Archive for March, 2018

Hazmat responds after trash truck hits bridge

By Nick Viviani
WIBW – March 19, 2018

The Topeka Fire Dept.’s Hazardous Material Team was called in Monday morning after a trash truck collided with a bridge.

The semi normally carries large construction bins, Topeka Police told 13 NEWS. It was heading down SW 37th St., near Randolph Ave., with a dumpster at the time of the collision.

No other vehicles were involved and nobody was hurt in the wreck, authorities say.

The Hazmat team responded to clean up the fuel and oil spilled during the crash. TFD’s Mike Martin says they’ve finished clearing the road.


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Controlled burn sparks brush fire near Auburn

By Tiffany Littler
KSNT – March 19, 2018

A controlled burn turned into an out of control brush fire Sunday.

Fire crews responded around 3 p.m. at 9325 SW 89th St., just outside of Auburn.

According to Captain Scott Hunt, about six to eight acres were burned.

Auburn and Dover Fire Departments were at the scene.

Crews were able to get the fire under control and worked on putting out hot spots within an hour.


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Electrical issue leads to Sunday’s house fire

By Chuck Samples
KVOE – March 19, 2018

Photo by Chuck Samples

Fire damaged a home in southeast Emporia on Sunday.

The fire at 401 South Cottonwood was reported just after 5:30 pm after smoke was reported coming from the attic. Emporia fire crews responded, eventually placing two teams of firefighters on the roof to get the fire out.

There were no injuries. Lyon County records list the house as owned by Ken and Gayla Bazil.

Americus and Olpe fire crews provided mutual aid, while Kansas Gas and Westar Energy also handled utilities on site. Traffic on South Cottonwood and Norton was blocked for over an hour during the firefighting effort and early investigation. A damage estimate is pending.

Fire Capt. Jesse Taylor says a wiring malfunction in the attic at 401 South Cottonwood caught some nearby insulation on fire.


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Child with a lighter causes Topeka townhouse fire

By Tiernan Shank
WIBW – March 19, 2018

A child playing with a lighter ignited a fire inside a Topeka townhouse late Sunday morning.

Fire crews responded to 3016 SW Mareta Circle shortly before 11:30 a.m. When they arrived they found heavy smoke coming from the home.

Everyone inside was able to escape unharmed.

Crews quickly extinguished the fire and were able to keep all damage contained to one of the four units of the complex.

The estimated loss is $30,000.


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Topeka trash can fire causes $10,000 loss

By Erika Hall
WIBW – March 19, 2018

A trash can fire caused $10,000 worth of damage Sunday morning after it spread to a nearby garage.

The fire happened at 1297 SW MacVicar Avenue shortly before 1:00 A.M.

A person driving in the area found the trashcan on fire in the back alley and it quickly spread to a nearby detached garage.

Crews were able to quickly extinguish the flames, but not before the garage sustained moderate fire damage.

Smoke alarms were not present within the garage structure.

The cause is still under investigation.


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Central Topeka house fire causes minor damage

By Luke Ranker
Topeka Capital Journal – March 19, 2018

Photo by Luke Ranker

Topeka fire crews made quick work Saturday evening of locating and dousing a small fire in the walls of a house near downtown Topeka.

Residents saw smoke and called 911 before exiting the house just before 6:20 p.m. When crews arrived, they spotted light smoke coming from some windows, but no flames were visible.

In less than an hour, firefighters extinguished “a little fire in the walls and attic” of the two-story house, Topeka Fire Department shift commander Dan Macke said.

Firefighters continued to check the home for possible fire extensions. The cause of the fire remained under investigation.

Though visible signs of the fire were gone by 7 p.m., a strong smoky smell lingered in the neighborhood.


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Fire investigators heading to Seward County after Saturday wildfire

KSN – March 19, 2018

Photo by Jessica Mason

An investigator with the Office of the State Fire Marshal is going to Seward County following a wildfire Saturday afternoon.

Seward County Fire Chief Andrew Barkley said the fire broke out around 1:30 p.m. near Highway 51 and Road G, just west of Highway 83.

The Kansas National Guard sent two Black Hawk helicopters to help fire crews. At one point the fire jumped Highway 51 in two different locations.

