Archive for February, 2018

One killed in accident near Atchison

By Marcus Clem
Atchison Globe – Feb. 28, 2018

One person died of injuries sustained Wednesday morning in a single-car crash just outside the Atchison, Kansas, city limits on U.S. 59 Highway.

Lt. Dax Lewis, Kansas Highway Patrol crash scene commander, said the deceased person, whose name wasn’t released, was a passenger in a white four-door sedan-type vehicle.

Atchison Fire Chief Ted Graf, who assisted Atchison County Rescue in extricating at least two people from the car, said the vehicle left the roadway and careened into a ditch on the northeast side of U.S. 59. Though the incident occurred outside city limits, he came to assist the county rescue and EMS personnel.

The remaining three occupants of the car sustained injuries, Graf said. Troopers didn’t have information on those injuries.

Atchison County Attorney Jerry Kuckelman said he came to the accident scene at the request of the highway patrol. Kuckelman examined the extensively damaged car for about 30 minutes.

He declined to comment on the four people in the car, but when asked if his office would open a criminal investigation, he said he would not rule that out.

Lewis later told the Atchison Globe alcohol may be a factor in the cause of the crash.


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Air packs belong in museum

By Paige Carr
Peabody Gazette Bulletin – Feb. 28, 2018

Peabody Fire Chief Mark Penner expressed concerns about the state of the fire department’s air packs at Monday’s city council meeting.

The air packs provide breathable air for firefighters during dangerous situations such as structure fires.

According to Penner, the air packs are past due for replacement.

“They’ve reached a critical stage,” he said. I’ve found some that were 48 and 38 years old, and my guys are getting to the point where they don’t feel safe going into a fire. Ninety percent of structural fires are fought from the inside out, so this is something that needs to be addressed, if not tonight, then soon.”

Penner presented prices for new and refurbished packs, stating that the refurbished ones are considerably cheaper, but will be completely safe and long-lasting because of the refurbishing process.

While a brand new air pack is $6,500, Penner can invest in four refurbished ones for $6,800.

Mayor Larry Larsen expressed concern about the packs.

“Obviously, that’s a huge safety item,” Larsen said. “We need to take care of that for them.”

Council members nodded in agreement, recognizing the importance of keeping Peabody’s volunteer firefighters safe.

The council approved paying half of the hotel bill for Penner and three firefighters who will attend a fire school out of Topeka. Penner also reported that the fire station is getting wifi services for training purposes, and requested the city’s financial contribution for half of the bill per month, $22.50.

The board unanimously agreed to help with the lodging during training, but deferred a decision on the wifi bill and air packs.

Council members also heard from volunteer firefighter Jeremy Sears, who expressed interest in identifying a series of action plans for emergency preparedness, specifically noting the school and both nursing homes in Peabody.

“I would like to see a small committee of those in charge, like the fire and police chief, blended into one,” Sears said.

Larsen, council members, and police chief Burke discussed safety strategies in place, and future plans.

Burke noted that he’s been working on the safety plan, but that there are multiple parts and it is extremely outdated.

Council members also voted to donate $50 to the Peabody-Burns after-prom committee, and heard from Burke about the complications he’s experienced while trying to enforce a cleanup at properties in the 800 block of north Chestnut St. Council members agreed to seek advice from the city attorney before moving forward.


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Person struck, killed by train identified

By Nick Viviani
KWCH – Feb. 28, 2018


One person is dead and another is in critical condition after being struck by a train late Tuesday afternoon near Tecumseh, authorities say.

Authorities told Gray affiliate WIBW the train hit the pair near SE 2nd St. and NE Goodell St., east of Topeka around 5:30 p.m. Police were told they appeared to be fishing on the bridge.

The Kansas Highway Patrol says 21-year old Christian Charay was struck by the train and killed. Nineteen-year-old Clarissa Seeley was injured when she jumped from the bridge to avoid the train.

There was a boat on scene but it was not dispatched into the water, they said.

According to the Kansas Highway Patrol, pedestrians are never allowed on railroad tracks because it’s considered trespassing.


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Man hit, killed after car gets stuck in Reno County ditch

KAKE – Feb. 28, 2018

Authorities say a man was hit and killed by a pickup after his car got stuck in a ditch in Reno County.

The accident happened southeast of Burrton on Tuesday. Deputy Kevin Sipe said 58-year-old Carl Yoder’s car got stuck in a ditch in the 9000 block of South Worthington Road.

After a neighbor used his pickup and a tow rope to pull Yoder’s car out of the ditch, a passing Dodge truck hit both vehicles, one of which struck Yoder and his neighbor.

Yoder died at the scene. His neighbor and the driver of the other truck were treated and non-life-threatening injuries.

Deputy Sipe said the driver of the Dodge did not see the other vehicles in the road. The accident is still under investigation.


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Fire District No. 1 looking for person to take over as chief

By John Richmeier
Leavenworth Times – Feb. 28, 2018

Officials with Leavenworth County Fire District No. 1 are looking for someone who eventually will take over the job of chief.

For now, the district is advertising the position of assistant chief. But it is anticipated the assistant chief will replace Chief Rick Huhn, who will retire later this year.

Fire District No. 1 provides fire department services to the city of Lansing and Delaware and High Prairie townships.

Currently, the district operates without an assistant chief.

Huhn said the new assistant chief will be in the position a few months before transitioning to the role of chief.

Fire District No. 1 will be accepting applications through March 30, according to an announcement posted on the department’s website.

In addition to the district’s website and Facebook page, the position is being advertised on websites for state firefighter and fire chiefs associations, Huhn said.

“They want to open it up to everybody who is available,” Huhn said of Fire District No. 1′s governing board.

The new assistant chief will begin his or her duties during the week of July 1. The assistant chief will take over as the chief around Oct. 1, according to the department’s announcement.

Fire District No. 1 is offering a salary range of $55,845 to $81,532, depending on qualifications, for the new assistant chief. The salary range for the chief’s position will be more.


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Grass Fire Near Meadowlark School

By Joe Denoyer
KSCB – Feb. 28, 2018

At 3:36 pm Tuesday Liberal firefighters were dispatched for reported small grass fire near Meadowlark Elementary at 15th St. & Calvert Ave. Arriving units found a rapidly spreading grass fire in an open area Northeast of the school. Also responding to the call were units from the Seward County Fire Department. The fire was quickly knocked down and fire units remained on scene for approximately 30 minutes extinguishing the remaining hot spots. Liberal Fire responded with three engines and 11 personnel and Seward County Fire responded with one engine and three personnel. The cause of the fire is undetermined and no exposures were immediately threatened. All units were clear of the scene at 4:20 pm.

The fire departments would like to remind citizens that fire danger will remain extremely high during continued dry conditions and will be increased in periods of moderate to high wind. Please use caution and be vigilant of any activities such as outdoor burning or discarding smoking materials that may contribute to starting a fire accidentally.


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Hays fire crews extinguish fire at Burger Kings

Hays Post – Feb. 28, 2018

At 2:47 AM, Wednesday, February 28, 2018, City of Hays emergency dispatchers were alerted to a building fire at the Burger King Restaurant, 1212 Vine Street. The City of Hays Fire Department, assisted by Ellis County Fire Department Company 5, the Hays Police Department and Ellis County EMS, was immediately dispatched.

A citizen passing by saw flames on the roof of the building, called 911 and alerted the workers inside. The first arriving police officer used a fire extinguisher to hold the fire in-check. Arriving firefighters found a fire in the char-broiler that had extended through the exhaust duct and into roof exhaust equipment. An additional fire extinguisher was used to fully extinguish the fire in the roof equipment and exhaust duct. There were no injuries.

The most probable cause of the fire was the ignition of excessive accumulations of grease in the cooking and ventilation equipment.

Six fire trucks and 28 firefighters responded. The last fire crew left the scene at 3:52 AM.


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Topeka Firefighter Examination


The Topeka (KS) Fire Department will hire several firefighters in September 2018 and in January 2019.

Registration is now being accepted for the upcoming entry-level firefighter examination to be held  March 20, 2018 and June 26, 2018.

Full list of requirements and test registration portal available at

Test registration deadline:

  • March 15, 2018 for March 20th test
  • June 20, 2018 for June 26th

The City of Topeka is an Equal Opportunity Employer


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Couple forced to crawl from home during Lenexa fire

By Daniel Barnett
KCTV 5 – Feb. 27, 2018

A Lenexa couple was forced from their home early Tuesday morning after what a woman thought was a birthday celebration turned out to be flames.

The fire started before 1 a.m. at a home in the 12500 block of W 101st Terrace.

