Archive for January, 2016

Brush fire causes traffic issues in Butler County

KAKE – January 29, 2016

Click on photo to view full-size image.

Click on photo to view full-size image.

A brush fire along the Kansas Turnpike in Butler County is causing problems for drivers.

Around 1:15 p.m. Friday, a fire spread on the northbound side of the Turnpike south of El Dorado. Limited visibility has causes at least one traffic accident. No injuries were reported.

Southbound lanes of the Turnpike were shut down between the El Dorado exit and Towanda while emergency crews worked to contain the fire.

The Kansas Turnpike Authority reminds drivers not to drive into smoke. Instead, they should pull off onto the shoulder until visibility returns.

Where there’s smoke, look for firefighters

Colby Free Press – January 20, 2016
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 29, 2016

Photo by Kathryn Ballard

Photo by Kathryn Ballard

Lots of sirens signaled a fire scare Monday in the windbreak bordering the Heartland Christian School’s football field. Though there was smoke, the fire turned out to be a nonevent and was easily put out with a fire extinguisher by a volunteer before fire trucks even arrived, though the department then soaked everything down. Assistant Fire Chief Sean Hankin said it was probably caused by kids playing.

Downed power line in Roeland Park sets off grass fires

By Dan Blom
Prairie Village Post – January 29, 2016

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Four houses along 51st Street in Roeland Park had their front yards set on fire Thursday afternoon when a power line snapped in two places. The live line set off the fires that were partially extinguished by KCP&L crews who were working only a couple of blocks away.

The power company crews got to the scene before the fire department arrived and began using fire extinguishers on the blazes. One resident reportedly came out with a garden hose, but was waved off by KCP&L before putting any water on the still-live power line. The dry grass quickly caught on fire quickly.

The power lines run along the street in front of the houses in that area. The homes that were affected are on the north side of 51st Street just to the west of Rosewood. Utility crews were still working to restore power at 2 p.m. this afternoon, but the fire department had cleared the scene. Police re-opened the street to traffic about 1:45 p.m.

Power was cut on the lines that came down, but crews still cautioned people to stay back from them until repairs are complete. Power reportedly was out in a much larger area than the neighborhood where the lines came down.

Crews did not find any limbs that hit the lines and said they could not determine a cause for the break.

Rescue truck for sale

Dickinson County Fire District #1 is selling a 1992 Ford Super duty light rescue truck. It is a Ford 2 wheel drive with 7.3 L diesel (non-turbo) truck has 22,774 miles automatic transmission which was replaced with a Jasper transmission at 15,000 miles. Truck is equipped with a 12kw Onan diesel generator and a Command Light telescoping light tower. The AC compressor was replaced at the end of 2015. Truck also has a 12,000 lb Ramsey winch. The rescue body is an all-aluminum body made by Emergency vehicles Inc. Truck and Generator and light tower are in good condition and there is no rust. Asking $18,000 interested departments may contact Chief Paul Froelich at 785-200-4378 or email

Click on each photo to view full-size image.

Click on each photo to view full-size image.




Leroy P. Gehring


Leroy P. Gehring, 78, passed away January 17, 2016 at Harry Hynes Hospice, Wichita.

He was born October 3, 1937 in Harvey County, the son of Peter and Anna Stucky Gehring.

He had worked as the Transportation Supervisor for USD 313 for 32 years. He was a member of the Buhler Mennonite Church, Buhler, on the Buhler Fire Department for 50 years where he had served as the fire chief.

He married Betty Ratzlaff on June 2, 1957 in Inman.

He is survived by his wife, Betty of Buhler, sons, Dwight (Nonie) of Hutchinson, Darin (Tonya) of Buhler, daughter, Terri Gehring of Medora, daughter-in-law, Susie Gehring of Buhler, brothers, Marlo of Moundridge, Kenny (Ruth) of Burrton, Bob (Sharon) of Moundridge, sisters, Leona (Norman) Schroeder of Canton, Marlene (Ed) Thode of Hutchinson, six grandchildren, Jennifer Gehring, Jeff Gehring and fiance Taylor Fisher, Adam Gehring and girlfriend Becky Cunningham, Caitlin (Adan) Hernandez, Jake Gehring, Jackson Gehring, and a great grandson Kalib Gehring, extended family, Tammy Devena, Desire Fiscus, Eleina and Owen.

He was preceded in death by a son, Danny and a brother, Floyd.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m., Friday, January 22, 2016, at Buhler Mennonite Church, Buhler with Pastor Willmar Harder officiating. Burial will follow service at the Buhler East Cemetery, Buhler. Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. with family present from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, January 21, 2016 at Buhler Mortuary.

Memorials may be made to either the Buhler Fire Department or to Buhler Mennonite Church all in care of Buhler Mortuary.

Fire damages home near Lake Augusta

By Bryan Ramsdale
KAKE – January 29, 2016

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A home in the Lake Augusta area has substantial damage, after an early- morning fire that spread from a car.

Authorities say the fire broke out around 5:00 a.m. at 110 E. Lakecrest in Augusta, near the Prairie intersection. A Honda in a driveway somehow caught fire, and spread to the home alongside.

Flames eventually spread to the attic, and the ceiling had to be torn down to bring things under control. That means to home may be unlivable for several days.

Two people and several pets were inside the home. No injuries are reported.

CQ Farm Bureau donates water to rural fire units

Sedan Prairie Star – January 6, 2016
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 29, 2016

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For the fourth consecutive year, the Chautauqua County Farm Bureau Association donated over 1,000 bottles of water to the county’s fire departments. Over the years, the donation was made to coincide with Kansas Farm Bureau’s Fire Safety Week. The goal was to promote fire safety and to show appreciation to those that fight fires in the state.

In years prior, the Farm Bureau has also celebrated the week by hosting a chili dinner for the firefighters during training exercises. Even though KFB is no longer recognizing “Fire Safety Week,” the board thought it was a worthwhile endeavor and plans to continue the tradition.

The water is distributed by the fire departments located in Sedan to all of the departments in the county. It comes in handy during the spring/summer grass fires, when firefighters are out fighting fires for hours at a time. This is the Farm Bureau’s way to show appreciation and to say “thank you” to all volunteer firefighters.

Local home damaged in fire early Wednesday morning

Montgomery County Chronicle – January 7, 2016
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 29, 2016

The Coffeyville Fire Department responded to 1508 W. 2nd Street early Wednesday morning in response to a structure fire.

Upon arrival, all occupants were out of the residence. The fire was located in the attic with the cause determined to be electrical. Off-duty fire personnel, as well as the South Coffeyville Fire Department, were called and assisted with fighting the fire and digging insulation out of the attic.

There were no injuries. The fire caused an estimated $31,000 in damage to the residence which is owned by Ronnie and Jackie Taylor of Topeka.

Firefighters rescue three dogs, a cat and a lizard from Overland Park house fire

By Ian Cummings
Kansas City Star – January 29, 2016

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Police and firefighters rescued three dogs, a cat and a pet lizard from an Overland Park house fire Thursday night.

Neighbors reported the fire about 7 p.m. after seeing flames in the front window of a home in the 5300 block of West 158th Place, according to the Overland Park Fire Department.

The fire appeared to have started in the basement of the two-story house and burned through the first floor. While bringing the fire under control, firefighters rescued the animals from various parts of the house and reunited them with their owner, who came home during the incident.

Crews from the Leawood Fire Department and Johnson County Fire District No. 2 also responded to the fire.

No injuries were reported. The resident and her pets were assisted by a nearby family.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

Car likely culprit in fires south of Garden City

Garden City Telegram – January 29, 2016

A vehicle with some sort of mechanical problems caused about 10 grass fires south of Garden City Thursday afternoon, according to the Garden City Fire Department.

Garden City Battalion Chief Ken Seurer said the fires occurred between Burnside and TV Tower roads near the Haskell county line on south U.S. Highway 83.

The fire department received a call at 2:14 p.m. and were at the locations fighting and putting out the fires until 4:10 p.m., he said.

Fires were also reported to extend into Haskell County and Seward County. Fire departments in the neighboring counties fought those fires.

Seurer said the vehicle that likely caused the fires has not been located. He thinks the fires could have been caused by sparks from a chain dragging on asphalt or some other sort of mechanical problem, like an exhaust malfunction.

The size of the fires varied, with some being small and others being an acre or larger.

Six pieces of apparatus were used and 16 Garden City firefighters responded to the grass fires.

Job Opening – Firefighter – Dodge City Fire Department


Applicants must be at least 18 years of age and must possess a high school degree or equivalency, valid state driver’s license, and Kansas or National Registry EMT certification. Certified FFI,FFII, and Hazmat operations preferred. Previous experience and bilingual skills preferred but not required. Applicants must be able to perform heavy physical work and a multitude of movements to perform duties of the position.

Applications will be accepted until Friday, March 11, 2016. Required testing for qualified applicants will occur on Friday, March 25, 2016, and will include physical agility, written testing and an oral board.

Please apply online via using A resume may be inserted into the online application.


