Archive for January, 2017

Kansas woman dies in 2-vehicle crash

Hays Post – January 31, 2017

A Kansas woman died in an accident just before 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday in Edwards County.

The Kansas Highway Patrol reported a 2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser driven by Sandra Kay Kerns, 70, Kinsley, was northbound on 80th Avenue one mile west of Kinsley.

The driver failed to yield at U.S. 50.

An eastbound 2000 Toyota Avalon driven by Todd Robert Sullivant, 38, Hutchinson, collided with the Chrysler in the driver’s side.

Kerns was transported to the Edwards County Hospital where she died.

Sullivant was not injured.
Both drivers were properly restrained at the time of the accident, according to the KHP.


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Volunteer Geary County firefighter retires after 29 years of service

By Michael J. Sellman
Junction City Daily Union – January 31, 2017

Photo by Michael J. Sellman. Geary County Fire Chief Garry Berges (left), Asst. Fire Chief Curt Janke (center) and Firefighter Bob Forman (right). Click on photo to view full-size.

Photo by Michael J. Sellman. Geary County Fire Chief Garry Berges (left), Asst. Fire Chief Curt Janke (center) and Firefighter Bob Forman (right). Click on photo to view full-size.

Bob Forman became a volunteer firefighter for Geary County after being asked to write a letter to the editor of the Daily Union complaining about the amount of hose on a truck, and the location of fire hydrants.

A response to his letter from the fire chief and sheriff encouraged him to “quit whining” and sign up as a firefighter.

“Sounded like a deal,” Forman said.

After volunteering for 29 years, he decided to retire as of January 1.

“As you get older, the steps on the truck get higher,” he said. “If you can’t be active and not pose a danger to yourself and others, it’s probably about time to back out.”

Looking back on his career, it was years filled with a lot of fun, and many fears as well.

“It makes your heart go fast,” Forman said. “And I highly recommend it for all you younger guys out there. Be active.”

One particular fire he fought almost led to a catastrophe.

Forman was helping in trying to prevent a barn from catching fire by throwing water on it, as fire burned around the structure.

Having successfully saved the barn, the farmer thanked the fire crews, and told them the barn was were he kept his acetylene — a flammable chemical often used as fuel.

His greatest accomplishment in his entire 29 years was backing a fire truck up straight into the garage bay on the first try. And he has a picture of it.

“There was no one there to see it,” he said.

The camaraderie of his fellow firefighters, times he was able to save properties, and doing something for the community are what he’ll miss most of all.


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Job Opening – Firefighter/EMT – Fairmount Township Fire Department


The Fairmount Township Fire Department in Basehor, Kansas is recruiting to establish an eligibility list for future firefighter positions. This entry level position is operational positions assigned to serve the community in emergency response and mitigation efforts to save lives and protect property. The positions work under supervision to perform a variety of critical fire department functions including: firefighting, rescue, emergency medical response and patient care, fire safety inspections, preplans, public education, efficient operation of equipment, and maintenance of facilities.

1. Candidates must be 18 years of age at time of application, have a Kansas Driver’s License, High School Diploma or GED, and IFSAC certified minimum Firefighter I, Firefighter II, Hazardous Materials Awareness, and Hazardous Materials Operations. Emergency Medical Technician Certification in the State of Kansas or National Registry, and NIMS 700, ICS 100 & 200 at time of application to be considered for appointment. Internal applicants may apply without the Firefighter 2 or EMT certification. Applicants will be required to sign a letter of agreement to obtain the Firefighter 2 or EMT certification within 18 months of their hire date or face termination. Prior to applying the candidate must have successfully passed two tests: The Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) within the prior year (copy required with application) and the Written Fire Service Entrance Exam (FSEE) with a score of 70 percent or better within the prior two years. (copy required with application)

Ideal candidates should have basic knowledge of the principles, practices, methods and equipment employed in modern firefighting; fire hazards and fire prevention techniques; and the application of fire records to fire prevention, fire protection, and Fire/EMS report writing. Candidates should be able to perform all functions associated with fire suppression, EMS, rescue, fire prevention, and station/equipment maintenance activities as assigned by the department. Candidates should also have the ability to communicate effectively and portray a positive image of the organization to the general public and be able to establish and maintain effective working relationships with all members of the organization and outside agencies.
Desirable qualifications include: certifications for Driver Operator, Fire Inspector, and a related associate’s degree, supplemented by formal training in firefighting techniques; or any equivalent combination of education, experience and training which provides the required knowledge, skills and abilities.

The starting salary for the Full-Time Firefighter position is $33,280.00 plus benefits. This position will work a 24-hour Berkeley shift schedule: 24 hours on (8 a.m. to 8 a.m.), 24 hours off, 24 hours on (8 a.m. to 8 a.m.), 24 hours off, 24 hours on (8 a.m. to 8 a.m.), four days off. Then the schedule repeats.
Candidates interested in this employment opportunity, should submit an Application, Resume, including copies of required certifications and a brief overview of relevant work experience and education to: Fire Administrator Mike Lingenfelser at Fairmount Township Fire Department, PO Box 136, Basehor, Kansas. For a detailed position description and to download an application, please visit the Departments website. Application deadline is February 24, 2017.


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Fire destroys home Thursday

Chanute Tribune – January 24, 2017
Submitted by Newz Group – January 31, 2017

A Chanute home was a total loss after a fire Thursday evening, Chief Kevin Jones reported.

Firefighters responded at 6:56 p.m. Thursday to 1523 S. Katy and were on the scene for about one and a half hours. Heavy smoke was visible from outside when firefighters arrived, and the fire was attributed to an accidental electrical fire. The house, owned by Ernest Wright, was vacant, but some contents were damaged. Nine firefighters responded.

Chanute firefighters also responded to a grass fire at 4:20 p.m., Thursday, at 15754 Ford Road, two miles southeast of Chanute, Jones reported.


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Verlyn L. Nelson


Verlyn L. Nelson, 81, of Windom, KS, passed away on Saturday, January 21, 2017, at his home in rural Windom. He was a farmer for over 50 years and founder & co-owner of Nelson Seeds, LLC. He also volunteered for Windom Fire Department for 25 years.

He served in the U.S. Army National Guard from 1957 to 1960.

Verlyn was born on May 11, 1935, in McPherson, KS, the son of Andrew Vernon and Esther Victoria (Lindquist) Nelson. He graduated from Windom High School in 1953 and attended Bethany College. On May 4, 1958, he was united in marriage to Wanda L. Swick in McPherson.

He was a member of Andover Lutheran Church and Windom Lions Club. He sang in the Messiah Choir at Bethany College and volunteered for Habitat for Humanity.

Survivors include: his loving wife of 58 years, Wanda of the home; daughter, Cheri (Roger) Aufdemberge of Lyons, KS; son, Philip (Susan) Nelson of Windom, KS; sister, Clarice Byers of McPherson, KS; eight grandchildren, Justin Nelson, Jonah Nelson, Jacob Nelson, Amanda (Doug) George, Andrew (Lacey) Rush, Aaron (Elise) Rush, Adam Rush, and Abigail Rush; two great-granddaughters, Emma & Alyvia George; and several nieces & nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents and daughter-in-law, Jalane Nelson.

Visitation will be held from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM, Thursday, January 26, 2017, at Andover Lutheran Church, rural Windom with family receiving friends from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM. The funeral service will be held at 10:30 AM, Friday, January 27, at Andover Lutheran Church with Rev. Elizabeth Liggett officiating. Burial with Military Honors will follow at Andover Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers memorial donation may be given to Andover Lutheran Church or Windom Fire Department in loving memory of Verlyn in care of Stockham Family Funeral Home, 205 North Chestnut, McPherson, KS 67460.


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Kitchen fire forces Ottawa residents to evacuate

Ottawa Herald – January 24, 2017
Submitted by Newz Group – January 31, 2017

Ottawa firefighters doused a kitchen fire late Saturday afternoon that forced an Ottawa family from their home.

Firefighters responded to a reported structure fire at 5:16 p.m. Saturday in the 700 block of South Cypress Street, Ottawa, and found moderate smoke coming from the front door of the home, Chief Tim Matthias said in a report. No one was injured, he said.

“The occupant of the house had put some grease on the stove for cooking, after sometime she smelled smoke and returned to the kitchen to find the stove, microwave and two kitchen cabinets on fire,” Matthias said in the report.

The resident called 911 and exited the house, according to the report.

“Crews went in and extinguished the fire, cleared the smoke from the home and gathered information,” Matthias said. “Red Cross was contacted due to the residents not being able to stay at the home due to smoke damage and no utilities.”

Estimated damage was $1,500, according to the report.


