2014

Debris and ashes around the cellar pit are all that remains Monday afternoon of a home belonging to Alene Miller on 142nd Road northeast of Winfield. The house burned Saturday when Miller was away and was still smoldering Monday.  (Tracy Wise/Courier)

Debris and ashes around the cellar pit are all that remains Monday afternoon of a home belonging to Alene Miller on 142nd Road northeast of Winfield. The house burned Saturday when Miller was away and was still smoldering Monday. (Tracy Wise/Courier)

A Saturday night fire burned a county house to the ground.

Winfield firefighters responded to a call from a neighbor at 11:16 p.m. Saturday. The house, at 18655 142nd Road, was for sale. It belonged to Alene Miller, who was in Oklahoma City, according to Capt. Chad Mayberry of the Winfield Fire Department. Miller had left on Friday, Mayberry said, so the firefighters had no idea when the fire started. He also said at this time, the cause of the fire was “undetermined.”

Mayberry stated that since no one was at home, no one was hurt, but everything was destroyed. “It was a total loss,” Mayberry said.

The ruins were still smoldering Monday afternoon.

The Winfield Fire Department was assisted by the Burden and Atlanta fire departments. Total number of firefighters was 15, Mayberry said. The Cowley County’s Sheriff’s Department responded to the call also.

Early-morning crash sends car into pond

By Phil Anderson
Topeka Capital Journal – December 30, 2014

No injuries were being reported early Tuesday when a car left a roadway just south of Topeka and entered a pond.

The incident occurred around 5:30 a.m. near S.W. 49th and Misty Harbor Drive.

Initial reports indicated the front portion of a car entered a large pond after the driver lost control of the vehicle.

The car’s occupants were able to get out safely, but divers from the Mission Township Fire Department were called to help get the vehicle out of the pond in the predawn darkness.

The temperature was 26 degrees in Topeka at the time of the accident, which occurred about a mile west of S.W. 49th and Burlingame Road.

Two people escape house fire in Douglas County

Lawrence 6 News – December 29, 2014


Two people escaped a structure fire in western Douglas County Monday morning.

The Kanwaka Township Fire Department responded to the house fire Monday morning at 452 N 1600 Road. Officials said the fire started in a basement wall and quickly spread throughout the house.

The two occupants were roused by smoke alarms and escaped unharmed. Officials said the smoke detector may have saved the occupants lives.

Clinton Township, Wakarusa Township and the Lecompton Fire Department assisted in putting out the blaze.

Electrical fires up this holiday season

By Monica Castro
KAKE – December 29, 2014

While it’s not unusual during the cold winter months for the fire department to notice an uptick of fires. However, this holiday season they’ve noticed more electrical fires.

“Looking over the statistics for the last month alone that’s really one of the things we’re seeing are a lot of fires of that nature, the electrical system, whether it be too many things plugged into a multi plug adapter,” Wichita Fire Department Chief Stuart Bevis said.

Just this morning the fire department battled an electrical fire at a home on Dayton street. They tell us the issue was with a power strip.

“We had heavy fire and spoke conditions that we could see for miles away. So a very significant fire,” WFD Battalion Chief, John Turner said.

“It was a large fire. You worry about it a little bit, about it spreading to the other house or to the neighbor’s house,” neighbor, Debbie Murphy said.

During the holiday season, from Thanksgiving to the end of December, the Wichita Fire Department averages about 25 to 30 fires. So far this season, eight of those have been caused by electrical issues.

“We’ve interviewed them and they say the breaker box tripped three times. well that’s a warning. we need to pay attention to those warnings something is not working right whether it’s with electrical box or with the devices we are plugging in,” Bevis said.

Two injured in accident near Hartford

By Jakub Stepanovic
Emporia Gazette – December 29, 2014

On Friday, at about 9:30 p.m., the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office along with Hartford First Responders and the Lyon County Ambulance responded to Road 130 and Road R for a report of an injury accident.