Firefighters honored

By Kirk Anderson
Jacksonian – December 30, 2015
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 28, 2016

At their December meeting, members of the Cimarron Volunteer Fire Department were honored for their length of service. Afterwards, Fire Chief Rex Beemer also explained the duties of a volunteer firefighter for those who might be interested in joining the department.

What are the duties of a volunteer firefighter?

In Cimarron and other communities, large and small throughout the United States, volunteer firefighters fulfill a number of important duties. Along with putting out structure and wildland fires, volunteer firefighters respond to vehicle accidents, natural disasters, and other emergencies. According to the National Fire Protection Association, in the United States, almost 70 percent of all firefighters serve in a volunteer role, while the other 30 percent receive compensation and benefits. Typically, volunteer firefighters work in communities with fewer than 25,000 people, with nearly half serving jurisdictions with fewer than 2,500 people, like Cimarron.

Fire Emergencies

Just like their paid counterparts, volunteer firefighters respond to residential, business and other structural fires. They work to suppress the fire using a number of means, including laying water lines, putting up ladders, creating necessary ventilation, and entering the property, if necessary. Volunteer firefighters report to their station’s captain or company officer to receive instructions. In Cimarron, volunteer firefighters drive the fire trucks to the scene or drive their own vehicles. Volunteer firefighters also operate different firefighting tools, including hoses, ladders, axes and saws.


In all-volunteer fire departments, the firefighters are responsible for maintenance and care of the fire department vehicles and equipment. Maintenance duties also extend to the fire station itself; common chores include mowing the grass, attending to the landscaping and cleaning. At a fire or accident, volunteer firefighters work to clean up the scene to prevent any additional damage and may have to shovel, sweep or remove debris.


Because of the job’s physical nature, volunteer firefighters must stay in good shape and pass a physical abilities test and medical examination before working. During a fire or emergency, a volunteer firefighter may have to knock down doors or walls, carry large pieces of debris, or pick up victims and carry them to safety. Fighting fires often involves crawling through extremely hot, smoke-filled and hazardous conditions, and volunteer firefighters must have the necessary lung capacity and physical strength.


Cimarron Fire Department would like to acknowledge the volunteers that serve Cimarron area. Cimarron has 11 on the roster at this time. Rex Beemer Chief, Mike Ogles Asst. Chief, Scott Feldt Captain, Clay Campbell Lieutenant. The other firefighters include Shannon Hoskinson, Jeff Acton, John Gleason, Lyn Wright, Bill Clinesmith, Aaron Gonzales and Shawn Harmon.

Years of Service with Cimarron Fire Department:

Shannon Hoskinson – 22 years
Mike Ogles – 20 years
Clay Campbell – 12 years
Rex Beemer – 12 years
Bill Clinesmith – 10 years
Jeff Acton – 8 years
Scott Feldt – 6 years
Lyn Wright – 5 years

All others are under five years of service.



Large house fire destroys home just north of Topeka

By Phil Anderson
Topeka Capital Journal – January 28, 2016

Photo by Phil Anderson

Photo by Phil Anderson

A fast-moving fire early Thursday afternoon destroyed a home just north of Topeka, authorities said.

Thick, black smoke could be seen for nearly five miles away in the minutes after the house caught fire.

The massive blaze was reported around 12:30 p.m. at a one-story home near the end of a cul-de-sac in a residential area just north of the Topeka city limits at 3621 N.W. 44th Terrace.

Shawnee County sheriff’s Cpl. Steve Evans said 911 dispatchers received several calls reporting the blaze. At least one call came from a motorist traveling along US-75 highway, just a few hundred feet west of the residence.

“We had a deputy here within one minute,” Evans said. “When he got here, the garage was fully involved in flames.

“He kicked in the front door to see if anyone was inside, but the living room was full of smoke and flames.”

Soldier Township fire crews made it to the house a short time later.

Soldier Township Fire Department Chief Karl McNorton said crews went inside to do a primary search for any people who might have been inside the burning structure. No one was found inside the home, McNorton said.

Firefighters hooked up a hose to a hydrant about 150 feet east of the burning house. Other firefighters used hoses attached to tanker trucks.

Mutual aid came from the Topeka and Silver Lake fire departments, which sent trucks to the scene.

Fire crews made both an exterior and interior attack and had the fire under control within 45 minutes, although crews kept spraying water form inside and outside after that, searching for hot spots and flames that flared up.

By the time crews had the blaze under control, it had ravaged the house, located a block south of the Hunters Ridge shopping area.

A large center portion of the home’s roof collapsed as a result of the fire. Another large section of the roof was sagging.

McNorton said attempts to contact the home owners were unsuccessful in the half-hour after the fire was reported.

Authorities said one vehicle was in the garage at the time of the fire.

According to the Shawnee County Appraiser’s Office, the house is owned by Carl E. and Virginia F. Fett. Its 2015 appraised value was $176,200.

View video from the scene here:

2 SW Kansas men hit, killed after earlier semi crash

Hays Post – January 28, 2016

Two Kansas men died in accident just after 5 a.m. on Thursday in Gray County.

The Kansas Highway Patrol reported the two men were standing on the westbound shoulder of U.S. 50 near a disabled vehicle involved in an earlier accident five miles east of Cimarron.

A westbound 2012 Dodge pickup driven by Darrell Wright II, 27, Woodward, OK, attempted to avoid the disabled vehicle, drove on the shoulder and hit both men Christopher Louis Conrardy, 27, Cimarron, and Chris Alan Hamilton, 50, Garden City.

Wright, Conrardy and Hamilton were transported to Western Plains Medical Center. Conrardy and Hamilton died.

Just before 5 a.m., a 2007 Chevy pickup driven by Conrardy was westbound on U.S. 50 five miles east of Cimarron.

The pickup traveled left of center and struck the 4th and 5th axle of an eastbound semi driven by Hamilton.

A portion of U.S. 50 between Dodge City and Ingalls was closed due to an accident, according to the Kansas Department of Transportation.

William A. “Bill” Williams


William Arthur “Bill” Williams was born May 17, 1926 in Illiopolis, Illinois, son of William Thomas and Ruth Della (Redman) Williams. He was raised in Illiopolis and in 1943 at the age of 17 had his mother sign so he could enlist in the United States Navy.

Bill served as a Gunner Mate Second Class on the LST-1019 Ship during World War II, which received two battle stars during the Rurope-Africa-Middle East Campaign, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Invasion of southern France, the August and September 1944 Okinawa Gunto Operation and the assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto in May and June of 1945. He was honorably discharged on May 16, 1947. He re-enlisted in the Navy Reserves and was honorably discharged again on April 11, 1955.

While on a two week leave home, Bill met his future wife, Sherriene Wade, who was working at a defense plant outside of Illiopolis. They were united in marriage on February 21, 1945. This union was blessed with three daughters: Sharee, Cyd and Kathie.

They moved to Texas before settling in Anthony, Kansas in 1961. Bill worked at many jobs, but his true calling was construction. He could plan and build just about anything and most of the houses built after 1961 in Anthony, he built or remodeled with Green Construction and then on his own. When he finally retired he was on call for anyone needing a small job done or a garage door fixed.

He was on the Illiopolis Fire Department before moving, so when settling in Anthony he became a member of the Anthony Volunteer Fire Department. He served Anthony for several years before retiring. A scanner was always at his bedside so he could keep track of what was going on in town.

Bill loved to fish. He knew all the best fishing ponds in the county. When fishing was good his family would all get together at home for a family fish fry. He was on several bowling leagues, since the fifties and was a member of the men’s and travel leagues at Park Hill Lanes.

In 2014, Bill moved into the Anthony Community Care Center where he enjoyed the people and the care he was given.

On December 22, 2015, Bill passed away at the Harper Hospital at the age of 89 years. He was preceded in death by his parents, wife, Sherriene on February 24, 1993; and sister, Janet Turnbull.

Bill will be deeply missed by his daughters: Sharee Irvin and husband, Elliott; Cyd Daniel and husband, Leon, and Kathie Quigg and husband, John; 6 grandchildren: Andi Penwell and husband, Tracey, Kent Linn and wife, Diane, Alan Daniel, Bethany McGee and husband, Matt, Kyla Quigg and companion, Chad Tompkinson, and Jason Quigg and wife, Blair; 11 great-grandchildren: Chelsea Boese and husband, Chance, Devon Sona and wife, Jessika, Conner Sona and wife, Jill, Paxton McGee, Jacob Quigg, Lacy Hartson, Austin Hartson, Harper Quigg, Emery Quigg, Ava Linn and JD Linn; 2 great-great grandchildren: Alexandra Quigg and Claire Boese; niece, Lisa Hohenstien; nephew, Jeff Turnbull; and a host of other relatives and many friends.

Memorial service was held 2:00 p.m. Saturday, December 22, 2015 at Prairie Rose Funeral Home in Anthony with Tracey Penwell officiating. A private inurnment will be held at Spring Grove Cemetery at a later date.

