Archive for October, 2015

Fire plug colors have a meaning

By Dale Hogg
Great Bend Tribune – October 30, 2015

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The color of the tops, or bonnets, of each of the city’s 500-plus red fire plugs has a story to tell.
“We have color-coded all fire hydrants based on water outflow,” said Charlie Suchy, utility superintendent. This flow ranges from 1,500 down to 500 gallons per minute, and the different colors denote that – from blue to green to orange and down to red.
A hydrant is considered minimal if it spews less than 500 gallons of water a minute. “We like to see orange, green or blue,” Suchy said. The ideal classification for a fire hydrant is 1,500 gallons or more.
But, just because a hydrant is red does not mean firefighters can’t battle a blaze successfully, it just gives them the available flow so they can adjust accordingly.
Great Bend has 10 water wells inside the city with 580 hydrants, Suchy said. The city uses only three wells under normal conditions and that is enough to feed the city’s 90-mile closed loop of water lines.
By state law, a municipality must maintain system-wide water pressure of at least 20 pounds per square inch. But, in the event of a fire or other large water use, that pressure can drop.
So, “we have the capability to turn on additional wells if needed when additional flows are needed,” he said. Many will kick in automatically.
In addition, the city is in the process of installing variable-frequency drive controllers on all its wells, These VFDs will allow the city to maintain a more consistent water pressure.
There are also two water wells and a water tower at the Great Bend Municipal Airport with 60 hydrants, including the Expo area. But, Suchy said, this system is separate from the city proper.
In 2011 Suchy’s department painted all fire hydrants red, keeping in mind the goal to color code all fire hydrants in 2012.
Now, crews are out touching up the paint.
All color coding is according to the National Fire Protection Association standards and the four colors are standard colors for bonnets to indicate the hydrant’s available flow at 20 psi. “We have a lot of inquiries from citizens wanting to landscape around the fire hydrant or paint their own colors,” he said. “Please remember the color coding procedures the city uses, and when landscaping.”
Also, the fire department requires and needs full access. The hydrant needs at least three feet of clear area around it and “be in full visual view.”
All maintenance of the hydrants is handled by the Water Department and include flushing, inspection/inventory, repair, and replacement as needed.

Accident injures 2 near Bunker Hill

By Mike Corn
Hays Daily News – October 30, 2015

Photos by Mike Corn. Click on each photo to view full-size image.

Photos by Mike Corn. Click on each photo to view full-size image.

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Two people were injured, one seriously, when the pickup they were in went into a ditch Thursday on a county road approximately 3 miles east of Bunker Hill.

The driver of the pickup was identified by the Kansas Highway Patrol as Sarah A. Herald, 37, Russell.

She was taken to Russell Regional Hospital by ambulance and later transported to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita. She was not wearing a seatbelt, according to the KHP.

A passenger in the vehicle, Don R. Bushel Jr., 32, Dorrance, also was injured and taken to the Russell hospital. He also was not wearing a seat belt.

According to the KHP, the pickup was eastbound on a county road east of Bunker Hill.

Due to speed, the KHP said, the driver failed to negotiate a curve in the road, going into the north ditch and rolling several times. The vehicle came to rest on its passenger side facing northwest.

The KHP was aided by the Russell County Sheriff’s Office, the Russell Fire Department and its rescue squad, as well as the Russell County ambulance.

Shorman retires from 31 years

By Cheyenne Derksen Schroeder
McPherson Sentinel – October 30, 2015

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Gene Shorman retired from 31 years of service to the McPherson Fire Department on Oct. 28.
“Some people asked if I’d need my pager surgically removed since it’s been on my belt so long,” Shorman laughed. “Firefighting was how I could best serve the department and that’s what I’ve been ever since.”
Before 1983, Shorman had never considered fire service.
“Some people grow up dreaming to be a firefighter and that was not my goal, but when my folks lost their farmhouse to fire that got me thinking,” Shorman said. “Then a friend applied to join the fire department and all those life circumstances pointed me in this direction. I kept showing up, so the chief said: ‘If he’s going to be this interested, lets hire him’ and they hired me in August of 1984.”
Shorman learned the trade through hands-on training and classes available to employees. He explained that his previous experience with loss in a fire has helped him serve the community better.
“When I’m in a fire situation, I know what the people are going through since I’ve been there,” Shorman said. “I’ll miss interacting with the public. We’re servants of the community and I always enjoy getting to visit with people when they come to the station or when I’m showing equipment on station tours to schools.”
Shorman is also retiring from his job at Dillon’s after 26 years. Now that he’s not running on fire calls, Shorman will have more time to explore his hobbies of photography and metal detecting, and of course, spending time with his wife.
“That’ll be an adjustment for both of us,” Shorman laughed. “The community has been very supportive of my retirement. People say congratulations while I’m out and about and say they appreciate the service.”

Combine total loss after early morning fire in El Dorado

By Hali Rowland
KWCH – October 30, 2015

Photos by El Dorado Fire Department

Photos by El Dorado Fire Department

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The El Dorado fire department responded to a combine fire early Friday morning according to their website.

It happened near the area of Bluestem and SE 20th in Butler County.

Firefighters say the combine involved in the fire is a total loss and a semi-truck and trailer parked nearby also have heat damage.

The cause of the fire is unknown.

KSN Investigates: EMS response times

Video & Article

Fire chief’s Mayo Clinic heart surgery cancelled

Gardner News – October 29, 2015

Mayo Clinic surgeons canceled Rob Kirk’s scheduled cardiac ablation last week. Kirk, Johnson County Consolidated Fire District No. 1 Chief, has Sarcoidosis. He was scheduled to undergo a heart surgery last week. According to a Facebook page dedicated to Kirk’s Sacoidosis fight, surgeons determined that the surgery risks outweighed the benefits of the surgery. Kirk will now meet with doctors to try to get on an experimental drug. Sarcoidosis is an auto immune disease that causes inflammatory cells to grow in different parts of the body, most often it affects the lungs, lymph nodes, eyes and skin. Kirk has Sarcoidosis in his lungs and in his heart. Doctors diagnosed Kirk with the disease after doing heart scans last fall.

Township firefighters add EMS equipment

Bonner Springs Chieftain – October 29, 2015

The Reno and Sherman township fire departments in Leavenworth County have implemented a new medical program in their response areas.

The fire departments report that the program began more than a year ago with the development of medical protocols which allow for first responders to treat a multitude of medical emergencies and traumatic injuries.

New medical bags for first responder vehicles and personnels were purchased with grant funds. They give first responders the ability to go directly to the scene of severely ill or injured patients to begin treatment. Previously, firefighters were dependent on fire trucks arriving before lifesaving equipment was available.

First responders now have Lifepak 12 Heart Monitor/Defibrillators, which help personnel determine if someon is having an active heart attack in addition providing a shock for hearts that have stopped. They also carry tourniquets and hemostatic gauze to stop severe bleeding.

Additional equipment include IV access capability for lifesaving medications and advanced airway equipment to place a breathing tube.

The Sherman Township is just south of State Avenue/Highway 24-40 and west of Bonner Springs. The Reno Township is to the west of Sherman and south of Tonganoxie, covering the southwest corner of the county.

NOTICE OF VACANCY – Staff Development Specialist – Requisition #182186 – Closes 11/13/2015

The Office of the State Fire Marshal has an opening for an Unclassified Staff Development Specialist. This position works with the Emergency Response Division, Search and Rescue Unit to develop and evaluate a statewide search and rescue program. Work is of a complex nature and requires independent judgment, flexible scheduling and exceptional oral and written skills. Extensive travel, including overnight stays is required of this position. This Notice of Vacancy closes 11/13/2015.

Salary: $22.16 per hour ($47,257.60 annually)

Minimum Requirements: Experience in design, development and delivery of fire service programs; extensive understanding of fire, emergency services, search and rescue program requirements, and certifications; ability to coordinate program activities with other agencies and jurisdictions; communicate effectively orally and in writing; ability to use tack and diplomacy in dealing with people.

This position requires HazMat Operations certification, and NFPA 1670 Awareness Level training for Structural Collapse Operations, Confined Space Rescue Operations, and Water Rescue Operations.

HOW TO APPLY: The application process has 3 STEPS:

STEP 1: Register by completing the online Personal Data Form at

STEP 2: Complete the official State of Kansas application form at and submit to the Fire Marshal.

STEP 3: Email the additional required documents to .

Include your name and job requisition number on all correspondence when submitting documents.

Required Documents:

Online State of Kansas Application form sent to Fire Marshal

Letter of Interest


College Transcripts, if applicable

Copy of all Training Certificates

Valid Kansas Tax Clearance Certificate (must be received within two business days after the job post closing)

send to Brenda Schuette,

Your application will be considered incomplete and you will be found ineligible if you fail to submit the required documentation by the closing date of the vacancy announcement.

PLEASE NOTE: In order to be qualified for this and any position with the Office of the State Fire Marshal the applicant MUST MEET THE MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS for the position. These qualifications MUST BE IDENTIFIED on the application and resume. Failure to include the minimum qualifications on the application and resume may result in disqualification and the applicant will not be considered for the position.


Each applicant applying for a State of Kansas job vacancy must obtain a valid Kansas Certificate of Tax Clearance by accessing the Kansas Department of Revenue’s website at Your application will be considered incomplete if not submitted within 48 hours after the job posting closes.

A Tax Clearance is a comprehensive tax account review to determine and ensure that an individual’s account is compliant with all primary Kansas Tax Laws. A Tax Clearance expires every 90 days. Applicants are responsible for submitting a valid certificate with all other application materials to the hiring agency. This is in accordance with Executive Order 2004-03. If you need assistance with the tax clearance, please contact 785-296-3199.

Recruiter Contact Information:

Name: Brenda L. Schuette

Phone: 785-296-0654


How Your Application Will Be Evaluated: Once you complete and submit your application and materials, your application will be reviewed to ensure you meet the minimum and any necessary special requirements. Please indicate all relevant prior experiences and training on your application. Next, your application will be evaluated and rated based on preferred competencies and selection criteria for the position.

What to Expect Next: After your application is evaluated and ranked, you may be contacted for a possible interview. You will be notified of the outcome after the selection process is complete.