Officials say some local farmers also assisted with controlling the fire.

Fire crews on the scene included Seward County, Haskell County, Stevens County, as well as Seward County Emergency Management and the Seward County Sheriff’s Office.

As of 4:00 p.m., Barkley said the fire was 95 percent contained. The wildfire burned about 250 acres and no homes were threatened.

The fire is under investigation.


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Eight grass fires reported

By John Richmeier
Leavenworth Times – March 19, 2018


Firefighters responded to multiple grass fires Thursday in Leavenworth County.

One fire near Basehor consumed about 150 acres of vegetation. Another fire off of Dehoff Drive damaged a barn, according to Chuck Magaha.

Magaha serves as the director of Leavenworth County Emergency Management. He also serves as the chief of the Fairmount Township Fire Department.

While the fires resulted in property damage, no injuries were reported, Magaha said.

“The fires were spreading rapidly,” he said.

Leavenworth County was under a red flag warning Thursday because of windy and dry conditions resulted in “critical fire weather conditions,” according to the National Weather Service.

The fire near Basehor was reported around 4 p.m. in the area of 166th Street and Evans Road.

“We had three departments working on that fire,” Magaha said.

Firefighters remained on scene until about 11:30 p.m., but at that point they were “mopping up” the fire, he said.

Magaha lives in that area and the fire burned onto his property.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

No burn permits were being issued Thursday for unincorporated areas of the county because of the high fire danger.

Magaha said people who violate a county ordinance by burning without a permit can be fined.

Some rain fell Thursday morning. But Magaha said it would not take long for the grass to dry out again.

“We’ll be back in the same boat,” he said.


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$700K fire training tower to allow firefighters to practice more complicated scenarios

By Rochelle Valverde
Lawrence Journal World – March 19, 2018

Local firefighters will soon be able to train for more complicated scenarios, including putting out fires and making rescues in tall apartment buildings.

The Lawrence City Commission recently approved issuing $700,000 in bonds to pay for the construction of a new fire training tower, which will replace a tower that dates back to 1993. Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Department officials are planning a new tower that will allow firefighters to train with various new features, including multiple entries, inset balconies and multilevel scissor stairwells.

“When you think of the high-rise buildings here in Lawrence, the stairwells are laid out in that manner, which will allow us to practice doing evolutions for what we call high-rise drills,” said Division Chief Shaun Coffey. “It simulates a multistory building fire, and we have to go into those and we have to stretch our lines a certain way.”

The current fire training tower is a simple L-shaped structure located behind the department’s training center, 1941 Haskell Ave. The project was included as part of the city’s 2018 Capital Improvement Plan, and the current tower will be demolished and replaced by the new tower, according to a memo from city staff to the commission. The design work for the new tower is underway and a construction contract will be sent to the commission for review at an upcoming meeting.

In addition to the multilevel building setup, Coffey said another portion of the training structure will resemble a residential home. Because the structure will be more weather tight than the current tower, Coffey said it will allow them to simulate multiple rooms.

“It will allow us to build what we call training props: artificial walls and rooms,” Coffey said. “As firefighters come in, we can set up a three-bedroom house, so they have to come in and find their way through this house to extinguish the fire or perform rescues.”

Coffey said the new tower will also have features that make training more realistic. Those include a pipeline inside the building with various kinds of intakes that firefighters can practice attaching hoses to, as well as a system that will release theatrical smoke throughout the building so firefighters can practice working with obscured vision. In addition, he said the new tower will have better temperature monitoring and controls for the burn room where the fires are set.

The fire department anticipates construction of the new fire training tower to begin by late summer, with completion in 2018, according to the memo.


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AT&T donates $5,000 to Kansas firefighters for training

By Grant Stephens
WIBW – March 16, 2018


Firefighters from across the state were in the Topeka area Friday for a boost in training.

The Soldier Township Fire Dept. hosted a session on combating wildfires as well as what to do if they become trapped in a fire.

Wildfires have become an increasing problem in Kansas. Wildfires have burned more than 650,000 acres in the last year alone.

Of course the training isn’t free. To help curb costs AT&T is donating $5,000 to the Kansas State Firefighters Association.