A woman was sleeping when the fire started and was awoken by her boyfriend who smelled smoke inside the home.

The couple opened the door to find a house full of smoke. They crawled through the home, bringing their two dogs and pet tarantula with them.

Both people were able to escape unharmed but one of the dogs did go back into the house and was treated on the scene before being taken to a veterinarian.

Firefighters say most of the flames were found in the back of the home. Investigators are focusing their efforts on the home’s kitchen.

Officials say the home is unlivable.

Tuesday is the woman’s birthday. She told KCTV5 News that when her boyfriend woke her up, she thought he was going to wish her a happy birthday.


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High school students get a taste of public safety work

By Mary Rupert
Wyandotte Daily News – Feb. 27, 2018

At a mock drill today at Kansas City Kansas Community College, students from Wyandotte High School had the opportunity to get some hands-on experience working an accident or responding to police calls.

The students donned protective gear, then went to work at a mock car accident scene, using rescue tools under the supervision of professionals from the Kansas City, Kansas, Fire Department.

Students also participated in a sessions where they met with homicide detectives and with police officers from the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department who respond to domestic violence situations. In addition, there was a mock meth lab explosion where the students met with public safety professionals to investigate.

Robert Hofmann, Wyandotte High School Career Academy facilitator, said high school freshmen were actually working the mock crime scenes under the guidance of the professionals. The students were in the ninth grade in Wyandotte High’s Human and Public Safety Academy. He added that Kansas City Kansas Community College also was participating in this career program.

“The biggest thing, is as a freshman, they can make that informed decision as to what they would like to do,” Hofmann said.

If enough students decide they want to pursue a career in fire science, for example, then Wyandotte High School could then provide a career program for them, he said. It creates a career path for the students.

“It gives them an opportunity to be exposed to something that they might have never even considered,” said Battalion Chief Morris Letcher, a spokesman for the Fire Department.

It gives the students an idea of what the careers are like in the department and hands-on experience of what firefighters do. It can help with recruitment, he said.

“You can get kids interested in things like this that never even considered it,” Letcher said.

Hofmann believes the hands-on career experiences are very helpful to students. Starting as ninth-graders, the students will have time to consider different careers and plan a career path.

Sgt. M.J. Cross, who was talking with students about law enforcement, said he believes it is a good experience for kids and provides good first-hand knowledge of public safety.


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St. Marys woman dies in head on crash on icy bridge

By Brian Dulle
KSNT – Feb. 20, 2018

Photo by Wamego Police Department

The Kansas Highway Patrol has identified the person killed in a two-vehicle crash near Belvue.

Just after 11 p.m. Monday a 2000 Ford F150, driven by Donald D. Ebert, 51, of Louisville, was westbound on U.S. Highway 24 and a 2004 Alero Oldsmobile, driven by Sarah Helen Salinas, 38, of St. Marys, was heading east.

KHP said both drivers lost control on an icy bridge near Camp Creek Road. Ebert struck Salinas in the eastbound lane head on, according to KHP.

Ebert and a passenger, identified as Corina M. Roudybush, 50, of Clay Center, were taken to Stormont Vail Hospital with injuries. Both were wearing seat belts.

Salinas was the only occupant in her vehicle and was pronounced dead at the scene. KHP said she was not wearing a seat belt.

Salinas was a 911 dispatcher for the Wamego Police Department. Wamego Police Chief Michael Baker said she had been a dedicated 911 dispatcher for Wamego PD for 10 years.


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Two dead after plane crashes in western Kansas

KSN – Feb. 22, 2018

Two people are dead after a plane crash in western Kansas late Thursday night.

According to Grant County Fire Chief John Crosby, the plane crashed around 9:30 Thursday night about five miles north of the Ulysses.

According to the Kansas Highway Patrol, the plane had taken off from the Ulysses airport en route to Scott City. For an unknown reason, the plane turned around and headed back to Ulysses where it crashed .

The Kansas Highway Patrol identified the victims as Daniel Dunn, 68, and Michael Steele, 64, both from Scott City.

The plane caught fire on impact and debris was scattered throughout the area.

The cause of the crash is currently under investigation.


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Area fire crews kept busy Monday with multiple grass fires

By Natalie Dattilio
WIBW – Feb. 27, 2018


Warm, windy weather means the return of fire danger.

Several grass fires kept area crews busy Monday. The field on NW 50th, west of Rochester Road, was just one blackened by an out-of-control burn. Fortunately, no structures were damaged.

Silver Lake Fire assisted, and later in the afternoon, they called on Hoyt to help out with a field fire they dealt with at NW 54th and Leedy.

We are heading into the Spring range burning season and fire officials remind you to use caution and avoid burning on windy days.


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Moundridge fire receives water rescue gear

By Brooke Haas
Newton Kansan – Feb. 27, 2018

Photo by Cory Howard

Over the past 11 years, the Moundridge community has raised thousands of dollars to assist the Moundridge Fire Department in purchasing costly items through their annual chili feed.

Last year’s chili feed raised enough money to buy water rescue gear for the department. The special equipment is used to rescue people who have fallen through ice or in similar water emergencies.

This year’s chili feed will be held from 5 to 7:30 p.m. March 10 at Moundridge Middle School, 530 E. Cole St. Chili and cinnamon rolls will be served for a free will donation. Tickets for raffle prizes will also be available. This year’s proceeds will go towards further funding of water rescue equipment.

Before the fire department had their own gear, their only option was to call other area fire departments to assist in a water emergency.

“We never really thought about having them before we had an incident last year when a 10-year-old boy fell through the ice and his mom and dad went in after him. We saved the father — but the boy and his mother didn’t make it,” said Rhett Neufeld, acting captain of the Moundridge Fire Department. “We did everything we could with the gear we had. It was pretty hopeless — we felt hopeless. We decided to buy gear in case this ever happens again, that way we’d be more equipped.”

With the proceeds from the annual chili feed, the department was able to purchase four ice water rescue suits, which cost $400 to $800 alone, and much more.

“We bought ropes for taglines and a boat. We also bought a trailer for all of it to go in for anytime we have a situation like that — we never hope we do — but its all in that boat and trailer and we’re ready for it,” Neufeld explained. “Over the past couple of years, the chili feed has probably raised over $2,000 to $3,000 for us.”

Neufeld also noted that members of the fire department have been expanding their knowledge on water safety rescue courses and take that information back to their team.

Along with the water rescue gear, Neufeld said they have also bought items for their vehicles and rescue equipment from the proceeds of the chili feed.

Now that the department is fully equipped and ready for a water rescue emergency, Neufeld said they are excited to share their gear with other fire departments and emergency personnel if they need it.

“If anyone needs it, we’re more than welcome to come out and do what they need to do. We’re not just having it for us, if anyone needs it, they just call us,” he explained.


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Hesston Fire/EMS past, present shared

By Patricia Middleton
Newton Kansan – Feb. 27, 2018

Photo by Patricia Middleton

The Hesston Women’s Civic Club had plenty of questions — and received plenty of answers —about how the fire and emergency medical services department in their city operated as they gathered at Hesston’s Municipal Building Monday night.

Hesston Fire/EMS Chief Russ Buller started by shared some facts about the history of the city’s fire department — from the early days of a bucket brigade to upgrading to a chemical cart and then finally getting motorized vehicles to shorten response times.

Several in the group nodded in remembrance as Buller spoke about the formation of the Hesston Rescue Unit in 1959.

“They ran their own personal station wagons,” Buller said. “They put stretchers in the back and light bars on the top when a call came in and they would respond to emergencies and render care.”

Hesston Fire/EMS covers about 75 square miles, and can respond to parts of McPherson County and Marion County faster than other departments in those areas.

“For Harvey County being the smallest county in the state of Kansas, we have 14 ambulances within the county that we can have here in 15 minutes or less,” Buller said. ”…We’re quite fortunate to have the resources we do.”

They also provide mutual aid to several fire departments, including Newton, Walton and Whitewater.

The buck does not stop there, though, as Buller noted an ambulance from Hesston was sent to Greensburg in the wake of the tornado that hit the town in 2007.

“We were there by 10 o’clock that next morning and we did missions with rescue teams to look for bodies,” Buller said.

The majority of Hesston’s fire and EMS staff respond to calls as they are paged out.

“Technically, by city definition, they are part-time employees of the city of Hesston, because we do pay them when they respond,” Buller said.

The personnel are also compensated for their time when they participate in training.

“A lot of my staff are both sides — they go on fire trucks, they go on ambulances, they do whatever needs to be done,” Buller said.

Determining which vehicles are sent out after a 911 call takes prior planning.

“We have protocols that we use to identify the kind of situation we may be going to,” Buller said. ”…Our fire trucks go to injury accidents along with our ambulance.”

