Archive for April, 2017

Fire training at Manhattan Regional Airport

By Cathy Dawes
KMAN – April 28,2 017

Photo by Jesse Romo. Click on photo to view full-size.

It may look like the real deal, but Manhattan Firefighters have been conducting annual firefighting certification testing at the Manhattan Regional Airport. The testing was going on Friday. A photo of the training was provided by Airport Director Jesse Romo. Manhattan Deputy Fire Chief Ryan Almes confirmed it was part of an annual exercise. Almes adds the training was for Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting, adding they are required to annually certify firefighters that are responsible for working at or covering the airport per the FAA. The training includes classroom portions in rescue and firefighting of aircraft. There is also a requirement to annually do live fire training with hand lines and ARFF apparatus.


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Medicine Lodge couple rebuilds after losing everything in wildfire

By Molly Brewer
KSN – April 28, 2017


Parts of Kansas are still actively working to recover from wildfires earlier this year but in some areas, people are still recovering from the damage caused by fires more than a year ago.

KSN revisited the Gerstners; a couple who lost just about everything they owned when the Anderson Creek Wildfire ripped through their home of more than a half century, diminishing it to rubble.

“When the fire came it broke it all down,” Don said. “We were pretty lucky to get out of here, I guess.”

Today, they’re recovering after an abundance of community support, along with more than $18,000 in donations to a GoFundMe page set up in their name.

“It helped a great deal,” he said.

At 88 years old, Don built him and his wife a new place to live on the same plot of land they love so much.

All they have left to finish now are the final touches, like adding sidewalks and furniture.

“When I get started on something there’s just no place to quit,” Don said.

While the Gerstners look ahead, the reality of the Anderson Creek Wildfire is still fresh for many people in Barber County.

“It’s hard to look back and say we had that kind of a fire in Barber County,” said Rick Wesley, Barber County volunteer fire chief.

The fire devastated nearly 400,000 acres across Kansas and Oklahoma, but Barber was the hardest hit, facing a cost of $1.5 million, exhausted resources and several destroyed homes.

It’s a memory those who fought to save the Gerstners home won’t forget any time soon.

“We just got to Don’s and it was just, already fully engulfed in fire and there wasn’t much we could do with it when we go there,” Wesley said.

In the future, the community has to be ready for any possibility, Wesley said.

“Whether this is an extreme the last couple years and whether we’ll see it again, we don’t know but maybe we’ll see it every year like this,” he said. “You just don’t know so we’re going to have to work at keeping fire guards around our houses and stuff in good shape.”

Should another fire sweep the prairie, the Gerstners are prepared, Don said. He pushed back all the tall grass away from their new home to keep it from igniting.

“It was a little close and probably if I’d been able to mow back in there further to the west it might not have burnt the house down,” he said.

With just a little work left on the house, the Gerstners still see the impact of the community’s support.

“Wherever I go everybody says, ‘How’s the house coming along’?” he said.


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Car Fire Threatens Rose Hill Home

By Olivia Haselwood
Andover Leader – April 28, 2017

Click on photo to view full-size.

A car was destroyed by fire Thursday morning threatening a home.

Around 7:25 a.m. Butler County Fire District 3 responded with several vehicles to a car that was completely engulfed in flames. The white BMW was parked in front of the homeowners’ garage as it burned.

Firefighters were able to put out the blaze quickly before any fire spread to the home. However, the car sustained substantial damage. No one was injured. There is no word yet on what started the fire.


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House fire in El Dorado

By Jeremy Costello
Butler County Times Gazette – April 28, 2017

The fire department quickly responded to a house fire call at around 2:30 Thursday afternoon on Emporia Street near Fifth.

An elderly lady was home when she said she heard a fire crackle sound. She looked and saw a fire start in her house. She made it out safely, as did her dog.

The front portion of the house burned, including the roof top. Firefighters worked to extinguish the flames quickly. Check the video to see the firemen in some of the action.

Neighbors in the area said they first saw the fire from as far as Sixth Street.


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Structure fire in Coffeyville

Independence Daily Reporter – April 23, 2017
Submitted by Newz Group – April 27, 2017

The Coffeyville Fire department responded to a kitchen fire at 4 p.m. Friday at 304 E. 9th St. When firefighters arrived, heavy smoke and light flames were visible. The fire was quickly extinguished with an interior attack.

“This fire was unintentional, a result of unattended cooking on the kitchen stove,” said Fire Captain Joe Rexwinkle. “The occupant, Ray Davis, was alerted by a working smoke detector which enabled him to exit the house unharmed.”

The house, which is owned by Larry Trotter, sustained approximately $5,000 in damage. Off duty fire personnel, South Coffeyville Fire Department, Coffeyville Police Department and CRMC EMS all assisted at the scene.


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Junction City Fire Department promotes new fire captain

By Michael J. Sellman
Junction City Daily Union – April 21, 2017
Submitted by Newz Group – April 27, 2017

The Junction City Fire Department promoted one of their members to the rank of captain.

During a City Commission meeting Tuesday, Junction City Fire Chief Terry Johnson promoted James Reynolds to the position of Captain as there was an opening for the position.

Reynolds joined the department in 1995, and was promoted to lieutenant in 2009. Johnson said Reynolds is qualified as an engine and aerial driver operator, emergency medical trainer, and inspector.

“He went through the final process of our assessment, which is an interview panel. And he came out on top,” he said.


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Fort Riley firefighters provide mutual aid in Bluffs Apartments blaze

By Season Osterfeld, 1st Inf. Div. Post
Ft. Riley Post – April 21, 2017
Submitted by Newz Group – April 27, 2017

In the early morning hours of April 8, the Bluffs Apartments building b in Junction City, Kansas, caught fire. As the blaze started to take over the roof of the building, firefighters from Stations 3 and 5 at Fort Riley responded to a mutual aid request from the Junction City Fire Department.

At about 1:20 a.m., crews with Engine 5 and Ladder 1 responded to the request, said Lt. Cody Sims, Fort Riley Fire Department, who was a responder on duty at Station 3. The firefighters worked with other crews from the local area including Abilene, Geary County, Junction City and Manhattan to extinguish the fire.

“We arrived on scene at approximately 1:40 a.m. and we were released from the scene at approximately 6:45 a.m.,” Sims said. “I believe the fire was under control by approximately 4:30 a.m.”

Upon arrival, the Fort Riley crews assisted with protecting neighboring structures to prevent the fire from jumping to the buildings. Once the threat to neighboring structures was eliminated, the crews began supplying water to the Abilene Fire Department ladder truck. Additionally, the station 5 crew pushed into the interior to extinguish the fire. Shortly thereafter, the station 3 crew used the Ladder 1 to assist with advancing hose to the third floor and conducting overhaul and salvage operations on two apartments, Sims said.

“Fort Riley had many assignments while on scene,” said Capt. James Kennedy, Fort Riley Fire Department, who responded with Station 5. “The first assignment was exposure protection of the surrounding structures. Windy conditions and the high volume of fire exposures were a major concern. Other assignments were water supply to other apparatus on the fire scene. Engine 5 and Ladder 1 were connected to a hydrant approximately a block away. Engine 5 crews then were called to help with some interior work once the roof had burnt off. Crews went to the 3rd floor and extinguished an apartment that couldn’t be extinguished through elevated master streams and ground monitors. Engine 5 personnel also assisted with extensive overhaul of the building until being released.”

While the mutual aid request was necessary because the JCFD was unable to tackle a fire as large and fast moving as the Bluffs Apartments fire, it is also important for community relationships and partnerships for fire departments to work together protecting the people they serve and live with, Kennedy said.

“Mutual aid is important to Fort Riley and the surrounding communities,” he said. “These partnerships build a regional bond between communities through the professionalism of the fire service. No one community can handle fires of this caliber. Fire departments rely on these mutual aid agreements to assist the community. It is vital to the Soldiers and families on and off the installation to provide fire protection.”

Sims said the fire was also important for them to be a part of because of the Soldiers and their families who lived there.