Mike Scott, the President of AT&T Kansas said, “This is just a good association that we knew needed the help with the resources and with the training since their work is so vital here in Kansas.”

Scott says this donation is just one way AT&T shows its appreciation for Kansas firefighters.


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KSFFA Memorial Service Name Submittal Form

Submitting names for Memorial Service at Annual KSFFA/KSFFAA Conference

First THANK YOU! To everyone that sent me names, pictures and information for the memorial service. Please continue to send any of the following information concerning the death of a firefighter, retired, off duty, or in the line of duty.


Fire Department_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Years OF SERVICE____________________________________________________________________________________________________

POSITION IN DEPARTMENT____________________________________________________________________________________________

DATE OF DEATH________________________________________________________________________________________________________

DATE OF BIRTH (if available)____________________________________________________________________________________________

If a picture of the deceased is available, and/or an address for the family, it would be very welcomed and used only for the memorial service and support the family. Again, thank you for any assistance you are able to offer.

My e-mail address is and my mailing address is Donna Pittaway, Auxiliary Chaplain, 2206 S. 49th Street, Kansas City, Kansas 66106


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Downed line erupts into curbside grass fire

By Mary Meyers
Atchison Globe – March 16, 2018

Photo by Mary Meyers

Flickering lights signaled something amiss late Thursday afternoon outside a downtown business along Third Street between Kansas Avenue and Commercial Street.

Atchison Fire Department firefighters reported they responded after 4 p.m. to the scene of an electrical power pole on fire downtown.

When AFD arrived they saw a Byrd Memorial staff member with a dry chemical extinguisher in hand, working to put out some burning grass curbside near the pole.

The fire appeared to be out by the time firefighters exited the truck.

Les Burchett, owner of the business, indicated to AFD responders that while at work inside Byrd Memorial, the lights flickered. The computers also flickered before the power went out, Burchett said.

Burchett and employees exited the building to find an attached service line had fallen from the pole to the ground, which ignited some grass.

The downed line appeared to have burnt ends. AFD radioed dispatchers to notify Westar Energy about the situation. AFD remained on the scene until Westar arrived.

Westar representatives informed firefighters that it appeared the line had arced and burned through its wires, according to the AFD report.

Westar started the repair work and AFD responders returned to the station.


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Galena Police Arrest Arson Suspect

By Stacie Strader
FOX 14 – March 16, 2018

Galena Police Officers responded to a call reporting a large amount of fires on North Main near Clark Street just after 11:00 p.m. last night (March 15).

Galena Police Officers say they witnessed a male running away from the fires. Authorities later found the suspect and took him to the Cherokee County Jail.

The Galena, Kansas man was later released on $5,000 bond. Police filed a report for an arson charge with the Cherokee County Attorney’s Office.

The Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office has been contacted to help investigate the latest fire. Authorities are working to determine if it’s related to past fires in the area.


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Volunteer firefighter hangs up hat after 45 years

By Marcus Clem
Atchison Globe – March 16, 2018

Photo by Marcus Clem

After what is likely among the longest unbroken periods of service in state history, the senior rural firefighter in Atchison County has called it a career.

Charles Falk Jr., who has gone by “Chic” since young adulthood to keep from being confused with his father at job sites and fire scenes, served for 45 years. He joined the Atchison County Rural Fire District No. 1 (Shannon Township), on Feb. 10, 1973, based first at 520 Woodlawn Ave., and today in the 2500 block of US-73 Highway at the district’s new fire station.

As far as Falk knows, he’s been around for so long that most of his friends have practically forgotten his name isn’t actually “Chic.”

“It’s a good time for me to get out,” he said in a Thursday interview. “I’m slowing down, and these days the trucks are getting so complicated that you need these young guys to keep up with everything.”

District Fire Chief David “Spider” Shell, has himself been involved for more than 30 years, but said he’ll never equal the impact Falk has made.

“I’d like to say I can put in 15 more, but I’ll never beat him,” Shell said in a Thursday interview. “You know, we got the greatest bunch of guys. It’s so nice to see guys feel ready to leave, and celebrate their retirement, instead of just working til they pass on. But that dedication, that’s what it’s all about.”

Kevin Flory, president of the Kansas State Firefighters’ Association, said no definitive record of volunteer firefighters’ careers is kept on a statewide basis, but he estimated that Falk has completed a historic commitment.