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Hoisington EMS spotlighted for youth event

By Veronica Coons
Great Bend Tribune – January 31, 2017

Hoisington EMS received the Youth Activities Award at the Chamber of Commerce Banquet Saturday night. Team members included Kristin Hathcock, Sophia McWilliams, Andrea Aguilera and Scott Fleming.

Hoisington EMS received the Youth Activities Award at the Chamber of Commerce Banquet Saturday night. Team members included Kristin Hathcock, Sophia McWilliams, Andrea Aguilera and Scott Fleming.

Hoisington Chamber of Commerce members recognized the contributions made by various community members at the 60th Annual Hoisington Chamber of Commerce Banquet Saturday night. One event remembered had a lasting impact on area youth, and resulted in the Hoisington EMS receiving the Youth Activities Award, given in recognition of the promotion of the welfare of Hoisington’s youth.
In May, the Hoisington EMS Department, headed by Scott Fleming, organized an Arrive Alive event, with several area businesses, local law enforcement, emergency responder organizations, health organizations, USD 431 and several students offering their time and resources to make the event a success. Scheduled a few weeks prior to several area proms, the event drove home the life-changing consequences of drinking and driving.
The event included a mock accident in which one of the drivers was a teen drunk driver. An emergency medical helicopter transport crew attended the scene, taking one of the student actors from the scene in “critical” condition. Later, a debriefing session at the high school included real-live experiences shared by various people and a question and answer period.
Barton county photographer Amy Stein documented the event with photos and it was also video taped. Following the event, and photos and video posted to social media led to an outpouring of response from around the state and beyond.
“All of the Barton County schools were invited to attend and Hoisington and Ellinwood students attended,” Hoisington Chamber of Commerce Director Kristi Lovett wrote. “ The presentation consisted of life experiences from the DUI Impact Center and Emergency Responders and was followed by a question and answer session with the students. The “real-time” drama including an instance of underage drunk driving and its consequences was very impactful to the student body.”
Fleming said Monday that receiving the award was an added bonus to his department, and made all their work well worth the effort.
“Receiving the award was overwhelming. We were proud we’d done something worthy of recognition while helping our youth,” he said. “If we made a difference in one teen’s decision, it was worth it.”
The award is one of several Chamber Ambassador Community Awards, Lovett said. Throughout the year, ambassadors make nominations, and finalize their decisions in November.


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Firefighters rescue dog in central Topeka blaze

By Katie Moore
Topeka Capital Journal – January 31, 2017

Photo by Katie Moore.

Photo by Katie Moore.

The Topeka Fire Department rescued a dog after a kitchen fire started in a house in the 1300 block of S.W. Lincoln.

The incident was reported at 3:32 p.m. Monday.

When fire crews arrived, they found light smoke showing, battalion chief Todd Williams said on the scene.

Firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the fire, which had spread to the kitchen cabinets.

The blaze was cooking related, Williams said. One occupant had exited the house prior to the fire department’s arrival.

The occupant said the fire happened very quickly and that there was a lot of smoke. He tried to grab his two dogs, but one of them ran to the second floor. Firefighters were able to rescue the dog.

The 1300 block of Lincoln was blocked while crews worked.


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No injuries in blaze

By Michael Stavola
Pittsburg Morning Sun – January 31, 2017

Photo by Michael Stavola. Click photo to view full-size.

Photo by Michael Stavola. Click photo to view full-size.

No one was injured when a rental home caught fire at 313 E. Park on Thursday night, according to the Pittsburg Fire Department.

Battalion Chief Jeff Kavanagh said the rear of the house had heavy fire damage. There is heat, smoke and water damage throughout the rest of the structure, he said.

PFD responded at 9:14 p.m. and stayed on scene early into Friday morning. Emergency tape still surrounds the home and the rear is charred black with visibility into the attic.

Kavanagh said the renters were not home when the blaze started, and the home was not insured. The battalion chief said the fire is still under investigation and he was unsure if the occupants received assistance from the American Red Cross.


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Motorcyclist killed in collision

By John Richmeier
Leavenworth Times – January 31, 2017

A man was killed when his motorcycle collided with a car in Leavenworth, a police spokesman said.

The crash was reported at 3:30 p.m. Friday on South Fourth Street near the entrance to the St. John Hospital complex, 3500 S. Fourth St.

Jeffrey L. Drew, 59, Leavenworth, was traveling south on a 1987 Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Linda S. Prather, 72, Leavenworth, was driving north in a turning lane. She was driving a 1999 Toyota Corolla.

Leavenworth Police Chief Pat Kitchens said it appears that Prather allegedly turned her car in front of the motorcycle without seeing Drew.

Drew, who was not wearing a helmet, was thrown from the motorcycle.

Medical staff from St. John Hospital responded to provide assistance at the scene. Leavenworth County EMS and Leavenworth Fire Department personnel also responded to provide medical assistance.

Drew was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead, Kitchens said.

Prather suffered minor injuries.

“She was treated and released,” Kitchens said.

The police chief said there is no indication that alcohol was a factor in the crash. But this is being evaluated as a standard procedure.

Kitchens said police also will try to determine the speed and functionality of the vehicles before any final determinations are made about citations or charges.


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Fundraiser planned for late firefighter’s son

By Chris Frank
KAKE – January 31, 2017


If there’s one thing that stands out about Collis Grisby among his fellow Wichita firefighters, it’s that he had the habit of greeting almost everyone with a hug.

Grisby died last Tuesday at age 53, after falling ill and being hospitalized while off-duty. Grisby was a 23-year veteran of the Wichita Fire Department, and most recently worked out of Station 18 on Webb Road near K-96.

“First thing I think about is that he’s just a good firefighter, very knowledgeable, very friendly and outgoing,” Capt. Tony Heard said. “He never said anything bad about anybody that I ever knew of.”

“I kind of called Collis a gentle giant, Troy Franklin Jr. added. “He was big, but he was the nicest guy you’d ever want to meet.”

“He’s more than a friend. He’s family,” firefighter Jamal Williams-Bey recalled. “He treated everybody on the job exactly the same. He gave everybody hugs when he saw them…. Collis had one of the biggest hearts on this job.”

“He liked to give people hugs,” Heard remembered. “In the fire service, we’re not very touchy of each other. Collis didn’t care. He’d come up and give you a hug, anyway.”

A hug connected with Grisby led to him being honored by the American Red Cross in Wichita as Firefighter Hero of the Year in 2010. Grisby was part of a crew from then-Station 12 which was called to an unresponsive infant. The crew was too late, as the two-month-old girl died. The family was grieving.

“I noticed the dad was by himself in the kitchen,” Grisby told KAKE News in 2010. “So I went over there to console him. I just gave him a hug and he just broke down.”

Grisby’s wife died about 18 months ago. They leave behind an only son, age 12. So fellow firefighters will hold a fundraiser next Sunday, called “Super Party for a Super Guy.” It will be at the IAFF union hall at 428 North St. Francis in Wichita. There will be chili and baked goods, with money going to build a college fund for the 12-year-old.


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Subway restaurant temporarily closed after small fire

Garden City Telegram – January 31, 2017

Firefighters extinguished a small fire at Subway restaurant, 1320 N. Taylor Ave., on Sunday that they believe was caused by a discarded cigarette.

The fire started around 12:47 p.m. in a collection of trash located at the back of the building. The fire penetrated the wall and firefighters had to open up the wall to extinguish the flames, causing moderate damage to the building and no injuries.

The cause of the fire is officially unknown, but a discarded cigarette is suspected as the source.

The fire was located in the vicinity of an electrical panel box at the back of the building.

Fire Chief Allen Shelton believes power to the building was shut off.

Firefighters worked to extinguish the fire until 1:24 p.m.

Subway personnel said the facility is closed and will possibly reopen Wednesday.


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Firefighters Contain Wildfire Near South Coffeyville

News on 6 – January 30, 2017

Click on photo to view full-size.

Click on photo to view full-size.

Firefighters were able to contain a wildfire near the Oklahoma/Kansas line Monday afternoon.

The fire burned about 50 acres just south of South Coffeyville, near the Oklahoma Union High School campus.

Both Coffeyville, Kansas and South Coffeyville fire departments worked to put out the fire.

Only pasture land was burned, but smoke blew in the direction of some nearby homes.

Fire officials have not said what started the fire.


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Job Opening – Firefighter/EMT-B – Ottawa Fire Department


Position Title: Firefighter/EMT-B
Department: Fire

Position Summary: Duties of the Firefighter/EMT include protection of life and property by combating, extinguishing, and preventing fires, as well as providing EMT care where needed. Work is performed under the direct supervision of the supervising officer, but requires thorough individual understanding of firefighting methods and EMT duties.

How to Apply: Complete On-Line Application at .