“It is what we train for on a daily basis and also there were quite a few of the tenants at the fire building that were soldiers of Fort Riley and it is a great customer service that we provided them even when they’re off the installation,” he said.

Kennedy said he credited the professional demeanor and training of all firefighters involved for why the fire was successfully extinguished without injuries or damage to neighboring structures. He added this event can also be a teaching tool for future training.

“Training plays a key role in any event,” he said. “The crews on scene were very professional and calm during the event. This is what we train for, emergency situations are stressful and the FRFES (Fort Riley Fire and Emergency Services) remained professional and tactful due to the know-how and training.”


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Shop destroyed in Tuesday fire

Eureka Herald – April 19, 2017
Submitted by Newz Group – April 27, 2017

A rural Eureka shop was destroyed along with all of it’s contents last Tuesday when a fire broke out in the building.

Greenwood County Fire Departments: Central, Neal and Eureka Lake Divisions responded to a fire at 2031 140th Street, approximately 5 miles east of Eureka, at 7:05 a.m. According to Greenwood County Fire Chief Doug Williams, firefighters found a large metal shop building heavily involved with smoke and fire, when they arrived. The owner was moving any equipment near the building away. Eureka Fire Department was requested at 8:04 a.m. to respond and assist also. Crews were on scene for several hours extinguishing the fire. Destroyed in the fire were the building, mowers, skid steer, RV camper, vehicle, tools and many personal items. The property is owned by Ron Gulick. The fire was investigated by the Kansas State Fire Marshal’s office and was believed to be electrical.

After an extensive investigation, a Kansas State Fire Marshal investigator classified the cause of the fire as undetermined but most likely accidental. The area of origin was in the eastern-most bay of the shop. There were no smoke alarms present.

The Kansas State Fire Marshal’s office believed the estimated loss was $75,000 for the structure and close to $500,000 for the contents. The Kansas State Fire Marshal was asked to work the fire due to the large dollar loss.


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Rollover wreck slows traffic Wednesday morning

By Nick Viviani
Topeka Capital Journal – April 27, 2017

Click on photo to view full-size.

A roll over wreck Wednesday morning disrupted rush hour traffic at a busy Topeka intersection.

Topeka Police Sgt. Kristen Marr says the two vehicles collided just after 7:30 a.m. while both of them were heading north near the corner of 21st Street and Washburn Ave.

The driver of one of the vehicles over corrected after drifting across the center line, sideswiping a maroon Nissan Rogue, and causing the SUV to flip, police said.

No one was taken to the hospital, but a 10-year-old child walked away with a small scratch on her head, Marr said.

She added that everyone was wearing a seat belt.


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Drivers extricated after Hillsboro wreck

Hillsboro Star Journal – April 27, 2017

A three-vehicle accident on US-56 just north of Hillsboro Tuesday evening sent three people to Hillsboro Community Hospital, one with a possible broken leg.

According to the Kansas Highway Patrol online crash log, an eastbound 2017 Subaru Crosstrek driven by Tania A. Sorenson, 32, Hillsboro, was preparing to turn north into a driveway when the Subaru was struck from behind by a 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by Nathaniel N. Bentley, 33, Gypsum.

After the Jeep struck the Subaru, it careened into the westbound lane and crashed head-on with a 2013 Chevrolet Silverado driven by Myron D. Hiebert, 54, Canton.

The Subaru ended up stopped in the eastbound lane, the Jeep straddling the centerline, and the Chevrolet came to rest in a gully in the north ditch facing the highway. Bentley and Hiebert were trapped in their vehicles and had to be extricated by rescue squads from Hillsboro and Marion. Vehicle parts littered the highway.

Marion County Emergency Medical Service, Kansas Highway Patrol, Hillsboro and Marion fire departments, Hillsboro and Marion police, and sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene.


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Centre students urged to wear seatbelts and not use cell phones while driving

By Rowena Plett
Marion County Record – April 26, 2017

Kyra Voss

It wasn’t until Nov. 2 that Eric Voss of Concordia learned his 15-year-old daughter Kyra Lynn never wore her seatbelt unless she was riding with her parents. That was the day he learned Kyra was seriously injured in a one-car rollover accident. She died one and a half days later from massive brain swelling.

The emotional Voss presented a slide show and told the story of Kyra’s life and death to Centre High School students Monday after a simulated car crash rescue operation.

Voss is Concordia’s fire chief and responded to the accident scene, only to learn the victim was his own daughter.

He urged students to wear seatbelts. He thought Kyra might have swerved to avoid a deer and lost control trying to correct. He said she was ejected through the car’s front window, and a seatbelt might have saved her life.

Kansas State Highway Patrolman Ben Gardner, commonly known as Trooper Ben, shared with students the difficulty of giving a death notice to relatives.

“It’s my sad responsibility to inform you that,” he tells them, and then goes on to break the terrible news.

“It changes their world,” he said. “It’s devastating.”

He said sometimes they break down and cry, sometimes they are just silent, or sometimes they yell, scream, and get angry.

He urged students to wear seatbelts.

“The law says you must, but it’s still up to you to do it,” he said.

He compared it to his wearing a bulletproof vest.

“You have to be prepared for anything,” he said.

The trooper also emphasized the need to avoid distractions, especially talking on cell phones.

Emergency medical technician Jesse Brunner of Tampa led the program. Students Brandon Bina, Katie Marler, Summer Espinoza, and Alex Stika were in the crash demonstration. It was a head-on collision with one casualty.

Lost Springs and Lincolnville Fire Departments participated along with two Marion County ambulances with emergency medical workers, coroner JoAnn Knak, and undertaker Jared Jost of Hillsboro.


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Gas leak in downtown Topeka near the Kansas Statehouse

By Luke Ranker and Justin Wingerter
Topeka Capital Journal – April 26, 2017

A gas leak in downtown Topeka forced the evacuation of a roughly six block area, include state office buildings, Wednesday afternoon.

For nearly an hour employees huddled on the Statehouse lawn as emergency crews assessed the leak, which started near S.W. 9th and Topeka Boulevard.

Capitol Police blocked traffic on Topeka Boulevard from S.W. 7th south to S.W. 10th and on S.W. 9th street from S.W. Harrison west to S.W. Tyler Street starting just before 2 p.m.

Shortly after 2 p.m. Topeka Fire Department crews began evacuating multiple buildings in that area, including the Docking State Office Building and other government offices, according the Shawnee County Emergency Management office. About 100 state employees gathered on the southwest lawn of the Capitol, some were wearing masks. By 2:45 p.m. workers were allowed to return to their offices.

The First Presbyterian Church, the Kansas Association of Insurance, a Pizza Hut at S.W. 10th and Topeka and other businesses were also in the evacuation area. Just before 2:20 p.m. the zone was expanded south to include the Walgreens southwest of the Docking building.

“Please do not smoke while in the area,” a Kansas Highway Patrol alert said.

Pedestrians were seen holding their noses to avoid the smell of gas as officers directed them out of the area.

A “third party” struck a plastic gas line near the S.W. 9th and Topeka Boulevard intersection, Dawn Tripp, communications manager for Kansas Gas Services said. Crews were expected to have the line repaired by the end of the day.

In the area, a stretch of Topeka Boulevard’s southbound lane is currently being rebuilt.


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Identity of Colorado’s sixth ski death for 2016-17 now confirmed

By Kevin Fixler
Summit Daily – April 26, 2017

Photo by Courtney Bell

Photo by James Hansen

Photo by James Hansen

A 44-year-old man from Olathe, Kansas, who died after skiing at Crested Butte Mountain Resort in February was recently confirmed as the state’s sixth ski fatality this winter as part of the 13 to occur during the 2016-17 season.

Jim Bell, a 16-year veteran firefighter of northeast Kansas’s Consolidated Fire District No. 2, was involved in an accident on Feb. 13, later dying from severe head injuries on Feb. 17, despite wearing a helmet. Due to the way in which the state’s ski-related deaths often go unreported, a Colorado news outlet had not previously been able to identify Bell. The Kansas City Star wrote about the incident in February, and Westword, Denver’s alt weekly publication, became the first in Colorado to name him last week.