A 1991 Chevy Pickup was southbound on Road R, missed the intersection and drove straight into the south ditch. Occupants Andrew Ratzlaff of Emporia and April Pedersen of Solomon were taken to Newman Regional Hospital for injuries. Newman does not release patient conditions.

Photo by Jakub Stepanovic.

Photo by Jakub Stepanovic.



KSFFA Capitol Day

KSFFA Capitol Day
Monday – February 9, 2015 – 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Free Food
Meet with your Legislators
Location – Topeka’s historic Fire Station #2 at 719 SW Van Buren Street – one block north of the state capitol

RSVP to Steve Hirsch, KSFFA Secretary –



Fire damages West Dayton Street home

KAKE – December 29, 2014


Fire caused extensive damage to a house in southwest Wichita early Monday.

Crews were called to 818 W. Dayton reported shortly after 3:00 a.m. Battalion Chief John Turner said smoke could be seen for miles from the 1 1/2-story home. But a woman living in the home woke up to smoke, and was able to get out safely.

Firefighters traced the cause of the trouble to a power cord, perhaps in the bathroom area. Damage is estimated at $70,000; many items could be seen in a front yard hours after the fire broke out.

A second fire in north Wichita earlier in the morning was much less damaging. The back corner of a home in the 1800 block of north Waco caught fire shortly after 2:00 a.m. It was contained quickly, with damage estimated at less than $1,000.

Fire damages home in Southwest Wichita

KAKE – December 28, 2014

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A Sunday morning fire damages a home in southwest Wichita

It happened around 5 a.m. Sunday when crews responded to the report of a house fire in the 1100 block of W. Jewell St. near Seneca street.

Battalion Chief John Turner reports that when firefighters arrived they found a large column of smoke showing and heavy fire damage on the back of the structure.

Turner stated that the calling party was seen jumping the fence and informed the occupants of the fire.

The total damage is estimated at $10,000 and contained mostly to the outside.

No injuries were reported and the cause is still under investigation.

Rural Winfield home destroyed by fire Sat.

By Shane Farley
NewsCow – December 28, 2014

A home east of Winfield was destroyed by fire late Saturday night, fire officials said. No injuries were reported.

The blaze was reported by a passerby sometime before midnight. Fire crews arrived to find the home at 18655 142nd Rd. being consumed by the fire.

Residents of the home were out of town at the time and thus it was unoccupied. The fire was reported as under control by 12:20 a.m.

Online property records show the owner of the home and land as Alene Miller.

Fire officials said the home was a total loss.

Early morning fire damages detached garage in southeast Wichita

KAKE – December 27, 2014

An early morning fire damages a large detached garage in southeast Wichita.

It happened around 3 a.m. Saturday when crews responded to the report of a house fire in the 1600 block of S. Webb Rd. near Harry street.

Battalion Chief Andy Cole reports that when firefighters arrived they found heavy fire showing from the east end of a large detached garage.

The garage was unoccupied and fire crews worked to knock down and keep the fire from spreading.

No injuries were reported and the cause is still under investigation.

Fire causes significant damage to motel in Hutchinson

KSN – December 27, 2014


Firefighters battled another fire in Hutchinson, this time at a motel.

Firefighters have dealt with at least four fires since Christmas Eve. This fire damaged seven rooms at the Sunset Motel around 1 p.m. The rooms were empty and no one was hurt firefighters attacked the flames in the building’s attic.

“Most damage to the rooms are from pulling ceilings getting up in the attic to get it put out,” said Battalion Chief Darin Gehring.

The rooms were also water damaged. Firefighters say the fire began in a laundry room sparked by faulty wiring.

Icy roads cause fatal accident in Rooks County

KWCH – December 27, 2014

Icy roads in western Kansas cause an accident that left one person dead.

The highway patrol says a car driven by a 17-year-old from Waldo was going south on U.S. highway 183 near Plainville.

The driver lost control on ice and slid across the highway and struck a semi.

An 18-year-old passenger was ejected from the car and pronounced dead at the hospital. The driver of the vehicle still remains in the hospital.

Kansas Highway Patrol say both of the teens inside the car were not wearing seat belts.