Reasonable Accommodation Policy Statement: The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ensures you the right to reasonable accommodations. A request for an accommodation will not affect your opportunities for employment with the State of Kansas. Arrangements will be made if you have a disability that requires an accommodation for completing an application form, interviewing or any other part of the employment process. It is your responsibility to make your needs known to the OSFM Recruitment Office at 785-296-0654.

The Office of the State Fire Marshal is an Equal Opportunity Employer

Washing machine malfunction sets of fire alarm

By Gale Rose
Pratt Tribune – October 29, 2015

Pratt Firefighters Lee Van Slyke (left) and Jarod Gilmore standby on the roof at 323 South Washington while other firefighters search the house for the cause of haze in the house. Photo by Gale Rose.

Pratt Firefighters Lee Van Slyke (left) and Jarod Gilmore standby on the roof at 323 South Washington while other firefighters search the house for the cause of haze in the house. Photo by Gale Rose.

A malfunction with a washing machine at 323 South Washington was the cause of some haze that brought out the Pratt Fire Department Thursday morning.
Firefighters took positions around the structure and on the roof as the house and attic were searched. Firefighters quickly discovered the washing machine was the source of the problem. There was no damage to the house and firefighters were on scene for about a half hour.

County House Fire Leaves Nothing in Wake

KSAL – October 29, 2015

Photos by Saline County Sheriff's Office.

Photos by Saline County Sheriff’s Office.

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Saline County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a house fire that burnt the home to the ground.
Jimmy Andrew of Salina was caring for the home Tuesday night around 6:00PM, taking care of the property for his son who owns the house that is only home on the weekends. When Andrew came back the next morning at 9AM, the only thing left of the home was the foundation.
The fire dissipated about ten feet around the house, leaving the building in the backyard unharmed.
No neighbors saw the fire, and therefore, the fire department was never contacted. The fire marshal and chief are investigating the property to find the cause of the fire, but at this time, Sheriff Glen Kochanowski reports that no foul play is suspected.
Total loss from the fire totals $115,000.

Late night chase ends when car splashes into Lake Shawnee

By Nick Viviani
WIBW – October 29, 2015

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A chase involving the Shawnee Co. Sheriff’s Office ends in Lake Shawnee late Wednesday night, authorities say.

Officials told 13 NEWS that the chase began near the intersection of 30th Street and Croco Road when a Deputy attempted to stop a white car for speeding and the suspect refused and continued Westbound on SE 29th street at a high speed.

At SE West Edge Rd, the suspect attempted to turn southbound from SE 29th Street. While attempting to turn onto SE West Edge Rd, the suspect struck another vehicle that was in the process turning onto SE West Edge from SE 29th.

As the pursuit continued SB on SE West Edge Rd, the suspect lost control as they approached the curves at SE Leisure Lane.

The suspect failed to follow the curves and came to rest in Lake Shawnee.

Authorities said that deputies rescued two occupants from the vehicle. They were the 17 year old male driver and the passenger, his 15 year-old sister.

Officials told 13 NEWS that they were taken into custody and then released to a guardian.

There were no injuries reported and the Shawnee Heights Fire/Rescue and Shawnee Lake Police both assisted the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office at the scene.

East Topeka fire out when crews arrive

By Phil Anderson
Topeka Capital Journal – October 29, 2015

Topeka fire crews were called to a house fire early Thursday on the city’s east side, but when they arrived, the blaze was already out and only a smoky haze was in the air.

The fire call came in at 6:22 a.m. Thursday at a home at 403 S.E. Liberty.

Initial reports indicated the fire started in an upstairs bedroom, but that it had been extinguished by the time crews arrived.

Some clothing that was smoldering had been taken outside of the house.

No injuries were reported and the last fire truck left the scene at 6:45 a.m.

Man miraculously survives collision with tractor trailer

By Charity Keitel
Osawatomie Graphic – October 28, 2015

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In what law enforcement officers are calling a miracle, Bridger Keys, a Fort Scott resident, walked away with minor injuries Oct. 21 from a collision with a tractor-trailer on U.S. Highway 69 near Pleasanton.
Keys, 20, was driving a 1999 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup northbound when, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol report, he drove onto the shoulder of the road for reasons unknown and collided with the semi’s trailer.
He was not wearing a seat belt at the time, but escaped with a few cuts and scrapes, and stepping out of the vehicle on his own. After the accident, as a precaution, Keys was taken to Fort Scott Memorial Hospital for treatment.
The semi, a Freightliner driven by 43-year-old Lucia Geddry, also from Fort Scott, was parked legally, with emergency triangles out, along the highway’s shoulder at the time of the accident. Geddry was uninjured.
Linn County Sheriff’s Deputy Brandon Early was one of the responders to the scene.
“Chief Ogden (Pleasanton Police Department) and I both arrived on-scene at the same time, and seeing the pickup, I was almost certain this was going to be a fatality accident,” Early said in an online post.
“But to our surprise, the young man in the truck crawled out on his own power, and to top it off, he only had a couple very, very minor cuts.”
Early said Keys told him he was on his way to church at the time of the accident.
“My response was ‘Well, someone up above must have been wanting you there, or else I don’t think you’d be talking to me right now.’”
Early said the accident was unlike anything he’s ever seen on or off the job.
Online he posted this: “My point here is if you don’t think miracles happen or that God doesn’t do things that amazes us, this is a great example of one.”
Early extended his thanks to the Linn County Fire Department volunteers who helped clean up the mess left by the wreck, the emergency medical technicians who responded, the Mound City and Pleasanton Police departments for assisting with traffic control and the Bourbon County Sheriff’s deputy, who assisted.

High school firefighter is in his element

By Eliot Sill
Marion County Record – October 28, 2015

Adam Makovec isn’t likely to forget his first day on the job. Newly named to the Lost Springs fire department, the Centre senior was one of about 50 firefighters battling a blaze in northeastern Marion County that persisted for 17 hours on Oct. 19.
It was his first call as part of the department.
“That was a heck of a long day,” he said.
Makovec was among the first called out, and while the fire was extinguished around 5 p.m., he said he wasn’t released until 8 or 8:30.
“We can’t just park the trucks at the station and leave,” he said. “We have to clean stuff, refuel the trucks, put water back in the trucks, and get them ready to go for the next time.”
The long day was a formidable test, but Makovec was undeterred. He manned the hose to fight the flames, attacking the fire head on.
“There were times you couldn’t see where you were driving, where you were spraying,” he said. “You couldn’t see, you couldn’t breathe, and you had no way of telling where you were going.”
Makovec wasn’t overwhelmed or afraid. He was in his element.
“Lester Kaiser, fire chief at Lincolnville, kept asking me: ‘Are you sure you still want to do this?’ I said, ‘Yes sir,’” Makovec said. “He said, ‘Well, it takes a special individual to fill those shoes.’”
Makovec has had a special desire — “a burning desire,” he called it — to be a firefighter ever since he was little.
“Little kids, you always ask them what they want to be when grow up, most of them say policeman or fireman,” he said. “That’s kind of how I was.”
Most little kids may say that, but most eventually change their minds and end up doing something else. Makovec hasn’t changed his mind, and doesn’t anticipate doing so.
“Being called out to something, once that page goes out, I feel an adrenaline rush,” he said. “It’s fun to feel the rush and the urge to go out and fight the fire.”
He plans to go to Hutchinson Community College to study fire science. He will attend a fire science field day from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 4 at Hutchinson. He hopes that gives him a better idea of what he wants to do.
Makovec said he would like to stay around the Lost Springs area and work for a while, but he could see himself eventually going to a bigger city such as McPherson, Salina, or Wichita.
Even if he doesn’t stay, Makovec’s been familiar with the guys at the Lost Springs fire department for some time. Chief Brad Pagenkopf and crew have known of his desire to join for a long time, and are happy to have him aboard.
“They like it, they’re really proud of me for all my hard work I’ve put in so far,” he said. “They guide me along.”
Guidance and training can only go so far, however. It’s experience like the Oct. 19 fire that will stick with him forever. The fire drew 12 departments into action from three counties, and Makovec was right where he wanted to be: In the middle of it all.
“It was incredible to be out there and to be a part of everything,” Makovec said. “It was awesome with all the help from everybody too, that was kind of nice. It’s just fun to be a part of that. It makes me feel good to be a part of something I’ve always wanted to do.”

Peabody man killed in house fire

By Susan Marshall
Peabody Gazette Bulletin – October 28, 2015

Lifelong Peabody resident Keith Harsh, 80, died Friday in a fire at his house. Trisha Oursler has lived next-door to Harsh all of her life.
On Friday, Oursler was taking a break from her job at Pop’s Diner when she had what was unknowingly her final encounter with Harsh.
“We just talked like neighbors do,” she said.
He had just come out of the hardware store after purchasing some dust masks.
“He came over and sat with me awhile,” she said. “I asked what project he was planning to work on now and he said he had some work to do in the attic crawl space. I had done some lawn edging along his curb when I did my mom and dad’s and he thanked me.”
The exchange would prove critical in finding Harsh’s body.
Oursler was home later in the day when she heard her mother call out that Harsh’s house was on fire. Oursler said she ran outside where firefighters were unloading hose and assessing the scene.
“No one seemed to know where Keith was,” she said. “I told them to look into crawl spaces, that he had told me he was going to work in an attic crawl space.”
Peabody fire chief Mark Penner said the first fire truck arrived about three or four minutes after the initial page went out at 4:44 p.m.
“Someone driving down the street had seen smoke and called 911,” he said. “Three of us were at the house, waiting for the truck so we could go in. We assumed he was home and tried to find him right away, but we couldn’t locate him.
“Someone came over to the guys at the truck and told them what Trisha had said about the crawl space so we looked in the basement and attic for crawl space areas, and eventually found a small open hatch leading to the attic,” he said.
Oursler, in the meantime, took off south to the football field at the park, thinking Harsh might have left for the game before the fire started.
“By then people were coming in for the game, but he wasn’t there and no one had seen him,” she said. “I went back home and pretty soon we realized the firemen had found him.”
Penner said the opening to the crawl space was so small firefighters could not get through it wearing their oxygen tanks.
“We couldn’t get in there to search, but we used a thermal imaging camera to detect hot spots and chopped a larger hole through the old lathe and plaster ceiling,” he said. “When the hole was big enough to enter, Matt Litton went in and called out that he’d found him.”
Penner said Litton and Brett O’Dell checked for a pulse and heartbeat, but found nothing.
Penner reported the death to state fire marshal Chris Mercer. Mercer told him to secure the scene and keep everyone away until Mercer arrived in Peabody.
“We taped it off and kept everyone out. By then there was very little smoke,” he said. “We don’t know yet what killed Mr. Harsh. It is my understanding that an autopsy has been done, but we have not been notified about results.”
Penner said that after daylight Saturday morning, the fire flared again.
“Some of the family arrived to begin making arrangements and noticed the house beginning to fill with smoke again,” he said. “We had another truck go out and douse it once more. The insulation is old and smolders like that. The truck was there for several hours, but we had no more trouble.”
Oursler had fond memories of her neighbor.
“He and his family have been over there forever,” she said. “When I was little I would go help him in his garden. If we had things to sell for school fundraisers, Keith and Marilyn were great about buying from me. They were nice people.”