“He was just a stand-up guy,” Courtney Bell, his wife of 10 years, told the Summit Daily by phone Tuesday. “He touched so many lives, just with what he does every day, and just would care about people nonstop. He was a huge outdoors guy, riding ATVs, skiing. He hunted, fished and he has two little boys, and they were his world. They’re 7 and 8, and he lived for those kids.”

Although his identity was not known at the time, Jim Bell was part of a three-part series from the Summit Daily News published earlier this month. The series sought to document every ski-related fatality during the past 10 years. In total, 137 skiers died at Colorado resorts since the 2006-07 season. Every name had been confirmed, with one exception. The person was simply designated No. 130 in the series as a placeholder until additional facts could be found.

The minimal information Colorado Ski Country USA, the state’s ski industry trade group, would provide about the incident suggested the individual died between Feb. 16 and March 6 and was the sixth fatality this ski season. Based on data from the other 136 deaths, averages also suggested it was probable the person was a male skier, approximately 37 years old, wearing a helmet, but died from head trauma.

Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s vice president, Erica Mueller, confirmed the incident in an email Tuesday. She said it occurred on an intermediate run named Buckley, but that he did not hit a tree — a frequent occurrence in these types of deaths.

“It is an extremely unfortunate and sad situation no matter where it happens,” Mueller wrote. “Losing a loved one has got to be one of the toughest things in life.”

Courtney still doesn’t know what could have possibly happened to her husband. He was a lifelong skier who, before they met, lived in Durango for a stint working on the Silverton Railroad and as a lift operator at Purgatory Resort. The two had visited Crested Butte for an annual ski trip since they were married, and he was in great physical shape, as well as being very safety-minded.

“He was an amazing skier, amazing,” she said. “He lifted weights and worked out to stay fit for his job, so was muscular, and he was always ‘Mr. Safety.’ He was an indestructible kind of guy. Never in a million years did I think something like this could happen to him, ever.”

The two put their young boys in ski school that Monday morning as part of a planned weeklong vacation and took the lift up the mountain. Jim wanted to ski some of the more difficult terrain while she preferred to stay on the greens. So they split up and agreed to meet at the base for lunch with the boys around noon.

When she arrived and didn’t see him, Courtney repeatedly called Jim and just figured maybe he didn’t have cell reception. She went ahead and started into lunch when a ski instructor approached to tell her she needed to get over to ski patrol.

She was told Jim was found face-first in the snow after someone on the lift overhead spotted him lying on the ground and reported it. Jim was unconscious, though still breathing, but that would soon stop once patrollers got him down to the mountain clinic. He was then transported by ambulance to the hospital in Grand Junction, where he was pronounced dead. Jim was ultimately kept on life support so his wish to be an organ donor could be honored.

Like his wife, the fire department where he long worked can’t understand what happened. More than two months later his comrades are still mourning the loss.

“He was a go-to guy, and would drop anything and help you,” said Jeff Scott, the department’s deputy chief. “The department as a whole lost a great, great firefighter, as did the community. He had a wife and two kids, and a big hole is what he left.”

When she first got to see him, Courtney said Jim had no broken bones or visible bruises, and just two small scratches on his face as well as the makings of a black eye. She asked ski patrol for his helmet to better understand the injury, but never received it. The Gunnison County coroner also didn’t approach her about conducting an autopsy, and she remains entirely unclear on the circumstances that led to Jim’s death.

“It is so frustrating,” she said. “I had to get the ski (patrol) report to the fire department for insurance purposes and there was nothing written on it. Not where they found him, how they found him — nothing.

“He could figure out the problem and a solution to anything. His captain even said that. He was so strong and never complained, and his friends said he’ll make it through this,” Courtney added, about Jim’s accident, “‘It’s Jim, he knows what to do.’ So it’s every day that I ask myself, ‘Is this really my life? Did this really happen?'”


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Mock Crash Demo

Gardner News – April 26, 2017

Photo by Rick Poppitz. Click on photo to view full-size.

Emergency Response personnel transfer an accident victim from crash site to Life Flight ambulance in a mock crash demonstration for Spring Hill High School students on April 21. The event was held to raise awareness of the dangers of driving while impaired and distracted driving. Bob Hamilton, law enforcement liaison for KDOT, spoke to Spring Hill High School students after they had just watched emergency crews respond to a mock crash demonstration.


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State Fire Marshal’s Office continues investigation into fire at Elmdale pallet factory

By Chuck Samples
KVOE – April 26, 2017

Photo by Chase County Sheriff’s Department

The structure was at 1130 210 Road near Elmdale, or between the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks and US Highway 50 on the north edge of the town. Fire was reported around 4 pm April 19, according to Sheriff Richard Dorneker. Several agencies responded, including deputies, Chase County Fire and Chase County Rescue, but the facility was a total loss.

Dorneker says Precise Wood Products was the business affected. Business representatives have not commented so far.

The Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office has been investigating. The department tells KVOE News the cause is currently undetermined. The fire is still under investigation.


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DMS students get inside look at fire station

By David Dinell
Derby Informer – April 26, 2017

Photo by David Dinell. Click on photo to view full-size.

There’s a lot more to being a firefighter than riding a truck with flashing red lights and a loud siren.

A group of students from Derby Middle School’s Teen Leadership 2 class found that out firsthand during a recent 40-minute visit at Station 82 on North Rock Road.

Firefighter II Skyeler Reynolds, who led the tour, urged the students to work on their studies. And if they’re going into firefighting, be sure to pay attention in chemistry class.

“There’s a lot more chemistry involved in this than I thought,” Reynolds said.

Getting to the point of being hired as a professional in the field involves a lot of training, he said, but it’s necessary because when the need arises, firefighters have to rely on their skills in a split second.

Like many professionals, firefighters can make mistakes, but the important thing is to learn from them and not repeat the error, he said.

In answer to one of many questions from the students, Reynolds said while he may not remember his very first call, he does remember his first real fire.

Actually, today’s firefighters handle far more medical calls than fires, say those in the profession. That’s because of demands of an aging population combined with better and stricter building codes and fire prevention measures that have decreased the sheer volume of fire calls overall in past years.

Reynolds showed the students the variety of equipment packed into one truck, including specialized rescue gear.

He confessed that if there’s an aspect of rescues he doesn’t like it’s working in confined spaces, but sometimes that’s part of a call, he said.

The huge truck also doesn’t get much in the way of gas mileage – only 4 mpg, he said to several gasps.

And that breathing mask worn when firefighters go into smoke or flames? It’s necessary, he said, but it does make a firefighter sound like Darth Vader.

As a public service entity, Reynolds said he does have a unique customer base: “It’s the whole city.”

He also urged students to call 911 quickly in an emergency situation as time can be of the essence.

“It’s not a bad thing to do if it’s needed,” he said.

The class, under the direction of teacher Angie Draney, undertakes a variety of tours throughout Derby in order to learn about the community and its different functions. Past tours have include City Hall and observing a mock Derby City Council meeting.


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Fire destroys home in KCK

By Matt Evans
KMBC – April 25, 2017

Fire destroyed a home near Brown Avenue and N. 16th Street in Kansas City, Kansas Tuesday morning.

A downed power line created a challenge to firefighters, but BPU crews shut off power to the house around 5:30 a.m.

Firefighters believed the house was vacant.


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Salute the Badge: Forest official gets fire departments livesaving equipment

By Jace Mills
WIBW – April 25, 2017


Eric Ward has worn many hats over the years. He’s been a paramedic, a Sheriff’s Deputy, a firefighter, and a fire chief. His 35 years of public service prepared him for the work he’s doing now at Kansas forest service.

Ward said he had three part-time jobs, including serving as a Fire Chief at a rural fire department when he started the Kansas Forest Service.