8-year-old dies after Christmas Eve Hutch fire

KSN – December 27, 2014


Via-Christi confirms the 8-year-old boy died last night of injuries. He was transported to Via-Christi St. Francis burn unit in critical condition Wednesday.

Firefighters were called to an apartment fire around 4:51 a.m. Christmas Eve morning in the 400 block of West 1st Street in Hutchinson.

Upon arrival, heavy fire was seen from three sides of the building and a victim was found in the front of the residence.

Crews were told of at least three others that were trapped on the second floor. Ground ladders were used at the rear of the residence to rescue four occupants inside the building.

Chief Kim Forbes, Hutchinson Fire Department, told KSN that fire crews were able to bring the fire under control but struggled with fire in the walls that went into the attic area. The stairs leading to the upstairs apartment were burned out forcing crews to gain entry and rescue victims from the second floor windows.

The cause of the fire was determined to be electrical and the residence has been deemed a total loss.

A total of eight people were taken to the hospital via Reno County EMS. It is believed at this time the seven other patients have been released from the hospital.

Wichita fire units sent to hazmat call at Cessna on East Pawnee

By Jerry Siebenmark
Wichita Eagle – December 27, 2014

Fire units were dispatched to a hazardous-materials call Saturday morning at a Cessna Aircraft Co. facility in southeast Wichita.

A Sedgwick County dispatcher said several hazmat units from the Wichita Fire Department as well as from McConnell Air Force Base responded to the incident at 5800 E. Pawnee.

She said 911 received a call from Cessna security at around 9:30 a.m. Saturday saying that officers had found a barrel that was smoking and that they thought might contain hazardous materials.

At least 11 employees were evacuated from a building there, according to scanner traffic.

No injuries were reported, and fire units were leaving the scene shortly after 11 a.m., the dispatcher said.

All residents safe from house fire, including family pet

KWCH – December 26, 2014

The Wichita Fire Department responded to a report of a house fire at 2009 N Park Place.

When crews arrived, they had fire showing from the first and second floor, mainly on the south side of the house.

Responders were able to contain the fire but there is significant damage.

The seven residents of the home were able to evacuate and search crews were able to locate the family pet. The dog is unscathed and will go to animal hospital.

There is no known cause at the moment.

Fire damages house, car near West Street

By Stan Finger
Wichita Eagle – December 26, 2014


Fire heavily damaged a house near West Street early Friday morning, authorities said.

The fire was reported at 1:07 a.m. at 3606 W. Third St., a Sedgwick County emergency dispatcher said. That’s northeast of Second and West streets.

Fire crews arriving on the scene reported the fire was coming from the back of the house and spread to engulf a car sitting in the driveway. But it took little more than 10 minutes for firefighters to extinguish the blaze at the nearly 1,000-square-foot house built in 1958.

No injuries were reported, the dispatcher said. A cause and damage estimate have not yet been released.

Spate of Hutch fires prompts reminders

By Ken Stephens
Hutchinson News – December 26, 2014

Photo by Ken Stephens.

Photo by Ken Stephens.

Two more Hutchinson homes were damaged by fires Wednesday evening, leading Deputy Fire Chief Doug Hanen to urge people to have chimneys cleaned, keep combustible material away from floor furnaces, keep Christmas trees well-watered, don’t overload electrical outlets and take other steps to prevent fires.

The first fire Wednesday evening occurred at 5:39 p.m. in the 1000 block of North Jefferson Street. Firefighters under the direction of Battalion Chief William Lang took about 10 minutes to extinguish a chimney fire, and neither of the two occupants of the house was injured.

Hanen said the cause of the fire was a buildup of material in the chimney, such as soot or creosote, and he urged people to have chimneys cleaned periodically.

“Fortunately, this one was contained to the chimney,” Hanen wrote in an email. “However, these can spread into the walls and cause a lot of damage while being extinguished.”

The second fire Wednesday was reported at 8:26 p.m. at 734 W. First Avenue.