Memorials may be made to Anthony Volunteer Fire Department, Anthony Community Care Center or to Anthony Senior Citizens and may be sent in care of the funeral home – Prairie Rose Funeral Homes, 602 E. Main St., Anthony, KS 67003.

Early morning fire on North Second Street

By Jeni McGee
Arkansas City Traveler – January 28, 2016

Photo by Jeni McGee. Click on photo to view full-size image.

Photo by Jeni McGee. Click on photo to view full-size image.

An early morning fire has left a family of five without a home.

The family was able to get out of the house before the structure became fully engulfed, according to Arkansas City Fire-EMS Chief Bobby Wolfe.

“There were no smoke alarms,” he said.

However, one of the children was able to wake the rest of the family.

The family dog was lost in the fire.

The structure, located at 727 N. Second St., is a total loss, Wolfe confirmed in an interview Thursday morning.

A cause has not yet been determined.

ACFD was still on scene at 9 a.m.

Truck burns on Highway 50

Harvey County Independent – December 31, 2015
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 28, 2016

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A semi-truck caught fire on Tuesday just outside of Burrton. Burrton’s Fire Department was called to the scene right around noon. The semi was parked on the shoulder of the eastbound lane of Highway 50. Traffic had to be re-directed on the highway while firefighters put out the blaze.

Fire heavily damages unoccupied house

By Donna Celaya
Montgomery County Chronicle – December 31, 2015
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 28, 2016

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Fire in an unoccupied house has left the structure a total loss…or close to it.

Cherryvale Fire Chief Jesse Reed said the fire department was called out shortly before 4 a.m. on Tuesday, December 29 to an unoccupied home at 937 E. Sixth.

Reed said the house, owned by Robert and Rebecca Weaver, had been empty for about 18 months, but that utilities were turned on at the dwelling and it was insured. A real estate sign in the front yard indicates the house was listed for sale.

No one was in the structure when the fire started, and no firefighters reported injuries from battling the blaze.

“I would guess the place is a total loss,” Reed said.

The Fire Marshal was called in to determine how the fire started. Reed said he should have results of the investigation in 30-60 days. He said Montgomery County Rural Fire of Cherryvale assisted in combatting the flames, and Independence EMS stood by with an ambulance.

Tragedy takes life of woman in structure fire

By Dennies Andersen
Protection Press – January 21, 2016
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 28, 2016

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Protection District Fire Department firefighters were dispatched at 3:45 a.m. last Sunday to respond to a structure fire at the intersection of Monroe and Cedar in the northeast corner of Protection.

The structure was the home of longtime Protection resident Faye Teeter. Her body was found near the rear of the south-facing house in the doorway between the living room and kitchen.

About five minutes after the alarm was sounded, Protection Fire Chief Brian Harris arrived at the scene with the first firefighters. At that time, he said, the house was fully engulfed in flames and three quarters of the roof already gone.

Coldwater and Wilmore District firefighters also responded as did the Comanche County Sheriff’s Office and Protection’s law enforcers and ambulance crew.

After extinguishing the main blaze, around 4:30 a.m., the firefighters worked at extinguishing smoldering pockets and “hot spots” until around 7-7:30 a.m.

They then helped the fire investigator with his task of sorting through the building’s ashes to try to determine the cause of the fire.

Fire Chief Harris said the Kansas State Fire Marshal’s office was notified and a fire investigator, who lives two hours north of here, arrived about sun up Sunday morning and spent a good part of the morning investigating the fire. As yet, the cause of the fire is undetermined, pending the investigation and report of the State Fire Marshal’s office.

The firemen left the scene at approximately 11 a.m. Morning temperatures were in the low 20s and north wind was minimal.

Chief Harris said the 911 call was made when explosions were heard in the northeast part of Protection early Sunday morning. The explosions, which were reported to have sounded like rifle shots and a shotgun blast, were probably the tires and then the gasoline tank on Mrs. Teeter’s Jeep parked a few feet from the house.

Four Protection fire trucks, six from Coldwater, and two more from Wilmore helped extinguish the blaze. Law enforcers from the Protection Police Department and the Comanche County Sheriff’s Office were on hand, as was the Protection based ambulance and crew.

Chief Harris said that the fire apparently started in the living room portion of the home, but he had no idea how it started.

City exploring MFD expansion to house Riley County EMS

By Bryan Richardson
Manhattan Mercury – January 22, 2016
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 28, 2016

The city is currently exploring a potential move of Riley County Emergency Medical Services from 2011 Claflin Road to the Manhattan Fire Department headquarters at 2000 Denison Ave.

The discussion happened during the joint Manhattan and Riley County meeting Thursday at City Hall.

Deputy city manager Jason Hilgers said the city has looked at this option since May 2015 with BBN Architects developing some concepts for a potential expansion.

He said the Riley County Commission indicated the city would be reimbursed for the design concepts.

Brent Bowman, the original architect for the headquarters, went over some of the designs that include additional space for vehicles, training, living and locker rooms for both EMS and fire, and a new entrance.

There hasn’t been any official decision made at this point, but EMS officials said their current facility is outdated.

The fire department’s current lease with K-State expires in 2034. The city wants to extend the lease another 30 years.

If the change does occur, that would put a county service under the same roof as a city service.

EMS director Larry Couchman said there’s some concern on the EMS side about a loss of identity if the two entities shared a building.

He said that’s likely the thought on both sides if people were asked.

“But from a facility side, if you have a list, it would address 99 percent of needs,” Couchman said.

Manhattan Fire Chief Scott French said there’s a good working relationship between the two sides.

“We’ll continue to build on the idea that Riley County EMS is Riley County EMS and Manhattan Fire is Manhattan Fire,” he said.

Contest announced as part of Grain Bin Safety Week

High Plains Journal – January 28, 2016

Nationwide, the No. 1 farm insurer, is collaborating with industry leaders and agricultural professionals to launch their third annual safety contest as part of this year’s Grain Bin Safety Week.

The Nominate Your Fire Department Contest runs from Jan. 1 through May 31. It will award grain rescue tubes and hands-on training to help first responders save lives, thanks to the support of KC Supply Co., the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety and our other partners.

“Grain bin accidents can tragically impact individuals, families and entire communities,” said Brad Liggett, president of Nationwide Agribusiness. “Accident prevention means everyone working together, and Grain Bin Safety Week provides a forum for the agricultural community to help keep people safe.”

During the last two years, the national contest awarded tubes and training to 13 fire departments in 12 states. One of those winners—The Westphalia Fire Department in Kansas—used their new skills in 2015 to rescue a man who became entrapped in some grain.

In 2014, 38 documented entrapments resulted in 17 deaths, according to Purdue University. It was the highest numbers since 2010—when at least 26 U.S. workers were killed in grain engulfments.

“That’s where Grain Bin Safety Week can help,” Liggett said. “This program brings attention to life-saving extraction methods and procedures, which can improve responder and victim safety.”

For more information about the program, purpose or nomination process, visit

Crews from Hutchinson, Buhler fight large brush fire

KSN – January 28, 2016

Firefighters in Hutchinson battled a large brush fire Wednesday, fighting flames that at times were 30 feet high.

Battalion Chief Jeremy Unruh said in a news release firefighters were called to the 9100 block of N. Halstead St. shortly after 4 p.m. when someone called in a report of a brush fire.

Unruh said the first firefighters on the scene found a two-acre fire burning in heavy brush and cedar trees that was moving northeast with large areas of fire.

Fire officials said additional units were called in to protect nearby homes that were in the path of the fire. Eleven units from the Hutchinson Fire Department were assisted by five units from the Buhler Fire Department, Unruh said.

No homes were damaged, and it took about an hour to control the fire. When it was finally extinguished, he said between four and five acres had been burned.

The cause of the fire was probably an unreported controlled burn that got out got out of control, Unruh said.

No one was injured in the fire.

ISO fire rating improves for Holcomb

By Michael Maresh
Garden City Telegram – January 28, 2016

Beginning in April, residents in Holcomb will be saving money in homeowner’s insurance.

Holcomb Fire Chief Bill Knight said during Wednesday’s Holcomb City Council meeting that the Public Protection Classification that sets the city’s Insurance Services Office fire protection score, a number used to determine local property insurance ratings reflecting a community’s local fire protection, improved from a seven to a four.

The ISO rating system goes from 10 to 1, with 1 being the best.

This puts Holcomb in the top 10 percent of all municipalities in Kansas. Knight said property insurance premiums on homes could decrease because of the improved ISO score.

The new ISO number becomes effective in April, Knight said.

Residents with a house valued at $100,000 could save about $50 a year on property insurance, since the fire protection risks have been downgraded.

Knight said most volunteer fire departments in the state have an ISO score of five to six. There are about 1,200 fire departments or districts in Kansas, and Holcomb now ranks in the top 115, he said.

Knight said the inspector with Public Protection classification looked at the structures in the community and the city’s static water ability that allows the fire department to shut off water in emergency situations.

Knight said there are only three fire departments or districts in Kansas that received an ISO rating of one, and only 17 have an ISO score of two.

Overall, all homeowners in Holcomb combined could save up to $30,000 per year, Knight said.