Written Testing: February 27, 2016

Certifications: In order to be admitted to testing every applicant MUST PROVIDE CURRENT PHOTO IDENTIFICATION, PROOF OF CURRENT Kansas or National EMT Certification and FF I – FF II (IFSAC) or Proboard. No exceptions will be made.

Pay Range: $13.33-19.33 per hour depending on qualifications.

Additional Starting Pay Incentives:
• 2% Associate’s Degree
• 4% Bachelor’s Degree
• 7% Master’s Degree

Date Opened: January 23, 2017
Date Closed: February 19, 2017
Hours: 24 Hour Shifts; 212 hours every 28 days=2756 hours per year.
Residency Requirements: Regular part-time and regular full-time employees shall, within one year of date of hire, establish and maintain residency within Franklin County or within a driving distance of 35 miles of the Ottawa City Hall, AND within the state of Kansas.

Additional Information:
High School Diploma or GED is required.
Requires a valid Kansas driver’s license and insurable by the City’s insurance carrier.
Must possess and maintain Kansas or National EMT certification and complete all other assigned trainings.

The City of Ottawa conducts background checks and drug screening on all potential candidates.

Anyone with a disability who needs a reasonable accommodation related to a selection process is requested to contact the Human Resources Department at 785-229-3634 at least two days prior to the scheduled test or interview.

The City of Ottawa is an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer.
The City of Ottawa is a nationally recognized Playful City USA community.


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Rural Fire and Life Safety Symposium


NFPA hosting a fire and life safety symposium: May 12 & 13, 2017

NFPA is hosting a fire and life safety symposium on May 12 & 13, 2017 in the Boston area to bring together representatives from rural fire departments across North America. The symposium will help NFPA assess fire and life safety education needs and gain a clear picture of rural fire department challenges related to prevention. Participants will help us better serve rural and volunteer fire departments in their public education, prevention, and Community Risk Reduction efforts.

Who should attend?

Symposium attendees will be members of rural fire departments within North America and should have an interest in fire and life safety education. We hope to bring together a dynamic group of representatives who span fire department roles, geographical regions, and levels of experience in education and prevention.

If you are interested in attending, please complete the online survey. Your input on this survey will help us invite the right mix of rural firefighters.

The survey will be open through March 15, 2017. Invitations will be extended to selected participants by March 20, 2017.

NFPA will cover travel, lodging, and meal expenses for invited participants.

For more information about the Rural Fire and Life Safety Symposium, go to or contact Karen Berard-Reed at


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Fire damages home in north Riverside

KSN – January 30, 2017


Wichita – A fire heavily damaged a home Monday afternoon in Riverside.

It happened in the 1700 block of North Burns just after 2 p.m. When Wichita fire crews arrived, smoke and flames were showing from the home. Crews were able to get the fire under control quickly.

Right now, officials are still trying to determine a cause. There is no word yet on damage estimates.

No one was inside of the home at the time of the fire.


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Devastating house fire

Phillips County Review – January 11, 2017
Submitted by Newz Group – January 30, 2017


Shortly after lunchtime last Friday, Jacque Bretton, Phillipsburg, received word that her house on G Street had smoke coming out of it. Even with a prompt response by the Phillipsburg Fire Department, it was too late to save the home of Bretton and her five daughters. With the house a total loss, the family has found another temporary place to live.


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Pemberton apartments damaged in Saturday fires

By Joey May
Hiawatha World – January 30, 2017

Photo by Josephine May

Photo by Josephine May

The Hiawatha Fire Department responded to two separate fires at Pemberton Village Apartments on Saturday.

Fire Chief Gary Shear reported the first fire at 5:39 a.m. on Saturday morning at Pemberton Village Apartments in Unit D. He said the fire started from a hallway heater and spread through the roof.

He said there were visible flames coming out of the roof on the west side of the building when firefighters arrived. Each unit houses 3-4 apartments and Shear said that Hiawatha Police had already assisted in evacuating residents within the building. No major injuries were reported, but Shear said one man was treated at the hospital for smoke inhalation.

There was smoke and fire damage, along with water damage to a couple of the apartments in this unit, but Shear said the fire was all contained to the roof area where the heater was located, above the ceiling.

Shear said the second fire occurred around 8:30 p.m. that same day in the same unit, and wiring is the suspected cause. Shear said the power had been shut down to the unit that morning and fire fighters had been on the scene several times throughout the day to make sure it didn’t rekindle. However, maintenance workers turned the power back on later in the day to try and dry out the unit, and wiring caused a second fire, which was contained to that one apartment.

Shear said firefighters were on the scene around three to four hours for the morning fire and around an hour and a half later that night. Robinson Fire Department and Hiawatha Police assisted in the fires.

Hiawatha Police Chief John Defore reported that as a result of this fire, Hiawatha Police were contacted by a concerned citizen and asked to investigate the validity of needed assistance for the victims. It was reported that a “Go Fund Me” page, had been started for a resident living there. The case officer conducting several interviews and follow-up into this matter did not uncover any criminal actions at this time.

“As with any charitable giving’s, we urge everyone to always confirm where your money is being spent and to above all ask questions,” Chief Defore said. “When giving money, you always have the right to ask where and how your money will be used and remember, all of us here at the Hiawatha Police Department are always available to answer questions and to investigate any concerns our citizens and community guests may have. If you are not sure about a charity, don’t give until you know.”

In addition, Hiawatha firefighters responded to a grass fire at 2100 Lynx Road Sunday afternoon. Shear said firefighters were on the scene around an hour and it was not determined what caused the fire.


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Andover Fire Department Prepares New Engine For Service

By Olivia Haselwood
Andover Leader – January 30, 2017

Click on photo to view full-size.

Click on photo to view full-size.

Andover firefighters had a unique experience last week when inspecting their new firetruck.

The Pierce engine was constructed in Appleton, Wisconsin, near the Green Bay Packers stadium. So when in Rome, or in this case, when near Lambeau Field, inspect the fire truck there.

Several firefighters traveled to Wisconsin to inspect Engine 16.

“This is a culmination of a year’s work of planning,” fire chief Chad Russell said. “The truck is replacing the 1990 Central States pumper that is being sold to Cassoday for $1.”

The truck was custom built based on specifics from Andover firemen calling for them to travel to inspect and review the certification testing for the vehicle.

“Since Appleton is only a few miles from Green Bay, we got to do on our road tests at Lambeau,” Russell said. “It gives us the opportunity to move the truck at highway speeds for a distance and us to find a few issues that need to be fixed.”

After the issues are fixed the truck will be delivered to Pierce’s shop in Olathe.

“The dealer will attach some of the equipment that was purchased and do a final inspection,” Russell said. “The truck will then be delivered to us at our fire station.”

The engine is costing the department $620,000, however the funds are coming from savings after fire department bonds were refinanced.

“The replacement is within the guidelines set for in our vehicles replacement plan,” Russell said. “We refinanced some older bonds that had high interest rates and were able to save enough in interest to pay for the truck. It’s never free money, but this money was money that would have been spent on interest and now gets to be spent on equipment. The new engine will be light years ahead of the one that it is replacing in capability as well as safety.”

Engine 16 will carry 750 gallons of water and pump 1500 gallons per minute. It will be capable of holding six seats and include full rollover and front crash protection for riders.

“We expect to have the vehicle in service by March 1 and have a wet down ceremony after that to welcome her to the fleet,” Russell said.


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Larry Eberle retires after 30 years of firefighting

Western Kansas World – January 12, 2017
Submitted by Newz Group – January 30, 2017


Larry Eberle has been “fired up” for three decades, volunteering and fighting fires for the Trego County Rural Fire and Rescue Department since he joined the department in 1986.

Eberle has taken time to reflect on the fire department team he served because, after 30 years, he is taking a well earned retirement. His fire department resume includes both prominent positions in the department and notable programs and events.

Serving as assistant chief for seven years and chief for 20 years, Eberle was chosen as the 2014 Fire Chief of the Year at the Kansas State Fire Chiefs’ Association meeting. Eberle also spent ten years as the District 2 Fire Chief Association president. During Eberle’s tenure, the fire department acquired 14 new fire trucks, eight with grant money, and hosted “Nikki” the pink fire truck at the Walk-a-Thon.

Working with McDonalds, Eberle initiated a fire prevention week program during which a fire department truck was on display at McDonalds, and, in return, McDonalds would provide the firefighters with food when they fought a big fire.

Eberle credits his successful years in part to the three good assistant chiefs he had over the twenty years, Clarence Bliss, Dennis Eberle, and John Shubert.

Although he said that it has been a challenge to keep up with the laws and to keep the fire department running, Eberle says he will miss the camaraderie of his fellow firefighters.