Upon arriving, firefighters found the front two-thirds of the house heavily involved in flames. Hanen said the firefighters made an aggressive interior attack and controlled the fire in 20 minutes. The residence was occupied by two adults and a baby, all of whom were able to escape. One of the residents was treated for smoke inhalation by Reno County Emergency Medical Services but did not require transportation to a hospital. A pet dog, however, died in the fire.

Hanen said the cause of the fire appeared to be items left on top of a floor furnace.

“Many older homes in town have floor furnaces,” Hanen wrote. “Make sure you are aware of these and their locations and keep them free of combustibles. As our weather has been unseasonable off and on this winter, keep this in mind as the furnace may not be running during the day, but may need to at night to keep the temperature up.”

Damage to the home on West First was estimated at $20,000, and the Red Cross was called to help the residents.

The Hutchinson Fire Department dispatched six units to each of the fires. They were the second and third house fires of the day.

Earlier Wednesday, another fire reported at 4:50 a.m. destroyed a home that had been divided into three apartments at 416 W. First Ave.

Eight people were in the house at the time and were taken to hospitals. Seven have since been released after treatment, but one 8-year-old boy was in critical condition in a Wichita hospital.

The fire was determined to be electrical in origin.

Hanen said there have been five structure fires in just a week in Hutchinson.

“The Hutchinson Fire Department is asking the public to ensure residents are extra careful this holiday season,” he said. “Ensure Christmas trees are watered properly, do not overload electrical cords or outlets, and make sure candles are free from combustible materials and properly extinguished when not attended. Use extra caution when preparing meals for family gatherings around the kitchen.”

Hanen also urged residents to make sure their home smoke detectors are functioning correctly.

“A working smoke detector is your first and best line of defense if a fire were to occur in your home at night while you are sleeping,” he said.

Fatal crashes spike on Kansas highways after speed limit climbs to 75 mph

By Brad Cooper
Wichita Eagle – December 26, 2014

The 75 mph speed limit is a natural for Kansas drivers.

The highways are broad, free flowing and not scarred with rim-bending potholes. It should be as safe as anywhere to drive at higher speeds.

“In Kansas, it makes perfect sense for it to be 75,” said Overland Park’s Bobbi Caggianelli, who commutes daily to Topeka on I-70.

But does it?

Three years after the state raised the speed limit 5 mph to 75 on certain highways, fatalities and injuries are rocketing, according to new numbers compiled by the state Transportation Department.

The overall number of crashes is flat, but highway deaths jumped 54 percent since 2012 on the seven highways where the speed limit was raised.

Those highways, covering 804 miles, include I-135 north out of Wichita, rural stretches of I-35, I-70, U.S. 69 and I-470 near Topeka.

Overall, 48 people were killed in 38 wrecks on those seven highways in the two years before the speed limit was raised in mid-2011. In the two years after the speed limit was raised, 74 people were killed in 59 wrecks.

Injury accidents are up, too, increasing by 13 percent in the past two years compared with the two years before the speed limit went to 75.

Heavily traveled I-35 was one of the highways with the biggest increases in fatalities. Fatal wrecks doubled to 18 on I-35 in the two years after the speed limit increased compared with the two years before it was raised.

State highway officials aren’t ready to pin the blame for rising highway deaths on the higher speed limit, but national traffic safety experts think it follows a pattern seen in studies elsewhere.

“I’m not raising a red flag,” said Chris Herrick, planning director for the Kansas Department of Transportation.

Highway engineers, he said, need to drill down further to examine what precisely caused the wrecks before blaming the higher speed limit approved by the Legislature.

Did the passengers wear seat belts? Was the driver on a cellphone? Was the driver intoxicated? Did the vehicle hit a deer?

“We just haven’t done enough study,” said Herrick, adding he would like to have four or five years of data before reaching a conclusion. “We would like more time to figure out whether the 75 mph speed limit was good policy.”

‘Always a cost’

Kansas is among 15 states that have speed limits of 75 mph or higher on some highways.

Utah, Wyoming, Texas and Idaho have some highway segments posted at 80 mph. Two years ago, Texas opened a toll road connecting Austin to San Antonio with the country’s highest posted speed limit of 85 mph.