“It’s a feather in our hat,” Knight said. “To say I was happy it dropped a few points would be an understatement.”

He said there is a little room for improvement if small changes are made, like one day having paid employees working for the department.

He said the HFD did not score as high as he would like on the volunteer firefighter training part of the ISO. Nineteen hours of training a month is required for firefighters, which Knight said is hard to accomplish with volunteers who have other jobs and family obligations.

Mayor Gary Newman called the new ISO score a great benefit for the city and its residents and thanked Knight and the volunteer firefighters for all of their work.

In other business Wednesday, the council:

Knight said that before the demolition of the Hay Mill Elevator, he and his firefighters will use the site to train for grain elevator rescues.

Linn Valley, Kansas, police chief saves man near burning car

By Brian Abel
KSHB – January 27, 2016

Photo by Linn Valley Police Department

Photo by Linn Valley Police Department

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A Linn Valley, Kan., man is alive and recovering from smoke inhalation because of the efforts of Police Chief Corey Murrison.

Murrison was the first responder to arrive near a campsite at Elm and Songbird. He saw an early 90s Buick completely engulfed in flames with its owner lying motionless just a few feet away.

Murrison ran to the man and dragged him away from the blaze.

“It appeared he’d suffered quite a bit of smoke inhalation by looking at his mouth and nose area,” said Murrison.

Murrision and Linn Valley Fire Chief Dennis Downey both told us ammunition inside the car was exploding as paramedics worked on the driver.

“You have to concern yourself with what’s in the vehicle and secondary explosions from things like the fuel tanks, and he had other propane bottles in the trunk,” said Murrison.

Downey says without the police chief’s intervention, the man may not have survived.

“I believe the victim probably would have succumbed to the flame. It was a hot fire,” said Downey.

Paramedics initially called for the man to be flown to a hospital, but due to weather conditions, the helicopter could not fly. He was taken by ambulance to KU Hospital, where he is recovering from smoke inhalation.

The cause of the fire is suspected to be caused by the driver who was attempting to commit suicide.

Chimney fire damages rural Dickinson County home

By Tim Unruh
Salina Journal – January 27, 2016

A chimney fire caused minor damage late Tuesday to a home in southern Dickinson County.

Rural Fire District No. 1 was sent to 718 Fair Road at 11:15 p.m. Fire Chief Rod Ade said the fire was mainly confined to the chimney, but it charred the edges of a floor that had to be removed to fight the fire.

“Structure-wise, we saved the house,” he said.

Creosote buildup in the chimney ignited and caused the chimney to get too hot, Ade said.

Ade did not know the names of the couple who live in the house, located roughly a mile north of Kansas Highway 4, near Carlton. He also didn’t know whether the couple was able to spend the night in the house. A wood stove connected to the chimney is their main source of heat, Ade said.

Firefighters were home by 2 a.m., he said.

Train rips car in half, man escapes

By Oliver Good and David Colburn
Marion County Record – January 27, 2016

Dustin Rhodes, 20, of Ramona, narrowly escaped the destructive force of an oncoming freight train Thursday after surviving a car wreck moments before the train “ripped the car in half.”

At approximately 8:37 p.m., Rhodes was westbound in the 1800 block of 360th Rd. attempting to return his sister’s 1996 Oldsmobile Cutlass “so she could go to work” when he lost control on an icy curve that veers north just south of Ramona and intersects with an elevated railroad crossing the lights of which were flashing red.

“The arms were coming down,” Rhodes said. “I tried to stop but I kept sliding.”

Sheriff’s sergeant Mike Ottensmeier said the road was “completely snow packed and ice covered.”

“He was going way too fast,” Ottensmeier said. “He slid about 112 feet before he got to the crossing.”

The Cutlass skimmed across the south set of tracks left of center, and stopped abruptly when it struck a crossing guard pole. The car became high-centered halfway on the northern tracks as the eastbound train bore down.

In the train, engineers Andrew Madeje, Brian Mascareno, and Daniel Towne all saw the car on the tracks, Ottensmeier said. One began blowing the horn repeatedly.

“They knew they couldn’t stop,” Ottensmeier said.

The engineer driving was in training, he said. Ottensmeier said it was that engineer’s first run without any help from other engineers.

“He told me, ‘I saw the whites of the kid’s eyes and I saw him run but I wasn’t sure if he got off the tracks,’” Ottensmeier said.

Rhodes said he got out of the Cutlass right after he hit the pole.

“I wasn’t going to sit there and wait for the outcome,” Rhodes said.

He fled a short distance along the raised track bed before leaping out of the train’s deadly path.

“I jumped off and landed on a rock pile,” Rhodes said. “I hurt my leg a little bit but its fine now.”

He said he didn’t actually see the train hit the Cutlass because he was trying to catch his balance as he slid down the rock pile, but he heard the violent collision and the train screech to an emergency stop.

“It was really scary,” Rhodes said. “The train hit the car right as I got off the rock pile. There was nothing left.”

His initial state of shock transitioned to relief that it hadn’t been his sister, Amanda Rhodes, and his niece in the car.

“I was glad it was me and not her,” Rhodes said. “She would not have been able to get my niece out quick enough.”

Ottensmeier said he did not know the train’s speed. However, he said trains probably run about 45 mph in that area.

“It took the trunk out and basically ripped the car in half,” Ottensmeier said. “It could have easily been a fatality.”

In car vs. train accidents, he said trains “win” more than 80 percent of the time.

Rhodes said his sister told him she did not care about her demolished car but he felt responsible for replacing it.

“It will be fairly easy to replace,” Rhodes said. “I already had a car. I just need $70 to get it fixed and then she can have it.”

Rhodes was charged with driving faster than conditions allowed, no registration, and no insurance.

Fire department purchasing new equipment

By Mike Sellman
Junction City Daily Union – January 20, 2016
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 27, 2016

Though Junction City Fire Department Chief Kevin Royse is leaving his position by the end of the month, he’s not leaving without ensuring the JCFD has some new equipment.

The department is expecting the delivery of a new Pumper Rescue unit in the first quarter of 2016. A new set of rescue and extraction equipment is needed to replace old equipment, and Junction City Commissioners authorized the purchase of that equipment Tuesday.

The equipment costs $39,598.25. Funding would come from the Fire Department Reserve Fund.

Royse requested for city officials to purchase new rescue tools for the new unit, including hoses, spreaders, cutters and a power unit to operate them. All tools are interchangeable with those on the department’s current unit, and older tools would be retired.

The extraction equipment is the newest available items on the market. Current extraction tools are approximately 20 years old. New tools are expected to last just as long.

New extraction equipment also weighs less than older equipment, making it easier for fire crews to use.

“This will give both engines excellent vehicle extrication and rescue capabilities while maintaining redundant and reserve capabilities,” Royse said.

Current extraction equipment was purchased as part of a 2014 FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant.

However, Royse said the department didn’t put in for the AFG this year as the grant has closed, and the department wouldn’t know if they obtained a grant until July when grant announcements are made.

He pointed out part of the grant agreement doesn’t allow departments to remove old units from service nor allow them to sell units to other departments.

The equipment will be housed in Station Two, which is located on Lacy Drive.

Baxter Springs to purchase new emergency vehicle

By M. Smith
Baxter Springs Sentinel Times – January 27, 2016

Baxter Springs council met in a regular meeting on Tuesday, January 12, 2016.
Councilman Jimmy Younger, fire committee, turned the floor over to Fire Chief Gunnar Wixon. Wixon provided the council with handouts that have pricing for a new fire engine. He stated that they had gotten two quotes one from Pierce and one from E-ONE. He stated that his recommendation was to go with Pierce, even though the E-ONE quote was lower. He stated that E-ONE did not follow the specifications that the fire department had requested. He said that currently, the trucks the city has are 32 years old, 21 years old and 10 years old. They would be replacing the 32 year old truck. Wixon also said that the ISO rating for the city had dropped from a six to a five in town and from a nine to a six outside of town. The council approved the purchase of the truck.
If residents would like to make a donation to help with the purchase of the truck contact City Hall.

House a total loss in Wednesday morning fire

By Donetta Godsey
Winfield Courier – January 21, 2016
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 27, 2016

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Click on photo to view full-size image.

Click on photo to view full-size image.

Winfield Fire/EMS responded at 4:44 a.m. Wednesday to the report of a structure fire at 1615 Ames.

When they arrived, the two-story house was fully engulfed, according to Captain Scott McNown.

“We didn’t even bother with the house because there was really nothing to save,” McNown said.

“We just concentrated on putting water on the houses on either side to minimize their damage and keep the fire from spreading.”

McNown said the house involved was unoccupied and had been for quite some time.

There were also no utilities on at the house.

The Winfield Police Department told the owner about the fire and she arrived at the scene later. Her identity is unconfirmed.

The fire was so intense that windows were broken out of the house located just to the east.

Two vehicles were also damaged, and McNown said the house likely sustained damage to both the shingles and the roof.

The home on the west side of the site also had damage to the roof.

The siding on a house across the street was buckled from the extreme heat.