“He has finished an extra long career,” Flory said in a Thursday phone interview. “With most guys in the volunteer service, really serving two decades is a valued commitment. 45 years, that’s a long, hard, extraordinary career. Congratulations to him on a well-deserved retirement.”

Wes Lanter, Atchison County director of the Department of Emergency Management, who also works as a rural firefighter, said Falk has been a “real asset.”

“It’s been great to see him dedicate that much to our citizens, and always free of charge,” Lanter said. “He would bend over backwards to do pretty much everything you ever asked of him.

Falk said he felt more confident in making the decision to retire because, unlike some volunteer outfits, the Shannon district has no shortage of volunteers. With only 9 men for the whole county when he started, the district now supports 25 volunteers, in addition to the rest of the districts across the county.

There is a waiting list to join, so Shell has the ability to make sure that the men who will replace Falk are among the best available.

Demand is high given the equipment available with the new fire station and the level of valuable training that can be provided to people who want to pursue firefighting as a way of life.

“We have a lot of good, young people coming,” Shell said. “We’re very proud of our new station. We went through the hoops and managed to get it, and it’s helped us out tremendously. This has been a blessing.”

Even so, Falk and Shell agreed, the past shouldn’t be forgotten, and they are maintaining a 1966 Ford pumper truck, which has been in service for the district’s entire history, and which was the first vehicle Falk used.

“The old chief’s body would turn over in his grave if we got rid of that,” Shell said. “But it’s still serviceable. We might get it fixed up for a parade.”

Falk said he is especially thankful that in his entire career, only one person has died after firefighters arrived on scene. Most of his experience has been in keeping grass and agricultural fires under control, away from vulnerable people, with occasional structure and vehicle fires.

“It makes you feel good when you can help people out,” he said.

Meanwhile, Falk will continue to respond to fires when there is a job for him to do, he said, as long as he can, though he is no longer insurable by the fire district and will avoid fighting structure fires or other significant hazards.

He let out a hearty chuckle when asked how he would respond if someone asked, ‘Aren’t you retired?’

“The hell I am,” he said. “They haven’t kicked me out of the building yet.”


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Wildfire team deployed

By John Richmeier
Leavenworth Times – March 16, 2018

A wildfire task force made up of firefighters from Leavenworth County has been called to Rice County for its first deployment, an emergency management official said.

A wildfire task force made up of firefighters from Leavenworth County has been called to Rice County for its first deployment, an emergency management official said.

Chuck Magaha, director of Leavenworth County Emergency Management, said the team of about a dozen firefighters was being deployed Thursday.

The task force is made up of members of Leavenworth County Fire District No. 1 and the fire departments of the Fairmount, Kickapoo, Sherman and Tonganoxie townships. The group was formed in November as part of a statewide initiative.

As some local firefighters were being deployed to Rice County, others were kept busy Thursday with multiple grass fires that were reported in Leavenworth County, according to Magaha.

Leavenworth County was under a red flag warning Thursday because windy and dry conditions resulted in “critical fire weather conditions,” according to the National Weather Service.


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Press Release: HFD Captain Chris Stegman Retiring After 28 Years of Service

Captain Chris Stegman of the City of Hays Fire Department is retiring after 28 years of service to the people of Hays and Ellis County. A retirement reception to honor Captain Stegman will be held on Thursday, March 22 from 3 to 5 PM in the City Commission meeting room in City Hall; 1507 Main Street. The public is invited to attend.

In 1990, Captain Stegman started as a volunteer firefighter with the Ellis County Fire Department at the Hays rural fire company station. On May 28, 1998 he was appointed as a career firefighter with the City of Hays Fire Department. He advanced through the ranks until he was promoted to Captain in command of the HFD A-shift on January 2, 2005.

Captain Stegman was one of the first Hays firefighters trained as a fire investigator and hazardous materials technician. He is also nationally certified as a fire inspector, fire instructor and basic and advanced fire officer. Captain Stegman graduated from the University of Kansas Certified Public Manager program and he completed a management course of study at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg. MD.

During his service with the HFD, Captain Stegman took extra training to become an expert in hazardous materials safety codes. In addition to his other duties, he worked with the businesses in our community to help make sure hazardous materials storage and use met current safety standards.