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Teens climbed out of second story window to escape KCK house fire

KMBC – January 30, 2017


Authorities in Kansas City, Kansas were investigating a fire at a home in the 1100 block of Sandusky Avenue Sunday afternoon.

Firefighters on the scene said the fire started in the back of the home in either the kitchen or the attic.

Teenagers were asleep inside the home when the blaze broke out. They were able to escape from the home by climbing through a second floor window and jumping off of the porch roof.

The cause of this fire is under investigation.


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Sunday grass fire starts when wind lifts trash fire out of barrel

By Chuck Samples
KVOE – January 30, 2017

Photo by Chuck Samples

Photo by Chuck Samples

A grass fire south of Admire halted traffic on Kansas Highway 99 and forced a response from nearly every Lyon County fire department Sunday.

Fires were first reported around 12:30 pm near 2950 Road P, four miles south of Admire, and rode gusty northwesterly winds across Road 290 before eventually being contained and then extinguished around 3 pm. The smoke from the fire crossed both K-99, forcing the highway to be closed briefly, and the Kansas Turnpike, which remained open.

Firefighters from Emporia, Allen-Admire, Americus, Hartford-Neosho Rapids, Miller and Reading responded end eventually slowed the fire. Initially, the report was for about 20 acres burned. The current estimate now is around 50 acres.

Emporia Fire Battalion Chief Eron Steinlage says the cause of the fire was listed as a trash burn that got out of control when wind gusts around 30 mph lifted trash out of a barrel and deposited it in dry grass nearby.

There were no reports of injuries or damaged structures. The property owner’s name is not being released at this time.


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Emporia Fire Department holds investigation training sessions

By John Robinson
Emporia Gazette – January 30, 2017


Photo by Jan Buckman

Inside the house at 1126 Exchange St., a straw lies among pieces of debris, a Q-tip sits inconspicuously under a door frame and a spot on the carpet is stained orange.

Given the home is scheduled for demolition, the mess isn’t unexpected and those objects may even go unnoticed to those taking a look inside. For one individual, they were just a few items which were a cause for alarm.

They got the attention of Bingo, an 18-month old accelerant-detecting dog, who alerted investigators during a fire investigation exercise Tuesday.

A partnership between the Emporia Fire Department and the Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office, training was held for a three-day period and allowed both Emporia investigators and Bingo a chance to work the scene of a mock fire, searching for items laced with traces of accelerant.

“We’re out here working with the investigators through our local fire department and the Kansas Fire Marshal’s Office,” Emporia Fire Marshal Reason Bradford said. “They brought their arson-detection canine down to do some training with us, and we’re working on sample collection.”

Chris Mercer, a fire investigator with the state fire marshal’s office and Bingo’s handler, set several items around the home laced with paint thinner, which can be used as an accelerant to start a fire.

“We set some accelerants throughout the structure,” Mercer said. “Then we sent Bingo in to find them and, when she did that, the Emporia Fire Department and (Bradford) took some samples. We both got some training in today.”

According to Mercer, he has been working with Bingo, a labrador and golden retriever mix, for six weeks. Bingo became part of a training program through the Bureau of Tobacco, Alcohol, Firearms and Explosives. She began her training as an accelerant-detecting dog at around six weeks old.

“At about six to eight weeks they start imprinting her at the ATF,” Mercer said. “Imprinting is a stage where they start testing to see if she likes accelerant and if she will work for food and if she does, she moves on.”

Upon finding an accelerant, Mercer gave Bingo plenty of positive reinforcement, giving her plenty of treats and words of encouragement for a job well done. Bingo found every piece of accelerant during Tuesday’s training session.

Bradford said the training sessions gave the local investigators a chance to hone skills which can’t be taught from classroom instruction.

“By training and doing this, it gives you an experience you need in real-time instead of just reading it out of a book or watching a YouTube video,” Bradford said. “We find accelerants being used on all types of materials and knowing how to collect samples and do it in a proper way is very valuable.”


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Dashcam catches car hitting fire unit in Russell County

KWCH – January 30, 2017

Photo by Kansas Highway Patrol

Photo by Kansas Highway Patrol


A crash involving a fire unit in central Kansas was caught on a dash camera.

Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Tod Hileman posted the video to his Facebook page.

Troopers and deputies from Russell County were working a crash on I-70 near Dorrance, Kansas.

In the video, you see two cars traveling eastbound. The first car slows down, but the second does not.

The second vehicle then hits the first car which slams into the fire unit in the median.

No one was hurt in either crash.

Troopers say the video is a good reminder to slow down if you’re going through a crash scene.


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Leonardville Nursing Home residents are ok after a furnace incident

By Daniela Leon
WIBW – January 30, 2017

The Riley County Fire Department responded to a fire alarm at the Leonardville Nursing Home after 3 a.m. Saturday morning.

Firefighters were determined an issue with one of the home’s furnaces.

The department isolated the problem and reset the alarm without having to displace any residents.

The extent of the furnace damage is unknown at the time.


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Hiebert happy to be a ‘Big Brother’

By Kelly Breckunitch
Newton Kansan – January 30, 2017

Photo by Kelly Breckunitch

Photo by Kelly Breckunitch

January is National Mentoring Month, with the goal of both recruiting for the cause and bringing attention to the many individuals in local communities across the country who already commit to giving their support and guidance to those around them.

Focusing specifically on fostering such relationships between adult mentors and children in need, Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters aims to create supportive relationships to help change kids’ lives for the better. Newton firefighter Rob Hiebert recognized the importance of that role, and it didn’t take much to convince him to volunteer with the Harvey County branch of the organization six years ago.

“It was a way to become involved in a kids’s life that maybe just needed the encouragement. That’s how I viewed it,” Hiebert said.

Hiebert admitted it was a former coworker’s participation that got the ball rolling for him, as Josh Ellis worked closely with the organization as a “big.” Friends and members of the same shift at the Newton Fire/EMS Department, Hiebert followed suit. The “littles” they were both assigned turned out to be cousins, so they ended up doing a lot of activities (i.e. playing basketball) together as well.

While Ellis moved away, Hiebert remains involved in Newton as part of a site-based Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Match support specialist at the Newton office Chris Allen noted there are both site-based (held at designated locations) and community-based (at rotating locations) programs as part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentorships, with the goal of getting “bigs” to interact with their “littles” at least once a week.

Meeting at school, Hiebert noted he holds pretty true to that schedule, and what he and his “little” do each week varies. As involved as his “little” is in sports, that usually revolves around shooting hoops, playing soccer, etc., though it can be as simple as chatting about routine things as well.

“By and large, it’s just time one on one and we talk about anything from how the day’s going to the score of the football game to wherever his conversation would care to go,” Hiebert said.

As irregular as his schedule can be as a firefighter, added to his “little’s” own commitments, Hiebert noted the teachers’ cooperation has been key in successfully fostering this relationship, and has also allowed for some unique opportunities, like taking part in his “little’s” P.E. class.

Visible as a big brother in the school environment, that role was one Hiebert was drawn to from some of his own personal experiences.

“Having kids in the public school system and just seeing the kids around them and recognizing the number of needs,” Hiebert said, “that was probably, as far as a motivation, the most motivation.”

Surprised as Hiebert is that his “little” chooses to continue with the program, a discussion they have each year, he is glad to continue playing his part and support his “little” in any way he may need.

“I’m not a disciplinarian. I’m not there to be the corrector of anything,” Hiebert said. “I’m there as a neutral party in that I am there just to encourage him in life.”

Difficult as it is to quantify the impact mentors in Big Brother Big Sisters have, Hiebert noted you can see that relationship being formed over time. Both Hiebert and Allen noted it takes just a short amount of time to contribute to that, but it can mean so much and Hiebert encourages anyone who can to become involved.


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Barker Avenue house fire brought under control

Lawrence Journal World – January 30, 2017

Photo by Elvyn Jones

Photo by Elvyn Jones

Lawrence firefighters extinguished a fire Sunday morning at a vacant residence at 1500 Barker Ave.

Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Division Chief Eve Tolefree said the department responded to the fire at 3:35 a.m. Sunday. Firefighters arrived to find flames visible from the rear of the single-story wood-frame residence on the southeast corner of the Barker Avenue/15th Street intersection. The fire at the vacant house was extinguished and declared under control at 4:12 a.m, she said.

There were no injuries to firefighters from the incident, Tolefree said. The department continues to investigate the cause of the fire. There is not yet an estimate of damages, she said.


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Woman killed in US-75 rollover accident identified

By Daniela Leon
WIBW – January 30, 2017

The Shawnee County Sheriff’s office says a 23 year-old Katie Perkins was pronounced dead following an accident that occurred south of NW 37th street and US-75 around 2:30 on Saturday morning.

When deputies arrived they found a 2003 Ford Expedition in a wooded area east of the highway.