Trailer fire torches cars on US-50

By David Colburn
Peabody Gazette Bulletin – October 28, 2015

A car transport trailer caught fire Sunday on US-50 west of Peabody, destroying four vehicles and snarling traffic for hours, while the semi cab and driver disappeared from the scene.
The westbound trailer was on the north side of the highway in the passing lane section near the county line, cars ablaze, when sergeant Mike Ottensmeier described part of the scene to a dispatcher as he arrived at about 3:14 p.m.
“I’ve got four cars and a car trailer; the tractor itself has been disconnected and doesn’t appear to be damaged,” he said.
About 10 minutes later, in addition to a blazing fire, he had a mystery on his hands.
“Where’d that semi go?” Ottensmeier radioed. “It’s missing the tractor. The tractor that was pulling this has disappeared.”
After alerting Harvey County sheriff’s officers to the disappearance, Ottensmeier asked the dispatcher to check the vehicle identification number of a 2013 Mercedes that was the only vehicle that was removed from the trailer before the others were engulfed.
“I thought, ‘That’s kind of odd,’” he said. “Then I started thinking this was a load of stolen cars. I ran some ID numbers and everything was on the up-and-up.”
A Harvey County sheriff’s officer found the driver and tractor a short time later, parked on the highway between Walton and Newton, Ottensmeier said.
“A firefighter told him he needed to move; the driver drove off,” he said.
Traffic was completely shut down for about a half hour as firefighters from Peabody and Walton worked to extinguish the hazardous fire.
“We had tires popping, we had gasoline in cars sitting on the trailer, and the trailer got so hot it was tilting to one side,” Ottensmeier said.
Once the fire was out and equipment moved, one lane was reopened to traffic. Kansas Department of Transportation personnel from Marion arrived to regulate traffic until the highway was fully re-opened about 8 p.m.
A Dodge Challenger, Chevrolet Silverado, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and Chevrolet SS were either total losses or suffered burn damage, Ottensmeier said.
“We had three other cars on the truck part that weren’t damaged at all because the driver disconnected the trailer before the fire got to the cab system,” he said.
A 60-foot stretch of asphalt also was damaged by the blaze, which Ottensmeier said started when a trailer axle overheated and caught fire.
The truck driver was cited for not having a current medical certificate.

A medical miracle

By Jennifer McDaniel
Osawatomie Graphic – October 28, 2015

Miami County Emergency Medical staff, (from left), Matt Gamblin, battalion chief, Jennifer Kimberlin, paramedic, and Brandon Ream, emergency medical technician, and Steve Town, Louisburg Fire Department first-responder, reunited with Julia Reams, and her son, Lucas, during the Oct. 21 Miami County Commission meeting. Photo by Jennifer McDaniel.

Miami County Emergency Medical staff, (from left), Matt Gamblin, battalion chief, Jennifer Kimberlin, paramedic, and Brandon Ream, emergency medical technician, and Steve Town, Louisburg Fire Department first-responder, reunited with Julia Reams, and her son, Lucas, during the Oct. 21 Miami County Commission meeting. Photo by Jennifer McDaniel.

Julia Reams has played the moment over and over in her mind a thousand times.
For the longest time, Julia kept blaming herself, questioning what she could have done differently. Nearly four months later, she’s starting to realize she did everything she could, and that maybe nothing could have prevented her then-5-year-old son, Lucas, from falling into the pool of a family friend last summer in Louisburg and nearly drowning.
And on Oct. 10, Julia, Lucas and the emergency medical personnel who helped save his life were honored by Miami County commissioners during a special presentation. Medical personnel also recognized Julia, of Cleveland, Mo., whom they credited with saving her son’s life by performing CPR.
Miami County Battalion Chief Matt Gamblin, paramedic Jennifer Kimberlin, emergency medical technician Brandon Ream and first-responder Steve Town, with the Louisburg Rural Fire Department, were all recognized. Kimberlin and Ream were also named county employees of the quarter for their role in the incident.
“Lucas became our child that day,” Gamblin said. “This was the biggest call of my life.”
The accident occurred on June 25, after a day of swimming. Lucas, his younger brother, Lane, 2, and his cousins spent much of the day playing in the pool when it was time to go. While the other kids remained in the pool, Julia remembered telling Lucas it was time to get out and dry off. While the other kids were being watched by an adult, Julia remembers Lucas on the outside of the pool’s fence playing with dump trucks when she last saw him. Julia said she was visiting with the homeowner for a few minutes before she realized she couldn’t find Lucas.
Julia, her sister, Johnna Smith, and her mom, Colleen Ellis, both of Butler, Mo., all started looking for Lucas. As they walked toward the pool, Julia said her sister quickly spotted Lucas, who was at the bottom of the pool. Immediately, she said, Johnna jumped into the pool and snatched her nephew. By the time they reached the surface, Julia was already on the side of the pool to meet them. In one swift move, Julia said, Johnna launched Lucas out of the pool and onto the concrete, smacking his head.
“She kept telling me later how he just seemed weightless,” Julia said.
After laying him on the pavement, Julia immediately began performing CPR.
“I started doing chest compressions, and mouth-to-mouth,” she said. “I gave him one big breath and three chest compressions. He was totally blue and lifeless. He wasn’t breathing.”
As she continued delivering chest compressions, Julia said, she was praying out loud, while her sister was quietly whispering a passage from Romans in Lucas’ ear. After several minutes, Lucas coughed up water and vomited.
“And then I heard deep, hard breaths, and I could still tell he had water in his lungs,” she said. “His eyes were shut, and I was holding him. But he was breathing.”
As she sat on the concrete, Julia held her son in her arms, telling him over and over that he would live. After a couple of minutes, she said, a first-responder was on-scene shortly before the ambulance arrived. Eventually, medical personnel were able to remove Lucas from her arms before putting him on a cot and rushing him to Overland Park Regional Medical Center. Shortly after Lucas reached OPR, he was transported to Children’s Mercy, where he would remain for four days.
After the ambulance headed toward Overland Park, Gamblin met his crew at U.S. Highway 69 and Kansas Highway 68 where he jumped in to help. Town was driving the ambulance so medical personnel could work on Lucas.
“He was very critical,” Gamblin said. “We couldn’t get there fast enough.”
After he was stabilized, Julia said she and her husband, Brian, were told that, if Lucas woke up, they could anticipate a long road to recovery. The hours dragged on, Julia said, as they waited for any sign of improvement. Sometimes, she said, the pain was just too much, and so Brian would sit at Lucas’ bedside just so she could have a break.
But within eight hours, Lucas had improved so dramatically his doctors were even stunned, she said. For the next few days, doctors would keep Lucas heavily sedated as he continued to heal. Julia still remembers when Lucas finally woke up.
“He just smiled and said, ‘Hi, Mommy,” she said.
Four days after being admitted, Lucas was going home. Despite his brain being deprived of oxygen for several minutes, Lucas had no long-term damage. He only needed an antibiotic to clear up a case of pneumonia.
Today, Lucas is 6, and a kindergartner at Harrisonville Christian School. He loves to run and play with his monster trucks. Even though Lucas talks about what happened, there are still some things he isn’t quite ready to discuss.
“At the end of the day, I give credit to the Lord,” Julia told commissioners. “I was never shown CPR, so I did everything I could. I know that because of my relationship with the Lord, and because of you guys, I’m just so grateful. It’s a true miracle.”
“We all have kids his age, and it just hits home,” Gamblin said. “My crew performed flawlessly. I feel blessed to have a crew like this, and I feel blessed to do this job. It’s a blessing.”

Pets die in Merriam apartment fire

By Jay Senter
Prairie Village Post – October 28, 2015

An apartment fire in the 7300 block of Brittany St. in Merriam Tuesday night resulted in the deaths of a cat and four parakeets. Merriam police and the Overland Park Fire Department responded to the fire at 6:49 p.m. The cause of the fire is believed to be an accidental grease fire from cooking. The building was evacuated and none of the human occupants were injured. The fire is estimated to have caused about $200,000 in damage.

Ellis County emergency services now in one central Hays location

By Becky Kiser
Hays Post – October 28, 2015

Ellis County Rural Fire Chief Darin Haynes and EMS Director Kerry McCue lead tours of the new building.

Ellis County Rural Fire Chief Darin Haynes and EMS Director Kerry McCue lead tours of the new building.

“It’s a truly great day in our community. It’s been a long time coming and it really feels awesome.” That’s how Ellis County Commission Dean Haselhorst summed up Tuesday’s official opening of the new Ellis County Emergency Services Building, 1105 E. 22nd, Hays.

A ribbon-cutting was conducted by the Hays Area Chamber of Commerce outside the building as a light rain fell. The crowd then went inside for opening remarks and tours of the $3.5 million facility.

For the first time in Ellis County history, county Emergency Medical Services, Rural Fire, and Emergency Management are all under one roof.

“One and a half weeks ago, we received the keys to this beautiful facility. For me it was somewhat of a special day,” said Emergency Manager Bill Ring. “That same day seven years earlier, I had started working for Ellis County.”

Ring’s office had been in the basement of the Law Enforcement Center in the Ellis County courthouse. “Now as I start my eighth year, I have a beautiful above ground office–with a large window–to watch the weather, which is one of my jobs,” he said with a laugh.