By mid-morning, smoke could still be seen as far west as College St.

McNown said some houses near the scene may have also suffered smoke damage.

Lt. Patrick Ramirez and other firefighters remained on the scene later Wednesday morning to continue to spray water on “hot stuff that had fallen into the basement,” McNown said.

“The important thing is that no one, including firefighters, was injured,” McNown said.

Cause of the fire is unknown, and the investigation is ongoing.

Man dies in Sugar Valley camper fire

By Amber Coulter
Linn County News – January 13, 2016
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 27, 2016

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A man died following a fire in his home at Sugar Valley Lakes on December 31. The Kansas Fire Marshal’s office announced early that morning that an investigator was called to the scene of a camper fire in Linn County that resulted in one fatality.

Located at 54 South Park Drive, the home was the residence of Arther D. Inscore, 78.

Undersheriff Roger Holt said the fire was reported to the Linn County Sheriff’s Office by a neighbor who awoke in the night, walked outside, saw the camper engulfed in flames and called 9-1-1 around 1:20 a.m.

The neighbor, Jamie Minor, later stated that she saw fire in the small camper of her neighbor. She heard loud popping noises followed by an explosion. The camper was fully engulfed in a short time.

Minor said Inscore had mentioned his son was supposed to come look at some electrical issues in the camper the next day.

A cause for the fire could not be determined from the extensive damage.

Car power pole crash closes Fairlawn

By Greg Palmer
WIBW – January 27, 2016

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A Southbound driver who lost control and hit a power pole has shut down Fairlawn near 29th.

The collision happened about 8:55 a.m. and was witnessed by firefighters at Fire Station #8.

Officials told 13 NEWS that the car heading south on Fairlawn”jumped the curb” and then struck the power pole.

The area will be closed off until crews from Westar are able to make repairs.

One killed in collision near K-254 and Webb Road

KAKE – January 27, 2016

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

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

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A woman died in a crash in Northeast Sedgwick County this morning. The accident happened on K-254 at Webb Road.

Troopers said a pickup truck was eastbound on the highway when another truck pulled into its path at Webb Road.

One driver, a woman in her 60s from Kechi, was killed. The other driver wasn’t seriously hurt. The name of the victim hasn’t been released.

Commission authorizes purchase of three fire trucks

By John Richmeier
Leavenworth Times – January 27, 2016

When they met Tuesday, Leavenworth city commissioners approved the purchase of three fire trucks.

The price of the three pumper trucks totals $1.697 million. But Leavenworth Fire Chief Gary Birch said the trade-in value of three older trucks that are being replaced will reduce the cost to $1.59 million.

Birch said the purchase of the three Pierce Impel trucks will begin a shift in the Leavenworth Fire Department’s replacement schedule for trucks.

In the past, the department has purchased a new truck every four years. With seven trucks in the department’s fleet, this means an individual truck is used for 28 years before being replaced.

Birch said the Leavenworth Fire Department will be falling into a 15-year replacement cycle for each truck.

He said having older trucks in the fleet leads to increased maintenance costs. The trade-in value also decreases drastically after a truck has been used for at least 12 years.

With the purchase of new trucks, Birch hopes to reduce maintenance costs and standardize the fleet.

Birch plans to eventually reduce the fleet from seven to six trucks. He said two of the seven trucks currently in the fleet do not pump water. One of the trucks is an aerial platform truck and the other is a rescue truck.

“They’re limited on what (calls) they can actually go on,” he said.

In four years, Birch hopes to replace the aerial platform truck with one that has water pumping capabilities. When this occurs, he plans to reduce the fleet to six trucks, all of which will be able to pump water.

With this year’s purchase of the three new pumpers, the department will replace a 1995 pumper truck and a truck known as a quint, which was purchased in 1998. A quint is so named because of its five functions.

The quint and pumper truck are used as reserve trucks.

The Leavenworth Fire Department also will be replacing the rescue truck, which was purchased in 2004.

Birch said one of the three new pumper trucks will have a light tower, a capability that exists with the rescue truck that will replaced.

Mayor Larry Dedeke said he was not satisfied with the $107,499 trade-in being offered for the three older trucks.

Mayor Pro-Tem Nancy Bauder said she does not know how much the city would receive for the trucks by selling them.

Commissioner Lisa Weakley said she believes it is wise to standardize the Leavenworth Fire Department’s fleet.

“We need to keep our fleet up-to-date,” Commissioner Charles Raney said.

Birch said it will take about 11 months before the new trucks will be ready.

Birch said the city has $292,930 available for a down payment.

Commissioners also have started a process to use general obligation bonds to pay for much of the cost.

The purchase of the new trucks was approved with a vote of 4-0. Commissioner Mark Preisinger was absent.

Multiple injuries reported in 4-vehicle collision just northeast of Topeka at K-4 and N.E. 46th

By Phil Anderson
Topeka Capital Journal – January 27, 2016

Photos by Phil Anderson

Photos by Phil Anderson

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Multiple people were injured Wednesday morning just before sunrise in a four-vehicle crash just northeast of Topeka on the border of the Shawnee County and Jefferson County.

The crash was reported around 7:15 a.m. Wednesday at N.E. 46th and K-4 highway.

The four vehicles involved include a white four-door compact car, a red Ford Ranger, a red four-door Kia Forte and a white Chevrolet Silverado.

At least two ambulances went emergent with lights and sirens to a local hospital, and initial reports indicated at least one person was in critical condition.

Two people, a female and a small child, were taken out of the white compact car and transported with unknown injuries.

The white compact had severe damage to its front and rear, with the back end mangled towards the back seat. It ended up facing north in the northbound lane of K-4 just north of 46th.

The red Ranger suffered heavy front-end damage and came to rest facing north in the northbound lane of K-4 about 100 feet north of 46th.

The red Forte and white Silverado came to rest against a concrete median that separates traffic from 46th to K-4.

Those two vehicles were facing southwest near the east lane of 46th.

Glass and debris are spread through the intersection for about 150 feet

Multiple agencies responded including the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Kansas Highway Patrol, Soldier Township Fire, Meriden Fire and area paramedics.

K-4 is shut down in all directions in area.

Additional details weren’t immediately available.

Bunker gear donated to Falls City Volunteer Fire Department

By John Nixon
KLZA – January 27, 2016

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The Falls City Volunteer Fire Department was recently the recipient of a generous donation of gear from Consolidated Fire District #2, which serves Northeast Johnson County, Kansas.

January 22nd, Stella native Jon Gossman delivered 19 sets of bunker gear to the Falls City Volunteer Fire Department. Bunker Gear is the coats and pants firefighters wear at the scene of a fire.

Gossman, a nearly 10-year veteran of Consolidated Fire District #2 is a member of the Bunker Gear Committee under Fire Chief Tony Lopez. Gossman is also a good friend of Dan Wenz. Wenz is an active member of the Lincoln Fire Department and doubles as a member of the Falls City Volunteer Fire Department.

When the Johnson County, Kansas Fire Department purchased new bunker gear, Gossman called Wenz the two of them coordinated the donation of gear to the Falls City Volunteer Fire Department (Nebraska).

Falls City Volunteer Fire Chief Ken Simpson estimates the cost of a new set of bunker gear at $1,800. He says the donation will hopefully allow the Falls City Fire Department to spend some money on other needed equipment.

About every 8-years CFD #2 purchases new gear. You cannot sell used gear, but you can donate it. Falls City Volunteer Fire Chief Ken Simpson says the used gear still has life left in it. The donated gear is black, which Simpson says will turn color as it wears out.

Chief Simpson says the department tries to purchase a couple of sets of new gear each year, so with a roster of 30-plus volunteer firefighters, it is likely you don’t get new gear very often. With firefighters coming in all shapes and sizes, it is rare there is a used set of gear a new member can wear, meaning an expense of new gear, once the firefighter has proved through training they will be able to stick with the department.

The addition of the bunker gear donation, it means the local department will likely only need to purchase helmets, boots and gloves when new people join the department for at least a few years.

Chief Simpson expressed thanks to both Gossman and Wenz for coordinating the donation of the gear.

Fire redevelops at rural Council Grove address

By Chuck Samples
KVOE – January 27, 2016

Click on photo to view full-size image.

Click on photo to view full-size image.

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Lyon County deputies and the Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office have more investigating to do after fire redeveloped at a northwest Lyon County address Tuesday.

Firefighters from Americus and Council Grove joined Lyon County deputies at 264 Highway 56 shortly after noon. Fire had moved from the original blaze site at the house to the east and then to the south, destroying an unlisted amount of grass before that part of the fire was put out.

Fire crews also had to put out fire at the house site itself. That work continued into mid-afternoon.

In addition, firefighters and deputies had to constrict Highway 56 traffic to one lane as crews put out the grass fire and the second house fire.

Firefighters and deputies have not confirmed if Tuesday’s fire officially rekindled from Sunday morning’s fire, where fire started in the dining room before consuming the house. Deputies have been investigating alongside the Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office since Sunday. That investigation will continue, although it’s unclear when Fire Marshal’s investigators will return to the site.