In the same manner, ambulances accompany fire trucks responding to a report of a structure.

“There’s a lot of crossover,” Buller explained. “Everybody has a lot of responsibilities on each scene that they fulfill.”

Buller also spoke about the responses from the Fire/EMS department after major fires, the 1990 tornado and a shooting at Excel Industries.

“It’s a challenge to manage and support all of that type of response,” Buller said.

During severe weather, the department’s vehicles are scattered around to both serve as spotter and responders, but also to avoid being in the same place should a tornado touch down.

“We’re spreading our assets so we don’t lose everyone,” Buller said.

Three chaplains work with the department to aid both at emergency scenes and back at the station.

“Having people trained to watch our staff and help keep them healthy mentally as well, is very important,” Buller said.

The fire trucks and ambulances at Hesston are being switched over to a paint scheme of bright yellow with a blue stripe.

“It goes to visibility, it goes to safety, it goes to uniqueness,” Buller explained. ”…It always impressed me that it was so much more visible than the red fire truck.”

The EMS department in Hesston has three ambulances to answer around 700 calls per year, 50 percent of which are medical emergencies. Another 40 percent are traumatic accidents such as car wrecks, falls, cuts or amputations. The remaining 10 percent of the calls are rendering mutual aid.

Hesston’s fire department answers between 200 and 250 calls per year, many of which are assistance for EMS calls to aid in lifting or extracting patients. Going to fire and carbon monoxide alarm calls makes up another part of their work.

“Our department is extremely busy for the size that we are,” Buller said.

For more information about Hesston Fire/EMS, visit


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Grass fires a problem along interstate highways

Wyandotte Daily News – Feb. 26, 2018

It’s been a day of several brush fires in the area.

Grass fires were reported along I-435 and I-635 in Wyandotte County today, according to KC Scout.

The Kansas City, Kansas, Fire Department fought a brush fire today on a couple of acres near I-635 and Leavenworth Road, according to a spokesman, Battalion Chief Morris Letcher.

Today the weather is dry, with some wind, and with temperatures in the 60s, Letcher said, conditions that might make it easier for grass fires to spread.


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Man dies in rollover crash in Reno County

KAKE – Feb. 26, 2018

A man has died following a rollover crash Monday morning in Reno County.

The sheriff’s office said deputies responded at around 8:40 a.m. to the report of an overturned vehicle in a field near Sago and Castleton roads, just south of Arlington.

Deputies arrived to find a Chevy Suburban on its top in a field. A man was found a few feet away from the SUV, and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The man’s name was not released. The crash is under investigation.


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New Shawnee Heights fire chief appointed

KSNT – Feb. 26, 2018

A local fire department has appointed a new fire chief Friday.

The governing board of the Shawnee Heights Fire District appointed Rick Deibert as the District’s new fire chief. Deibert will feel the seat of Tom Garcia, who retired in January.

Deibert started his service as a volunteer firefighter in Oberlin, Kansas in 1986. He was hired by the Great Bend Fire Department in 1986, where he progressed to the rank of captain and obtained paramedic certification.

In 2005, Deibert left Great Bend to become the Technical Rescue Program Manager for the Kansas Fire and Rescue Training Institute (KF&RTI) at the University of Kansas. Deibert was responsible for creating and managing the statewide technical rescue program for KF&RTI.

Deibert later served as a contract Firefighter / Paramedic in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2012, Deibert was hired as a Battalion Chief with the Shawnee Heights Fire District and has been serving as Interim Fire Chief until the Boards appointment.

Deibert earned an Associate Degree in EMS from Barton County Community College, a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Management from Friends University and is currently a third year student in the National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer Program.

Chief Deibert is married to Linda and they have two grown children and five grandchildren.


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Kansas fire departments unite for training

By Autumn Bracey
Four States – Feb. 26, 2018


Fire departments across Southeast Kansas united at the Pittsburg Water Treatment Plant for training.

Fire and Rescue trainer Ben Green led the group of fire departments from Pittsburg, Emporia, Iola, and Leavenworth in a series of exercises. This program is designed for the firefighters to complete confined space rescue training. Green says once they complete the training the team’s will test to obtain a national certification, so they can become confined space rescue technicians.

“Well we do these all we can to try to give rescuers a realistic scenario, we have to be as close to as we can with being as safe as possible,” says Ben Green.

Green adds exercise training ensures firefighters are always keeping up with the best practices to help them save lives.


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Benjamin O. “Benny” Free

Benjamin O. “Benny” Free, son of William T. Free Sr. and Florence (Lervold) Free was born June 14, 1941 at Courtland, KS and passed away on February 20, 2018 at the Jewell County Hospital, Mankato, KS at the age of 76 years, 8 months and 6 days.
He graduated from Courtland High School, Courtland, KS.
He was united in marriage to Shirley Kasl on April 22, 1960 and to this union three children were born, Cindy, Becky, Curtis.
He has lived in the Formoso community since 1966. He was a member of the Formoso Community Church and 47 year member of the Formoso Volunteer Fire department.
He was preceded in death by his parents, William T. Free Sr. and Florence Free, one brother, William T. Free Jr., brother-in-law, Merlin Larson.
He is survived by his wife, Shirley Free of Formoso, KS, two daughters, Cindy (Nick) Kimes of Harrison, AR, Becky (Robert) Roush of Formoso, KS, one son, Curtis (Jody) Free of Salina, KS, four grandchildren, Luke (Lauren) Roush of Formoso, KS,
Samantha (Alan) Sramek of LaCrosse, KS, Annika Free of Salina, KS, Dane Free of Salina, KS, step grandchild, Kara Tramell of Harrison, AR, four great-grandchildren, two-step great-grandchildren, one sister, Carol Larson of Apache Junction, AZ, sister-in-law, Joan Free of Cleveland, OK, nieces and nephews, other relatives and many friends.
Funeral services will be held 10:30 AM, Monday, February 26, 2018, Formoso Community Church, Formoso, KS, conducted by, Pastor Daniel Waide.
Interment will be in Balch Cemetery, Formoso, KS.
Memorials may be given to Formoso Community Church or Formoso Volunteer Fire Department.
Friends may call on Sunday, Feb 25, 2018 from 1 PM to 8 PM at Bachelor-Surber Funeral Home, Belleville, KS where the family will receive friends from 2 PM to 4 PM Sunday.


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Norman Wayne Hupe

Norman Wayne Hupe, 70, Wamego, Kansas died Friday, February 16, 2018, at the Wamego Health Center in Wamego, Kansas.

He was born February 20, 1947 in Wamego to Orville and Virginia (Wood) Hupe where he attended both grade and high schools. The highlight of his Junior Year was attending the Beatles concert in Kansas City which was the inspiration to teach himself to play the guitar, ultimately forming the band “The Citations.” Playing throughout their high school and college years, his role in the band led to meeting his future bride.

After enrolling at Kansas State University, Norman was a Charter Member of Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity and continued to be active and supportive of his fraternity. He was graduated in 1970 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education and a Minor in Business. In 1986 he obtained his Broker-Agent Insurance Licenses in both Kansas and Missouri .

On August 11, 1968, he married Jeanette Gingles in Clay Center, Kansas. To this union, two sons were born: Christopher Aaron and Sean Michael.

Norman served on the Wamego City Commission for eight years and was Mayor of Wamego for two terms. This was followed by his serving on the Zoning Board of Appeals. He was a member of the Wamego Volunteer Fire Department. In addition, he served as a committee chairman of Boy Scout Troop #92 for two years.

As an active member of the First Presbyterian Church, Norman served as an Elder for two terms.

He was a member of the Wamego Chamber of Commerce volunteering for numerous community activities, especially the Ag Appreciation Night and most proudly as a Charter Member of the Wamego Pyro Crew.

Norman was Owner and President of R-W Milling Company, a family-owned business, which through his innovation has grown into a company with products distributed worldwide. He was a past member of the Board of Directors of the American Alfalfa Processors Association and also served as past President of the Kansas Dehydrators Association in the 80’s.

Norman was preceded in death by his father, Orville, and a sister-in-law, Cindy. He is survived by his wife Jeanette of nearly fifty years and their two sons: Christopher and wife Jill (Lantz), Wamego, and Sean, Los Angeles, California; 3 grandsons, Cale, Blaine, and Alec Hupe, his mother Virginia Hupe, and siblings Carol Williams, John Hupe and Julie (Jim) Appino, several nephews and nieces, and a multitude of friends.