From 1988 to 1996 Captain Stegman served with the US Army Reserve. He was activated during Operation Desert Storm and served with the 44th Evacuation Hospital in Saudi Arabia.

“Captain Stegman has been an important member of the City of Hays Fire Department. Over the years he has contributed a great deal to help us advance as a professional organization. He truly cares about the people of Hays and the members of the fire department. While he may be retiring he will always be a part of the City of Hays Fire Department”, stated Chief Gary Brown.

Gary A. Brown, Sr., EFO
Fire Chief
City of Hays Fire Rescue


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Small fire in alley quickly extinguished

By Regina Murphy
Emporia Gazette – March 16, 2018

Photo by Regina Murphy

A transformer incident was reported in the alley behind The Emporia Gazette this morning.

Gazette Graphic Designer Katie Potter arrived at work at 6:30 and smelled fire as she approached the rear of the building.

“I didn’t really think too much of it,” Potter said. “But then I saw that the transformer had blown and the wood decking underneath it was glowing.”

She then called 911 and firefighters arrived promptly.


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Cause of east Topeka house fire under investigation

By Brian Dulle
KSNT – March 16, 2018

Photo by Oscar Flores

Emergency crews are on the scene of a house on fire Friday morning in east Topeka.

The fire was reported just after 6 a.m. in the 500 block of SE Lafayette Street, just a few blocks west of Scott Dual Language Magnet School.

Topeka Police Dispatch confirmed with KSNT News that no injuries have been reported at this time.

The cause is under investigation at this time.

KSNT News has a crew on the scene.


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Fire crews work to put out grass fire near Lecompton

By Tiffany Littler
KSNT – March 16, 2018


Shawnee Heights Fire Department and Soldier Township Fire responded to a grass fire in the 500 block of SE River Heights Rd. late Thursday afternoon.

The fire happened around 5:30 p.m. in the area of Highway 40, about seven miles west of Lecompton.

Just before 8 p.m., SHFP Captain Ken Balsmeier said the fire was “pretty much contained.”

The cause of the fire is still under investigation at this time.

According to Balsmeier, about 30 acres were burned.

No houses or buildings were affected.


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Raging fires scorch hundreds of acres

By Ray Nolting
Parsons Sun – March 16, 2018

Fires burned portions of 1,500 acres in Labette and Montgomery counties Thursday and the Labette County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the cause.

All 10 Labette County fire departments had personnel or equipment responding to blazes in the southwest quarter of the county as Montgomery County fire crews battled blazes in the hills near the Labette County line. Upon request from Charlie Morse, the Labette County emergency preparedness director, the Kansas Army National Guard deployed two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from Topeka early Thursday afternoon. The helicopters filled up their Bambi buckets in a large pond about a mile and a half southeast of the blaze, as the crow flies, on Brown Road then dumped the water on fire lines on both sides of Anderson Road.

Morse said five fires were reported about the same time in Labette County Thursday in the southwest quarter of the county. Firefighters worked to save structures when they were threatened. The largest of the blazes in Labette County was southeast of U.S. 160 and Anderson Road, where fire scorched portions of about 500 acres. A large fire west of Anderson Road in Montgomery County kicked flames at least 10 feet high in places and burned portions of 1,000 acres of pasture.

Labette and Montgomery counties on Thursday issued local disaster declarations, according to the Kansas Adjutant General’s Office in Topeka.

Fire danger remains high Friday with red flag warnings over much of the state because of high wind and dry conditions, according to Jane Welch of the Kansas Adjutant General’s Department.

U.S. 160 was closed from K-101 to Oliver Road in Montgomery County because of low visibility from the smoke, Morse said.

He said the largest fires were along Anderson Road in both counties. The other fires to the southeast in Labette County each burned smaller acreage, about 10 to 20 acres, and were handled by firefighters.

“They never really got too out of control,” Morse said.

Firefighters and equipment were then redeployed to other blazes.

He said the Black Hawks first dropped water on fire along a creek bed near Anderson Road in Labette County. Then they were used in Montgomery County for its raging fires that threatened structures before returning to Topeka.