11 am Tuesday: Rural Council Grove fire remains under investigation

The investigation continues into Sunday morning’s destructive house fire in far northwest Lyon County.

Lyon County Sheriff Jeff Cope says the cause is currently undetermined after fire broke out at 264 Road 350, also known as US Highway 56. What has been determined is the origination point. The fire started in the dining room, destroying the home and damaging a nearby outbuilding.

Deputies are investigating alongside the Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office. Numerous area districts responded, including Allen-Admire, Americus, Council Grove and Dunlap.

Nobody was home at the time. The house is owned by Kerry Long of Council Grove.

Just part of the team: female firefighters

By Jill Sederstrom
Kansas City Star – January 26, 2016

Female firefighters make up just 5 percent of firefighters nationwide, but fire departments are hoping to increase those numbers. Among the female firefighters in local fire departments is Battalion Chief Julie Harper of the Overland Park Fire Department; she’s been with the department for a quarter of a century. Here she observes firefighting operations from a command post after an Overland Park crew responded to a recent house fire in Shawnee. Photo by Brian Davidson

Female firefighters make up just 5 percent of firefighters nationwide, but fire departments are hoping to increase those numbers. Among the female firefighters in local fire departments is Battalion Chief Julie Harper of the Overland Park Fire Department; she’s been with the department for a quarter of a century. Here she observes firefighting operations from a command post after an Overland Park crew responded to a recent house fire in Shawnee. Photo by Brian Davidson

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Fire departments have seen a lot of changes in the last few decades. Separate sleeping areas have been created to accommodate women, whether it’s in individual suite-type settings for all the firefighters or separate quarters for the women on staff.

Fire stations are now designed and built from the start to include private areas for nursing mothers, along with separate showers and bathroom facilities for the women on staff.

For instance, the latest fire station being constructed in Overland Park, across from Blue Valley West High School, will include individual suite-style bathrooms instead of having female and male bathrooms so that they are built to accommodate anyone.

“That has been an evolution and a culture transition for some folks in the fire service,” said Overland Park Fire Chief Bryan Dehner, who added that the first Overland Park fire station built with women in mind was constructed in 1987.

There’s also been an internal shift in mindset. For many departments, women have been an accepted part of the staff for decades. Nationwide, the first woman was hired onto the fire service in the early 1970s.

“There’s been women in the fire service for going on 45 years,” said Carol Brown, vice president of iWomen, a national association representing women in fire and emergency services.

And yet the number of women who choose to make fire service a career continues to be low.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of firefighters who are women was just 5.7 percent of the total population of firefighters in 2014. Overland Park has four women among the 149 firefighters. Gladstone has three women to serve among 39 firefighters.

The percent of women in the fire service is significantly lower than other non-traditional jobs for women or men.

“If you take Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marine and take active duty and reserve military, they have 16.53 percent women, so almost three times that of the fire service,” said Brown, who also serves as a division chief of training for Boulder Fire-Rescue in Colorado.

She attributes the low percentage to a lack of marketing and targeted recruitment, along with existing culture and perceptions in the United States.

Kansas City area fire departments are hoping to change the dialogue to let young women know it is a career that is possible.

Whether it’s holding day camps, partnering with high schools, conducting station tours or just leading by example, Kansas City area fire departments and the women who work within them are hoping more women see it as a career that’s open to all.

“You can see the looks in people’s eyes when they see opportunities that they may not have realized existed,” Liberty Fire Chief Mike Snider said of the tours they often do with local Girl Scout troops. “Everyone is capable of doing what they set their mind to; you just have to have that desire and want it, and it can happen.”

The Overland Park Fire Department hired its first woman into the fire service in 1990.

Battalion Chief Julie Harper, who is starting her 26th year with the Overland Park Fire Department, was one of the department’s first women hired as a firefighter. Although she says she’s sure not everyone was probably thrilled with her addition decades ago, she never encountered any discrimination.

“Quite the opposite; I had great men support me and teach me and kind of show me the way to do things,” she says. “I know that’s not every woman’s story or every guy’s story, period, that’s out there.”

She said the confidence she had in her own ability and skills helped pave her way.

“Anything that looks a bit different, there’s going to be a bit of a spotlight — not maliciously, not necessarily intentionally, but it’s like, ‘I’ve never seen this before,’ ” she said. “Whether or not you get hung up on that spotlight can help guide your own path.”

For Harper, she was just doing the job she loved.

She never set out to be a firefighter. Instead, it was a career that found her.

Harper wanted to be a doctor and got a job as an EMT and paramedic to save money for medical school. As part of her job as a paramedic, she’d also spend time occasionally on the fire truck. Soon, she got “bit by the bug.”

She loves the variety and challenge — both physically and mentally — of the job each day and likes helping to solve problems in the community.

“When somebody calls 911, even if it’s a low-key call for us, that’s still a crisis for them, and so it’s neat and pleasing to be able to bring that calmness to somebody’s crisis,” she said.

Harper now serves as a battalion chief overseeing three different station houses.

It is a similar story for Tracey Cheney, a fire captain with the Gladstone Fire Department. The 20-year fire service veteran began her career as a paramedic, but after the emergency services department she was working for was rumored to be merging with the fire department, she decided to go through firefighter training.

The merger never happened, but Cheney was hooked and soon joined the Gladstone Fire Department.

“I fell in love with it,” she said, adding that she’s a self-described “adrenaline junkie.”

Cheney and Harper have both found that in their departments, it isn’t a matter of whether you are male or female, it’s more of a team effort and mindset.

“It’s what is your strength that you bring to the team,” Cheney said.

While Harper and Cheney said the job was the perfect fit, being a firefighter isn’t a career for everyone — regardless of one’s gender.

It’s a job that demands a high level of physical fitness, a passion for helping others and an ability to be a team player.

While the exact reason why fewer women seem to be attracted to the career is unknown, there are several barriers that can make it a more difficult career for women to pursue.

Among the most significant obstacles are the physical requirements of the job.

“For both Fire and EMS, we look for occupational athletes that can serve a 30- to 35-year career. That is not an easy job, the work that they are doing,” Dehner, the Overland Park fire chief, said.

To become a firefighter, most fire departments in the area require that candidates pass the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT), a sequence of eight events designed to specifically test whether a person is physically able to complete the essential elements of the job. While completing the tasks, the candidate must also wear a 50-pound vest and the protective clothing firefighters wear on the job. Another 25-pound weight is added during the stair climbing event.

Both men and women are required to complete the same standardized test, but the test is more challenging for women who lack the upper body strength of their male counterparts.

Rich Lehmann, an assistant professor and chairman of the Fire Service Administration at Johnson County Community College (which has a fire science program to train future firefighters), said that although female students in the program often do well in their academic coursework, they may struggle when they reach the CPAT.

“For example, we have one out of three or one out of four pass it the first time,” Lehmann said.

Overall, the percentage of students who pass the CPAT on the first try is about 50 percent.

While it does require some strength and skill, women in the field say it is possible to meet the physical demands of the job.

“A woman is going to have to be more aware of body mechanics,” Harper said. “We really do have to, I think, work smarter, not harder, when it comes to physical, because we don’t always necessarily have just the mass to do the job.”

As an instructor at Metropolitan Community College’s Fire Academy program in Independence, Megan Penrod said she works with both women and men who struggle with the physical test to teach them strategies and tips to best use their body weight and mechanics to meet the demands of the job.

“Obviously, physically, women are different, so you are on that stair stepper with 75 pounds on your back, (and) for some of the females that go through that’s half your body weight,” she said.

At just 5 foot 1 inch herself, Penrod is anything but meek. The former semi-professional football player is also a firefighter with the city of Overland Park. Despite being in the best shape of her life, she said the physical test was still a challenge for her as well.

“The physical part I think scares people away,” she said. “It’s very intimidating and you have to work incredibly hard.”

The hours of the job may also be an obstacle for some women. Most firefighters typically work a 24-hour shift, eating and sleeping at work.

In Overland Park, firefighters work 24 hours on, then have 24 hours off. They repeat this schedule three times, before getting four days off in a row.

The schedule may not be ideal for everyone, particularly those who have children and may have difficulty finding 24-hour care.

But Cheney, a mom to a son and two stepchildren, says she always felt the schedule gave her more time with her son while he was growing up. Although there were times when she had to work weekends and holidays, overall she had more days off than most working mothers.

“When he had school activities, if they have it during the week, I could go volunteer for stuff, I could help out in the classroom. I actually was able to spend more time with him with his activities than not,” she said. “For me, I loved it. It was a plus for me.”

Olathe Fire Chief Jeff DeGraffenreid said families are also able to come and visit during the evenings.

“We are building an environment where it’s family-friendly,” he said.

Fighting fires in an important part of the job, but it isn’t how firefighters spend the majority of their time.

According to the Overland Park Fire Department, 80 percent of the calls fire departments receive are medical.

“We don’t go on fires every day. We don’t go on car wrecks every day,” Penrod said.

When they aren’t out on a call, firefighters spend their day checking their equipment, training or working out. In the evenings, they are able to relax or spend free time on their own.