Memorial Service for Norman will be at 2:30 p.m. Friday, February 23, 2018 at the First Presbyterian Church at 601 Elm Street, Wamego. A Celebration of Life will immediately follow at the Iron Clad at 427 Lincoln Avenue, Wamego and will continue through the evening. Visitation will be held from 6:00 – 8:30 p.m. Thursday, February 22nd at the Stewart Funeral Home of Wamego. In lieu of flowers, the family has suggested memorials to the Norman Hupe Family Scholarship Fund, and may be left in care of Stewart Funeral Home, PO Box 48, Wamego, KS 66547.


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Jim May

Jim May, 84, of Altamont, Kansas passed way Saturday, February 17, 2018 in the emergency room of the Labette Heath Center in Parsons, Kansas.

Jim was born September 8, 1933 in Webb City, Missouri, a son of Elvis L. and Nellie M. (Lewis) May.

He grew up in Parsons and graduated from East High School.

On June 1, 1952, he and Twila J. Kessler were united in marriage in the First Presbyterian Church in Altamont. She survives of the home.

They made their home at rural Altamont before moving to Altamont in 1969.

Jim served in the US Army as a Sergeant and a tank commander at Ft. Hood, Texas.

Jim worked as a mechanic at gas stations in Parsons before his marriage. He worked as a foreman at the Katy Railroad in Parsons and later as a rural mail carrier in Altamont and Edna, Kansas.

Jim served on the Altamont City Council for 10 years and as a volunteer fireman in Altamont since 1972. He enjoyed his family, working on his mail cars, farming with his sons, and taking care of Twila.

Jim was a member of the First Baptist Church in Altamont and the Altamont Masonic Lodge for over 50 years. He was a 32nd degree Mason and a member of the Consistory in Fort Scott, Kansas.

In addition to his wife, Jim is survived by three sons; Dave May of Spring Hill, Kansas, Brian W. May of Girard, Kansas, and his companion, Nancy Bolt of Parsons; Mark May of Altamont; his grandchildren, Ryan May, and his wife, Meghan, of Belton, Missouri; Aaron May, and his companion, Kira Moravec, of Wichita, Molly May of Little Rock, Arkansas, and Connor May of Spring Hill.

Funeral services will be at 2:00 pm Thursday, February 22, 2018 at the Carson-Wall Funeral Home of Parsons with Pastor Rick Prideaux officiating. The Altamont Mt Pleasant Fire Department will conduct a Service of Remembrance. Burial will follow in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Altamont.

Friends may call after 11:00 AM Wednesday at the Carson-Wall Funeral Home in Parsons.
Memorials are suggested to the Altamont Mt. Pleasant Fire Department and these may be left at the funeral home or mailed to the Carson-Wall Funeral Home112 N. 26th Street, Parsons, Kansas 67357.


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Fire crews quickly extinguish Pine Apartment balcony fire

By Tiernan Shank
WIBW – Feb. 25, 2018

Topeka fire crews responded to a fire at the Pine Apartments Sunday afternoon.

Shawnee County Dispatch says someone called about an apartment balcony being on fire around just before 3 p.m.

The complex is located at 238 SW Gage Boulevard.

TFD told 13 NEWS they were able to extinguish the flames within a few minutes.

They said the fire started on the ground floor balcony with flames reaching several floors up but not inside the apartment.

No one was inside the apartment where the fire started and there are no reported injuries.

Investigators do not yet know what caused the fire.


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Railroad ties burned in Galena

Columbus News Report – Feb. 19, 2018

State and local fire investigators are looking at four fires that erupted Thursday night in Galena and the simultaneous burning of piles of used railroad ties, as presumed acts of arson.

Approximately three acres of grass around the ties was burned.

“Every so often you get somebody who becomes a torch,” Galena Fire Chief Bill Hall said Friday. “We had a real problem getting into where they had piled the ties. But we just stood by and let them burn.”

He said the first of the grass fires broke out about 9:20 p.m. at Front and Main Streets and burned a fraction of an acre before the Galena Fire Department got it put out.

At 10:15 p.m., a second fire started about six blocks east of Main on Fourth Street. As firefighters were tending to that, they could see a third, much bigger blaze, erupt just off old Route 66 and the town viaduct, involving old Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway ties.

“The ties were the big ones,” Hall said. “There were probably over 2,000 of them that burned.”

He said firefighters could not get their firefighting equipment in to try to put out that fire because the ties were surrounded with discarded metal segments of railroad line.

The Baxter Springs Fire Department assisted Galena firefighters on the calls and a state fire marshal was on the scene Friday investigating the suspected arsons.


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House Fire in Gardner

Gardner Edge – Feb. 24, 2018

Fire District #1 Of Johnson County, KS responded to a house fire at 2:14am this morning in the 500 block of S. Hickory St. in Gardner, KS. Callnotes advised that the house was on fire and that all occupants were out. While units were enroute, the resident who called in the house fire also notified a next door neighbor who is a Lieutenant with our fire department but was off duty. The off duty Lieutenant called dispatch to confirm that the house fire was reported which it wa…s. The off duty Lieutenant then used his portable radio to advise incoming units that there was smoke showing from the residential home and established command.

The first arriving unit was an Engine that had just cleared a medical call nearby. The next arriving unit was the on duty Battalion Chief who took over command. Additional units arrived and the fire was declared under control at 2:54am.

The home received extensive smoke and fire damage leaving the home uninhabitable. There are no injuries to report. The value of damage is unknown. We would like to thank Johnson County Fire District No. 2, Northwest Consolidated Fire District , Johnson County Med-Act , Gardner Police Department and Johnson County, KS Sheriff’s Office who assisted us on this incident. We would also like to thank the City of Olathe Fire Department for providing station coverage during this incident.


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Fire officials make changes in response to 2017 wildfires

By John Green
Hutchinson News – Feb. 25, 2018


After Reno County’s March 2017 wildfires, Deputy Fire Chief Doug Hanen, with the assistance of Emergency Management Director Adam Weishaar and Sheriff Randy Henderson, conducted an extensive “after action review” over several months to see what went right, what didn’t and how the response could be improved.

“We looked at every aspect of how the incident went down, from the media to the way utilities – from power and gas to pipeline groups – were handled,” Hanen said. “Every possible entity involved or impacted was detailed in the report.”

For the most part, the effort by numerous agencies was positive and commendable, the 30-plus page report notes, but a few areas needed improvement.

Two changes they’ve already started to implement, Hanen said, include the fire department’s operational response and its equipment.

Flipping the fleet

Reno County Fire District 2 merged into the Hutchinson Fire Department in 2000, adding the challenge of fighting brush fires in the sand hills north of town to the responsibilities of a primarily urban department.

“At the time of the merger (with District 2) there was a fire across Sand Hills State Park,” Hanen said. “We weren’t very good. In fact, we were horrible. We got trucks stuck. We didn’t know what we were doing. With the help of former Fire District 2, mixing crews, we’ve come a long way. In 18 years, we’ve become very good at wildland firefighting at this point.”

“We’re still kind of top heavy,” Hanen said. “We had six 6-by-6 brush units and four smaller units. Since last year, we’ve sold off two of those (larger units) and are in the process of having two smaller ones built. We’re trying to flip our fleet.”

They’ve found, Hanen said, the smaller trucks, though holding less water, are more versatile in the Sand Hills.

“It gives us the best chance,” he said. “Roadways have a base. We can get our larger equipment on them, but, especially in the sand hills, the base is not there. If we get an apparatus stuck, it’s there until the fire is under control. We don’t have the means or resources to get it out.”

“The big trucks we have we can place in open fields, and we still have a need for some of those,” he said. “We still have 108 square miles. The Sand Hills fire covered 27 square miles, (out of 50 to 60 square miles in the sand hills.) But we need the proper mix of units, so we’re in the process of changing that.”

During the event – and for many grass fires today – the department also used utility all-terrain vehicles. They use the Polaris side-by-side, with a 75-gallon water tank, mainly for mop up or to get into areas that are not reachable by regular units, like very wet areas or small areas, Hanen said. The department also used it during the state fair.

“We currently have one, and South Hutchinson has one as well,” Hanen said. “They proved very useful during the week of March 2017. The fires that occurred that Friday were in some wet areas that could not be reached with anything else.”

The Hutchinson department hopes to add another one UTV in the future, and many of the rural fire districts in the county are looking to purchase some as well, Hanen said.

Sending everything

On the operational side, if there is a “red flag” warning issued by weather officials indicating a high wildfire danger on that day, the department now sends at least three brush units immediately on an initial grass fire call and is quicker to call for outside assistance.

“We’re sending everything and not waiting for someone to get there” to assess the fire, Hanen said “We continue to learn from these and be better prepared. If we see smoke, we get units out right away, countywide. Every department in the county gets notified at one time; then we go to a side channel for the incident.”