Ring, Rural Fire Chief Darin Myers and EMS Director Kerry McCue, both in their dress uniforms, all spoke before leading 20-minute tours through each area of the building.

“It’s a great accomplishment and we have a great group of county volunteers for the fire department,” Myers said. He pointed out that the building houses just one of the rural fire companies. There are five more throughout Ellis County.

Former rural fire chief Dick Klaus, who recently retired after serving 36 years, was recognized as well as several former Ellis County commissioners, including Swede Holmgren, Perry Henman and Glenn Diehl. Ellis County Chairman Marcy McClelland explained the funding of the project.

Work began on the building in July 2014, financed by a five-year, half-cent sales tax approved by county voters in May 2013. The tax is also being used to fund safety and security improvements underway at the Ellis County Law Enforcement Center and courthouse, 1204 Fort. Emergency dispatch remains in the LEC basement.

“For the past 21 months, collections have averaged $287,000 per month,” McClelland said. The tax will remain in effect for five years, or until both projects are paid off.

“We appreciate the votes in favor of the sales tax to do this,” said McCue. “We started looking at space needs for EMS in 1996, a journey of almost 20 years.”

Father Fred Gatschet of the FHSU Comeau Catholic Campus Center and First Presbyterian Church pastor and Ellis County Ministerial Alliance President Celeste Lasich led prayers of thanksgiving and protection for the Ellis County first responders.

Lasich told the audience her father Bill was “lifetime law enforcement, and that started in the fire department. So I am someone, as many of you who are family members, know what it is to have your loved one come home from successfully having fought a fire. I’m grateful for all of you,” she said with a sweep of her arm towards first responders gathered for the ceremony in the fire engine bay.

Haselhorst, who took over as construction manager of the building several months ago, also thanked the Ellis County Space Needs Committee, the architects and contractors.

Commissioner Barb Wasinger, who underwent surgery Tuesday, was unable to attend.

At least 2 people evacuated from apartments after attic catches fire on Sixth Avenue

By Ashley Booker
Hutchinson News – October 28, 2015

At least two people were evacuated from their apartments Tuesday evening after an attic caught on fire in Hutchinson.

A man inside the apartment said he smelled smoke and noticed the ceiling was very hot and was changing colors. His apartment was one of four in the building, located at 722 E. Sixth Ave., according to scanner traffic.

Hutchinson Fire Department firefighters discovered the fire in the attic after using thermal imaging cameras to find the hotspot. Then they pulled the ceiling and extinguished what had fallen down, said HFD Battalion Chief Darin Gehring.

“It was actually more work to clean up than to put the fire out,” he said, adding the fire didn’t take much water.

Other than the man who reported the smoke, only one other tenant was inside the apartments at the time. Nobody was injured.

A ceiling changing color isn’t unusual and is much like a log turning black with fire, Gehring said.

“When the Sheetrock gets hot, a lot of times wherever the fire’s at it’s really localized, so the Sheetrock will start to change colors. The paint on the ceiling will start to change colors (too) and you can see it,” Gehring said.

Westar Energy cut the power, and Kansas Gas was also present conducting its own investigation.

While the fire was believed to be electrical in nature, it was still under investigation.

Commission approves contracts for new fire district coverage of Pleasantview

By John Green
Hutchinson News – October 28, 2015

The Reno County Commission approved new response contracts Tuesday between Reno County Fire District No. 8 and fire districts 2, 3 and 4, allowing District 8 to be a simultaneous first responder for some calls within the other fire districts around Pleasantview.

Several Pleasantview business owners, however, while acknowledging the county’s effort, indicated they still want to proceed with a process to redraw fire district boundaries, to make District 8 the primary responder for a larger portion of the county now served by the station in Partridge.

Some confusion also remains about the types of calls the fire district will respond to under the new agreements.

“We hope this doesn’t become political, to overlook personal safety,” said Melvin Yutzy. “We realize if the boundaries change, money is involved. Our intent is not to take away dollars, but its logistics. District 8 is in the corner and it makes sense to increase their area logistically. With the school there and three churches close by, we’re looking at it in terms of saving lives, versus saving a little money here and there.”

Ben Miller, owner of Stutzman Greenhouse, said he has concerns about what calls District 8 will respond to after an incident in June at the greenhouse when a woman fell and broke her hip. No one from the fire district responded and Miller claimed it was 30 minutes before an ambulance arrived.

Meagher and Todd Strain, of Reno County Emergency Management, said they were not sure on what medical calls the fire district would respond.

The fire district would likely respond for a “life over limb” call, such as a heart attack, but not for a call such as a broken finger, Strain said. He did not know if dispatchers would consider a broken hip “high enough response.”

E911 Director Michelle Abbott said the response would still depend – based on available equipment and current operating agreements – which fire district the call comes from.

Abbott, however, first clarified what actually happened in the response at Stutzmans.

“We paged Station 4 and didn’t get a response,” Abbott said, noting it is a volunteer station and firefighters might not have been immediately available.

“When the ambulance was in route, we asked if they wanted us to page Station 4 again,” she said. “Since both the ambulance and fire unit come from Arlington, and it would be the same distance, they said no. The initial response time was 12 minutes from the time of response to the time on scene, not 30 minutes. The call came in at 14:49 (2:49 p.m.) and medics were on scene at 15:02. That’s not bad when you’re driving from Arlington to Pleasantview.”

District 8’s current response guidelines, which are used by dispatchers, Abbott said, are that they respond to: vehicle accidents with injury; “code blue” calls, when someone is not breathing; heart attack or chest pain calls; shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; unconscious or unresponsive victims; electrocutions; industrial accidents; explosions; and rescues.

District 4’s policy is that it will respond to all fire and medical calls, Abbott said.

“It doesn’t define any severity or detail on what they go to,” she said.

It was unclear if that means a medical call in the joint District 4/8 response area would trigger dispatching a District 8 unit, regardless of the type of medical emergency.

Districts 3 and 8, meanwhile, do not have hydraulic extrication tools – commonly called Jaws of Life – for rescuing people from crushed vehicles, so District 4 responds on those calls for District 8, and District 2 for calls in District 3.

“It’s really confusing, but no one at this time has indicated that’s going to change,” Abbott said, indicating she will probably seek clarification and “some consistency so there’s not so many departments doing different things.”

Business owners first brought the issue to the attention of the county commission in late May, after a seemingly delayed response to a traffic accident on K-61 while waiting on the appropriate responders to arrive. Four separate fire districts whose boundaries meet in the area serve the Pleasantview area, with its more than a dozen small businesses.

Residents served by the fire station out of Partridge, however, had requested 11 square miles of the district be included in any change in response. The proposed agreement authorizing simultaneous response by fire districts 4 and 8 only involves 3 miles abutting Morgan Avenue.

Township trustee wary of consolidated fire districts

By Tammy Helm
Fort Scott Tribune – October 28, 2015

Scott Township Trustee and fire department member Don Banwart, right, explains why he is opposed to a consolidation of all rural fire departments during a discussion held Tuesday at the Bourbon County Commissioners' meeting. Also pictured are First District Commissioner Lynne Oharah, left, and Drywood Township trustee Darrel Bloomfield. Photo by Tammy Helm.

Scott Township Trustee and fire department member Don Banwart, right, explains why he is opposed to a consolidation of all rural fire departments during a discussion held Tuesday at the Bourbon County Commissioners’ meeting. Also pictured are First District Commissioner Lynne Oharah, left, and Drywood Township trustee Darrel Bloomfield. Photo by Tammy Helm.

The Bourbon County Commissioners are considering consolidating all rural fire districts into one, but at least one member of a district is not in favor of the idea.
Don Banwart, a Scott Township trustee and member of the Scott Township Fire District, and Darrell Bloomfield, Drywood Township trustee, met with commissioners Tuesday to express their objection.

Banwart argued that combining the districts would not lower the Insurance Services Organization (ISO) rating and it would not help the rural departments receive grants.

Banwart said if the county’s goal is to reduce the ISO for rural residents, that could be accomplished by placing a fire truck in a building in various areas of the county. The building doesn’t have to be manned by paid fire personnel, but the truck has to be maintained and operational. Volunteer fire fighters would carry pagers in order to respond.

He also said farmers in the area could be certified to drive the truck, but not to enter a building to fight a fire. Banwart said the insurance would pay for any accidents that a person incurs while fighting a fire outside a structure.

“Because we are a volunteer department, it’s a volunteer policy,” Banwart said. “As soon as it’s a paid department, the insurance goes to a commercial policy.”

Banwart suggested the commissioners pass a resolution calling for paging the fire district closest to the fire.

As commissioners and County Counselor Justin Meeks have told Banwart in the past, the county commissioners currently have no authority over fire districts.

In Bourbon County Emergency Manager William Wallis’ proposal to consolidate districts, each current district would retain its own mill levy and remain under the authority of the townships.

“Nothing would change with the day-to-day stuff,” Meeks said. “It would just be consolidated. The commissioners would become the auditing agency.”

“I’m in favor of that,” Banwart said.

Wallis reported on a meeting held Monday with fire chiefs from each department and First District Commissioner Lynne Oharah. Wallis said there were “lots of questions,” with many that should be directed to Meeks and County Clerk Kendell Mason.

He said the fire chiefs’ meetings, which were reestablished after Wallis became emergency manager, have been a way to “pull” everyone together. Typically, the meetings last about three hours. Discussions are held about communication issues, training and fire events, and information Wallis has to pass along from the state.

“We didn’t cover any of that last night,” Wallis said.

Instead, the topic of discussion was consolidating all the fire districts.

He said his initial comment was, “We don’t want to reinvent the wheel here.”

“I want to keep our departments operating as smooth as we have been without any disruption,” Wallis said. “I’ve had the pleasure and the opportunity to be at the much larger scenes and I can see how (the departments) work. And they work good. I’m talking smooth.”

Oharah said questions he heard during the meeting were would each district keep it’s identity and who would pay the bills?

“They would,” Meeks said. “The mill levies would stay the same.”

Meeks said the exception could be that Redfield’s mill levy might need to be adjusted because not enough tax dollars is generated to maintain its fire department.