The vehicle is believed to have been traveling northbound in the 2700 block of North US-75 when it went off the road.

Deputies say Perkins was not wearing her seatbelt, was ejected from her vehicle, and pronounced dead at the scene.


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Firefighters battle fire near Niles Road and I-70

By Tim Horan
Salina Journal – January 30, 2017

Firefighters battled a grass fire for about an hour and a half Saturday night south of the intersection of Interstate Highway 70 and Niles Road.

Fire was reported shortly before 7 p.m. with Saline County Rural Fire District No. 5 responding and getting help from District 7, according to Emergency Management Deputy Director Bernie Botson.

He said the fire was slow moving and was controlled.


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Early morning fire at southeast Topeka townhouse under investigation

By Ryan Ogle
WIBW News Now – January 30, 2017

Authorities are investigating an early morning fire at a townhouse in southeast Topeka.

The fire at 2707 SE Golden was reported just after 3 a.m. Monday by a neighbor who called 911 after waking up to the smell of smoke.

According to a release, fire crews responded to the scene and saw light smoke coming from a townhouse at the north end of the complex. Further investigation revealed a small fire burning in the living room.

Firefighters searched the home twice and confirmed it was unoccupied at the time of the fire.

Crews were able to put out the flames before they spread to the rest of the townhome.

Authorities have not yet determined what caused the fire. It remains under investigation.

The blaze caused an estimated $30,000 in damages.


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Accidental fire engulfs home in Oakland neighborhood

By Tori Mason
WIBW – January 30, 2017


The Topeka Fire Department responded to a structure fire in the 700 block of NE Poplar Street in Topeka’s Oakland neighborhood late Sunday morning.

No injuries were reported. Officials say the family’s fire alarm allowed them and their pets to exit quickly and without harm.

Early investigation shows the fire to be the result of a cooking accident.


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Fire is reported

Hill City Times – December 28, 2016
Submitted by Newz Group – January 27, 2017

A fire was reported at the Sherman Jones residence in Bogue at approximately 6:00 p.m. on Friday night, December 23, with Graham County Fire Department units from Bogue and Hill City and other emergency personnel responding.

It was reported that an item had been left in an oven which was reactivated causing considerable smoke. The damage was reported as limited to the oven and to some smoke damage in the home.


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Containers secured for training

By Gale Rose
St. John News – December 28, 2016
Submitted by Newz Group – January 27, 2017

They appear to be ordinary metal storage containers but they will soon become a training facility that could eventually save lives.

Davin Graves, fire director, said the St. John Fire Department has secured three metal storage containers, two that are 40 feet long and 8 feet wide and one that is 20 feet long and 8 feet wide at a cost of roughly $7,000. Department personnel will put the containers together. They will be transformed into an outdoors fire training facility in St. John for firefighters and EMS.

The fire department has seven members but this facility will be available county-wide as a training facility for St. John, Macksville, Stafford, Hudson, Seward and Radium.

This outdoors facility will be used for Firefighter 1 training. With these containers, they will be able to simulate basement fires, forcible entry and live fire scenarios. They will be able to use the city smoke machine to help create realistic training situations including the use of ladders.

“I think this is the first in the county to my knowledge,” Graves said. “Always before, the city department used some old abandon structures that were going to be torn down.”

However, more fire restrictions have been put in place for live fire in structures. Those restrictions plus inspections and regulations have to be met so the metal containers will take their place and provide a regular training area.

“I’m all for training. I’m concerned for the safety of my personnel,” Graves said. “Having these facilities will definitely be a benefit.”

Exactly when the containers will arrive is uncertain but they have been ordered. Graves anticipates they will arrive in January 2017. When they arrive, he wants to get them assembled and put them to work.

The fire department needs these facilities to meet the demands for classes required for national certification.

With these containers, the firefighters can do more in-depth training for those classes.

Having these facilities will increase the safety for responders. This will allow for more effective training that will make the firefighters safer when they are fighting real fires.

Graves has just become fire director. The department has meetings once a month and these containers will allow the firefighters to do more training at those meetings.

The fire department has three full-time personnel with several volunteers in all shapes and sizes and they do construction, are mechanics, welders and have other jobs.

They include fire and EMS.

Discussions are underway with other departments to use the facilities. Nothing has been set in stone and whether anything will come out of the discussions is not certain yet.

The containers were purchased with normal funds from the budget from a local individual that is a container dealer.


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House fire

Courtland Journal – December 29, 2016
Submitted by Newz Group – January 27, 2017


Scandia firemen continued to apply water to remains of a house on Montana Street in Scandia the morning of December 24.

The fire was noticed by an area resident at approximately 5:00 a.m. The house was totally engulfed and the roof had fallen in by the time it was discovered, and the fire department were called.

The house was unoccupied. Renee Cline, owner, had been doing extensive renovation to the structure for some time. There were no injuries and the cause of the fire was unknown.


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NW Kansas man dies, 2 others hospitalized after pickups collide

Hays Post – January 27, 2017

A Kansas man died in an accident just before 6 p.m. on Thursday in Sheridan County.

The Kansas Highway Patrol reported a 2014 Ford F150 driven by Gaylen L. Randolph, 75, Jennings, was eastbound on K23 two miles west of Hoxie.

The vehicle went left of center and struck a westbound 1993 Dodge 3500 driven by Franklin D. Browning, 58, Colby, on the front left bumper, side-swiping it all the way and traveled into the west ditch.

Randolph, Browning and a passenger in the Dodge Larry J. Heier, 60, Colby, were transported to the Sheridan County Health Complex where Randolph died.

The occupants of the Dodge were not wearing seat belts, according to the KHP.


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Long contract impasse ends for KCK firefighters

By Donna McGuire
Kansas City Star – January 27, 2017

Three years after their last contract expired, firefighters in Kansas City, Kan., voted this week to accept a raise and other terms of a new contract that runs through 2018. Unified Government commissioners signed off Thursday night.

The sides reached agreement about a month after a fact-finder ruled on a dozen issues — including proposed sick leave changes, raises, and promotion and grievance procedures — that had created a bargaining impasse.

Management and union officials agreed to accept some of the fact-finder’s recommendations while settling others separately.

The new contract awards a 5 percent raise, part of it retroactive, in increments spread from 2015 to 2017. The overall raise matches what other employees of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kan. already received for those years. That span marks the best three-year raise cycle for Unified Government workers in 10 years.

Additionally, the Unified Government agreed to give firefighters a 2 percent raise for 2018. Mayor Mark Holland said Thursday he wanted to assure other employees that he intends to seek the same raise for them for 2018.

The International Association of Firefighters Local No. 64 also had wanted, but did not get, another 2 percent raise for the second half of 2018.

For the first time, firefighters will have to pay a share of health insurance premiums, something other Unified Government employees already do. They are to pay $30 monthly, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2016.

Firefighter raises and benefits should be in line with those of other Unified Government employees, Holland said.

“I am committed to every employee getting same cost of living increase, as a fairness issue,” he said. “This contract fulfills the best practices of safety, sustainability and fairness.”

The Unified Government’s three public safety agencies — the sheriff’s office and Kansas City, Kan., fire and police departments — account for 60 percent of the Unified Government’s annual budget. The Fire Department spends the most, about $62 million a year.

Keeping contract costs in check will help the Unified Government accrue funding for more equipment and new fire stations in parts of Wyandotte County that experience long response times, officials said. Discussions will continue this year as part of a study on fire department staffing levels and locations.

Negotiations did not lead to any new contract language for “shift trading.” The practice became an issue after auditors revealed last year that some Kansas City, Kan., firefighters had traded away many shifts without working the same number in return. That resulted in more than $1 million, including about $250,000 in overtime, being paid to firefighters who did not work the shifts.

The practice raised concerns about possible unmonitored cash payments being made between firefighters to compensate those picking up extra shifts. The practice also raised safety concerns, as firefighters normally work one 24-hour shift every three days. If firefighters work back-to-back shifts, or too many shifts within a few days, fatigue could jeopardize public safety, officials said.

Instead of changing contract language, the sides agreed to talk more later and perhaps change some shift-trading procedures. But because the contract did not address the issue, especially the financial implications, Commissioner Gayle Townsend said she would not vote for it. Hers was the only dissenting vote cast Thursday night.

Approval of the contract means that the Unified Government has reached agreements with all 13 unions that represent Unified Government employees.


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Graf Named Fire Chief for City of Atchison

Onaga Herald – January 19, 2017
Submitted by Newz Group – January 27, 2017


A new fire chief has been selected for the City of Atchison. Chosen to fill the position is Ted L. Graf, a 23-year veteran of the department. “This is an opportunity that I’ve been looking forward for a really long time,” Graf said. “I want to thank everyone out there that supported me.”