“This year in the state that’s a free asset,” Morse said of the Black Hawks. “Due to the fires in recent years they’re not making you pay for them and wait to get them. They want you to get them out early.”

He said one Montgomery County firefighter was treated for minor burns, but Morse didn’t know of any other firefighter injuries Thursday.

Water is always a concern in fires outside of cities. Grass rigs and other firefighting trucks that entered pastures refilled from water tanker trucks placed around the fire zone. Bartlett Co-op even sent water trucks to help out, Morse said.

Though fire resources were stretched thin, Morse said departments left enough manpower and equipment in fire stations in case other emergencies developed.

Morse said the response from fire departments was “very good.”

“I’m very pleased with how the two counties worked together. The assistance from the state is what saved the day,” Morse said.

The fire rekindled on Anderson Road later Thursday afternoon.

Labette County Sheriff Darren Eichinger said his department is investigating the causes of the five fires.


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Firefighters battle back blazes in Rice County

By Chance Hoener
Hutchinson News – March 15, 2018

Large plumes of smoke no longer filled the air in southeastern Rice County Thursday, but firefighters weren’t done yet.

Small fires were still burning across the area of the three fires that ignited Wednesday. Rice County Emergency Management Director and Sterling Fire Chief Greg Klein said firefighters would be patrolling the area for the next 24 to 48 hours.

As of 2 p.m., Klein said the fires were over 70 percent contained, but units were monitoring the area closely.

“We don’t want to let our guard down,” he said. “With the wind shifting on us, things could reignite.”

The fires burned an estimated 7- to 8,000 acres as they moved north Wednesday, and Friday conditions are expected to be worse. The National Weather Service in Wichita listed the Rangeland Fire Danger Index at extreme Friday, as of 4 p.m.

“We encourage people to be cautious and pay attention to what’s going on around them,” Klein said. “If you see a fire, report it, and stay away from closed roads.”

The cause of the fires is unknown at this time and still under investigation.


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Missouri man killed in late morning wreck near Girard

Pittsburg Morning Sun – March 15, 2018

A Missouri man is dead, following a wreck late Thursday morning near Girard.

According to a release from the Crawford County Sheriff’s department, at about 11:44 a.m. Thursday Crawford County 911 received a report of an injury wreck in the area of 600 Avenue and 120 Street southwest of Girard.

Deputies responding found a Ford truck and a Nissan truck which had collided in the intersection with two people injured.

On further investigation, it was determined the Ford was traveling east on 600 Avenue and the Nissan truck was driving north on 120 Street when they collided.

The Ford, owned by Ervin and Ramona Kichler of Girard was driven by Terry Holstine Jr., 36, of Pittsburg. Holstine was transported to Girard Medical Center by Crawford County EMS with possible injuries.

The Nissan, owned by Hummel Farms of Greenfield, Missouri was driven by Rodney Hummel, 54, Greenfield. Hummel was pronounced dead at the scene. Records indicate that Holstine was operating the vehicle with a suspended license.

The Crawford Township Fire Department also assisted at the scene. The wreck remains under investigation by CRSO.


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Truck fire spreads, burning 100 acres of Saline County grass

By Eric Wiley
Salina Journal – March 15, 2018

Fire spread from a pickup truck to grass along Interstate Highway 70 near the Brookville exit Wednesday afternoon, eventually burning about 100 acres, Saline County Sheriff Roger Soldan said.

Soldan said Shelby Rappel, 21, of Evans, Colo., was driving west on I-70 about 3:15 p.m. when her 2012 Dodge pickup began having mechanical problems. The pickup eventually caught fire.

The fire first spread into grass in the ditch along the interstate before making its way north into pasture owned by Brett Robbins.

Rappel was not injured, Soldan said.

Firefighters with Saline County Rural Fire District No. 3 took about 45 minutes to extinguish the blaze, Soldan said.


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Rooftop operations and safety

Firehouse – March 15, 2018

Code 3 Podcast

Gary Bowker joins host Scott Orr to discuss why firefighters may not even belong on that roof in the first place

Bowker, a FireRescue1 columnist, is a retired fire chief with the U.S. Air Force and retired fire marshal with the City of Winfield, Kan. He has served as fire chief with the Sumner County, Kan., Rural Fire District #10 and has over 40 years in fire service.