Penrod, who has been an athlete most her life, says she was attracted to the fire service because of the camaraderie and team environment the job provides.

“I spend a third of my life with these guys,” she said.

As one of the newer firefighters, with four years of experience, she said she hasn’t faced any challenges in the department because of her gender.

“I get more grief over my size,” she said. “I’ve got to ask for help to get stuff out of the cabinets in the kitchen — they’ll give me grief about that.”

While she may get teased on occasion for her small stature, Penrod says most firefighters aren’t immune to the jovial atmosphere in the fire house, regardless of their gender.

She’s seen as a valuable member of the team because of her skills in the field. Gender, she said, doesn’t enter the equation.

“That stigma has gone away with time,” she said.

While the recent decades have ushered in a wave of change for fire departments across the country, the percentage of women who embrace the career is still in the single digits.

Firefighters said that’s in part due to the nation’s culture.

“Culturally it is not something that a young girl when they are playing on the playground says “Ooh, maybe I’ll be this,” Harper said. “It’s not usually one of the things that pops up on the radar and that’s just part of our culture.”

It’s not a job for everyone, but Harper believes the fire service in general needs to do a better job of recruiting women who enjoy the central aspects of the job, like physical activity and being part of a team.

“I think as a profession we need to get better at finding where are girls that might have that tendency,” she said. “So it is going to be someone who doesn’t mind going out and working hard, getting sweaty, and so a lot of times it is going to be your athletics teams, so it’s going to be the girls on the soccer team or the lacrosse team or the volleyball team or the track team.”

She was one of the driving forces behind Camp Inferno, a week-long residential camp put on by the Overland Park Fire Department for high school girls to experience what it’s like to be a firefighter.

During the week, girls carried fire hoses, completed the maze in the Overland Park Fire Department’s training center while wearing firefighting gear and rappeled off the side of the building to get a taste of what life might be like on the job.

“The reason we started it was to let girls know, ‘Hey this is an option for a career path for you’ and being able to show them that there are things you’ll have to figure out that will be hard, but you can overcome the obstacles that are there,” Harper said.

The camp ran until 2008, when it shut down due to the recession, but its legacy and mission was part of the inspiration for a new day camp being offered this spring by the Olathe Fire Department.

The one-day event will take place March 18 and will include a motivational speaker, firefighting activities and information about what kind of education is necessary to become a firefighter.

The day camp is open to ages 14 to 19 and will be led by the women who are firefighters with the Olathe Fire Department.

“We’re just trying to reach out and get them earlier than we have before,” DeGraffenreid said.

While the camp will be open to anyone, DeGraffenreid said it’s being marketed to girls.

The Olathe Fire Department also plans to partner with the Olathe School District in its 21st Century public safety program. The public safety program, which will have two strands including law enforcement and fire science, will be housed inside Olathe West High School when it opens in August 2017 and will give high school students an early start at experiencing aspects of the career before they graduate high school.

Any student within the Olathe school district would be able to transfer to Olathe West High School to attend the program.

“We need to reach down farther for all students, but especially female students to know that this is a career choice and they can be great at it,” DeGraffenreid said.

By the numbers

Women have been a part of the fire service for several decades, but the percentage of women who become firefighters still remains low compared with men in the industry.

Here are figures for some Kansas City area fire departments:

Gladstone: The Gladstone Fire Department employs three women who serve as firefighters for the city out of a total of 39 firefighters.

Liberty: The Liberty Fire Department has four women who serve as both firefighters and paramedics out of 48 total firefighters.

Overland Park: The Overland Park Fire Department has 15 women in its operations division out of 170 employees. Four of those women are certified as firefighters; 145 are male firefighters.

Olathe: The Olathe Fire Department has three women who are firefighters out of 113 commissioned firefighters.

Job Opening – Firefighter/Paramedic – Potawatomi Tribal Fire Department



Starting annual base salary approximately

$43,500 – $52,500

Depending on Qualifications.

Benefits include:

Family Blue Cross health, Delta dental, & Vision coverage approximately $255 per month employee cost.

(13) 24 hour days of vacation & (13) 24 hour days of sick leave per year plus 24 hours of Birthday Leave.

5% Matching 401K, Holiday Pay, and Paid Training.

No residency requirement.

Application, job description, and employment Information can be found at:

or by calling Prairie Band Potawatomi Human Resources at 785-966-3060


Full-time Firefighters work on a regularly scheduled 24 hour shift providing emergency service to the community. There is no differentiation between fire and EMS positions at our department; everyone is cross-trained and responds to all types of incidents.

Minimum qualifications include current Kansas Paramedic Certification or must obtain within 180 days of hire.

Additional qualifications can be found in the job description.


The Potawatomi Tribal Fire Department is located in the heart of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Reservation in Mayetta Kansas just 25 minutes north of Topeka. We provide 24 hour around the clock fire protection, rescue service, and advanced life support emergency medical care to the residents and guests of the PBPN Reservation. The department regularly responds mutual aid with neighboring Jackson County fire departments. We are staffed with 22 full-time personnel with 21 working rotating 24 hour shifts as well as 8 part-time and reserve personnel. We operate on a Kelly A-B-C schedule that coincides with most departments in Shawnee County Kansas. All of our personnel are certified EMTs, Advanced EMTS, or Paramedics. The department runs approximately 1600 calls per year out of our single station. Apparatus includes an engine, a 105 foot platform aerial, rescue pumper, pumper-tanker, 2 brush units, an ATV, 2 ALS ambulances, a technical rescue truck, and various administrative and support vehicles.

Additional information can be found at:

Please contact Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Human Resources for application information at 785-966-3060.

Passersby pull Wichita woman, child from house fire

KAKE – January 26, 2016

Click on photo to view full-size image.

Click on photo to view full-size image.

A Wichita woman and her child are safe today, thanks to some people who were at the right place at the right time.

Fire crews were called to the 700 block on West Lockwood after 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. A woman was trapped in the basement of the home with a 10-month-old baby. The woman tried to get out but say heavy, black smoke blocking her exit.

Two passersby broke a basement window and helped the woman, her baby and pets escape the fire. They were not hurt.

The fire destroyed an attached garage and left the rest of the house with smoke and water damage.

City approves fire, police expenses

By Josh Arnett
McPherson Sentinel – January 26, 2016

The McPherson City Commission approved spending $11,235 for two new mobile radio units for the McPherson Police Department during its meeting Monday morning. These units will replace aging units the department currently has.

The commission approved $2,975 for new uniforms for the McPherson Fire Department, which is an annual purchase, as well as $1,400 for new tires for one of the department’s vehicles.

It also approved disposing of several items the fire department no longer uses. These include outlet valves, nozzles that failed testing, a floodlight and a disused air pack.

Council agrees to seek bids for new aerial fire truck

By Ryan D. Wilson
Clay Center Dispatch – January 6, 2016
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 26, 2016

The city can’t put it off anymore–they’ll have to buy a new aerial ladder fire truck this year.

The fire department’s most expensive piece of equipment will cost approximately $650,000, Fire Chief John Ihnen told the Clay Center City Council Tuesday night.

“I know it’s a tremendous amount of money, but it’s never going to get any cheaper,” Ihnen told the council Tuesday night.

The city council and fire department have planned for major equipment needs by setting aside $100,000 a year in capital outlay for such purchases.

While the department is holding a little more than $100,000 in reserve for capital outlay, they’ll have to buy the aerial ladder truck through a lease purchase. Councilman Jim Brown said the city should be able to pay off the lease in six years.

Purchasing the truck through a lease purchase will help the department get on track to meet its plan to replace a fire truck every eight years, Ihnen said. By the time the next vehicle needs to be purchased–a pumper truck that’s roughly half the cost of the aerial ladder truck, the city should have a couple hundred-thousand set aside in the capital outlay fund.

Inhnen said initially there were concerns that a new aerial ladder might not fit in the fire station, but after doing some checking, he reported they “have that covered.”

It will take the council two to three weeks to send out and receive bids, and the company that wins the bid won’t deliver a new truck until nine to 12 months, Ihnen said.

The aerial ladder truck has been a problem for years said Councilman Daton Hess, a member of the council’s Public Safety Committee, who recommended seeking bids for a new truck. It was an issue when Hess started on the council and the council “has been kicking the can down the road,” with temporary fixes and purchasing used trucks, he said.

“It’s time to step forward and do the right thing for the community (with a new truck) to protect the community,” Hess said.

Councilman C. L. Snodgrass and councilman Phil Kasper also said they supported purchasing a new aerial ladder truck.

Hess added that the city looked at other options, including refurbishing the ladder truck the fire department currently has.

“Abilene, Kansas was in the same situation last year,” Hess said, saying they had had a choice between replacing or refurbishing their aerial ladder truck. “They found out it cost about $400,000 to refurbish it, and we all know what happens when you try to refurbish something. You’re going to have problems.”

Midland Marketing donates to area fire departments

Plainville Times – January 21, 2016
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 26, 2016

Click on each photo to view full-size image.