They may also put out a regional mutual aid advisory. Depending on which departments have some capacity, Hanen said, “they will send what equipment they feel comfortable sending and they’ll meet at a staging area. They’ll come to the scene as one and stay together as a unit.”

Each grouping includes four brush units, a water tender – which is a tanker that hauls water for refilling trucks – and a task force leader in a supervisor’s vehicle, Hanen said.

That’s also a different operational set-up than in the past, when an incident commander directed all units in the field.

“In the case of last year, we had a line stretched seven miles north and seven south,” Hanen said. “We had 150 pieces of apparatus on March 6. It’s very difficult to control such a group. When each task force group is reporting to one person, it helps in the span and control, all the way up the line to the Incident Commander.”

They’ve also found what often works best is to line up the brush units, with one out front and others behind performing “mop up.”

Besides mutual aid from nearby departments, officials can call on firefighters and other emergency response aid within a 19-county task force. It’s called the Fire Operations Response Coordination or FORCe, first created after the Greensburg tornado, and reactivated three years ago following a series of large fires in Kansas and Oklahoma.

FORCe crews were called in the second night of the March fires to spell exhausted local firefighters overnight. There were replaced by volunteers from departments around the state later in the week.

“They are helpful in the fact that they close the gap of when State or Federal Resources will arrive,” Hanen said. “FORCe is completely mutual aid between departments, but can be deployed quickly, usually arriving within a couple of hours, whereas State and Federal resources can be up to 24 to 48 hours.”

Back burns and weather

Some other changes the department has adopted over the past couple of years, said Fire Chief Steven Beer, are “fighting fire with fire” and letting some fires burn, rather than putting them out.

“We used to try to chase after them (fires),” Hanen said. “We’d get out in a field and try to put it out. That works great in an open field. But when it’s between homes and trees are everywhere, and you’re trying to chase a fire that’s going 30 to 45 mph, you can’t drive fast enough to chase it.”

Now every brush truck carries a drip torch, which uses a mix of gasoline and diesel in a can with a drip spout to set backfires.

“It’s how we stopped the March fire at 56th and K-61,” Hanen said. “It’s how we stopped the Jupiter Hills fire as well. The point is to try to get ahead of it. You can’t just get a couple of hundred yards. We have to get miles ahead, to let it burn back against the wind.”

It’s usually not the fire front, though it may be massive, that makes containing a wildfire difficult, but thousands of burning embers carried on the wind, which start spot fires and create multiple fire fronts, often jumping roads and firebreaks.

“You have to get a good blackout area, so there’s no place for the oncoming fire to burn,” he said.

Now, if there is a fire along a railroad right of way – where sparks from trains ignite them — if there are not high winds or high fire danger, they will monitor the fire, but let it burn.

“Otherwise, we’ll be back out next week,” Hanen said.

“We also pay a lot more attention to the weather,” Chief Beer said. “We always pay more attention to humidity.”

Being aware of conditions helps firefighters prepare in advance of potentially high fire days.

Certified for wildfires

The Hutchinson Fire Department over the past four weeks put all its firefighters through a daylong wildland fire refresher.

“It went from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.,” Beer said, and included instruction from the Kansas Forestry Department.

Officials recognized a few years ago that the sand hills north of Hutchinson have turned into “one of the worst areas for a true urban interface for wildfires in the nation, due to homes intermingling with the grasses and trees,” Beer said.

As a result, the Hutchinson Fire Department became the first fully-paid department in Kansas to achieve “red card certification” for all its firefighters, he said, referring to training specifically for fighting wildland fires.

The agency has now chosen to go beyond that, sending all its firefighters to more advanced wildland fire training to certify them as “squad bosses,” and they’re also seeking to have the first “red card” fire investigator in the state.

The training requires the firefighters, in small groups or pairs, to join in battling wildfires in other states during the latter part of the wildfire season.

“Ultimately our goal is to have a truck go out to Colorado or California,” Beer said. “It’s obviously different than a brush truck around here. They’d be gone two weeks at a time. We’d also be able to have the unit useable here.”

The federally-funded program means the training and response entails a minimal cost to local taxpayers, “but the experience they bring back would be invaluable,” Beer said.

Capt. Mike Cain, a Hutchinson firefighter for 17 years, and fire inspector for four, has completed the 40-hour wildland fire investigation training, but must still complete a “task book” using specific investigative practices to earn his investigator’s red card.

With a fire investigator specially trained in looking for causes of wildfires, they hope to cut down on the number of intentionally set fires in the county, and provide the public more information about fire causes and how to prevent them, Beer said.

Mapping the future

One other area way the fire department is working to reduce the threat of wildland fires is to look further back than last year.

They’ve mapped all the major wildfires in the county over the past decade and identified some patterns officials hope to use in creating firebreaks.

“We’re trying to use history to be more prepared for the future,” Beer said. “We’re looking for anything that gives us an indication where we could stop these fires. The map tells tales of what happened in the past.”

They hope to work with townships and homeowners to make landscape changes that can significantly reduce risks of out-of-control wildfires, particularly removing trees and keeping ditches mowed.

“We have to give a plug to Harvey County,” Hanen said. “They’ve had a number of fires run across Burmac Road. There were a couple of really big ones there. They worked hard with their township to clean out the ditches. All the trees that burned up and fell over they’ve cleaned up … They’re well aware the road’s a good firebreak where they can try to make a stand.”

Sharing responsibility

Residents living in the area also share responsibility, Beer said, of protecting their property and that of their neighbors.

“Create some defensible space where we can try to hold a fire,” he said. “If we work together for a common goal we’ll be more successful.”

Kansas Forest Service officials presented a number of wildland fire preparedness events in the past.

“The first one was back in 2014,” Hanen said. “One person attended that. They tried to run one in November 2016, and 40 people showed up for that. Then they ran one a couple of weeks after the fire, and 150 people were here. Hopefully, that will help at least a little bit. There’s tons of information on the Internet.”

The fire department would also be happy to send personnel to talk to individuals and help them assess what can be done to make the property safer, Beer said.

“You look at your homes every day and hardly think about these things, but we live and breathe it,” he said. “We see things differently than normal people do.”

State assistance falls short

One area noted in the after action report that fell well below needs and expectations during the fires was the response of the State Incident Management Team.

The afternoon of March 4, the second day of fires, local officials requested a state team for Sunday morning, so that local incident managers could get some rest.

The team was in place the next morning and assisted in managing the Jupiter Hills fire for most of the day.

While the state team sent a lot of people, and they were effective in handling logistics for food, fuel and lodging for volunteer responders, the assessment stated, they “seemed overwhelmed by a moving event,” were “inexperienced…in essential positions” and lacked accountability.

Then, that evening, rather than assist in organizing operations for the next day – when winds were expected to shift and potentially create “the real possibility of a threat on the city of Hutchinson,” the report stated – the IMT team left.

“The real need was for fresh crews and additional brush units for Monday morning operations,” the report stated. “IMT all but left for the evening, while Reno County Emergency Management and Hutchinson Fire personnel began looking for mutual aid.”

“A call to the state revealed there was little assistance they could provide.”

That left local responders to start calling counties around the state looking for assistance, with a fire crew taking return calls from those could assist.

Lacking experience

There were also issues while the state IMT were managing the incident with keeping local jurisdictions up-to-date on objectives and planning for the next operational periods, the report stated.

“These IMT teams are all people like me, emergency managers or retired fire chiefs,” said Reno County Emergency Management’s Weishaar. “Their agencies allow them to go out and train to do larger incident. It was no fault of the state (the team fell short) but the state is trying to fix it.”

In the past, Weishaar said, such teams have responded only after a disaster, to help with recovery. The 2016 Anderson Creek fire in Barber County marked the group’s first active wildland response.

“Until two years ago, the team was for recovery,” he said. “They never practiced a rapidly expanding event, with things thrown at them. They didn’t know how to respond.”

The state has since revamped the program, placing teams under the Kansas Department of Emergency Management and able to respond nationwide instead of just in Kansas.

Weishaar, however, said he’ll not call on the team for active assistance “for a few years,” until it is more experienced.

The national Type II Incident Management Team, on the other hand, which was called in late in the fires, “was night and day,” regarding expertise and experience with wildfires, Weishaar said, and officials wished they’d called it in sooner.

Local officials learned a lot from the team, especially in how to re-populate areas following the evacuation and in dealing with victims following an event.

No warning

However, there was also some “disconnect” with local officials, not keeping them apprised of the situation and allowing local input on the needs of the community, the report noted.