Gary has taught at the National Fire Academy, U.S. Department of Defense, Butler County Community College and the University of Kansas Fire & Rescue Training Institute. He is nationally certified as a Fire Officer II, Instructor II, Inspector II, Certified Fire & Explosion Investigator, and holds a bachelor’s degree in fire science administration.


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Crews battling large grass fire in Kiowa County

KSN – March 15, 2018

Several fire crews are battling a large grass fire in Kiowa County. The fire started just after 1:15 p.m. near the Northern Natural Gas Plant. The fire is a mile long and moving north.

Kiowa, Edwards, Pratt, Ford and Comanche counties are fighting the fire. Right now, there are no homes are in danger.

Several Black Hawk helicopters from Dodge City are on the way to help fight the blaze.

KSN News has a crew heading to the scene. Look for updates online at KSN.


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2-alarm fire heavily damages home in south Overland Park

KMBC – March 15, 2018

A two-alarm fire heavily damaged a home Wednesday night in south Overland Park.

Firefighters were called just before 10:30 p.m. to 157th and Windsor streets by neighbors who spotted the fire.

Authorities said that it appears the fire started on the deck and quickly spread to the house.

No one was home at the time.

Leawood fire crews assisted Overland Park in putting out the fire.

The cause remains under investigation.


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Discarded cigarette fire consumed 200 acres, Kan. fire truck

Hays Post – March 15, 2018

A rural grass fire burned approximately 200 acres and a rural Geary County fire truck Wednesday afternoon.

Rural Fire Chief Garry Berges confirmed the driver, whose name was not released, was able to get out of the vehicle. He was checked at Geary Community Hospital, but was not injured.

Berges said, “The fire was moving at a very high rate of speed inside that area. In the process of fighting the fire one of our fire trucks lost power. The fire overtook the truck, the fire ended up consuming the truck, the person inside the truck was able to get out without any injuries. We did lose one what we call fast attack truck that carries about 300 gallons of water on it during the course of the fire. ”

Berges reported that the truck was a 1990 model pickup. “We’ve got insurance. We’re self-insured through Kcamp.”

Firefighters responded to battle the blaze about 1:30 p.m. and had it under control later in the afternoon. Berges said back burning was used to help bring the blaze under control. He estimated of the approximate 200 acres that burned 30-50 acres were in Geary County and the rest on the Konza Prairie.

Berges indicated that discarded smoking materials along I-70 was the probable cause of the fire.

Fire units and about 35 firefighters from Konza Prairie Research personnel, plus Geary and Riley Counties responded to fight the blaze. The truck that burned had been stationed at the rural Barr Road fire station near Interstate 70 exit for Kansas 18 in Geary County.


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Firefighters called to small burr fire at Next GINeration

By Gale Rose
Pratt Tribune – March 15, 2018

Firefighters were called to the Next GINeration Cotton Gin at Cullison around 7 a.m. Thursday when a very small burr pile caught fire underneath the burr stacker. At first, just a couple of Cullison units were on site but a couple of brush units and a tanker unit from Township 12 and units from Sawyer were requested to help supply water and to put out hot spots as the pile was pulled apart and spread out on the gin property.

Kansas Department of Transportation was called to help with traffic control when smoke increased as the pile was pulled apart.

This was a very small fire compared to a much bigger fire at the gin on March 2 that burned a huge burr pile and required fire units from several fire districts in Pratt County as well as units from Kiowa and Barber Counties. That fire smoldered for days and took most of the day before units were released.


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James “Jamie” Richard Reed

James “Jamie” Richard Reed, age 56, of Columbus, KS, passed away Sunday, March 4, 2018.

Jamie was born May 8, 1961 to Lawrence Ray Reed and Wanda Jane Hatton Reed Carota, in Vincennes, Indiana. He obtained his GED after school, and went on to vo-tech to be a machinist, later taking the Firefighter 1 Class at KU.