Graf has served as Interim Fire Chief for the City of Atchison since June, 2016. He stepped into that role due to the retirement of 35-year Fire Chief Mike McDermed. “I feel that we have a good direction that we can go in with the Fire Department, and we can continue to build on, in the future, the foundation that’s been laid in the past,” Graf says.

Graf’s selection follows an intensive hiring process. According to a news release from the City of Atchison, the position was open to both internal and external candidates. A two-part interview process resulted the field in initial candidates being narrowed down to four. Then the four participated in an interview process, leading to the consensus to select Graf as the City’s Fire Chief.

“Chief Graf has a great feel for the community and is ready to lead the department,” City Manager Trey Cocking said in a news release. “Ted is very intelligent and will be a great asset for the citizens of Atchison.”

Ted is a 1989 graduate of Onaga High School ad is the son of Sherry Graf of Wheaton and the late Daryl Graf. He and his wife Jolleen have a daughter, Lillian.


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County secretive on EMS facility

By Stephanie Casanova
Manhattan Mercury – January 27, 2017

Riley County commissioners are considering other options for a new Emergency Management Services building, but are refraining from saying what other properties they’re considering.

Ron Wells, commission chairman, said after Thursday’s meeting that he can’t talk about those properties until the commission meets behind closed doors.

Wells said commissioners were also refraining from saying what property they’re considering because “if the properties are mentioned then automatically the price doubles,” because a government entity is interested in them.

The county had been in talks with the city and K-State about moving the EMS facility to the Manhattan Fire Department headquarters, in which the city owns the building and leases the land from K-State. The county recently started looking into other options after K-State assumed part of the agreement would be that the university would be able to buy county properties, including the current EMS building, genealogical society building and Pawnee Mental Health facility leased from the county.

Wells said he spoke Monday during the intergovernmental meeting about the current status of their move of EMS and his disappointment that they weren’t able to get together with K-State officials to talk about the move but Manhattan has gone to great lengths to work with them.

Wells said after that meeting he received an email from K-State inviting him to meet with university President Richard Myers.

“I think I’m getting played here,” Wells said. “I have no idea where this came from. It just popped up and I suppose it’s because of what I said Monday.”

Wells said he doesn’t want to spend money to move into the fire station and get kicked out after a year and he wasn’t sure whether he should meet with Myers or move forward with the other property he’s looking into. Commissioner Ben Wilson suggested Wells meet with Myers and get the university’s official position on moving the EMS facility to fire department headquarters and see if they’re willing to give the county more security in the lease.

Wilson said if K-State doesn’t give the county a longer lease, commissioners should look into other locations. Wells will meet with Myers March 6 and said the county won’t take any action regarding the EMS facility until after the meeting. “I think I still should look into this location I’m thinking of because I think it’s gonna be a very good thing for the county and … it would be at the lowest cost,” Wells said after telling Wilson he would set up the meeting with Myers.

Wells said he still has to look into whether the property he’s interested in has more than one owner.

The property’s second floor, Wells and Wilson said, could potentially be expanded and in the future house the county health department and other county departments.

Wells said there is also a potential to make money off the property in the future, after putting work into it.

The housing of EMS was one of many priorities the commissioners discussed for the upcoming year. Other priorities mentioned were finding a new shooting range for the Riley County Police Department and a potential restructuring of the Emergency Management Department.

The county has been working with Fort Riley to use a range on post for Riley County police training. Pat Collins, director of the Emergency Management Department, will be retiring in a little more than a year and will be difficult to replace, the commissioners said. Wilson said the commission should look into consolidating departments like EMS and the county fire department or consolidating city and county fire departments. Commissioners also said they should look into the best option for county employees’ health insurance after employees saw a significant increase in their portion of the insurance cost. Wilson suggested the county look into its share of costs for the ambulance system.

Commissioner Marvin Rodriguez, who is heading a committee to look into problems with the emergency radio system, said upgrades or replacement to the radio system is another priority the county will tackle this year.


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Faulty sensor sets off alarm

By Chance Hoenerchoener
Pittsburg Morning Sun – January 27, 2017

Students and faculty evacuated Pittsburg High School Thursday morning after an automatic fire alarm was triggered.

The Pittsburg Fire Department received a call from PHS that an automatic fire alarm was triggered around 10 a.m. Thursday, but there was no fire according to Battalion Chief Kevin Casella.

The alarm was triggered by a faulty sensor in the ductwork at PHS.

“The ductwork has sensors through it in case there is a fire inside the ducts,” Casella said. “Sometimes the sensors get dirty or malfunction and set off the alarm.”

Students and faculty were evacuated from the building, and the fire department was on scene for about 30 minutes, according to Casella.

“Once we made sure there was no fire and everything was clear, we let everyone return to the building,” Casella said.

Casella said there were no injuries. The school had the sensor fixed and the alarm was reset.


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Chase ends with Hesston patrol vehicle in flames

KWCH – January 26, 2017


A Hesston patrol vehicle catches fire during a police chase Thursday afternoon.

It happened around 1 p.m. on I-135.

The chase started when Newton police tried to stop a vehicle driven by a man who had reportedly stolen fuel from a gas station.

The vehicle led police on a chase reaching speeds over 100 mph.

Officers say the driver swerved at and intentionally ran them off the road.

The vehicle crashed on I-135 at mile marker 45 and the driver ran from the vehicle.

Officers arrested him a short time later.

A Hesston patrol vehicle also caught fire.

The suspect and the driver of the patrol vehicle are being transported for medical evaluation but are stable at this time.

The driver told police he is a parole absconder from another state and had stolen the vehicle. He will be booked for three counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, pending review of potential attempted murder of a law enforcement officer charges by the County Attorney’s Office.


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19-year-old killed, others injured in I-70 crash east of Lawrence

Conrad Swanson
Lawrence Journal World – January 26, 2017

A Topeka man was killed Thursday morning after the truck he was riding in crashed with a semitrailer on Interstate 70, the Kansas Turnpike Authority said.

Around 9:05 a.m. a westbound Chevrolet Silverado struck the rear end of a Freightliner semi, which was also westbound, but driving in a different lane, the Kansas Turnpike Authority said in an accident report.

After the initial collision, the Silverado hit the median barrier, and both of its occupants were ejected out the passenger door, the report says.

The accident took place around mile marker 209, east of Lawrence and the interstate’s Lawrence Service Area stop.

Westbound traffic was stopped completely on the interstate after the crash as emergency responders arrived at the scene.

The Silverado was driven by 30-year-old Rene Rodriguez Lopez, of Topeka, and 19-year-old Campos-Ramirez Santiago, also of Topeka, was riding as a passenger.

Neither Rodriguez nor Santiago was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, the report says. Santiago was killed.

The Freightliner was driven by Victor Royce Stumblingbear, 49, of Fort Cobb, Okla., the report says. Cristian Maldonado-Ortiz, 19, of Topeka, was riding as a passenger in the semi.

Stumblingbear was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash and was not injured, the report says. Maldonado-Ortiz was not wearing a seat belt and was injured in the crash.

The severity of Rodriguez’s and Maldonado-Ortiz’s injuries was not immediately clear; nor was it clear if they were taken to a hospital.

The Silverado was towed from the scene of the accident, while the Freightliner was able to drive away, the report says.

The Kansas Turnpike Authority said in a news release that all lanes of the interstate were back open around 1 p.m.


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Morrill Volunteer Fire Department to hold annual Pancake Feed

By Harland Schuster
Sabetha Herald – January 26, 2017

The Morrill Volunteer Fire Department will be holding its annual Pancake Feed from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12, at the Morrill Community Center.

On the menu will be plenty of pancakes of course, but the meal also includes link sausage and scrambled eggs. The meal is cooked by the firemen and is served “all you can eat.” The cost is a free will donation.

For more than 40 years, the pancake feed held by the Morrill Fire Department has been a tradition. In its early years, it was a one-day event, usually held on a Saturday evening. About 10 years ago, the fire department volunteers decided to expand it to a two-day event, and that format has been followed ever since.

The volunteer firemen have decided to use funds from this year’s pancake feed to purchase a grain bin rescue tube. These devices are used to rescue victims of grain entrapment in grain bins, and have saved the lives of many victims who were trapped in grain. Cost for the device is around $2,000.

Funds from last year’s pancake feed, along with a grant from the Kansas Pipeline Association and fire department budget funds were used to purchase eight Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) along with spare bottles, replacing outdated and non-serviceable units. SCBA are used by firemen to provide safe breathing air in emergency situations where smoke or chemicals in the air make it unsafe to breath.

The Morrill Fire Department provides fire protection to Morrill Township, Hamlin Township, as well as the cities of Morrill, Hamlin and the west half of Reserve. The fire department also responds to mutual aid calls, and receives mutual aid from all surrounding fire departments.