Mason provided the 2014 mill levy rates and valuations for each district: Fire District 2, Garland, 11.309 mill levy with valuation at $3,423,343; District 3, Bourbon County, 7.411 mill levy, $27 million valuation; District 4, Redfield, 4.101 mill levy with a $1,840,778 valuation; and District 5, Scott Township, 5.840 mill levy with a $15,419,592 valuation.

When asked to clarify his concerns about a consolidated district, Banwart agreed he is concerned that the governance would be centralized and money would not be filtered appropriately to the rightful districts.

“The other reason is because of grants,” Banwart said. “You would not get any grants with one district.”

Earlier in the meeting, Banwart said grants are typically awarded to the poorest fire districts. He said that’s the reason districts like Redfield and Scott Township were able to acquire new fire trucks with Homeland Security grant money. One consolidated district would appear to be wealthier than the individual districts, he said.

“We’re going to fact check,” Meeks said. “What happens, hypothetically, if we do our fact checking and the state, or powers that be, say it doesn’t matter?” Meeks asked.

One dead in Overland Park traffic accident

By Ian Cummings
Kansas City Star – October 27, 2015

One person died in a traffic accident Tuesday near West 159th Street and Kenneth Road in Overland Park, according to police.

The accident occurred about 1:40 p.m., when a passenger car headed north on Kenneth Road lost control and collided with a southbound passenger truck, police said.

Both drivers were transported to hospitals. One occupant was pronounced dead at the scene.

Overland Park police did not immediately release the names of any of the people involved in the accident.

The investigation of the accident continued.

Man collapses after fighting fire

KSN – October 27, 2015

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A 45-year-old man collapsed Monday after a fire got out of control. According to the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, the man was burning tree stumps and other yard waste in a large dumpster on the property near 391st Street West and 6th Street. The fire got out-of-control so he called 911.

Firefighters arrived to find the man trying to put the fire out. He told them he had inhaled some smoke. A deputy said the man didn’t feel well and collapsed in the street. Firefighters started to give him CPR.

He was transported to the hospital in serious condition.

Lyons High School student killed in house fire

By Akeam Ashford
KWCH – October 27, 2015

Photo by Ryan Carlson

Photo by Ryan Carlson

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Family and friends are mourning the loss of a Lyons, Kan. teen today after fire officials say he was killed in a house fire Tuesday morning.

Lyons Fire Chief Brad Reid said his crews responded to the fire around 2:30 a.m. A family of three were living in the home. Reid said the parents made it out of the home safely, but their son, who was living on the second floor, did not.

The Lyons School District sent a note out to students and parents saying 17-year-old Dylon Pavlus-Newill, a junior at Lyons High School, died in the fire.

The Kansas Fire Marshal’s office was called out to investigate. Reid said they are considering the fire to be accidental due to the extensive damage. The home is a complete loss.

Investigators believe the fire started on the west side of the house in the porch or living room area.

Hutchinson News – By Kelton Brooks

The cause of a residential fire in Lyons where a 17-year-old was killed when he was trapped in an upstairs bedroom has been ruled accidental, but undetermined due to the destruction of the blaze.

The Lyons School District sent a note out to students and parents saying Dylon Pavlus-Newill, 17, a junior at Lyons High School, died in the fire.

Lyons Fire Chief Brad Reid said the destructive fire occurred at 2:30 a.m. where about 30-foot flames and heavy smoke was flaring out the second story windows. The teenager’s parents were downstairs asleep in their bedroom inside the home on 518 S. Dinsmore.

Reid said the parents woke up when they heard the smoke alarms ringing and the smell of smoke.

The father attempted to run upstairs and save his son, but Reid said the high heat and heavy smoke forced the man and his wife out the front door of the home. Reid believes the fire originated from either the inside or outside of the west side of the home.

The home was fully engulfed in flames and the entire front porch was ablaze, preventing entrance by firefighters. Reid said the house is a total loss and a backhoe was brought in to tear down the roof and walls to help douse the flames. The fire was controlled in about an hour and a half, but Lyons firefighters were at the home until noon Tuesday, Reid said.

Kansas State Fire Marshals said the cause of the fire is undermined due to the severity of the damages, and the fire has been ruled accidental.

No firefighters or the parents were injured, Reid said. The Lyons Police Department and Sterling Fire Department also assisted in responding to the fire.

Barton Solvents resolves investigation into 2007 Valley Center fire

KAKE – October 27, 2015

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Video of the fire

Barton Solvents, Inc. announced today that it has reached agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on an environmental civil case, stemming from an investigation into a 2007 explosion and fire at the company’s former Valley City, Kansas facility.

The EPA’s allegations included failure to identify hazards and consequences which may result from releases of chemicals in storage; failure to timely notify one of the state agency departments of a release of chemicals; failure to have adequate capacity in the company’s retention basins; and improper characterization and management of wastes.

As part of the Consent Decree filed today, Barton Solvents does not admit any liability to the United States about the allegations. While Barton does not agree with all of the allegations, it has agreed to an independent third party audit to clarify the obligations of the company for future compliance under EPA’s General Duty Clause[1] and other requirements.

As a result of the agreement, the company will pay a $1.1 million civil penalty.

The independent, third-party audit to which Barton Solvents has agreed will assist in identifying operational changes in response to applicable EPA, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations and industry practices or alternative methods for chemical storage, handling and emergency response. The auditor will provide frequent reports to the EPA about its ongoing practices.

The July 17, 2007 explosion and fire led to the evacuation of 6,000 residents. Eleven residents and one firefighter sought medical attention. Static sparked the explosion.

Rural home damaged a second time

By Gale Rose
Pratt Tribune – October 27, 2015

Photos by Gale Rose

Photos by Gale Rose

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A family escaped injury Sunday night when a malfunction on a kitchen stove caused extensive fire, smoke and water damage in the kitchen and heavy smoke damage throughout the Dean Fitzsimmons house in eastern Pratt County.

Jerree Fitzsimmons said she had just finished using the self cleaning feature on the stove in the kitchen when she noticed that fumes she normally saw after the cleaning cycle was finished had become smoke that quickly thickened then fire broke out.

The fire quickly spread up the wall and Fitzsimmons alerted everyone in the house and contacted the fire department.

Units from Preston and Township 12 were dispatched to the scene while James Fitzsimmons, a volunteer firefighter, and his friend Andrew McClosky worked to contain the flames.

Firefighters were able to contain the fire to the kitchen area where there was extensive fire, smoke and water damage. There was also heavy smoke damage throughout the house, said Township 12 Fire Chief Mark McManaman,

James Fitzsimmons and McClosky were both treated on site for smoke inhalation.

A half dozen truck units and about a dozen firefighters were on scene for almost two hours.

The Fitzsimmons home is about 12.5 miles east of Pratt on NE 5th Street. The home was also damaged in a 2008 tornado.

HPD at scene of house fire on E. 15th Street

Hays Post – October 27, 2015

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Video 1240

Hays firefighters were called to the scene of a house fire about 11:20 a.m. at 509 E. 15th Street, where witnesses at the scene could see smoke coming up below the house eaves.

Three fire trucks, along with Hays Police responded. An Ellis County ambulance was on standby. Hays Fire Chief Gary Brown left from the open house underway at the new Ellis County Emergency Services Building.

Neighbors watched from their porches as firefighters pulled siding from the front and west side of the home, and laid out fire houses.

Fire department to equip firefighters with Echo software

By Kari Adams
Butler County Times Gazette – October 27, 2015

El Dorado emergency first responders can now access critical dispatch information, responder locations, incident communications, pre-plans, water supply tools and personnel data on a smartphone, tablet or computer using a new software application from Echo Response Technologies LLC.
The Echo Responder application is a robust and customizable solution, providing unparalleled tactical intelligence to first responders in the field. Using Echo Responder™, El Dorado firefighters can receive real-time dispatch instructions, search for closest fire hydrants, communicate without being limited by radios and view information about members stored in their agency’s Echo Responder database. Firefighters can also review dispatch assignments, access building pre-plans, see the nature and address of the call, and update their unit’s status.
The application was specifically designed to meet the needs of field firefighters, however is customizable for all emergency agencies. Echo Responder™ utilizes intuitive touch-screen navigation and formats contacts so they can be dialed with a single touch. First responders can also view addresses on an interactive map and receive turn-by-turn directions.
Firefighters can utilize the application to view real-time responding unit locations, and best determine apparatus staffing.
“One of the great things about the app is that our firefighters can get notified of a call and they can check see if anyone is already responding to the call,” said Butler County Fire Chief Steve Moody. “They’ll know exactly how many other firefighters are responding, as well as what volunteers are available.”
After the incident has been resolved, users can easily retrieve graphical analytics, maintain personnel records, and view response statistics.
“We like to try to stay at the cutting edge of technology,” said Moody. “If we can keep our firefighters safer, we can do our jobs better.”
The application is compatible with firefighters’ iPhone and Android smartphones, as well as the iPad®, mobile tablets, and standard computers.
The El Dorado Fire Department was established in 1995, when it was created from the Fire Division of the El Dorado Department of Public Safety. Currently the El Dorado Fire Department is a combination paid/volunteer department with seventeen paid employees and up to twenty volunteer members. The Fire Department serves the City of El Dorado and provides fire protection to 115 square miles, including El Dorado Township and the west portion of Prospect Township. The agencies will be able to use Echo Responder’s mobile solution to efficiently operate throughout the entire district, allowing firefighters to interact with critical dispatch information, communicate with responding units, and access water supply location data from their vehicle laptops and iOS/Android devices.

Tank cool-down

Pratt Tribune – October 15, 2015
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – October 27, 2015

Photo by Gale Rose. Click on photo to view full-size image.

Photo by Gale Rose. Click on photo to view full-size image.

Township 12 firefighter Jamie Hitt (left), Assistant Chief Jay Bailey and Chief Mark McManaman spray down burning material around three diesel fuel tanks at the Rocky Fox residence Tuesday afternoon. An electrical problem is the suspected cause of the accident. No one was at the residence when the fire broke out. None of the three diesel tanks caught fire but the hoses and electrical wiring were badly burned.

Fire department gets new breathing equipment

By Pilar Martin
Harvey County Independent – October 1, 2015
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – October 27, 2015

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Firefighters in Sedgwick gathered last Wednesday evening to be fitted for new Self Contained Breathing Apparatuses.