Kansas has had a 70 mph speed limit in place since 1996, a year after Congress repealed the national maximum speed limit set at 55 mph for urban highways and 65 mph in rural areas.

In 2011, the Kansas Legislature — without much discussion about traffic safety — bumped the state’s maximum speed limit to 75.

Supporters argued that raising the speed limit would serve as an economic development tool because state highways would be more attractive to vacationers and truckers.

The jump in Kansas highway deaths since the speed limit was raised mirrors what studies have revealed elsewhere, said Russ Rader, spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

“Higher fatalities is what we would expect,” Rader said. “This is moving in the direction that study after study shows is the result of raising the speed limit.”

For example, a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Public Health attributed spikes in highway death rates to increases in the speed limit. The study found a 3.2 percent increase in all road deaths attributable to higher speed limits following the 1995 repeal of the federal speed limit.

The biggest increases in highway fatalities were on rural interstates compared with urban highways. The study blamed 12,545 deaths and 36,583 injuries from 1995 to 2005 on increased speed limits.

When speeds are higher, drivers have less margin for error to deal with an emergency such as less reaction time and greater stopping distances. And crashes that occur at higher speeds tend to be more severe.

“Raising speed limits always gets people to their destinations faster, but there’s always a cost,” Rader said.

He cautioned that more analysis of the Kansas numbers is needed before reaching a broad conclusion about the impact of raising the speed limit.

More could be learned if engineers compared the highways with the 75 mph speed limit to similar types of roads where the speed limit didn’t change, Rader said.

‘I feel pretty safe’

Some drivers are leery of the higher speed limit because it encourages motorists to go even faster, further increasing the chances of severe wrecks.

“On the open road, I don’t have a problem with 75 if the police would enforce 75, but they don’t,” said Michael Walker, a retired bus driver from Belton, Mo. “When they say 75 they don’t mean 75, they mean 85. If you have a wreck at 85 mph you’re going to tear up a whole lot of stuff.”

Many drivers say they are comfortable driving at 75 mph, especially in the wide open rural areas of the state where the traffic thins out.

“I can sit in the right lane and just go 75 mph with the cruise control and not have to worry too much about other drivers,” said Sara Simpson, a Wyandotte County resident who frequently travels I-35 to Wichita to see family. “You’re just basically going straight the whole time. I feel pretty safe.”

Some drivers believe the speed limit should be even higher because cars are traveling at speeds higher than 75 anyway. They argue that the real safety problem is drivers puttering along at 65 mph or slower in the passing lane.

Although drivers say the increases in fatalities are worrisome, they agree there could be other factors leading to the fatal crashes. They think Kansas is an ideal location for the higher speed limit.

“I’ve driven in mountains and high-risk areas where I did think the speed limit was ridiculous, and I went slower,” said Newton resident Judi Justin, who frequently travels the state’s highways.

“But here I don’t feel that way. It’s a straight road and it’s clear. It’s not like you’re going through mountains and around dangerous curves and things like that.”

Kansas father, son healing after gas explosion

Associated Press – December 26, 2014

Scott and Alex Kreger walked shoulder-to-shoulder down the long hallway of Hodgeman County Health Center heading for the physical therapy department.

“I’m dreading this,” said Alex, 20, as they entered the room. Even the slightest stretching of his skin, which was burned over 60 percent of his body, is excruciating for the one-time physically fit football player, The Hutchinson News reported.

Being fit undoubtedly helped on Oct. 12 when Alex and his dad, Scott, 51, were installing a hot water heater in his farmhouse about 16 miles southwest of Jetmore, and 16 miles from the local hospital and emergency crews.

As Scott, a local rancher, went to light the heater, there was an apparent propane gas explosion. In that second, their world came tumbling down around them.

Fast forward to today and there are many reasons father and son wear bright red T-shirts that proclaim, “Believe in Miracles.”

Back on that fall day, ignited gas rushed through the crawl space where the two were working and critically burned them from the waist to their heads.