Now, 12 years later, Ward is down to just one job. His current position took him mostly off the front lines but is no less important. Three times a day, Ward scrolls through government databases looking for surplus equipment from the military and other federal agencies.

“It’s a sport to me, it’s a service as well, but there is really a sport to it,” said Ward.

Ward looks for equipment that can be re-purposed for fire departments that often cannot afford multi-million dollar trucks and expensive new fire protective gear.

He even recently obtained life saving defibrillators for fire stations.

“I was able to pick up enough hopefully to get through the waiting list,” said Ward. “They may be the first ones on scene when someone has a heart attack and if they have that piece of equipment, that could be a truly life or death change for somebody.”

Having a role in that lets Eric know he his right where he needs to be.

“In this case, I would not be the one saving that life it, would be whoever shows up on that fire truck with the defibrillator, but still to have a little hand in that, that’s exciting,” said Ward.


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Clarence Harvey Jenkins

Clarence H. Jenkins, 79 of Leavenworth, passed away Tuesday, April 18, 2017 surrounded by his family at his residence. Visitation will be Friday, April 21, 2017 at Belden Larkin Funeral Home from 5:00 to 8:00 pm, with family present from 6:00 – 8:00 pm. A funeral service will be at 7:00 pm with Pastor Mike Scrivani, officiating. Born July 25, 1937 to Clay and Ruth (Bessette) Jenkins in Atchison, Kansas. Clarence married Joann Parks on August 11, 1962 in Miami, Oklahoma and had two daughters Deborah Kay Williams and Connie Sue Schmidt.

Clarence served in the US Navy and worked as a Driver/Operator for Leavenworth Fire Department for 20 years, bought a farm and became a Real Estate Investor/flipper. He enjoyed family life on the farm, attending auctions, collecting classic cars, traveling with good friends and spending time and spoiling his grandchildren and great grand-children as much as possible. He purchased property in Weston, Missouri where his family has an Antique shop called “The Farmer’s Daughter” and he now has a 4-generations of house flippers that he has passed his trade down to. It had always been a long time dream to re-do his historical barn on the farm and his family plans to continue with his dream having a “Celebration of Life” to follow the completion at a later date.

Clarence is preceded in death by his parents & brother Bob Jenkins. He is survived by his wife, Joann, daughter’s Debbie Williams & Connie Schmidt, Granddaughters, Crystal (Matt) Fangohr, Courtney (Zach) Brink & Kaylie Williams, Great Grandchildren Cassidy, Conner, Cayson & Cruz. Sisters Shirley (Howard) Bohannon & Nancy Kappus. Many nieces & nephews.

Memorials in his name may be forwarded to St. Jude’s Childrens Hospital, Memphis TN.


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Woman dies after early-morning house fire in Lawrence

By Sara Shepherd
Lawrence Journal World – April 25, 2017

Photo by Nick Krug

An early-morning house fire apparently killed a woman Tuesday in Lawrence.

About 5:45 a.m., Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical responded to a fire at 810 Wellington Road, where heavy smoke was coming from the roof and flames were visible through the windows of a one-story home, according to a news release from the department. The department said initial reports indicated an older female occupant was possibly inside.

Fire crews arrived and pulled a woman from the home but were unable to revive her, and she died at the scene, according to the department.

The woman’s name was not immediately released.

The fire was deemed under control at 6:22 a.m., according to the department. Fire investigators had not determined what caused the fire or the extent of damages Tuesday morning.

One fire department employee received a minor injury, according to the department.


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Steam train in Oakdale Park heats up again

By Erin Mathews
Salina Journal – April 25, 2017

Salina firefighters extinguished a small fire Monday night in Oakdale Park that burned some mulch and a hooded sweatshirt left draped on the railing around the ramp leading up to the steam locomotive, a police department spokesman said.

The fire, which occurred between 9:30 and 9:40 p.m. at the park at 730 Oakdale Drive, caused about $50 damage and was thought to be intentionally set, said Capt. Paul Forrester.


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One killed, one injured in accident south of Hutchinson

By Sandra J. Milburn
Hutchinson News – April 25,20 17

Photo by Sandra J. Milburn. Click on photo to view full-size.

One person was killed and another was injured in a single-vehicle accident near Kutter’s Furniture on K-96 in the early morning hours Tuesday.

According to Reno County dispatch, the call about the crash came in at 1:44 a.m.

Deputy Kevin Sipe said with the Reno County Sheriff’s Office said that deputies, along with South Hutchinson Fire and Reno County EMS, were dispatched to the 2100 block of South K-14 Highway for a single-vehicle fatality accident.

The driver, identified by his Colorado driver’s license as Benjamin Buzzini, was driving north in the 2100 block of South K-14 when he left the road for an unknown reason. The 2010 Jeep he was driving rolled several times before coming to rest in the Kutter’s Furniture parking lot. Buzzini was ejected from the vehicle and was taken to Wesley Medical Center with serious injuries.

A female passenger from Wichita sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene. Her name was being withheld pending next of kin notification.

Neither occupant was wearing a seat belt, and speed appeared to be a factor in the accident, which still is under investigation.

As of 7:50 a.m., crews were still on the scene, but it was cleared by about 8:30 a.m.


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Home destroyed by fire

Parsons Sun – April 25, 2017

Fire destroyed a Parsons home early Saturday.

Parsons firefighters were called at 12:24 a.m. Saturday to 43 Michael Drive for a structure fire.

The mobile home was covered in flames when firefighters arrived. The occupant, Marty Shaw, escaped the fire through the back door through heavy smoke and heat, Fire Chief Jay Hawks said.

He was not injured but remembers not being able to breathe or see because of the smoke. The home and contents are complete losses. The fire was deemed under control at 1:01 a.m. and crews left just before 3.

The cause of the fire is undetermined but is not considered suspicious.


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KSFFA Regional School Requests for 2018

KSFFA Regional Fire School requests are now being accepted until July 31, 2017. If your department would like to host one of our regional fire schools, please fill out the below information. We are requesting that the application be filled out by either the current fire chief or with his acknowledgement. Selection is decided in August. The KSFFA holds 12 regional fire schools a year in various parts of the state. These courses are offered free of charge. If you have any question about what your responsibility will be to host a KSFFA Regional Fire School, please contact any KSFFA Executive Board Officer.

School Request Application Form

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House fire under investigation

Leavenworth Times – April 24, 2017

Leavenworth firefighters are investigating the cause of a house fire that started on a back porch and spread to other parts of the structure, a Fire Department spokesman said.

The fire was reported at 12:53 p.m. Saturday at 1250 Randolph St.

Firefighters received a report of a fire on a back porch. When they arrived, the fire had spread to inside the house on the first and second floors.

Mark DeMaranville, division chief of prevention for the Leavenworth Fire Department, said strong winds helped to spread the fire.

A person who was at the house suffered minor burns but was not transported to the hospital.

Members of the Fort Leavenworth Fire Department were called to provide assistance to the Leavenworth Fire Department.

DeMaranville said the fire caused an estimated $100,000 in damage.


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2 children injured after fire reported at Madison at Mill Creek Apartments in Lenexa

KMBC – April 24, 2017

Johnson County, Kansas fire crews are responding to the scene of a fire at an apartment complex in Lenexa.

Officials said the fire call came from the apartment complex near 87th and Pflumm – the Madison at Mill Creek Apartments.

Johnson County MedAct confirms two children were taken to the hospital as a result of this fire. No word yet on their condition.

KMBC 9 News has a crew en route. Go to this page for updates & video.


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Shed fire at Garden Grove Apartments causes estimated $5,000 in damage

Hutchinson News – April 24, 2017

Fire in a storage shed at the Garden Grove Apartments on Sunday night caused an estimated $5,000 in damage, according to a release from the Hutchinson Fire Department.

Firefighters were dispatched at about 10 p.m. for the report of a structure fire in the apartment complex in 900 Block of East 31st Avenue. While responding, called advised a shed in the parking area was on fire, according to the release.