Each firefighter was fitted for a special facemask that came with all kinds of bells and whistles. These masks required quantitative testing, making sure they had tight seals and would remain sealed in a variety of actions.

The masks allow the firefighters to breathe on their own, or breathe with oxygen strapped to their backs. There is even back up measures where two firefighters can share the same tank if one gets into trouble.

The units also have a heads-up LED display in the face mask that can alert firefighters if their oxygen is getting low. Other alarms on the unit will sound if the firefighter is not moving after 20 seconds.

“We got 12 complete Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) units all with a spare bottle, 25 masks so each member of the department has their own personal mask, and a rapid intervention pack that can carry extra air into an emergency if a responder gets trapped and is close to or has run out of air to refill his SCBA. All totaled, almost $88,000 worth of equipment,” Fire Chief Mark Sauerwein said.

The Wilbur-Ellis branch in Sedgwick, following a fine by the Environmental Protection Agency, purchased the equipment, said Sauerwein.

Earlier this year, the EPA found Wilbur-Ellis in violation of EPA rules regulating anhydrous ammonia at White Cloud, Troy and Silver Lake. Wilbur-Ellis was fined and was required to provide emergency equipment to the Sedgwick Fire Department, according to news report.

Blue Rapids Rural Fire Department receives $4,000 grant

Marysville Advocate – October 22, 2015
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – October 27, 2015

The Blue Rapids Rural Fire Department No. 7 is among 45 grant recipients of Georgia-Pacific’s Bucket Brigade program this year. The department will receive $4,000 to help fund equipment needs.

“We have a strong relationship with our local fire departments, so we are very pleased to help them stay well equipped,” said Jeff McCranie, plant manager of Georgia-Pacific’s Blue Rapids gypsum facility. “These grants show our gratitude for their selfless dedication.”

The fire department says the grant will go toward the replacement of a firefighter breathing apparatus that won’t pass a regulation test.

“This assistance is much appreciated,” Fire Chief Jason Hemry said. “This local fire district is a very low tax-base area, so any amount of help is important.”

Hemry is one of four volunteer firefighters who work at the Georgia-Pacific facility.

This year, Georgia-Pacific awarded $207,000 in grants to fire departments for equipment critical to firefighters’ safety. Since the program started in 2006, Georgia-Pacific has given more than $1.75 million to fire departments that serve the company’s facility communities across the country.

“We want to help fire departments have the means necessary to not only keep our communities safe, but protect the firefighters who are putting themselves in harm’s way,” said Jim Hannan, chief executive officer and president of Georgia-Pacific. “We’re especially proud to support fire departments in the communities where Georgia-Pacific employees live, work and volunteer.”

This year, Bucket Brigade grants ranged from $1,000 to $8,000. Grants are based on need and are funded by the Georgia-Pacific Foundation and local Georgia-Pacific facilities. Funds are typically used to purchase new protective clothing and replace items such as damaged safety gear and aging equipment.

Additionally, Georgia-Pacific gives all grant applicants free memberships to the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), which provides access to tools, resources, programs and advocacy for first responders across the nation.

Based in Atlanta, Georgia-Pacific and its subsidiaries are among the world’s leading manufacturers and marketers of bath tissue, paper towels and napkins, tableware, paper-based packaging, office papers, cellulose, specialty fibers, non-woven fabrics, building products and related chemicals. The company employs about 35,000 people worldwide.

Georgia-Pacific is a wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries, a privately owned company headquartered in Wichita.

Wilson firefighters respond to two fires

Ellsworth County Independent Reporter – October 22, 2015
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – October 27, 2015

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The above scene greeted Ellsworth County Independent-Reporter county editor Alan Rusch Monday at Wilson. Wilson firefighters responded that day to two fires, both started by a spark from a combine.

Wilson, along with firefighters from Ellsworth, Kanopolis, Holyrood and Lorraine, were called to the first fire at 11:43 a.m., but Wilson Fire Chief Larry Langerman sent the other departments back to base after determining the small ditch fire at Ave. B and 11th Road was under control. At 2:07 p.m. firefighters from Wilson, Ellsworth and Holyrood were called to assist firefighters from several Russell County departments in battling a blaze southwest of Wilson in the vicinity of 203rd Ave. and Walters Road. The fire destroyed portions of milo and soybean fields and a pasture.

Ellsworth County commissioners plan to take action at their Monday, October 26th meeting on a possible countywide burn ban. Rain is expected Thursday and Friday, but not enough to satisfy the county’s need for moisture.

Fire has lots of smoke, little damage

Yates Center – October 1, 2015
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – October 27, 2015

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A fire was started on the North East side of the Recycling Connection owned and operated by Tim Sicka on Thursday, September 24 at around 3:40 p.m.

“I was cutting brass with a torch,” stated employee Jaden Knoblock, “and then hosing it off so as to prevent the fire from catching, but just in a matter of seconds a small spark ignited the whole pile.”

Police Chief Lyle Kee and Jason Deal of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism stood watch as the entrance of the Recycling Connection property. They both took posts on Highway 75 to stop and direct traffic as needed to allow the entrance of emergency vehicles.

Knoblock, Sicka and others involved with the Recycling Connection were very grateful to the Yates Center Fire Department for their timeliness and thorough extinguishing of the fire which prevented further potential damage.

Reynolds named Chapman Fire Chief

By Carol Lacer
Chapman and Enterprise News Times – October 22, 2015
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – October 27, 2015

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Chapman Police Officer Jamie Reynolds, who was hired as a police officer in May of this year, has been named chief of the Chapman Volunteer Fire Department.

City Administrator Austin St. John told city council members at the October 14 meeting that Reynolds just “fit”.

“He fit the mold. He has the education, the experience and training,” St. John said. “I think he will do a good job of leading our fire crew.”

Reynolds said he started as a firefighter in 1997 before he even graduated from high school.

“It was a luck of the draw, a friend of mine was on the fire department at Rural Saline County. He said they were looking for more firefighters, so I went to check it out, and they sent me through school,” Reynolds said. “That’s where it all started.”

Reynolds joined the Chapman Fire Department a few months ago when he and his wife, moved to Chapman. When the chief position came up, he decided to apply.

“As long as I’ve been doing this, I thought now was the time to try to take a leadership role. So far, so good,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds first day on the job was October 1. Ryan Hall, who recently served as interim chief, has been named assistant chief.

Reynolds said it won’t be hard to perform both as full time police officer and fire chief, and that knowledge he learned about arson detection and investigation through police training have already been valuable in the fire department.

“I’m going to respond to fire calls, but if a threatening high priority call comes in (for the police department), I’ll have to leave the fire scene to take that,” Reynolds said.

But he is fully confident that assistant chief Ryan Hall and the other firefighters will handle any fire calls with expertise.

“Ryan is very knowledgeable. As assistant chief, I have no issues leaving a fire ground command to him,” Reynolds said. “We also have very knowledgeable, trained firefighters, so I have no issues leaving and letting them take control over it.”

Reynolds wanted to recognize the other firefighters in Chapman, which are the asst. chief and EMT Ryan Hall, firefighters Erin Perry and John Harris, who are also trained as EMTs, and firefighters Emil Halfhill, Craig Klukas, Dan Moen, Braxton Burgett, Lynn Battishill, Travis Worrell, Eric Adams, and Richard Jones.

“Firefighting is a thankless job, and I want to thank them all,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds said there is also a new Chapman Kansas Fire Department Facebook page, which he is managing, and he welcomes residents to visit the fire department online.

Natoma EMTs earn Good Citizens Award

By Laah Tucker
Salina Journal – October 27, 2015

Photo by Laah Tucker.

Photo by Laah Tucker.

Natoma EMT’s were awarded the 2015 Good Citizens Award by the Lions Club with recognition during the city wide barbecue on Labor Day.

They were applauded for their years of dedication and service to the city and surrounding communities. Using the “Art of Recognition” guidelines through Lions International, the eligibility and selection comes from members’ recommendations. The criteria includes service to others, improvement in the quality of life, public relations, involvement in support of Lions Club.

The volunteer EMTs are certified through 120 hours of training approved by the Kansas Department of Health and Senior Services, plus 60 to 80 hours of clinical training in ambulance runs. The small rural northwest Kansas community continues to be grateful for their EMTs “service with a smile” during minor and major emergencies, including mandatory calls to every fire emergency.

An engraved plaque was presented during the monthly meeting of the Emergency Medical Team at city hall. Presenting the Good Citizen Award was Terry Tucker, Lion president, and Pastor Michael Schmidt, Lion officer. Mayor and EMT Dale Eickhoff (16 years) accepted the honor for the current volunteer team: Bret Somers (16 years), Kevin Eickhoff (16 years), Shawna Dunlap (26 years), Rick Dunlap (23 years), Michelle Mathews (1 year), JoAnn Hashenberger (22 years), Lori Custer (26 years) and Tera Hashenberger (8 years).

Former EMT volunteers include Della Richmond, Teresa Reed, Chris Hays, Martin Maier, Keith Koelling, David George, Justin Frey, Debbie Stull, Bud Hachmeister and Kathy Cooley.

No injuries in fire at Kappa Delta sorority house

By Paige Stingley
The University Daily Kansan – October 26, 2015

Photo by Paige Stingley.

Photo by Paige Stingley.

Update: Lawrence fire captain Zane Morgan said on Sunday afternoon that they are still investigating the cause of the fire. There was no interior damage to the house, and the extent of exterior damage is minimal.

The top level of the Kappa Delta sorority house caught fire before 11 p.m. on Saturday.

The cause of the fire is unknown, according to the Lawrence Police Department dispatch. Fire Chief Mark Hummel said no one was injured and the fire was a structure fire.

Women in the house, which is at 1602 High Drive, were evacuated but were allowed back inside around 11:15 p.m. The president of the sorority was not available for comment.

Crews battle huge blaze at vacant KCK home

KMBC – October 26, 2015

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More than 22 firefighters were called to battle a large blaze at a vacant home near 43rd and State Avenue overnight.

Emergency crews were dispatched around 10:15 p.m. Sunday to a structure behind the Price Chopper near 43rd and State Avenue after a driver on I-635 saw 50-foot flames and called for help.