Despite the agony, many things seemed to turn in their favor.

At first, Scott couldn’t open the door to get out of the space. They were trapped. The explosion had caused rubble to build behind it.

“I hit the door as hard as I could with my shoulder and it wouldn’t budge,” Scott said. “I thought, ‘If we don’t get out, we’re going to die.’” Then he tried again and the door opened wide, enabling them to escape. Racing to their pickup, Scott drove to the nearest neighbor about a half-mile away.

“I knew we were in bad shape,” Scott said. He noticed the skin on his hand shredded from the explosion. “I looked at my hand and thought if I lived, the hand would be amputated.”

The neighbor took one look at the two men who, thanks to adrenalin, were able to stand and called 911.

“They are lucky to be alive,” said Dr. Alan Snodgrass, with the Hodgeman County Health Center.

They could have easily been killed by the explosion or trapped under the rubble. Snodgrass said it was fortunate an ambulance was coming back from delivering a patient in Dodge City and arrived on the scene quickly.

A medical crew, including Snodgrass, six nurses and two nurse practitioners, was waiting and worked with speed.

“They were cared for well and rapidly,” said Snodgrass.

Scott’s wife, Sally Kreger, also a nurse practitioner, was a spouse and mother at that moment.

Within 45 minutes, Scott and Alex were stabilized and their wounds were dressed. Two medical aircraft, one from Garden City and the other from Liberal, landed at the local airstrip and flew the men to Via Christi Regional Medical Center’s St. Francis campus in Wichita.

Both were placed on ventilators. Scott was unconscious for 23 days and Alex for 25.

“They almost lost me four times,” Alex said. They almost lost Scott twice.

While Scott was unconscious, skin grafts were done on his left arm from the middle of the bicep to his knuckles and to the fingertips on the right hand. Skin on half his back had to be grafted. Most of Alex’s grafts were on his arms and half his midsection.

Both their faces have third-degree burns, but a special cream was applied every two hours and saved their faces.

After 30 days, Scott was moved to rehabilitation. The next day, Alex followed. Thus began the grueling process of regaining their strength.

“I thought I would never walk again. It was too hard,” said Scott.

But the father and son pushed each other to see who could take the most steps.

“It helped a lot,” Scott said.

At first, they were told they might make it home for Valentine’s Day.

“I wanted to be home for Christmas,” Scott said.

That became their goal and they pushed so hard they were in Jetmore on Dec. 3. Scott attributes that to the competition, but also because of family and lots of visitors and cards of support.

Through the ordeal, and now healing at home, husband and son have been Sally Kreger’s focus.

“There was so much support and prayers from home, that’s where my strength came from,” Sally said. “ If I had relied on my own strength, I couldn’t have done it.”

More Ineeda fire photos

Hutchinson News – December 19, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – December 26, 2014

Click on each photo to view full-size image.

Click on each photo to view full-size image.

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Holiday Workers

By Vanessa Martinas
Kansas First News – December 26, 2014


Christmas is a day to spend with friends and family. But what about the people who have to work during the holidays?

“Everyone in here makes large sacrifices to be away from family on Christmas,” Shawnee Co. Emergency Dispatcher Melanie Mills-Bergers said.

During the holidays they have to clock in to work for your safety.

“The emergencies still have to be answered, people still have to be here 24 hours a day and it doesn’t matter if it’s a holiday or not, so we make the best of it,” Mills-Bergers said.

Some emergency personnel bring the celebrations with them by unwrapping presents with their kids. The Topeka Fire Department says it’s usually pretty quiet on Christmas.

“Holidays like this it’s a day that we hope we come in and actually just sit and do nothing, and if we’re not running a call that means somebody’s not needing our help,” firefighter Capt. Chris Herrera said.

Fire officials also say it’s nice when community members visit them on these days they have to spend away from their families.

During this time of year there’s always someone that’s going to be there in case there’s an emergency.

Fire department requests budget change

By Charity Keitel
Osawatomie Graphic – December 26, 2014

An individual reserve line in the fire department budget could help the city in the future, Fire Chief Dan Nasalroad told La Cygne council members during the Dec. 3 meeting.