Currently, the department is served by 19 volunteer firemen, and it responds to an average of 30 fires each year. Grass and field fires make up the majority of these fire calls, followed by structure fires, assisting at automobile accidents and various other incidents.


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Firefighters respond to home birth

By Marla Childs, 1st Inf. Div. Post
Fort Riley Post – January 20, 2017
Submitted by Newz Group – January 26, 2017

Fort Riley firefighters were dispatched to a residence January 4 for a woman in labor. The birth of her child was considered imminent upon their arrival.

Firefighters arrived and proceeded up the stairs of the residence to attend to the expectant mother when they heard a baby crying.

“We were very happy when we were walking up the stairs and heard the baby crying,” said Adam Rothgeb, Fort Riley firefighter. “It was a relief because there is a lot of things that could go wrong in this situation.”

Rothgeb was one of seven firefighters including a battalion chief, three police officers, four medics and one off-duty Riley County medic responded to the call. The off-duty Riley County medic was a friend of the woman.

Every firefighter on Fort Riley is certified as an emergency medical technician. They are trained to deliver a baby and provide initial care for mom and baby if the need arises.

“We provided patient care for the baby and the mom until Fort Riley EMS got there,” said Capt. Jason Demars from the fire department.

Firefighters assisted with assessment of the baby’s vitals, suction of the airway and cutting the umbilical cord. Then assisted Fort Riley EMS with getting the mom and baby ready for transport to Irwin Army Community Hospital.

Rothgeb said being part of something like this is a rare experience.

“It is gratifying and humbling,” Rothgeb said. “It’s not something you see every day. We train for everything from burning buildings to any kind of medical call. This only happens in the United States three-quarters of one percent…There has been a rise on home births, but this was an unexpected home birth, which makes your adrenaline go.”

This was Demars’ third time responding to an unexpected home birth. Demars said it is always a gratifying to be part of something good in someone’s life instead of something bad.

“We train for the bad stuff in life,” Demars said. “For us to be there and see a joyful moment is very cool.”


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YC Volunteer Fire Department and Police Chief are Christmas heroes

By Drake Busteed
Yates Center News – December 29, 2016
Submitted by Newz Group – January 26, 2017


Christmas Day in Yates Center was a busy one for the city’s emergency response personnel this year, as there were several ambulance dispatches and a house fire.

The Yates Center Volunteer Fire Department secured the incident at Glen Sharpe’s residence on South Ridge street, after first responder and Chief of Police Lyle Kee made the call. He shared his story, saying “I opened the door, and the smoke billowed out. I yelled for Glen. He was in the southeast corner of the main room, in his recliner. I could hear the fire in the other room, I said Glen, we’ve got to get out of here.” Kee stepped outside for a gasp of air, retrieved Sharpe’s wheel chair, and escorted him to safety. Sharpe, now safely outside, notified Kee that his wallet was still inside the burning house, in his walker. Kee then returned into the residence and recovered the walker. After they reached safety, Kee, concerned for the man’s health and on account of the wintery weather conditions, called Sharpe an ambulance. Kee expects the house to be a total loss after suffering heavy structural damages.

The fire department arrived shortly after this; Fire Chief Bob Gaulding shared some details: Two trucks were dispatched to the incident, and doused the flames via a nearby hydrant. Gaulding described the scene, “The fire was up in the attic, there were visible flames”, he said. “Most of the guys were spending time with family when they received the call,” Gaulding added, “they did an outstanding job containing the fire, and were finished and returned safely to their families at around 4:00 p.m. Glen Sharpe has been brought safely back to Yates Center Health & Rehab for the tie being, and is surely thankful for the emergency responder’s quick response.

Sixteen firemen were dispatched to the scene, and deserve recognition for their heroics on Christmas day: Bob Gaulding, Remi Wagner, John Schinstock, Allen Taylor, Bruce Knight, Pete Martin, Thad Trahan, Brandon Gaulding, Nathan Black, Wacey Douglas, Randy Hegwald, Gary Tidd, Michael Morrison, Kyle Owens, Buster Black and Jeff Morrison were among those who took time out of their Christmas Day, and were ready at a moments notice.


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New fire chief emphasizes training

By Steve McBride
Independence Daily Reporter – January 20, 2017
Submitted by Newz Group – January 26, 2017


The passion for firefighting runs deep in Shawn Wallis, a native of Independence and the current Montgomery County Emergency Preparedness director, that is what lead him to apply for the position as the Independence fire chief when it became vacant after longtime Fire Chief Rusty Baker retired. He immediately applied and was accepted for the job.

“I left the Independence Fire Department in 2006 to pursue a position at Cobalt in Human Resources,” Wallis said. “I always loved the fire department, however at that time I was becoming burned out on the shift work and I had two young children and I was not able to participate in many of their activities. Now that my children are older I can regain the passion I have for Fire/EMS profession.”

In 2009, he was hired as the Montgomery County Human Resources director followed by his latest position, in 2016, as the county’s Emergency Preparedness director.

Wallis’ interest in firefighting began at an early age. When he was 17 years old he received his certification as an EMT and began working for Independence EMS at the age of 18 while attending ICC.

After his graduation from PSU in 1986, with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, he was looking for a job when he noticed Independence had an opening for a position with the EMS. He was able to acquire the position.

Within six months after he began the EMS job became available in the Independence Fire Department and he applied and got it.

“I remember thinking it might be an interesting change,” Wallis recalled. At that time personnel could transfer between departments. “When I got to the fire department I loved it and stayed for 20 years, including eight years as the captain of the Independence Fire Department,” said Wallis.

“I am excited about getting involved with this great group of individuals in the Fire/EMS department. They are a young, progressive department that have been tasked with a very difficult situation since the closing of our hospital,” Wallis said. He sees the department being constantly pulled in many directions as they have to run to all of the area hospitals and because of the lack of an ER at this time.

He says he will be focusing on training. “This is a big issue–in the field of Fire/EMS training is ongoing in order to maintain the skills the department has been taught and also to stay on top of new trends, equipment, procedures and techniques,” Wallis emphasized.

Wallis reiterated, “This is not an easy occupation. There is a lot of time away from family and family events, loss of sleep and it can be extremely stressful.”

He reminded the public that the Fire/EMS personnel deal with situations on a daily basis that the average person will never have to deal with.

“These people are dedicated and care for the people of this community in doing their job and they are willing to risk their lives to save a life,” Wallis said.

Wallis lives in Independence with his wife, Mary Jo. They have two adult children and one grandson.


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False alarm ‘permitted,’ but better safe than sorry, chief says

By David Colburn
Peabody Gazette Bulletin – January 26, 2017

Peabody firefighters were rousted out their routines about 10 p.m. when they were called out for a “large fire” in the 700 block of Olive St.

Dispatchers reported that possibly two structures were on fire, and as trucks arrived at the scene, trees glowed bright orange as a thick pillar of smoke rose behind a two-story house and near a garage.

When firefighters raced to the back of the house, they discovered there wasn’t a structure fire at all.

A bonfire of scraps was burning furiously, several feet tall and neatly constructed, sufficiently far away from the house and a garage with a man standing close watch.

“The people that called it in, and when I pulled in,too, it looked pretty close to the building and it could have been a structure fire,” fire chief Mark Penner said. “It was close to buildings, so without actually driving up in there, you would’ve thought there were structures on fire back there.”

Penner confirmed that there was a burn permit for the bonfire, and there was little else to do.

“We checked it out and I sent my guys home,” he said. “They were adamant about continuing to burn it.”

Penner said enough firefighters turned out to run three trucks if they had been needed.

Burn permits are issued by the city, Mayor Larry Larsen said, and in turn the city notifies county dispatchers, who broadcast the notice over fire department radios.

Larsen said the city is serious about people obtaining a permit before they burn. Firefighters will extinguish a blaze without one.

“You could be out in the back yard with your leaf pile and they’ll put it out because you don’t have a burn permit,” he said.

Penner said that he doesn’t worry about being called out to controlled burns. He said when people see a fire that raises concerns like this one did, they should call it in.

“Whether there’s a burn permit or not, we’re going to check it out,” Penner said.


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Outdated radio system public safety issue in Riley County

By Kenia Mills
WIBW – January 26, 2017



Riley County’s emergency responders and central dispatch operators depend on clear radio signals to save lives.

“But there’s a lot of the time that the radio traffic is broken, so I don’t have a complete picture of what is going on,” said RCPD dispatch shift supervisor Tyler Siefkes.

Riley County dispatchers have to work around broken radio communications, from too much static to complete drop offs, on a daily basis.

According to Siefkes, the dispatchers deal with up to 10 radio communication issues a shift, keeping them in a constant guessing game when deciding to send in reinforcements or other emergency service providers.