Authorities say there is no road access to that vacant home home and this location was partially burned along with two other homes two years ago.

A homeless tent camp is very close to this location. Authorities said the camp had been vacated shortly before fire crews arrived on the scene.

At this time the cause of this fire is unknown.

No injuries in early morning blaze

Emporia Gazette – October 26, 2015

Photos by Kendra Johnson.

Photos by Kendra Johnson.

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A house fire occurred Monday morning at about 8:50 a.m. at 509 Road V in southeast Lyon County. The house was fully engulfed by the time firefighters arrived, and vehicles and a propane tank were threatened.
Lyon County Deputies and District 5 Fire Department responded to 509 Road V, Hartford. Olpe and Emporia Fire Departments were dispatched as mutual aid.
Upon a deputy’s arrival at 9:03 am, the house was fully engulfed as well as a 2005 Chevrolet Trail Blazer that was parked next to the residence.
Deputy Jacob Welsh of the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office reports there were two people home at the time of the fire. Sierra Gould, 15, and Flint Cooper, 57. Both smelled smoke, saw flames and exited the house without any injuries.
“The homeowner, Rodney Gould, 57, was not home at the time. The house and car are listed as a complete loss,” states Welsh.
The cause of the fire has not been determined.
With cold weather returning, now is a good time to inspect furnaces or other heating units for safety. Each fall, several fires are reported that can be traced to faulty heating.

Stolen Car Found Torched

Salina Post – October 26, 2015

Photos by Saline County Sheriff's Office.

Photos by Saline County Sheriff’s Office.

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A car stolen Sunday evening from a Salina home is found early Monday morning in Saline County destroyed by fire.

Captain Roger Soldan said deputies were called to the intersection of Woodward and Campbell just before 2a.m. to a report of a car on fire. When they arrived they found what was left a 2008 Nissan Altima, owned by Robert Bostater of Salina.

Bostater was not aware the car which had been parked in front of his home in the 2400 block of Pheasant Lane had been stolen.

Value of the car has been placed at $10,000.

Man killed in Morris County crash

By Greg Palmer
WIBW – October 26, 2015

An Alta Vista, Kansas man was killed when the truck he was riding in was involved in a head-on collision. The accident happened Sunday afternoon on Kansas Highway 177 in Morris County.

Kansas Highway Patrol troopers said a car was southbound on the highway when it crossed the center line and struck a pickup truck.

A passenger in the truck died. He’s identified as Robert Ziegenhirt, 66. Glenna Ziegenhirt was taken to Morris County Hospital. The driver of the car, 19-year-old Julia Fay of Emporia, is being treated at a Topeka hospital.

Topeka fire crews rescue two dogs from house fire Sunday night

By Katie Moore
Topeka Capital Journal – October 26, 2015

Photo by Katie Moore.

Photo by Katie Moore.

Two dogs were rescued from a house fire that broke out about 6:40 p.m. Sunday at 1600 S.W. 28th Terrace.

One occupant already was outside when fire crews arrived.

The fire is believed to have started in the garage, said Topeka Fire Department Batallion Chief Eric Bauer.

Fire investigators were called to the scene, though it wasn’t immediately clear what caused the fire. An estimate on the structural damage and content loss was still being determined Sunday night.

Five fire trucks responded to the blaze in addition to the Topeka Police Department, which assisted with traffic control. Officers blocked off S.W. Mulvane from S.W. 28th to S.W. Withdean Road.

AMR also was on the scene, though no one was reported to be injured.

Pilot Killed In Crash Near Salina

By Todd Pittenger
KSAL – October 26, 2015

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A pilot of a small experimental aircraft was killed Sunday evening when he crashed in a field north of Salina.
According to the Kansas Highway Patrol, 62-year-old Delwyn Schmidt took off from his small private grass runway at his house in rural Ottawa County. As he was on his ascent he tried to make a turn to return home, and lost power. He failed to make an emergency landing.
The plane, a small single-seat experimental aircraft, came to rest on its top, about thirty yards from a home.
Neighbors told KSAL News at the scene that it is not uncommon to see Schmidt flying small aircraft that he has built himself. They say that he owns several small aircraft, and at least one helicopter.
The Kansas Highway Patrol is coordinating an investigation into the crash with the Federal Aviation Administration.
The crash happened at 5:43 Sunday evening, near 93 Autumn Lane in rural Ottawa County near the Saline County line, about 10 miles north of I70/I135 junction.

Death in Mulberry

By Tim Spears
KOAM – October 25, 2015

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The Kansas State Fire Marshal is investigating the death of Susan E. Montanye, 59, at her home in Mulberry, KS.

Crawford County 911 received a report of a structure fire at approximately 3:36 a.m. Friday morning at Montanye’s home. Callers informed dispatchers of visible flames coming from the residence. In the course of fighting the fire, firefighters discovered Montanye’s body.

The Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office was contacted to investigate the cause of the fire. The Crawford County Coroner ordered the body be sent for autopsy in Kansas City, KS.

The cause of the fire and Montanye’s death are still under investigation by the Fire Marshal, Mulberry Police and the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office.

Woman killed in southeast Wichita crash

KAKE – October 27, 2015

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A woman has died following a crash Friday afternoon in southeast Wichita.

It happened just after 4 p.m. near Mt. Vernon and Edgemoor. A witness says a tow truck was heading east on Mt. Vernon when it T-boned a Nissan passenger car that was driving north on Edgemoor.

Police said the 56-year-old woman driving the Nissan died at the scene. Now investigators are working to reconstruct the crash to determine exactly what happened, if speed was a factor and who was at fault.

The tow truck driver was not injured and is cooperating, police said.

The witness says the intersection has had problems in the past. He says it is very difficult to see traffic on Mt. Vernon if you’re trying to cross Edgemoor.

Traffic on Mt. Vernon does have the right of way, while traffic on Edgemoor has stop signs.

Lawrence fire department’s 100-year history reveals much change, but some things remain the same

By Caitlin Doornbos
Lawrence Journal World – October 26, 2015

At 93 years old, Sam Brubaker has been alive almost as long as the fire department in which he spent nearly three decades has been a municipal entity. Brubaker, of Lawrence, joined the Lawrence Fire Department — now known as Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical — in 1947 after returning home from World War II the previous year. Photo by Mike Yoder.

At 93 years old, Sam Brubaker has been alive almost as long as the fire department in which he spent nearly three decades has been a municipal entity. Brubaker, of Lawrence, joined the Lawrence Fire Department — now known as Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical — in 1947 after returning home from World War II the previous year. Photo by Mike Yoder.

(Photo courtesy of the Lawrence/Douglas County Fire & Medical).Crew at #1 station in 1955..From left, D. Knight, S. (Buddy) Griffin, D. Headley, M. Lisher, J. Prentice, N. Buffington, unidentified, B. Deay, L. Anderson, K. Dean, C. (Beef) Brubaker, C. (Duchman) Flory, J. Todd, Sam Brubaker, J. Kasberger (Asst. Chief), J. Miller (Chief), F. Sanders (Asst. Chief), unidentified.

(Photo courtesy of the Lawrence/Douglas County Fire & Medical).Crew at #1 station in 1955..From left, D. Knight, S. (Buddy) Griffin, D. Headley, M. Lisher, J. Prentice, N. Buffington, unidentified, B. Deay, L. Anderson, K. Dean, C. (Beef) Brubaker, C. (Duchman) Flory, J. Todd, Sam Brubaker, J. Kasberger (Asst. Chief), J. Miller (Chief), F. Sanders (Asst. Chief), unidentified.

At 93 years old, Sam Brubaker has been alive almost as long as the fire department in which he spent nearly three decades has been a municipal entity.

Brubaker, of Lawrence, joined the Lawrence Fire Department — now known as Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical — in 1947 after returning home from World War II the previous year. Firefighting was markedly different then, he said, working in a world where fires were fought without masks and rescue ladders were wooden.

“Toward the end, we got two Chem-Ox systems, but the canisters were $4.95 each, so the chief said not to use them,” Brubaker said. “And until the last few years I was there, all fire trucks had solid rubber tires and open cabs.”

The department’s a lot different now, as LDCFM marks its 100th anniversary as a municipal fire department. Since 1915, LDCFM has gone from 10 paid firefighters to 140, one station to five and horse-drawn carriages to $1 million fire engines. Today’s firefighters are also certified medics, so the EMS personnel taking you away in an ambulance might be fighting a house fire on the next call.

Back in 1947, things were tough — especially for new firefighters, Brubaker recalled. When he first started on the department, he couldn’t understand how the maskless senior firefighters could rush into a burning building without being overcome by the smoke and heat. Brubaker recalled with humor the fire chief — who at that time was Chief Paul Ingles — would give the youngsters tips, but “the guys” wouldn’t.

“They would keep their nose next to that water hose. The water would give off oxygen,” Brubaker said. “I was 10 feet behind them, and I’d get nothing but smoke. I’d be choking to death to catch up with them.”

He didn’t stay the new guy forever, working his way up to captain before retiring in 1973. Since then, many have joined, climbed the ranks and retired after him.

“They fight fires now in all different ways than we did,” Brubaker said. “But a fire’s a fire; it doesn’t matter how you fight it as long as you get them out.”

The early days

Brubaker isn’t the first firefighter to say after the end of his career that the “new guys” have it easier. Looking through newspaper archives, many a former chief interviewed said their generation of firefighters had it tougher than those after.

In a 1953 Journal-World article that ran just before former chief Ingles’ retirement, Ingles said, “Here’s a scene that’s changed a little during the past 40 years.” Reporter Rich Clarkson called Ingles’ quote the “understatement of the day.”

In the article, Ingles recalled the days of horse-drawn fire wagons and an alarm bell atop the fire station to summon firefighters to the station. When Ingles started his career in 1912, the department wasn’t even a “department” yet. It would not change from a volunteer organization to a paid municipal fire department until 1915.

And 21 years before Ingles’ departure, former chief William Reinisch ended his career, remarking in an article that the “youngsters” of 1932 “who fight fires now do not realize what it meant in the old days.”

“We had no warm clothing, no rubber suits to keep us dry and no equipment with which to do much,” Reinisch said. “If we got a hot one it meant getting soaked to the skin and staying with it, winter or summer.”