He said he would like to build a separate fire department reserve for future large items so that money can be added each year to reach purchase goals, while keeping the line open for the fire department only.

With an ordinance in place, the fire department would be able to have a separate third reserve fund besides the existing equipment reserve and capital improvement reserve funds.

The discussion continued with points being made about the council’s right to request the equipment reserve fund be broken into different subcategories with individual amounts identified, the same as the general expense funds.

If this route were taken, Nasalroad’s proposal would not require an ordinance.

Council members also contemplated the fact that the general fund subcategory for the fire department could be made to reflect increases each year for a specified project.

Firefighters ready for action

By Roger Bluhm
Dodge City Globe – December 26, 2014

Matt Beeder, left, and Jake Puntillo, two Dodge City firefighters, worked on Christmas, joining other Holiday Heroes like emrgency room personnel and police officers who work on holidays for community safety. Roger Bluhm/Dodge City Daily Globe

Matt Beeder, left, and Jake Puntillo, two Dodge City firefighters, worked on Christmas, joining other Holiday Heroes like emrgency room personnel and police officers who work on holidays for community safety. Roger Bluhm/Dodge City Daily Globe

Matt Beeder considers himself lucky — at least for one more year.

Beeder is a Dodge City firefighter who will be working on Christmas. He has a wife and 4-year-old daughter.

“We’ll just move Christmas,” he joked. “She’s 4, so she’ll never know the difference.”

Beeder will be joined by Jake Puntillo at Station 1.

“I did my Christmas back when I went home to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving,” Puntillo said. “So, it’s not that big of a deal to work on the holiday.”

Both firefighters expect there to be a festive gathering at the firehouse and hope for few calls.

“Usually the weather dictates how many calls we have,” Puntillo said. “If the weather is nice, we get fewer calls, but if it’s snowing or icy, then we get more.”

As the two talked on Monday, the forecast for Christmas was for almost 60 degrees.

“That’s ideal,” Beeder said of the weather. “Shouldn’t be any road problems and it’s not so cold everyone has every heat source on.”

The two firefighters admit that calls on a holiday can be emotional.

“If it’s a home destroyed or a family misplaced on the holiday, it can be tough,” Puntillo said. “It sometimes hits you later, after the call.”

“If it’s an entire family involved in a car crash, that can be tough,” Beeder agreed. “It depends on the call.

“Hopefully it will stay quiet.”

The two firefighters join others — emergency medical technicians, nurses, doctors and police officers — who work on Christmas to make sure communities are safe.

“It’s just another day for us, really,” Beeder said. “We’re here 24 hours and ready to go, like always.

“The fact that it’s a holiday doesn’t change anything for us.”

“I don’t mind working the holiday because my family is in Wisconsin,” Puntillo said. “I’m sure it’s tougher for (Beeder), with his daughter.”

“She’s 4, she won’t know,” Beeder said. “At least until next year, maybe.”

Both men agreed the best shift would be one where no calls came in.

“A safe Christmas is one where we get no calls,” Beeder said.

“That would be the best holiday shift,” Puntillo agreed.

While the two firefighters are OK with working on Christmas, neither was thrilled to be interviewed for the newspaper.

“You get in the newspaper, you owe everyone pizza,” Puntillo explained. When reminded there was a new pizza place open in Dodge City, Puntillo smiled.

“We’ll get off cheap this time,” he exclaimed to Beeder, who nodded, before another firefighter dashed those hopes.

“That won’t work,” he said. “We want the good stuff.”

Wichita family escapes Christmas Day fire

By John Wright
KWCH – December 26, 2014

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Wichita firefighters made quick work of a house fire in the 400 block of North Bebe, just after 11 o’clock Thursday morning.

A 911 dispatcher said no one was hurt. Heavy dark smoke could be for several blocks by our crew on the way to the scene. Fire investigators are working to find a cause.

The fire was located outside of a building on the side of the house. Flames did not get into the house.

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