Click on each photo to view full-size image.

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rooks co fire 1262016c

rooks co fire 1262016d

From time to time Midland Marketing has the opportunity to make matching donations with some of the regional cooperatives which they are members. This year they were able to do that with both CoBank and Land O’Lakes Foundation.

CoBank “Sharing Success” program allows Midland Marketing to make matching grants to nonprofit organizations that they select. CoBank is the successor of the National Bank for Cooperatives and is Midland’s main lending institution for operating and capital improvement loans. Land O’Lakes actually has two matching grant programs. They have a hunger program, which this year Midland made a $6,662 donation to Kansas Food Bank for food assistance in our area. I believe we discussed the hunger program prior. The regular matching program works similar to CoBank’s shared success program in that they can make joint grants to nonprofit organizations of their choice.

This year Midland Marketing tried to help upgrade some of the rural fire departments in their area. They heard there was a need for new hoses, nozzles, pumps, fittings, pagers, smoke detectors, carbon dioxide detectors, fire extinguishers, powerful flashlights, exhaust fans, foam and new two way radios to name a few. Using the matching grant programs they were able to give the Damar, Palco, Woodston and Natoma fire departments each $3,311 for them to use for their most urgent needs.

Fire District sets public hearing in hopes of grant for new fire barn

By Heather Stewart
Sabetha Herald – January 20, 2016
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – January 26, 2016

Fire District No. 4 hopes all goes well next week at a public hearing set for Monday, January 25.

The hearing was set after Tim Krehbiel, Jason Rokey and Eldon Kaster with the Bern Fire Department came before the Nemaha County Commission on Monday, January 11, to let Commissioners know that they wanted to apply for a KAN STEP Grant in order to build a new fire barn in Bern.

According to the Kansas Department of Commerce website, a KAN STEP Grant is an ongoing, competitive self-help program for communities to address water, sewer and public building needs through greater initiative and with fewer dollars.

Communities must demonstrate readiness–perception of the problem and willingness to take action to solve it,–capacity–human resources to solve the problem–and documented cost savings.

The KAN STEP Grant will provide funds if the community is willing to provide sweat equity and donations to equal at least 35 percent of the project.

As part of the grant, an income survey is conducted and a significant percentage of the fire district must be classified as “low to moderate income” according to the grant guidelines.

The KAN STEP grant is the same grant that was used to build the Bern, Morrill and other community buildings.

The Nemaha County Fire District No. 4 covers approximately 75 square miles between Sabetha, Seneca and Axtell. There are 372 people surveyed in the rural district and 166 people surveyed in the City of Bern. This grant will cover more than just the City of Bern.

The existing barn was a government surplus Quonset hut that was purchased at some distance, torn down and relocated to Bern by volunteers in the late 1960s.

The barn leaks and the firehouse struggles with rodents and mold due to the age and loose construction. The barn also has only one door for all of the trucks to exit from which causes delay and risk of accident when responding to emergencies.

“Having a new firehouse will help maintain a dry and clean environment for the equipment purchased by our tax money and help recruit new volunteers to provide fire, and rescue services to the district,” Krehbiel said.

Since the district owns the lots that they are planning to build on, there won’t be a lot of residents’ property tax dollars spent on the project.

“It’s a great opportunity to bring money from outside of our county to improve our ability to respond to emergencies and take care of the assets our tax dollars have already purchased,” Krehbiel said. “The hearing is an opportunity for the community to become aware of what is going on, and to make their views known. We welcome anyone in the district to ask questions or comment.”

Krehbiel said the Fire Department has a committee working hard to make the Feb. 15 application period. If that application is approved, there will be a public meeting with the grant state administrators.

“We will need a lot of volunteers to show up for the meeting with the grant administrators to show that the community supports and can complete the project,” Krehbiel said.

If all goes well with the grant process the department hopes to have a new firehouse by summer of 2017.

Occupants, pets escape house fire in S.E. Topeka

By Katie Moore
Topeka Capital Journal – January 26, 2016

Photo by Katie Moore

Photo by Katie Moore

A house fire broke out about 7:54 p.m. Monday in the 200 block of S.E. Golden Ave.

All of the occupants were able to get out of the house before Topeka fire crews arrived on the scene, shift commander Michael Troth said.

However, one of the occupants needed medical care and was transported to a local hospital. It wasn’t clear if it was related to the fire or not.

Troth said the occupants had “quite a few pets.” The occupants were able to get most of them out of the house, but Troth said he believed fire crews rescued a cat.

The blaze started in the back of the house.

The cause and an estimate on damages still are being determined.

Junction City Names New Acting Fire Chief

By Ryan Ogle
WIBW – January 25, 2016

Junction City officials have announced that Rick Rook has been named as Acting Fire Chief.

Rook is taking the position to replace the current Fire Chief, Kevin Royse, who has accepted the same position with the Salina Fire Department.

The change will become effective on Friday, January 29.

City Manager Allen Dinkel said “Rick Rook has served the Junction City Fire Department for nearly twenty-six years and has previously filled the role of Acting Fire Chief.”

No time table has been set when a permanent Fire Chief will be named.

Kansas State Fire Marshal’s office appoints new chief of investigations

By Tim Hrenchir
Topeka Capital Journal – January 25, 2016


Kansas State Fire Marshal Doug Jorgensen’s office announced the appointment Monday of its new chief of investigations: Wally Roberts, who has more than 34 years experience in fire service and law enforcement.

The move comes 15 years to the month after Roberts joined the office as an investigator in January 2001, according to a news release it put out.

“I very much enjoy working with the firefighters to help them with their investigations, and speaking with fire victims and helping them through a very difficult time in their lives,” Roberts said in the release. “I’m looking forward to mentoring and coaching younger investigators.”

Roberts replaces the recently retired Rose Rozmiarek. She had been the office’s chief of investigations since September 2001.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity this position offers me and am looking forward to leading our investigations division and staying on top of the latest advances in investigation procedures and technologies,” Roberts said in Monday’s release.

That release said Roberts has worked more than 1,000 fire investigations throughout Kansas during his time with the fire marshal’s office. He was promoted in 2014 to investigation supervisor, a position in which he supervised four investigators in eastern Kansas.

Roberts grew up in California, where he worked after high school graduation as a volunteer firefighter for the Middletown Fire Department in Lake County. He then was employed by CalFire as a seasonal wildland firefighter.

Roberts next served with the Army, where he spent five years as a military police officer and investigator at Fort Riley.

Roberts subsequently was a police officer with Topeka public schools and the Topeka Police Department before being hired by the fire marshal’s office.

He and his wife of 14 years, Carol, have a blended family of seven children ages 16 to 26, Monday’s news release said.

HFD develops pre-emergency plans for fighting principal building fires

By Becky Kiser
Hays Post – January 25, 2016

Video 327

The Hays Fire Department completed 140 pre-emergency building response plans last year.

According to Chief Gary Brown, the plans are a collaboration between the fire department and the building owners on how a fire should be approached.

“Firefighters check buildings to locate the gas shutoff, the main electric controls, how to best get into the building, and the type of roof construction to anticipate how long it would last before collapsing,” Brown said.

They also ask the owners what their priority is for protecting in the building.

“It’s usually the computer systems and business records,” he explained.

The fire department has about 800 principal building plans on paper kept in a binder notebook in the Command truck. “The plans were once computerized on a laptop, but took too long to download, so we’re looking at digitizing the pre-emergency plans with new software which will make it more effective to use in the field,” Brown said.

Woman suffers smoke inhalation in mobile home fire

KAKE – January 25, 2016

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An elderly woman is expected to recover after suffering smoke inhalation in a fire. Sedgwick County fire crews were called to a mobile home park at 7301 N. Hillside after Noon.

When firefighters arrived they found the kitchen in flames. They concentrated on keeping the fire from spreading to adjacent mobile homes.

The woman is in good condition. Firefighters don’t know how the fire started.

Shed Destroyed by Fire

By David Elliott
KRSL – January 25, 2016

A fire Friday night destroyed a shed south of Dorrance.

At 5:28 PM Friday, Russell Dispatch received two 911 calls advising of a shed on fire at Larry Herber’s residence approximately two miles south of Dorrance on the blacktop.

The Dorrance, Bunker Hill, Wilson and Russell Grant Fire Departments responded, along with Russell County EMS and Russell County Sheriff’s Officers.

According to Dorrance Fire Chief Ron Major, the 30-by-28 foot shed was completely destroyed. A Polaris Ranger UTV, a mower and several tools were lost in the blaze. Major estimates $80,000 of damage was done.

The fire was caused by grass caught under the Polaris Ranger according to Major.

The fire departments were on scene for about two hours.

There were no injuries.

For Sale – 3000 Gallon Aluminum Folding Frame Tank w Liner by Water King

For Sale –

Here is one of the two items for sale that we would like to list on your site.

3000 Gallon Aluminum Folding Frame Tank w Liner by Water King. It is used but in good condition. $500. Item is located in Meriden, KS.

Interested parties can call or email Fire Chief Bob Fritch at 785-249-8009 (





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