“I guess some of that is showing up now that I’m getting old,” Reinisch said after his 38-year career as a Lawrence firefighter.

New world, different problems

Now, firefighters not only wear masks but also thermal-lined, thick rubber boots (in Brubaker’s day, their rubber boots were no more than your typical rain boot).

Firefighters today also wear heavy, thermal garments with layers of fire- and chemical-resistant fabric, all of which are fit to each firefighter so that there are no gaps of skin showing when worn, current LDCFM fire chief Mark Bradford said. Brubaker, meanwhile, said his firefighting getup consisted of blue jeans and a raincoat.

Even the helmets are different, as modern helmets are constructed similar to football helmets, Bradford said, with the crown specially designed to protect the head from impact. In Brubaker’s day, helmets were like hardhats, as Bradford said they were essentially a “pressed-out piece of plastic.” Plus, each firefighter wears a mask that feeds compressed air to their lungs, even in the midst of thick, black smoke.

The biggest change, Bradford said, is the influence of technology. Firefighters now have access to computers with important information in emergencies, including GPS, floor plans of more than 500 Lawrence buildings, hazards in those buildings and even how much water is left in hydrants close to the fire at hand. This information lets firefighters save valuable time and create strategies when they see what they’re up against.

But it’s not just the firefighting that’s changed, Bradford said, it’s also the fires themselves. Previously, homes, furniture and other items were made with predominantly metal, wood and other natural products. Now, there are more plastics, composites and other materials that not only produce hazardous chemicals, but also burn hotter and faster, Bradford said.

“There are hotter temperatures inside as plastics melt and materials burn,” Bradford said. “Hence, we have to have coats and helmets because it used to be not near as hot as it is today.”

The byproducts of those artificial materials are also dangerous to inhale, causing cancer rates of firefighters to increase nationwide over the years.

“Think of a campfire; you can breathe some of that smoke,” Bradford said. “But the smoke that comes off houses now is combined with all of these chemical gasses that change composition when heated.”

What hasn’t wavered over LDCFM’s 100-year history are the basic qualifications a firefighter must have, according to Ingles, as he laid out in a 1952 Journal-World article:

“A good heart and a good pair of legs … but the first qualification is complete honesty.”

A look back

Ten notable fires over the Lawrence fire department’s 100 years:

Oct. 7, 2005, Boardwalk fire: Three people — Yolanda Riddle, Jose Gonzalez and Nicole Bingham — died and 20 were injured in an early morning blaze at Boardwalk Apartments, 524 Fireside Drive. Many had broken bones from escaping through second- and third-story windows as they fled the flames that destroyed the 76-unit apartment building. Investigators would later learn 20-year-old Jason Allen Rose set the fire, and he was convicted in 2007 of involuntary manslaughter, aggravated arson and seven counts of aggravated battery in connection with the case. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but was released in 2014 because of time-served credit he earned in jail before his conviction.
April 20, 1970, Kansas University Union fire: A still-unidentified arsonist set fire to the Kansas Union, 1301 Jayhawk Blvd., amid unrest and a tumultuous year of violent protests against inequalities, war, the draft and the establishment. Firefighters responded as flames burst through the roof. Fire department records indicate all personnel — even those who were off-duty — were called to help and “the maximum amount of water” was placed on the fire. The fire took 12 hours to extinguish and caused more than $1 million in damages.
July 17, 1986, Rimrock Drive fatal fire: David Winebrenner, 21 at the time, set fire to his parents’ home at 3028 Rimrock Drive while they were sleeping inside because he was angry about not being able to drive the family’s new truck. The Winebrenners escaped from the home unharmed, but a roof beam collapsed and killed 34-year-old firefighter Mark Blair while he was inside searching for other occupants. Winebrenner spent nearly 22 years in prison for Blair’s death before his release in 2009. Blair was the first — and only — Lawrence firefighter to die in the line of duty.
Sept. 17, 2006, New Jersey Street fatal fire: An early morning fire killed Charles Glover Sr., 66, and his grandchildren, Nolan Vender, 13, DaVonte Brockman, 11, Mario Johnson, 2, and Mariyana Johnson, 1. Glover’s wife, Learlean, survived the fire. The house was entirely destroyed. Fire investigators were never able to determine the fire’s cause, but said there were no indications of any criminal activity. City Hall at the time released an announcement that said, “The heavy damage to the structure, as well as the absence of witnesses, contributed to the inability to identify electrical or human factor as the cause.”
Jan. 14, 1922, barbershop fire: Lawrence firefighters were alerted to a fire in the basement of a barbershop at 921 Massachusetts Street at 7:40 p.m. Jan. 14, 1922. But before firefighters could get the flames under control, the fire had spread and affected the following neighboring downtown businesses: Bell’s Music Store, Stoffer Drugs, Ward’s Flower Shop, Welch and Welch Chiropractors, Doctor Tibbers’, Vogt’s, Doctor Gifford’s, Mrs. Wagghan’s shop and the Bittie Farm Association. Damages were estimated at $62,000.
Aug. 24, 1954 Sterling building fire: A fire tore through the second-story storage area of the former Sterling Furniture Co. at 938 Massachusetts St. Several firefighters were overcome by the extensive flames and smoke and one collapsed after fighting the blaze, according to a Journal-World article. Luckily, the firefighters were OK after some rest, and no one suffered any serious injuries. Damages were estimated at $50,000.
March 1955 Patee Theater fire: The alleyway between the Antique Mall and Dutch Boy Paints in the 800 block of Massachusetts Street was once home to the Patee movie theater. But in March 1955, a fire broke out, destroying the theater “considered the first-ever theater to operate west of the Mississippi River,” according to a Journal-World article from the time. Although no one was injured, a section of the balcony dropped onto the seats below and all available firemen were called to keep the fire from spreading to neighboring businesses. Loss was estimated at $60,000.
Sept. 10, 1955, Plymouth Congregational fire: In the early morning hours of Sept. 10, 1955, a fire tore through the Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vermont St. Each of the 25 men on the Lawrence Fire Department were called to battle the blaze, and it took about two and a half hours to extinguish. Afterward, the firefighters were required to get tetanus shots because they’d received many scratches and scrapes during the incident. Damages were estimated at more than $100,000.
Oct. 7, 1967, Popcorn plant fire: Firefighters spent more than seven hours fighting a fire at TNT Product Inc., a popcorn plant that held at least a million pounds of unpackaged popcorn in the building’s second floor. The building, originally home to the Barteldes Seed Co. in 1867, was completely destroyed in the fire. Damages were estimated at more than $250,000.
Oct. 5, 1953, Higgins house fatal fire: An oil stove inside a home at Seventh and Grant streets in North Lawrence caused the residence to catch fire just before 7:30 a.m. Oct. 5, 1953. When the fire department arrived, the home was “totally engulfed in flames,” according to fire department records. A woman identified as Charles John Higgins’ wife died in the fire.

Car hauler catches fire west of Peabody

By Angela Smith
KWCH – October 26, 2015

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Hwy 50 is down to one lane west of Peabody due to a car hauler fire.

The Peabody Police Department said the road remains closed while emergency crews work to clear the scene.

The towing company says the hauler was transporting four vehicles. The fire started near one of the hauler’s axles. The cab was not attached to the hauler when emergency crews arrived.

No one was hurt.

Shrimp spill from semi on side of highway near Sedan

By Matt Riedl
Wichita Eagle – October 23, 2015

Thursday was a bad day to be a seafood lover in Chautauqua County.

Around 5 p.m. Thursday, a semi carrying about 10,000 pounds of shrimp rolled over on the K-99 highway about 20 miles north of the Oklahoma border, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol.

Trooper Kelly McIntosh said the truck was driving south on the highway when one of its front wheels went off the road. The driver overcorrected and the truck tipped over and skidded across the highway, coming to rest in the east ditch, McIntosh said.

The driver was not injured.

The top of the trailer was ruptured, and about half of the roughly 600 cases of shrimp on board “busted out of there and kind of spewed into the ditch,” McIntosh said.

The Kansas Department of Agriculture responded to the scene and deemed it a total loss, McIntosh said.

The shrimp were seized and will likely be taken to a landfill on Friday, he said.

The section of highway where the semi tipped over is a hot spot for semi accidents, said Barry Speer, a deputy with the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office.

“We’ve probably had 10 semi accidents in this same location,” he said. “This year we lost a load of soybeans … then we lost a load of salt there. I’ve seen a truck full of milk crash there. It’s a box trailer, all packed and ready for Wal-Mart – you walk down there and just see gallons of milk coming out. There’s something there.”

McIntosh said he is “flabbergasted” by the number of accidents that happen on that stretch of highway.

“It’s a straightaway with a little bit of grade there for southbound traffic – enough grade there that they’ve got a no-passing zone in there,” McIntosh said. “Other than that, it’s straight and there’s definitely no reason whatsoever, you know, why they would go off. It’s all driver error, and how do you fix that?”

K-99 was closed for about five hours Thursday night while crews cleaned up after the shrimp spill.

Barn fire kills 3 horses

Harvey County Independent – September 24, 2015
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – October 23, 2015

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A barn on Ridge Road was fully engulfed in flames on Tuesday afternoon. The cause of the fire was unknown as of press time. The structure, owned by Zaira Duran, was a total loss. Along with the barn, Duran said three horses, a mare, foal and gelding, were killed in the fire. Departments from Hesston, Halstead, Newton and Walton were all paged for the blaze.

Injury accident on Americus s-curves

Emporia Gazette – October 23, 2015

Photo by Kendra Johnson

Photo by Kendra Johnson

On Thursday at approximately 12:23 p.m. Lyon County Deputies, Emporia EMS, Emporia Rescue and Americus First Responders were called to an injury rollover accident in the 2000 block of Road F5 (Americus Road).
When deputies arrived they found a white SUV sitting on its driver’s side with the driver still inside. Emporia Rescue used the Jaws of Life to extract the driver out of the vehicle. The driver, later identified as a Deborah Leeds from Council Grove, stated she was wearing her seatbelt. Leeds was transported to Newman Regional Health by ambulance for non-life threatening injuries.
The accident is still under investigation by the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office.

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