Units had the fire under control and contained within two minutes of arrival. The damage estimated included contents, Battalion Chief Rex Albright said.

The cause of the fire was not determined.

The Hutchinson Fire Department responded six units, with no injuries reported.


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South Hutch in need of volunteers to keep department alive

By Avery Anderson
KSN – April 24, 2017


The future of South Hutchinson’s fire department is in jeopardy.

The number of volunteer firefighters is down, and the city needs more to keep the department running smoothly.

Even though South Hutch has a good track record of getting to fires and medical calls quickly, their volunteers are spread thin.

And now, to make matters worse, they don’t even have a fire chief.

It’s a job that’s exciting but demanding, and not everyone can do it.

“Volunteer firefighting is always a tricky game. It’s always a number game, you’re never quite sure who’s going to show up and when they’re going to show up,” stated Matt Stiles, South Hutch City Administrator.

The South Hutch Fire Department has 27 firefighters on the roster some part-time, but most are volunteer.

“We do have a lack of people who live locally that can respond in a quick manner, so that puts more pressure on the people that are here,” explained Stiles.

He says they make almost 400 calls each year, and 90% of them are medical. Though the average response time is 5 to 8 minutes, the city must find a way to bring in more people or merge with another department.

“We’ve talked about the Hutchinson fire contract situation, but the council has pretty much dismissed that as an option at this time. So we’re working on building up the volunteer base at this point,” stated Stiles.

Just this week, the city’s fire Chief, Matt Patterson resigned. KSN reached out to him and he did not want to talk on camera, but gave this statement:

“I really enjoyed working there. I think they’re going in a direction that I might not be fit for. I wish them all the best.”

Which now means, city officials are also forced to look for a new department leader.

“I’d like to see a full crew of volunteers, because if we have volunteers from your city they take pride in what they’re doing and they’ll make a great department like it used to be,” said Mayor Pete Murray.

Murray was a volunteer for South Hutch for 26 years, and says something has to change in how they recruit volunteers. Still, he’s optimistic.

“I think it’s going to smooth out and we’re going to have a great dept. again,” voiced Murray.

One solution the city council is discussing is building a new station where firefighters can stay, so they can be available around the clock.

A town hall meeting is scheduled for May 22, and the public is invited to come out at 7 p.m. in the community center, and learn more about the situation.


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Ready to roll

By Patricia Middleton
Newton Kansan – April 18, 2017
Submitted by Newz Group – April 24, 2017

All over the country, fire departments are using vehicles for training and deployment that have been built in Harvey County.

Unruh Fire, located at 100 Industrial Drive in Sedgwick, is a division of Unruh Fab, a company that builds large racks and trailers to transport glass.

The company builds custom wet and dry rescue trucks, brush trucks, airport rescue trucks, skid units, rescue trailers and command trailers. Their products are used by wildlife departments, airports, fire departments and law enforcement.

Steve Lawler, president of Unruh Fab, bought the business last year.

“When I came up and saw what they did, I said this is the place for me,” Lawler said.

Unruh Fab employs 35 people, including active duty and retired firefighters on its staff.

“It’s nice, having the expertise of people actually using our product helping us design things and have some input,” Lawler noted.

“We wouldn’t put anything out the door we wouldn’t ride on,” said Todd Nix, a part-time firefighter with Sedgwick County who works for Unruh fire.

Starting with a chassis, the company customizes a vehicle to meet the needs of the customer.

“We custom build the beds and the bodies and everything from the ground up, so we can make a custom to really unique thing,” said Wes Schamle, a salesman for Unruh Fire.

Depending on the department’s location and purpose, different setups are needed on the trucks and trailers built by Unruh Fire. The vehicles may have to be able to operate in sandy, muddy or heavily forested areas.

“We sell to all 50 states, so we get a good mixture of terrains and different firefighting styles,” Schamle noted.

The size and placement of hoses and reels, tanks, storage and steps are customized to provide the most efficient use of the vehicle’s space.

“They’re very complex machines with lots of options,” Schamle said. “We’ve always said we specialize in putting 20 pounds in 10-pound sacks.”

One of the major considerations is the placement of lights on a vehicle.

“We’ve got to imagine worst-case scenarios. Fires don’t go out because it’s dark out,” Schamle said. “They can be off-road, where there are tree trunks and there are potholes and you’ve got to be able to see everything, including your guys. Safety is really important out there.”

Unruh Fire fields requests from specific sizes for cup holders to keeping a truck’s body as low as possible so that it can be used to fight fires in enclosed spaces such as parking garages. Having a facility to build big trailers and with the expertise of firefighters at their fingertips, building training trailers for fire departments was a natural step for Unruh Fire.

“These can be used for a lot of different training uses and storage,” Lawler said. “We buy the axles and it gets built up from there.”

One of Unruh Fire’s currents projects is building a grain engulfment training trailer for Oklahoma State University.

“Our salesmen worked with Oklahoma State to learn what they exactly wanted, to make a custom trailer for their specific needs,” Lawler said.

Besides having the grain bin, the trailer holds a confined space tube, lighting for night training scenarios, and space for firefighting gear.

“The grain engulfment training trailer that we built for the KU fire service helped save a gentleman’s life out in western Kansas,” Nix noted. “They had just gone through all the training with that trailer that we built for them and they had an incident out there, and they knew how to get him out. It saved his life.”

For more information about Unruh Fire, visit


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New equipment at fire department aids safety

By Karen La Pierre
Ellinwood Leader – March 31, 2017
Submitted by Newz Group – April 24, 2017

The Ellinwood Fire Department has received grants that will greatly increase the safety of firefighters. Interim City Administrator/Fire Chief Chris Komarek wrote the grants.

The department received $23,850 for a compressor to fill air packs from the Department of Homeland Security. The city provided a five-percent match.

Prior to receiving the compressor, the department drove over to the Great Bend Fire Department to fill large cylinders, and then returned to Ellinwood to fill the individual air packs.

The large cylinders weigh in the neighborhood of 2,000 pounds, making them heavy and problematic to load. It also took a significant amount of time.

A special air compressor is required to produce 6,000 psi and provide a specialized air filtering system.

“Our biggest concern though was that, after a fire, we would have to fill quite a few of the smaller cylinders,” Komarek said. “There was only enough air pressure to fill six, meaning we sometimes had air packs that were less than full.

“This could have led to a situation where a firefighter may not have been able to do the job that needed to be done at the scene of a fire due to lack of air. It could have been a life or death situation for the firefighter or victim of a fire.”

Now, the department will run with full air packs every time, Komarek said.

“We can also do more training now with the air pack using actual air and not have to worry about having an air supply,” he said. “I’m really excited to have this.”

The department also received a grant from the Kansas Fire Marshal for $10,000 to purchase an industrial washer/extractor. Only five departments received this grant.

“The fire service is really starting to pay more attention to the hidden health hazards in the fire service,” Komarek said. “The risk for cancer is huge for firefighters.”

“There are so many carcinogens that firefighters are exposed to during a fire which gets into the gear we wear.”

The toxins stay in the gear until it is washed. The department would rinse off the gear with a garden hose, but Komarek said the toxins would stay in the gear.

Taking good care of the gear is also an issue as it costs $2,000 per set. Now, the firefighter’s gear is clean every time it is worn.

“Every time the firefighter would put on his gear, he would be exposing himself again and this would happen over and over,” Komarek said.

The gear must be cleaned in a special way that includes only warm water with low-spin speeds and special detergent.

“I’m very excited to have this washer available to keep our gear clean,” Komarek said. “The department’s biggest asset is our firefighters and we need to take care of them and keep them safe.”

One requirement from the KSFM was that the machine be available to other departments in the area.

“We feel this is a great idea and have already informed area departments that the machine is available for them to use anytime,” Komarek said. “I really want to thank the Fire Marshal’s Office for this award.”


