Topeka Fire Chief makes budget pitch to improve department

By Tori Mason
WIBW – June 7, 2017


Topeka’s new Fire Chief Craig Duke made his first pitch to council members Tuesday night about the changes he’d like to make and the funds needed to do so.

His appearance came as department heads broke down their budget proposals for next year.

“One of the first things I noticed when I came here is the department doesn’t reflect the community it serves,” said Topeka Fire Chief Craig Duke.

Duke believes a department’s diversity should reflect the diversity of the city, meaning more minority and more female firefighters.

Part of TFD’s 2018 budget calls for $606,000 to train the current firefighters on duty and a few more Duke hopes to add.

“We will hand pick young individuals who we will bring on to the department and then train to get their certifications and one day become a full time firefighter,” said Duke.

Starting in 2018, the training department will oversee TFD’s new Cadet program, which will train two individuals who would not normally be eligible for the academy due to age and finances.
Duke says he’s confident in its success.

“I did that in Kansas City and mirrored it off the police department. We had to get them the education and training they needed to be a firefighter and that’s what I want to do here,” said Duke.

Duke also wants funding to begin transitioning all stations to provide Advanced Life Support or ALS. Duke says Topeka is behind the times in not implementing it.

“Topeka is one of 5 cities in Kansas with a population over 100,000 that doesn’t have a fire based ALS service. It’s BLS,” Duke explained.

ALS units are equipped with cardiac life support and can administer live saving drugs — a basic unit does not have the training to do so.

If approved, the transition to ALS would take about three years, with an investment of $244,000 in the proposed budget.


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
KSFFA’s Fire News Blog Home Page

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