”The dispatcher has to make a judgment call about how many back up officers to send. It’s certainly a helpless feeling to not be able to have a clear understanding of what’s happening out there,” said Siefkes.

The problem began over three years ago when the Federal Communications Commission implemented a narrowbanding mandate to help with congested radio waves.

“In order to get more users on the system, the FCC basically cut the system in half but put twice as many users on it,” said Riley County emergency management director Pat Collins. “We increased the power as much as we could, we looked at adding additional sites. We’ve done a whole bunch of that and it didn’t help.”

Since narrowbanding, the radio coverage in Riley County dropped from 70 to 40 percent according to Collins.

Communication manager at the Riley County Police Department Diane Doehling, says after narrowbanding went into effect, pockets of radio interference started affecting communication from just outside of RCPD headquarters where central dispatch is located.

“We have trouble communicating with the officers from the back lot and from Home Depot which is less than a block away,” said Doehling.

According to Doehling, emergency services also struggle reaching dispatch when responding to incidents in the areas of Manhattan High School, Manhattan Regional Airport and the town of Ogden.

The City of Manhattan and Riley County commissioners are looking into solving the issue with an 800 megahertz radio system with a price tag ranging from $6-12 million.

“Radios continue to grow in price and if we don’t start building and paying for that system now, we’ll end up paying for more in the future,” said Collins.

A committee comprised of representatives from each of the emergency service agencies headed by Riley County commissioner Marvin Rodriguez, is responsible for investigating all the needs and vetting bidders.

“We’re talking about law enforcement, EMS, ambulances, fire district, maintenance…How are we going to pay for it? That’s going to be the hardest part,” said Rodriguez.


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Fire marshal to investigate fires

By Tim Horan
Salina Journal – January 26, 2017

Photos by Tom Dorsey. Click on each photo to view full-size.

Photos by Tom Dorsey. Click on each photo to view full-size.


Two members of the Kansas Fire Marshal’s Office were headed to Saline and Ottawa counties late Wednesday afternoon to investigate three grass fires that were reported earlier in the afternoon.

Saline County Emergency Management Deputy Director Bernie Botson said fire, aided by 30 mph winds, burned 120 acres of pasture land in Saline County, and another 320 acres was burned in Ottawa County.

“There were no houses or structures damaged,” he said.

However, there was some damage to fire equipment when a truck experienced mechanical problems.

“Controlled burns get out of control, or they are ignited, and machinery starts breaking down. It’s not uncommon that on these big fires we break trucks,” he said.

One fire burned 80 acres and another 40 in Saline County.

Botson said there was nothing in the area that may have caused the fires and all three fires happened about the same time making it suspicious that they were intentionally set.

“We think they are related. The state fire marshal will be taking a look at that,” he said.

The original fire call was near the intersection of Humbarger Road and House Road in northwest Saline County shortly after 2 p.m.

Botson said firefighters from rural fire districts 3, 6 and 7 fought the blazes. Calls also went out to fire districts in Lincoln and Ottawa counties for mutual aid and both responded.

“Ottawa ended up having its own problem and could only send one,” he said.

Botson said emergency management in Ottawa County also reported there were no structures damaged by fires there and no injuries.


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Wichita firefighter dies unexpectedly


Hearts were heavy across the Wichita firefighter community on Wednesday as news of the death of one of their own began to settle in.

Collis Grisby, a graduate of Northwest High School and a longtime member of the Wichita Fire Department, died unexpectedly this week, according to the department.

According to several of his colleagues, Grisby, 53, was not only a fearless and selfless firefighter, he was also one of the most popular people in the department.

“He was always a welcoming person and he always had a smile on his face,” said Stuart Bevis, a battalion chief with the department. “I never heard a bad word about him. He will certainly be missed.”

At Franklin’s Barber & Beauty Shop on North Hillside on Wednesday, owner Troy Franklin reminisced about Grisby, who had been a customer at the shop for about two decades.

Franklin is also a member of the fire department.

“He was just in here last week,” Franklin said. “Everybody in here knew him. We’re all pretty shook up about it. He had to have been one of the best-liked firefighters on the department.”

Grisby often came into the shop, Franklin said, with his son T.J. Grisby’s wife, Appel, Franklin added, died while on a family vacation during the summer of 2015.

“When he came in, we would usually talk about his son,” Franklin said. “He was a family man. He was a good firefighter, too.”

Capt. Tyler Nolan of the fire department said he was one of Grisby’s best friends in the department. The pair both went to Northwest High and both began their firefighting careers in Wichita in 1993, Nolan said.

“I can’t think of one bad thing he ever said about anyone,” Nolan said. “We’re getting through it, but it’s tough. If you needed a pick-me-up, Collis was your man. As a firefighter, he’d go through a door or a wall for you.

“He was just a super guy. He put God and family first, and I know he’s with his savior right now, so that gives us a little bit of comfort.”

Numerous messages and well-wishes could be found Wednesday on Grisby’s Facebook page, including one from a colleague who said Grisby was the “most respected firefighter” he has ever known.

Franklin said he wasn’t aware of any serious health issues that Grisby, who was based at Wichita Firehouse 18 on the city’s northeast side, may have been dealing with. He said Grisby was at home Tuesday when he began to feel unwell.


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Augusta Volunteer Fire Unit celebrates legacy of partnership

By Belinda Larsen
Butler County Times Gazette – January 25, 2017

Photo by Belinda Larsen. Click on photo to view full-size.

Photo by Belinda Larsen. Click on photo to view full-size.

The Augusta Department of Public Safety’s legacy of success and brotherhood was celebrated Saturday evening at the Augusta Volunteer Fire Unit’s Annual Dinner.
The Department of Public Safety is responsible for police, fire, rescue, and 9-1-1 services for the City of Augusta, as well as Butler County Fire District Number 2. The fire division is supplemented by approximately 40 volunteer firefighters, who receive no monetary compensation for their dedication and service.
Fire Division Commander Major Ray Marbut shared 2016 statistics.
A total of 380 alarms calls were received with 111 of the calls in the city. Response time in Augusta was 5 minutes and in the district of 144 square miles, response time was 11.5 minutes. Over $350,000 in property value was saved.
“Fires aren’t extinguished by one person – it’s a team effort,” Marbut said. “We have a good time, but this is a group of highly motivated individuals.”
Marbut stated that a recent fire call, 41 firefighters responded.
He went on to recognize Chief Tyler Brewer as being a valuable member of the team. “He fights the budget fights. Chief, you don’t get a lot of credit, but we appreciate what you do.”
Marbut thanked veteran firefighters Forest Reavis, Jeff Carroll and Ed Pressnell, along with citing the recent passing of veteran firefighter Leroy Hall.
“The communication staff are overlooked members of our team. They are the first contact with the public. Thanks to the dispatch staff.”
Marbut credited the volunteers with responding no matter what time or what the weather conditions. He shared that many times volunteers will spend a night fighting a fire, go home, clean up and head out to their jobs.
Also recognized were the other departments and chiefs who are members of Butler County Fire District 2. The Explorers, junior firefighters, were also recognized for their valuable support; as well as the department chaplains.
“When it’s time for us to leave the scene, the chaplain is there to assist and coordinate any services or programs that are needed,” he said
Finally, Marbut thanked the wives of the fire division.
“You let us borrow your loved ones – sometimes at the worst possible times. When those pagers go off, the wife is on call, too,” he continued. “I hope you’re proud of them. They are out there protecting citizens and providing a valuable service.”
Brewer addressed the crowd and shared his journey to Augusta 14 years ago.
“This has been an unbelievably great ride – because of people like you. This is a family…We couldn’t do this without the volunteer fire department. Don’t ever minimize what you do. I’m in awe of each of you. I thank you – everyone of you.”
Brewer also thanked City Manager Josh Shaw, Assistant City Manager Cody Sims, Mayor Matt Childers, Augusta City Council, Butler County Commission, and Butler County Sheriff Kelly Herzet.
Andy Hall, on behalf of the volunteer firefighters, presented a special plaque to Marbut to commemorate his 40 years of service.
“Ray has played a huge role in a lot of our lives. Many of us were ‘Ray’s kids’. He has been a staple around here,” Hall continued. “Ray treats paid and volunteer firefighters all the same. And he always thanks our wives.”
Another special award, the Lifesaving Award for 2016, was presented to Jason and Traci Payne. Jason, a volunteer firefighter, and his wife Traci, a registered nurse, are credited for performing life saving CPR to a gentleman who suffered cardiac arrest at a December wrestling match. CPR was administered prior to the arrival of EMS.
Ron Reavis was chosen as the Volunteer Fireman of the Year. Reavis had a prior committment and was not able to attend Saturday night’s dinner.


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