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County fire departments respond to grass fire near Holyrood Lake

By Mark Gardner
Ellsworth County Independent Reporter – April 20, 2017
Submitted by Newz Group – April 24, 2017

Click on photo to view full-size.

The Holyrood Fire Department responded to a large grass fire near Holyrood Lake Wednesday, April 12. Ellsworth, Wilson, and Kanopolis were paged out for mutual aid to assist in fighting the large fire that was started by a previous controlled burn from two days before.

Holyrood firefighters arrived on scene at 1:45 p.m. and remained there until 6 p.m. Winds blowing between 25 and 30 miles per hour made it difficult for firefighters to attack the blaze. Mark Breford, Holyrood Fire Chief, said crews began their attack north of the fire.

Other departments brought water tankers to assist with relaying resources to the front line where firefighters were holding the fire line.

“We back burned some of the remaining section of the field to ensure that the fire stopped where we wanted it to,” Kanopolis firefighter Josh Kempke said.

Mutual aid departments were sent home between 4 and 5 p.m. as Holyrood Fire Department volunteers remained to finish what already was being called the Holyrood Lake fire.


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Mankato Fire Department helps with fire

Jewell County Record – April 20, 2017
Submitted by Newz Group – April 24, 2017

Photo by Taylor Anderson and the Superior Volunteer Fire Department.

The Mankato Volunteer Fire Department was called last Wednesday afternoon to assist firefighters from Hardy, Superior and Nelson as they battled a fire burning in the roof of Mr. and Mrs. Randy Porter’s log home located one mile south of the Kansas-Nebraska state line and about two miles west of Highway 14. It took about two hours to bring the fire under control. About five hours passed before the last of the firefighters left the scene. The Kansas Fire Marshal was unable to determine the cause of the fire. Tuesday afternoon firefighters were called to the Webber area when a controlled burn got out of control.


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Kansas man hospitalized; home a total loss after fire

Great Bend Post – April 24, 2017

The Kansas State Fire Marshal is working to determine the cause of house fire that sent one person to the hospital in Allen County.

Just after 6 a.m., Friday, fire crews were called to report of a fire in a home at 311 Chestnut in Iola, according to Fire Chief Tim Thyer.

Emergency responders transported the only occupant of the home to Allen County Hospital and then later to a hospital in Wichita.

The 3-bedroom, single family home is considered a total loss, according to Thyer.


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Detectives ID man killed in Shawnee house fire

By Kim Morava
Shawnee Dispatch – April 24, 2017

Shawnee Police Detective Jason Couch confirmed Friday the identity of a man killed in a local house fire on Easter morning. Cause of that fire remains under investigation.

Crouch said the man was 66-year-old Kermit Byford.

Shawnee Fire Department Battalion Chief Jack Miller said firefighters responded about 12:49 a.m. April 16 to 714 Madeline Drive, where there was a fire in the garage of that home.

Miller, who said there was heavy smoke and fire in the garage of that brick home, said firefighters found the deceased man in the garage. There was no one else home and a dog was found safe in the area, Miller said.

“All of the fire was confined to the garage,” Miller said.

Cause of the blaze is under investigation.

According to obituary information, Byford was called “Monte” by his family and friends. He was raised in Great Bend, Kansas and spent time hunting, fishing and trapping in his youth. He was a certified wildland firefighter, commercial fisherman in Alaska and worked many years in the Kansas oil fields, the obituary read. A celebration of life will be scheduled at a later date.


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GCFD Honor Guard to honor local businessman

By Mark Minton
Garden City Telegram – April 24, 2017

Honor Guard members are, clockwise from left, Ryan Powers, Hunter Carson, Jeremy Kemp, John Bemis, Casey Harmon, Luke Freeman, Jeremy Moore, Adam Patterson and Jacob Gonzales. Photo by G Robertson Photography. Click on photo to view full-size.

The Garden City Fire Department’s Honor Guard will be hosting a dinner to honor local businessman Amro Samy with the first-ever Keeper of the Flame Award.

The award, intended for local residents who consistently give back to the community, will be presented at 6 p.m. tonight at the Clarion Inn, 1911 E. Kansas Ave. Tickets will cost $50 per person and are available for purchase at the Central Fire Station, 302 N. Ninth St., or at the Clarion Inn. Proceeds will be dedicated to the GCFD’s Honor Guard, which operates on a volunteer basis.

Adam Patterson, a member of the Honor Guard, said the group plans to continue the award each year, and that it will be given to members of the community who “give back, kind of like we do as firemen.”

“No matter what, we’re always lending a helping hand and that’s kind of what our criteria went off of, not just with public safety but with the whole community,” Patterson said. “We’re always there for anything that somebody would happen to need.”

When Samy was asked to comment on his designation as the first-ever winner of the Keeper of the Flame Award, he said he is “speechless, but honored.”

Samy works in partnership with local businessman Cecil O’Brate, and together they own and operate Samy’s Spirits & Steakhouse, Old Chicago, Parrot Cove Indoor Water Park, the Heritage Hotel and the Sleep Inn. They also work together on local housing developments.

Samy has been a part of the community since April 2000, when he moved here and started working at the Southwind Country Club. Samy said he and his staff always do what they can to give back to the community.

“We’ve been blessed with the community’s support, so we’ve always been trying to give back to the community, me and my partner, Cecil,” he said. “We just like to give back to the community, and I think that maybe played a part in my nomination and winning the award.”

Patterson said Samy was selected from a pool of six candidates. Patterson noted that Samy was there for the fire department when local firefighter Ron Peek died in the line of duty on Jan. 22, 2015.

“When that happened, Samy came to us, offered whatever we needed,” Patterson said. “He was there to help us. He’s that way with anybody in the community. Anybody that needs help, he’s lending a hand no matter what.”

The local Honor Guard, which started in 2011, honors fallen firefighters from across the state at funerals, and participates in parades and special events. The Keeper of the Flame award will be the first presented as a unique award invented by the group.

Patterson said talks about the award started around the first of the year. He added that the intent was to create an event similar to the GCFD’s annual awards dinner, when various members of the fire department are honored for their years of service.

According to Patterson, the Honor Guard will develop forms for the community to submit nominations for next year’s award. He said the form will be ready within the next couple of weeks.


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Driver escapes unharmed from burning semi

By Erin Mathews
Salina Journal – April 24, 2017

Another semitrailer driver awakened a driver who was asleep in the cab of a tractor-trailer, when its engine caught fire at a Salina truck stop Saturday night, a fire department spokesman said.

Salina Fire Department battalion chief Scott Abker said the driver escaped without injury before the blaze reported at 9:58 p.m. spread to the cab of the semi. Abker said the report on the incident was not yet complete Sunday, and he did not have information about the driver’s name or the owner of the semi.

Abker said the incident happened in the parking lot at Salina West Travel Center, 2140 W. Crawford. He said the semi, which was hauling a load of wooden doors, had been parked at the travel center for about four hours before something in the engine ignited. He said he did not think the engine was running at the time.

Abker said he did not know if the driver who awoke the sleeping driver had been traveling with him or had been driving another semi parked nearby.

A second semi parked nearby was also damaged. Abker said that semi was carrying a load of grain, and the tarp covering the load was burned off.


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Hays firefighters respond to Sunday townhouse fire

Hays Post – April 24, 2017

At 4:29 PM Sunday, City of Hays emergency dispatchers were alerted to a building fire at 2501 Indian Trail. The Hays Fire Department, assisted by Ellis County Fire Department Company 5, the Hays Police Department and Ellis County EMS, was immediately dispatched.

First arriving fire crews found a fire burning in a row of three townhouses. The fire was burning in the wall between two of the townhouses and spread into the common attic. Firefighters used three hose lines to control the fire. There were no injuries.

Both townhouses suffered moderate fire and smoke damage. Firefighters boarded up the structure after the fire to prevent further loss. The most probable cause of the fire was improperly discarded smoking materials.

Twenty-three firefighters staffing six fire trucks responded. Fire crews left the scene at 5:55 PM. Firefighters returned to the scene periodically to check for rekindle.