The Grassland Fire Danger Index hit 175 — double the “extreme” danger rating — on March 6.

The city manager, county administrator, sheriff, police chief, EMS and 911 directors, Emergency Management, the fire chief and Kansas Forestry officials met at 10 a.m. that day “to talk frankly and openly about the real threat to the city of Hutchinson for the day.”

“All those in attendance were in favor of not inciting panic on the public and (that) the information would not be released,” the report stated.

Later that day winds reignited the fire in the Highlands, forcing two rounds of emergency evacuations in northern Reno County.

The report doesn’t address that decision, but it does suggest a need for better, more timely communication with the public and establishing a reliable notification and alert system.


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Fire destroys trailer Sunday night

Daily Union – Feb. 20, 2018

About $14,000 worth of property was destroyed and a home rendered uninhabitable by smoke damage after a fire in a trailer at 938 E. Fourth St. Sunday evening.

The Junction City Fire Department and the Junction City Police Department responded to the fire to find the trailer engulfed in widespread smoke and flames. JCFD firefighters put the fire out within about 90 minutes.

The fire is known to have started in a bedroom and extended into another bedroom and the hallway, but the cause is still under investigation by the JCFD.

The Red Cross was notified, along with Westar Energy and Kansas Gas. The Red Cross came to the scene and offered assistance to those affected by the fire. The seven people living in the home–two adults and five children–have been displaced.

The family took shelter in a neighbor’s home during the blaze and no one was injured in incident.


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Topeka basement fire causes $3,000 loss for family

By Erika Hall
WIBW – Feb. 25, 2016

The Topeka Fire Department received a call around 6:00 a.m. Sunday about a house fire at 1600 SW Polk.

When they arrived on scene fire crews saw smoke coming from the residence, and discovered the fire to be in the basement.

It was quickly extinguished, and kept contained to the basement area.

Investigators determined the cause of the fire to be accidental, and likely from the electrical components of an exercise treadmill.

A working smoke alarm warned the two adults, four children and dog who were in the home at the time, and all were able to escape the fire uninjured.

It is estimated the family lost $3,000 in the fire.


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Fire burns barn south of Conway Springs

By Michelle Leidy-Franklin
Conway Springs Star Argosy – January 25, 2018

Firefighters responded to a structure fire just south of Conway Springs last Thursday.

The call came in at approximately 11:45 a.m., and firefighters from Conway Springs, Viola and Sedgwick County Fire Station 39 responded to a barn fire on Highway K-49, just south of Conway Springs.

Volunteer firefighter and Conway Springs City Council member Daryle Smith was among the first responders.

“The structure was totally engulfed when we got there,” said Smith.

Smith called in a tanker from Mayfield to help fight the blaze. Former Fire Chief Mike Erker had previously made arrangements with dispatch to immediately send units from Sedgwick County and Viola for all fires. This arrangement allowed for a quick response to the fire that prevented further damage.

While the crew set to work on the barn, workers also circled around the back of the barn to fight the grass fire that was spreading west of the property. The fire was contained before it could spread to other structures in the area. Damage was contained to the barn. Crews spent nearly three hours fighting the blaze.

“The structure was a total loss,” said Smith.

The barn belonged to Brian and Emily Beck. The barn was approximately 30 feet by 40 feet. The contents of the barn were lost along with the barn.

“We had baby calves in there with a heat lamp and one of the calves probably kicked over the lamp. I am 99 percent sure that is what caused the fire,” said Brian Beck.


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Jack L. Solter Sr.

Jack L. Solter Sr., 84, retired owner of Solter’s Cold Storage Doors, died Saturday, January 20, 2018, at his home in Conway Springs.

He was born Feb. 27, 1933, at Conway Springs to Loren Andrew Solter and Ethel Evelyn (Thompson) Solter. He was the fifth generation of the Solter family in Conway Springs. Jack grew up in the Conway Springs community and attended Conway Springs public schools. He attended Conway Springs High School and graduated with the class of 1951. He later served as president of the CSHS Alumni Association. Jack continued his education and attended Wichita University and Friends University.

Jack entered the U.S. Navy in 1951, where he served during the Korean Conflict as a Seabee. He taught electrical construction and served in the Navy Reserves until his honorable discharge on Feb. 27, 1962.

Jack was united in marriage to Patricia Ann Wagner on July 22, 1951, at Conway Springs.

Jack began working at a very young age in inspection at Boeing Aircraft in Wichita before working as a linesman for Western Light and Telephone. He worked in Conway Springs as a servicemen before returning to Boeing to work on the flight line. Jack and Pat also worked with Pat’s dad operating two bowling lanes in Wichita.

Jack studied refrigeration and became an authorized Kelvinator Warranty servicemen. Solter’s Appliance Service repaired for more than 30 stores in the Wichita area.

Jack and Pat returned to Conway Springs in 1965 and built a new home at 120 W. St. Louis. Jack worked at Garretson Grain Elevator a short time before establishing a refrigeration door business in 1973. Solter’s Cold Storage Doors manufactured refrigeration doors for the next 26 years for International Cold Storage. He and Pat retired in 2006.

In 1971, Jack was elected to the Conway Springs City Council, where he served as the city’s mayor a year later. He also was a member of the Conway Springs Volunteer Fire Department for more than 30 years, and was a part of the early day rescue crew. Jack was appointed and served on the U.S. Selective Service Board for 15 years and also had served as Boy Scout Master for five years.

Jack was a member of the United Methodist Church, Conway Springs. He was active in numerous masonic bodies including: Mistletoe Lodge #269 A.F. and A.M., where he served as Master in 1984 and as treasurer and trustee for many years.

He was an active member in Midian Shrine as a class director and in the Nomads unit. He also served as the outer guard on the Shrine Divan in 2005 and worked the Shrine Circus box office for more than 25 years. Jack was a 50 year member of Dorcas Chapter #151 Order of Eastern Star in Conway Springs.

Jack and Pat were members of the Conway Springs Chamber of Commerce. They were a major part of the “behind the scenes” of the annual Fall Fest parade by hosting the many Midian Shrine Unit members before and after the parade.

Jack and Pat enjoyed traveling, boating and water skiing, and especially their time share at Kimberling City, Mo.

Jack was preceded in death by his parents and one grandson, Teddy Stuhlsatz.

Survivors include his wife, Pat Solter of Conway Springs; two sons; Jack Solter, Jr. and wife, Tammi, of Conway Springs, and David Solter and wife, Brenda of Choctaw, Okla; one daughter, Christine Solter of Conway Springs; and 33 grandchildren.


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William (Willy) Martin Shockley

William (Willy) Martin Shockley, age 54, Lawrence, KS, died on February 12th, 2018, at home surrounded by family. Willy was born March 3, 1963, the son of Johnson and Nancy Shockley, and grew up in Lawrence with his brother, Randy Shockley. He graduated from Lawrence High School in 1981. Willy worked at Hallmark for almost 30 years. He was a volunteer for the Lecompton Fire Department for 14 years, the last 6 years as Fire Chief. Willy’s busy life was filled with many interests, including Ham Radio, the demolition derby car circuit, farming, tractor pulls, and working with Douglas County Emergency Management.

Willy was a devoted husband and father who will be remembered for his helpfulness, dedication, and sense of humor. He was deeply committed to serving his community. Friends and family acknowledged him as a “great man” and he will be missed dearly.

Willy is survived by his parents, Johnson and Nancy Shockley; his wife, Dianne Shockley; his brother, Randy Shockley; and his six daughters, Devin (David) Hardy, Rachel (Jeff) Hamm, Nicole (Albert) Neil, Casey (Branden Smith) Shockley, Morgan (Andrew Haney) Shockley-Haney, Darcey Summerville; one son, Casey Quigley; and grandchildren, Emberlynn Neil, Annaleigh Neil, Coralinne Neil, Josephine Hamm, Helaina Hamm, the Hardy twins, and Layla Quigley.

A Celebration of his life will be held at Lecompton Fire Department, 415 Boone St., Lecompton, KS, on February 24th, 2018, from 3 to 6 pm. In lieu of flowers, please offer your condolences and consider donations to the Lecompton Fire/EMS as it was a major component of Willy’s life and memory.


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Job Opening – Firefighter/EMT B – Ottawa Fire Department

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

More info – Firefighter EMT-B Feb 2018


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Frankfort, Kansas Woman Killed in SUV Accident

By Doug Kennedy
US92 – Feb. 19, 2018

A Frankfort, Kansas woman has died in a crash of her sport utility vehicle, in Pottawatomie County, Kansas.

The Kansas Highway Patrol identifies the victim as 65-year-old Stephanie Slifer.