City of Hays firefighters would like to remind everyone to use metal ash trays or similar non-combustible containers to discard smoking materials.


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Foul play suspected in overnight house fire in East Topeka

By Phil Anderson
Topeka Capital Journal – April 24, 2017

Foul play is suspected in a fire late Sunday that caused an estimated $6,000 in damage to a vacant house in East Topeka, authorities said.

The blaze was reported around 10:30 p.m. at a small home at 2106 S.E. 6th.

According to Topeka Fire Department officials, neighbors saw flames and smoke coming out of the structure and called 911.

First-arriving crews conducted a search of the house and determined that it was vacant. Firefighters then brought the blaze under control in short order.

The preliminary investigation indicated the fire started in the southeast bedroom of the home. The exact cause remained undetermined, pending further investigation.

No injuries were reported.


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Boy rescued from Walnut River

KWCH – April 21, 2017

A boy is safe after being rescued from the Walnut River. According to the El Dorado Fire Department, the boy was standing on the shoreline when he slipped on the muddy ground and slid into the river.

Firefighters used a ladder against the ground to get the boy a life jacket. They then used a rope to pull the boy to safety.

Watch the entire video here:


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Larned students observe mock crash

By Veronica Coons
Great Bend Tribune – April 21, 2017

Photo by Janet Fleske

Saturday night, students of Larned High School attending prom will have more than dancing and fancy attire on their minds. That’s because Wednesday afternoon, Larned High School’s Student Council Drive Safe Team organized a mock crash to remind prom-goers of the responsibility required when they get behind the wheel.
The mock crash, which occurred on Eighth Street, south of the high school, was part of a 45-minute presentation. It illustrated how high speed, alcohol, and distractions like texting result in disaster.
LHS Principal Troy Langdon said this is the first year the school has conducted a mock crash, and it is part of the school’s Seat-belts Are For Everyone (SAFE) program. Junior Hunter Fitzpatrick chaired the activity for the student council’s Drive Safe Team.
“This was a very positive program,” Langdon said. “The students were very attentive, and one was even spontaneously thanked one of the EMS personnel there for helping him recently when he had a roll-over (crash). Many students were moved by this event.”
Kansas Highway Patrol trooper Brent Hemkin provided a play-by-play of what students were witnessing as the aftermath of the mock crash rolled out.
Juniors Austin Glow, the passenger, and Alex Barger, the driver, were involved in a high speed crash. Larned Emergency Medical Services, Larned Fire and Rescue and the Pawnee County Sheriff’s Office, as well as KHP troopers Ashley Martell and Hemkin brought realism to the event.
Gladow walked away with minor injuries, but Barger had to be extracted from the vehicle by EMS personnel and transported by ambulance to the nearest hospital. Sophomore Dalton Penka provided the vehicle for the presentation.
Langdon said the high school is undertaking the SAFE program as a proactive measure.
“We want to stay ahead of the game, and make sure the students understand how much we care about them,” he said.
On behalf of the student council, Fitzpatrick extended a special thank you to all the emergency responders that helped make the event possible. The student council, Fitzpatrick said, reminds everyone to buckle up, put phones away while driving, and never drink and drive.


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K-State Air Force cadets participate in active shooter training on campus

By Kion Hudson
WIBW – April 21, 2017


The situation may have not been real, but K-State Air Force cadets learned the grim reality of how to react to an active shooter on campus.

The cadets partnered with the K-State Police Department on a large scale active shooter training scenario Wednesday.

The ALICE training which is an acronym for “alert- lockdown, inform, counter and evaluate” allows the cadets to partner with local emergency professionals on what to do if there’s an active shooter on campus.

The training included sounds of gunfire and realistic looking victims and perpetrators.

“Well this type of training in today’s environment where we had across our nation unfortunately active shooters incidents have occurred. Last year in 2016 headquarters ROTC put out a requirement that all of cadre and students cadets perform annual training and as apart of that training we are able to link with the campus police department and do a more realistic scenario for them,” Lt. Col. Shawn Martin said.

The Manhattan Fire Department also participated in Wednesday’s event. This is the first time the cadets have practiced this type of scenario on such a large scale.


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Sedgwick County female firefighter discusses experience as a minority on the job

By Adriana Loya
KWCH – April 21, 2017


Crystal Macedo is not your typical firefighter. But despite her petite figure, she does every task just like any other firefighter on the Sedgwick County Fire Department.

“I enjoy what I do and just working around the people I work with,” Macedo says.

Macedo was a Sedgwick County paramedic for six years. Now, she’s one of four female firefighters for the county, which includes nearly 150 firefighters total.

She’s also one of nine Hispanic firefighters for the department.

Sedgwick County Fire Chief Tavis Leake wants to diversity the department.

“(Minority firefighters) bring a lot to the table because, as you know, our community is diverse,” he says. “So, when we have diverse personnel, diverse firefighters out there that can assist us if there’s a language barrier, we have diversity that can address those issues,” he says.

Macedo says even though it is difficult to work with the fire gear and to carry heavy tools, it’s a rewarding job.

“I have no first reponders in my family,” she says.

But Macedo may not be the last in her family.

“My daughter now wants to be a firefighter like her mom, which is something you didn’t used to see,” she says.

Leake says there are some misconceptions about the hiring process for the county fire department that now only has five requirements.


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Kansas woman dies after car hits concrete barrier rail, rolls

Hays Post – April 20, 2017

A Kansas woman died in an accident just before 8a.m. on Thursday in Franklin County.

The Kansas Highway Patrol reported a 1997 Honda Accord driven by Jessica D. Elmquist, 34, Osawatomie, was westbound on Cloud Road two miles north of Richmond.

The vehicle drifted off the roadway, hit the concrete barrier rail and rolled into the north roadside ditch.

Elmquist was pronounced dead at the scene and transported to Frontier Forensics.

She was not wearing a seat belt, according to the KHP.


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Topeka house fire caused by ‘careless use of aromatic device’

Topeka Capital Journal – April 20, 2017

A structure fire Wednesday night in southeast Topeka caused by the “careless use of an aromatic device” killed two pet birds and did an estimated $15,000 in damage, officials with the Topeka Fire Department said.

Firefighters responded to the structure fire just after 10 p.m. Wednesday at 2124 S.E. 21st Terrace.

Crews found smoke showing from the single-story, wood-framed residential structure when they arrived.

The blaze was quickly brought under control after firefighters performed an offensive fire attack.

TFD officials said one adult and four dogs were able to evacuate prior to the fire department’s arrival.

The origin of the fire was determined to be in the kitchen area.

The estimated dollar loss was $10,000 for the structure and $5,000 for its contents.

In addition to TFD, Westar Energy and the Kansas Chapter of the American Red Cross responded.


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Garrison tests tornado emergency response

Fort Leavenworth Lamp – April 20, 2017

Fort Leavenworth Fire Department Assistant Chief Christopher Bender and Battalion Chiefs Robert Allen and Santino Maestas deliver their initial action plan, mapping out where firefighters are searching for victims of a tornado that hit a housing area during an exercise April 12 at the internment and resettlement training site. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Fort Leavenworth Fire Department Capt. Robert Dokos serves as safety officer to ensure Leavenworth Fire Department Firefighter James Magee, Capt. Nick Greenwood, Firefighter Jeremy Ruegsegger and Firefighter Matt Berner are not injured as they work to extract victims from a car during an exercise practicing emergency response to a tornado April 12 at the internment and resettlement training site. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Fort Leavenworth Fire Department Lt. Dan Doyle, Capt. Brian Valdez and Lt. Mark Weishaubt use rescue struts to shore up a ceiling and an air lifting bag to rescue a victim trapped under debris during an exercise practicing emergency response to a tornado April 12 at the internment and resettlement training site. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Fort Leavenworth’s annual full-scale emergency management plan exercise April 12 featured coordinating a response to a natural disaster caused by an F-2 tornado striking a portion of the military housing on the post.

John Hughes, emergency management planner in the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, said the post is required by Installation Management Command to do an annual exercise to measure its preparedness when faced with different plausible threats. He said the initial assessment of the full-scale exercise was positive.

“Last year, the exercise tested the Garrison’s ability to respond to an improvised explosive device and active-shooter scenario,” Hughes said. “This year, the training went well and tested our ability to address all of the emergency response elements involved when a tornado incident occurs in a community like Fort Leavenworth. An official after-action review is going to be published in a few weeks.”

Edgar Guerra, assistant chief of training for the Fort Leavenworth Fire Department, said his training role encompassed four primary areas for this full-scale exercise — developing challenging objectives for fire department emergency response, setting up a realistic scenario, evaluating the response and providing feedback.

Guerra said having the entire post participate in the exercise allows participants to see the “big picture.” He said in this tornado scenario exercise, victims were rescued from the rubble, treated, sheltered, fed, clothed as needed, then returned to their normal life with a new home.

Guerra said the fire department valued training with the nearly 40 volunteers who added realism by role-playing people in distress and who sometimes resisted evacuation.

“After the exercise, the first response I heard over and over was about the realism of the training,” Guerra said. “Fire department personnel demonstrated great organization, scene management and worked well with other agencies, exceeding my expectations. And, another quick takeaway in assessment would be to continue training and to work with the other organizations to create seamless operations.”

Hughes said the purpose of the Installation Emergency Management Plan is to align the installation’s capabilities and resources into a unified, all-discipline and all-hazards framework for the management of incidents occurring on Fort Leavenworth property. He said the plan serves to assist Fort Leavenworth in accomplishing the emergency management mission of preventing or mitigating the vulnerability of people, property and operations to natural and human-made hazards.

“The plan lays a framework that will allow Fort Leavenworth to prepare for, respond to and recover from incidents that occur as a result of nature or caused by human beings, emergencies or other types of disasters that impact the community,” Hughes said. “Taking prompt and sufficient action to protect lives, property and the environment, while safeguarding the operational integrity of the installation is the ultimate goal. This type of training helps ensure we are ready to meet the various challenges our post may face.”


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Paola seeks renewal of quarter-cent sales tax for fire department

By Brian McCauley
Miami County Republic – April 20, 2017

Ten years ago, Paola residents supported their community’s volunteer fire department by approving a quarter-cent sales tax to fund the construction of a new station and pay for necessary equipment.

Now, a decade later, Paola city officials and fire department representatives hope they can get that same support to renew the quarter-cent sales tax for operation of the fire department.

Paola City Council members, during their April 11 meeting, approved an ordinance that calls for a public vote to renew the sales tax, which expires in September.

City Clerk Dan Droste said the special walk-in election will need to be scheduled for June 20 in order to certify the results and get them sent to the state by the July 1 deadline.

Paola City Manager Jay Wieland said the sales tax is crucial for the fire department’s operation. Without it, he said the city may have had to increase its mill levy up to four mills to pay for a recent fire truck purchase.

“That’s pretty substantial,” Wieland said.

Paola Fire Chief Andy Martin also spoke during the meeting about the importance of the tax and the need to upgrade aging equipment. He said several of the department’s air packs are in the 20-year age frame.

Martin also pointed out that Paola is one of the few cities of its size in the state that still uses a volunteer fire department, which saves the city and its taxpayers a substantial amount of money. He said there currently are 27 firefighters on the department’s roster.

Wieland said he is hopeful that voters will continue to support the department, especially since the renewal would not increase the existing sales tax rate.

“We’re very hopeful that they realize that we need to stay at this level, which involves a lot of upkeep on the building and maintenance of equipment,” Wieland said. “This is not a new tax. It’s a continuation of what they said they wanted.”

The Paola Fire Station formerly was a school building at 202 E. Wea St. It includes the firehouse gym, which city officials said may need some improvements moving forward, particularly on the roof.


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South Hutch fire chief resigns

By Adam Stewart
Hutchinson News – April 20, 2017

South Hutchinson Fire Chief Mike Patterson has resigned from his position, effective April 24, he confirmed over the phone Wednesday evening.

“I’ve enjoyed working with South Hutchinson and wish them the best,” Patterson said, otherwise declining to comment.

The fire department has been a point of contention in South Hutchinson this spring.

As the number of volunteer firefighters able to reliably respond to emergencies has fallen, the City Council has considered options ranging from: continuing and possibly expanding the current hybrid system of paid staff during the day and volunteers at night, to contracting with Hutchinson for all firefighting protection and liquidating South Hutchinson’s firefighting equipment, to building a new fire station that could accommodate a full-time professional fire department sometime down the road.

Lengthy discussions of the fire department’s fate, with full galleries of community members present to comment, have dominated the last few council meetings.

On Monday, the City Council voted to schedule a town hall meeting at 7 p.m. May 22, in the community center, to present issues the city faces to the public and get comments from residents.

City Administrator Matt Stiles and Mayor Pete Murray could not immediately be reached by phone. City Council President Joe Honeycutt refused to comment.


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Fire destroys mobile home west of Emporia

By Lora Kirmer
KVOE – April 19, 2017

Photo by Lora Kirmer. Click on photo to view full-size.

Emporia Fire Department responded quickly to a mobile home fire called in around 4 p.m. Wednesday.

A cutting torch left unattended is speculated as the cause of a trailer fire at 1753 lot 408, Road E, just west of Emporia. Fire investigator Eric Gilger said that there were concerns about the fire spreading to other mobile homes in proximity to the lot due to the high winds. The fire was put out almost immediately.

The trailer, which was already being torn down, was destroyed and no injuries were reported. The lot owner’s name has not been released.


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Smoke smell leads to evacuation of two downtown buildings

By Cristina Janney
Hays Post – April 19, 2017

Two downtown Hays buildings were evacuated at about 3 p.m. today after the smell of smoke was reported.

The 100 block of West 13th St was closed and buildings at 105 W. 13th St., which houses First Care Clinic, and 107 W. 13th, which houses Bieker Insurance and CASA, were temporarily evacuated while firefighters searched the buildings.

As of about 3:40 p.m. the source of the smoke smell had not been found, said Lt. B. Wright of the Hays Police Department. Both buildings were cleared about 20 minutes later.

No injures were reported.


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Commission takes steps toward water rescue

By Phyllis Zorn
Marion Record – April 19, 2017

Although county commissioners took no action on buying a rescue boat the last time it was proposed, a new proposal with a lower price tag got a more interested hearing Monday.

Hillsboro firefighter Rusty Moss told commissioners an inflatable boat for rescues on streams and rivers could be purchased for about $20,824.

Although the inflatable boat is not as well-suited for use on lakes as it is for streams and rivers, starting with it would buy time for the county to come up with an aluminum boat, Moss said.

When need has arisen in the past, a Marion Reservoir boat has been used, Moss said.

The problem with that is how long it can take for that boat to be available, Moss said.

Three people drowned recently at the reservoir, and last year two teens were stranded at the north edge of the reservoir. Rescuers waited 40 to 45 minutes for the lake boat to be available to get them, he said.

“It takes a while for the people to get called back in,” Moss said.

He added that most people don’t really understand flash floods in Marion County, which can wash vehicles off roadways and leave occupants stranded in minutes.

Emergency Medical Service director Ed Debesis said he fully supports buying the boat.

“Having to go find a boat to go rescue someone is a nightmare,” Debesis said.

Moss said the company that sells the boat is willing to work with commissioners on financing options.

Commissioner Dianne Novak said she’d like to know more details about the boat and financing options.

Commissioners did take a definitive step to help with water rescues by approving firefighters to attend water rescue training.

The three-day water rescue course involves classroom learning, lake rescue training, and rapid water rescue training.

Salina Fire Department also will be taking the class. It is not yet known how many Marion County firefighters will want to go to Oklahoma City for the rapid water training held there, so the exact price tag for the training is not yet known. Commissioners approved sending as many as 10 county firefighters to training.


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