The accident happened on Kansas Highway 13, east of Tuttle Creek Lake. Kansas Highway Patrol officials say Slifer’s 2007 Ford Edge was traveling south on Kansas 13, when the vehicle veered off the right side of the highway.

The vehicle overturned once, landing on its roof and coming to rest in a culvert, about 30 feet from the roadway.

The driver was found dead at the scene of the accident Saturday. The KHP reports the accident happened at around ten p.m., Friday.


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Crews respond to house fire in N. Wichita

KWCH – Feb. 19, 2018


Wichita fire crews were called to the scene of a house fire in the 1100 block of N. Ohio.

Crews were called to the scene at around 8:00 Monday morning.

Fire officials tell us no one was at home at the time of the fire and no one was hurt.

The house appears to be a total loss and firefighters say a nearby car was also damaged.

No word yet on a cause.


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A strategic plan

By Michael Stavola
Hutchinson News – Feb. 19, 2018

3rd Annual Fire Service Recruitment Day on Feb. 16th. Photo by Sandra J. Milburn

The Hutchinson Fire Department unveiled a strategic plan on Friday that details the findings of a $10,000 study and outlines the department’s future.

The 2018-2023 strategic plan drew 60 business owners, residents and community leaders, known as external stakeholders, for a survey back in December. An additional 30 HFD employees, or internal stakeholders, also weighed in for the study conducted by the Center for Public Safety Excellence, a nonprofit that supports fire services.

“We needed to hear what we are doing right, what we’re not and what we need to tweak,” fire chief Steve Beer said.

The external stakeholders, who will be invited back to hear the results before the end of April, ranked the top three priorities for the HFD as responding quickly to calls, proper training and fire prevention education.

Meanwhile, the HFD staff identified strengths and weaknesses within the fire department. Staff determined retention and recruitment as a recurring problem which the HFD hopes to address in its seven goals developed from all the feedback.

They are:


    • A recruitment/retention program to maintain adequate staffing.


    • A comprehensive training program that facilitates a member’s career path and professional development to provide the most effective services.


    • A sustainable strategy to improve the use of technology in the HFD.


    • Public education and community outreach programs that provide a consistent message and pushed out timely information.


    • A comprehensive and effective firefighter health and safety program to equip HFD firefighters to do their job, and lead a healthy and well balanced professional and private life.


    • Improve the fleet maintenance program to provide transparency, accountability and quality.


    • Prepare for, pursue, achieve and maintain international accreditation.


Each goal has subcategories within it and a time frame as well as way to measure the success of each section. Beer said the HFD will use its resources to better address priorities discovered by the study.

The entire study can be viewed here.


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Smoke in the air

By Jason E. Silvers
Fort Scott Tribune – Feb. 19, 2018

Photo by Jason E. Silvers

Scott Township firefighters assisted the Deerfield Fire Department in battling the blaze, which began in Vernon County, Mo., and encompassed about 100 acres as it briefly spread into Bourbon County at Native and Osage roads. The smoke drifted southwest over Fort Scott, leaving a trail of ashes, as the afternoon progressed.


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Multiple fire crews battling large fire in northern Oklahoma

KSN – Feb. 19, 2018

Photo by Oklahoma Forestry Service

Multiple fire crews are being sent to battle a blaze in Oklahoma.

The fire is northeast of Freedom, Oklahoma.

According to the Minneola Fire Department, crews for Minneola, Ford County, Fowler, Ashland, Englewood and Kiowa County are all assisting with the fire. The fire started as a grass fire and then rapidly spread.

Oklahoma Forestry Services is also on the scene of the fire. As of Sunday night, the fire was at least six miles long. An air attack platform and a helitanker have been ordered.

The U.S. National Weather Service has also been monitoring the fire. The department says the fire has been burning for four hours in Woods County, Oklahoma. Officials say it has stayed consistently south of the border about 10-15 miles and has not shown signs of moving northward.


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Police identify two girls, ages 1 & 7, killed in crash on I-435 near State Line

By Shayla Patrick
FOX 4 News – Feb. 19, 2018

Two children are dead, and two others are fighting for their life after being involved in a crash on Interstate 435 near State Line Road.

Kansas Highway Patrol troopers said the crash happened after 4 p.m. on Sunday. A tractor-trailer traveling westbound struck the back end of a minivan that had slowed or stopped along I-435.

One adult and four children were inside that minivan at the time of the crash. Two young girls, Teresa Vasquez, 1, and Ruth S. Vasquez, 7, died from their injuries. The other two children, boys ages 9 & 14, were taken to Children’s Mercy Hospital where they are listed in critical condition. These two boys have the same last name as the two little girls who were killed. The driver of the minivan, 37-year-old Angelica Hernandez-Valentin, was taken to Overland Park Regional Hospital and is also listed in critical condition. It is unclear whether anyone in the minivan was properly restrained.

The driver of the tractor-trailer, who is 71 years old, was also transported to a local hospital and is expected to survive. He was wearing a seatbelt.

“The hardest part for a trooper is to work those fatality crashes and to make that death notification to people’s family and when there’s a child involved or even multiple children, it’s even harder,” said Trooper Candice Breshears with the Kansas Highway Patrol.

All westbound lanes of 435 near State Line Road remained closed Sunday evening. They finally reopened just before 5 a.m. Monday.


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Junction City fire station gets much needed renovation

By Ann Olamiju
WIBW – Feb. 16, 2018


Junction City firefighters are taking matters into their own hands – and saving the city some money – by renovating their fire house’s living quarters.

The City was able to gather funds to help the firefighters with money for materials for the renovation and they provided the labor.

Junction City Fire Chief Terry Johnson said the entire Municipal Building is getting new plumbing throughout the entire building and the City was able to come with the funds for the updates.

“So basically we are buying the materials and the firefighters are doing the work of putting up the 2×4’s, putting up the sheet rock, doing a lot of the labor to remodel their living area,” said Johnson. “Firefighter lives here 24 hours a day.”

The renovations will include a female locker room and updated kitchen. Updates will be complete at the end of March.


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Vehicle total loss after Friday fire

By Ryann Brooks
Emporia Gazette – Feb. 16, 2018

A vehicle is a total loss after the Emporia Fire Department battled a stubborn fire Friday afternoon in Emporia.

The vehicle, a 2013 Smart Fortwo owned by Alfonso Rascon, was parked on the street at 825 Dove Run when it started smoking around 1:30 p.m.

“When we first got here we had a large column of smoke from a 2013 Smart car,” said Battalion Chief Rich Gould. “We got the fire out and then there was a big explosion from the car and it threw hot pieces up on some of the houses that were here in the neighborhood as well as some spot grass fires.”

Gould said a second engine was called to put out the hot spots and prevent more fires from developing. Firefighters thought they had put out the blaze when the car reignited, and additional trucks were called.

“We thought we had the fire out and the fuel cell underneath the car evidently leaked enough that it caught back on fire on us,” Gould said. “We had to call for more water and some Class B foam to help put out the fire.”

Gould said it was believed the fire started somewhere in the vehicle’s electrical systems. The vehicle was unattended at the time of the fire and no injuries were reported.

“(Rascon) went out and tried to start it and noticed it was acting funny,” Gould said, noting that Rascon said the lights in the car were flashing on and off. “He shut it off and got out and noticed there was smoke and fire underneath it and called 911.”

Gould said it takes roughly 3,000 gallons of water to put out a fire in a vehicle that size.


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2 dead in Netawaka house fire

By Nick Viviani
WIBW – Feb. 16, 2018

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Photo by Jackson County Sheriff’s Office


Two people are dead following a Jackson Co. house fire.

Jackson Co. Sheriff Tim Morse tells 13 NEWS firefighters responded around 10 a.m. to a home in the 400 block of Whiteway Street, in Netawaka.

Firefighters battled the flames for over an hour before getting the blaze under control, he said.

After the fire was out, emergency crews discovered the bodies of both individuals inside the house. Neither of them have been identified.

Investigators from both the Sheriff’s Office and the State Fire Marshal’s office have responded to the scene.


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$90,800 worth of damage due to a fire

Salina Post – Feb. 16, 2018

A man from Smolan woke up to discover his shed was on fire.

According to Undersheriff Melander on Feb. 15, at the 2800 block of W. Smolan Rd, Russell Jones, 55, of Smolan was alerted by a knock at the front door. A passerby saw that his shed was on fire.

Jones had started a burn consisting of hay around 3 p.m. earlier that afternoon. He extinguished the fire but it reignited and caught his shed on fire.

The loss was totaled at $90,800. Some of the items damaged were a fifth-wheel camper, a Harley Davidson motorcycle, a Mahindra tractor, a riding lawnmower, and other miscellaneous tools and items.

No one was injured.


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Three suffer smoke inhalation after small fire at Topeka Postal Service location

By Tim Hrenchir
Topeka Capital Journal – Feb. 16, 2018

Three people were treated for smoke inhalation after a small fire Friday morning at the U.S. Postal Service location at 1410 N.W. Gage Blvd.

Topeka firefighters and American Medical Response ambulance workers were called to the scene at 4:55 a.m., said a dispatcher for the Shawnee County Emergency Communications Center.

The patients were treated at the scene for minor smoke inhalation from a fire that ignited when small batteries were thrown into a trashcan, said a Topeka Fire Department supervisor at the scene.


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7 treated for carbon monoxide exposure

Wyandotte Daily News – Feb. 16, 2018

Firefighters rescued seven people Thursday night who were exposed to carbon monoxide in their home in the 3000 block of North 29th.

The residents called 911 at 11:11 p.m. Thursday complaining of dizziness, headaches and pain, according to a Kansas City, Kansas, Fire Department spokesman.

When crews arrived, they found high levels of carbon monoxide in the home, the spokesman stated.

Two adults, two toddlers and two teenagers were taken to a hospital for evaluation and treatment, according to the spokesman. They were treated and released.

The probable cause of the carbon monoxide exposure was unvented propane heaters, according to the Fire Department report.

According to information from the Fire Department, carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless and colorless gas created when fuels such as gasoline, wood, coal, charcoal, natural gas, propane, oil and methane burn incompletely. Heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel are potential sources of carbon monoxide, as are vehicles or generators running in an attached garage.

At very high levels, 1,600 parts per million, headache, dizziness and nausea may occur within 20 minutes, and death within one hour for healthy adults, according to the information from the Fire Department.

At 800 parts per million, dizziness, nausea and convulsions may occur within 45 minutes, unconsciousness within two hours, and death within two to three hours. At 400 parts per million, headaches may occur after one to two hours in healthy adults, and it may be life-threatening after three hours. At 200 parts per million, there is a slight headache, fatigue, dizziness and nausea after two to three hours.

Those who have conditions such as emphysema, asthma and heart disease may be affected by lower concentrations of carbon monoxide, according to the information from the Fire Department. The victims’ age, health and activity level also are factors in the patients’ vulnerabilities.

The maximum allowable concentration for continuous exposure for healthy adults in any eight-hour period is 50 parts per million of carbon monoxide, in which there are no symptoms for healthy adults, according to the information from the Fire Department.

Carbon monoxide detectors are usually time-weighted and will sound an alert after a specific level of carbon monoxide is detected for a specific amount of time, according to the Fire Department’s information.


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Galena fires

By Tawnya Bach
KOAM – Feb. 16, 2018

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Article & More Pics

Five fires break out in Galena, Kansas overnight. Shortly after 11:00 p.m. both Galena and Baxter Springs fire departments responded to the fires, one of them located at the intersection of North Main Street and Clark which spread to a stack of railroad ties. The Galena Assistant Fire Chief says he believes all five fires were intentionally set. The fire is now contained and no injuries have been reported.


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One dead after jumping from car

Manhattan Mercury – Feb. 16, 2018

A woman was killed after jumping from a car Wednesday, Kansas Highway Patrol officials said.

The woman was in the passenger seat of a southbound vehicle jumped from the car and was hit by a second southbound vehicle at 5 p.m. on Kansas Highway 99 just south of Kansas Highway 18.

The woman died from her injuries. Both drivers were uninjured. KHP hasn’t identified anyone involved in the accident.

KHP investigators, as well as Wabuansee County Sheriff’s deputies, responded and reopened the highway after an hour and a half.

Calls to the KHP for further information Thursday morning were not returned.


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History of Pittsburg Fire Department & the 1938 Peter Pirsch Aerial

By Crawford County Historical Museum
Pittsburg Morning Sun – Feb. 16, 2018

On February 11, 1898 the City of Pittsburg instituted its first organized fire department with expenditures of $735.00. That amount helped fund four firefighters, one hook and ladder wagon, two horses and the outfitting and remodeling of the city’s hose house. The city’s fire combating system prior to 1898 consisted of volunteer firefighters selected from citizens who lived near the hose station. They used a hose cart that was kept at city hall. When the fire bell rang, volunteers would bolt from their work or homes and pull the hose cart to the blaze.

As the city began to grow, a second company was organized and a hose cart was purchased to provide protection for the south part of town. Progress in architecture brought higher buildings and necessitated ladders to reach higher rooftops. As the city expanded even further, runs became long and often firefighters were exhausted by the time they reached the scene of a blaze. Another team was organized at the central station and a truck with hooks, ladders and ropes was added to Station No. 1 on July 2, 1903 when Chief T.W. Howe was in office. On August 15, 1907, Station No. 2 was opened with three horses and a hose wagon. Residents of east Pittsburg, many of whom were employed at the smelters, also organized a firefighting company and they were provided with a horse and cart.

The City’s first Fire Chief was W.H. Holmes. Chief Holmes was paid a monthly sum of $40; the amount also paid to firefighters. Firewagon drivers were paid $45. Quarters were provided and firefighters were required to stay in them 24 hours a day. They, in fact, received only 1 entire day off each week. Chief Holmes resigned in 1902 when JT Atkinson was named acting chief. Tom Howe took over that same year as Fire Chief and served until 1917 when Gus Tessmer succeeded him. Howe again headed the Pittsburg Fire Department in 1933 and served as chief until he retired in 1939. Walter Campbell served as chief of the department until 1956, who was then succeeded by Elmer Fields. In 1981, Fields left and Chief William Scott filled the position. When Chief Scott retired in 2003, Don Elmer took over as Chief on September 4, 2003, retiring in 2009. At that time, Scott Crain became chief and retired in 2012.

Today, Mike Simons is the Chief of the Pittsburg Fire Department. Firefighters are still working out of 3 stations, the newest station being located at 911 W. 4th, which was opened in April of 2009. The Pittsburg Fire Department employs 33 Firefighters, 1 Fire Marshall/Safety Coordinator, along with Chief Simons.

It was in 1938 when the City of Pittsburg purchased the Peter Pirsch Aerial Fire Truck for a total of $12,240.00. The fire truck was delivered to Pittsburg by railcar from the manufacturing plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Chief Walt Campbell and firefighters were the first in the state of Kansas to use the hydraulic-operated ladder truck. It is equipped with a 65′ aerial ladder and 750 gallon-per-minute pump. The Peter Pirsch was used as a first response ladder truck until 1964, then as a reserve truck. The truck last saw active duty on June 27, 1979, at the Stereo Buff fire on North Broadway.

The Peter Pirsch Aerial was driven to the Crawford County Historical Museum on September 28, 1984 to be retired and for permanent exhibit. Everyone loves to see the firemen take the 1938 Peter Pirsch Aerial Fire Truck down Broadway during the Pittsburg State Homecoming Parade every year in October.


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Neighbors fear explosion sparked fire at Wichita home

By Greg Miller
KAKE – Feb. 16, 2018

Photo by KSN


Investigators say one person and several dogs got out of a house safely after it caught fire Thursday night. It happened in the 4500 block of Kimberly in north Wichita.

Crews got the call to respond after several neighbors saw the flames and heard what sounded like explosions just before 6 p.m.

“I came up stairs and heard an explosion,” said Micah Standley, a witness and neighbor. “I looked out the window and I saw fire so I came out the front door.”

The fire was so strong, a parked car’s panic alarm went off.

“I just saw the fire coming out of the back of the house,” he said.

Investigators say that inside it was even worse.

“There was a lot of fire inside,” said Battalion Chief Brad Boyd. “For awhile there was a downed power line in the back yard, so we had to keep crews out of the back yard.”

More than eight fire crews responded. At one point, they received calls that there were explosions inside. Chief Boyd couldn’t confirm that immediately afterward, but did tell KAKE News there were propane tanks inside.

The fire is still under investigation.


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Fire burns trailer to the ground in southeast Topeka

KSNT – Feb. 16, 2018

Photos by Grant Stephens

A camper trailer is completely gone after a fire burned through the structure late Thursday night into Friday morning.

The Topeka Fire Department responded to a call in southeast Topeka at 1600 SE 23rd St. around 11:50 p.m.

One person escaped the fire, according to TFD. Investigators have determined the cause of the fire to be accidental and caused by careless smoking. The total cost of damage is around $1,200.

TFD was able to contain the fire, and it did not spread to any other nearby structures.


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Job Opening – Firefighter/EMT – Junction City Fire Department

Job Position Announcement JCFD


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