On November 23, 1979, he married Joleen Cooper at the Columbus Methodist Church. They moved around a few times during their early years of marriage, living in Texas and also Indiana, but settled in Columbus over 30 years ago. He did various jobs throughout his life, including working with Joleen’s dad at Cooper Electric. His main occupation and love was firefighting. He was on the Columbus Fire Department for 14 years, retiring only due to his health. He enjoyed teaching fire prevention to community children. Jamie was a member of the Methodist Church in Columbus; was a Neighborhood Watch Leader for some time; and loved fishing and hunting.

Surviving Jamie are his wife Joleen of the home; his mother Wanda Carota (husband Michael) of Huntingburg, IN; three sons: Joseph Reed of Tucson, AZ, Joshua Reed (wife Raquel) of Warsaw, IN, and Jacob Reed (wife Traci) of Vincennes, IN; two sisters: Connie Ball of DuBois, IN, and Lisa Elshoff of Huntingburg, IN. Jamie is also survived by several grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and great nieces and nephews.

Cremation arrangements are being handled by Derfelt Funeral Home in Columbus. Online condolences may be left for the family at


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Sutton receives Rising Star Award for CPR training

Cowley Courier Traveler – March 7, 2018

The Young Professionals of Cowley County periodically recognizes outstanding young professionals with the Rising Star Award. Winfield Fire Department Lead Paramedic/Firefighter Aaron Sutton received the Rising Star Ward on Feb. 28 for his work in making Winfield a Heart Safe Community.

Sutton joined forces with Winfield Area Chamber of Commerce, RISE Cowley, William Newton Hospital, Southwestern College, Cowley College, USD 465, Cowley County Emergency Management and City-Cowley County Health Department to provide free hands-only CPR classes to more than 1,000 citizens during February.

Because of his hard work and that of other paramedics within the department, Winfield now has many more individuals holding the important knowledge of CPR procedure that could save a life.


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1 dead, 5 injured in head on crash near Ottawa

By Brian Dulle
KSNT – March 15, 2018

One person was killed and five others injured following a head on crash in Franklin County.

The crash was reported just before 11 p.m. in the southbound lanes of I-35 at K-68, east of Ottawa, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol.

A 2003 Chevrolet Suburban SUV, driven by Curtrail Hudson, 18, of Kansas City, Kan., was northbound in the southbound lanes of I-35 when he struck a 2018 Chevrolet Impala driven by Charisma A. Shirley, 20, of Kansas City, Mo., head on.

Hudson and Shirley were both taken to Overland Park Regional Hospital with injuries.

According to KHP, Shirley was wearing a seat belt, however Hudson was not.

A passenger in Hudson’s SUV, identified as Tyra L. Cooper, 32, of Independence, Mo., and was pronounced dead at the scene. KHP said she was not wearing a seat belt.

Three occupants in Shirley’s Impala were also taken to the hospital with injuries. They were identified as Alexis M. Thompson, 20, Dyimond Johnson, 20, both from Kansas City, Mo., and Shakyra K. Nichols, 21, of Kansas City Kansas. All three were wearing seat belts, according to KHP.


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Fire chief’s passion spreads like wildfire

By Paige Carr
Peabody Gazette Bulletin – March 15, 2018

For Peabody Fire Chief Mark Penner, his enthusiasm fighting fires doesn’t stop at the local level. That’s just the beginning.

Through special training, Penner is the holder of a red card, which qualifies him for incidents on the federal level, and for which he has deployed all over the country to fight wildfires.

Penner has been a member of the volunteer fire department for 15 years, and Fire Chief for seven. While his services are strictly volunteer in Peabody, Penner gets compensated for his time fighting wildfires elsewhere.

Obtaining a red card is no small feat. Penner said there are several training components offered through Kansas Forest Service, including a three-mile arduous walk carrying 45 pounds in a pack, completed in under 45 minutes.

“When you’re out working forest fires you constantly have a pack on,” he said. “You have to pass the test once a year in order to be certified.”

This is Penner’s third year with a red card, and his second year responding to a cry for firefighters in wildfire situations.

“I like to learn every way to fight fires the best way I can,” he said. “We mostly deal with structure fires here, so it was neat to learn more about the forest fire side of it.”

Penner is notified of opportunities to put his skills to work by email, and he chooses which to accept.

Penner responded to a call last year in Butte Falls, Oregon. Deployments of this nature are generally only up to 14 days, but Penner said they needed him longer.

“There was a lot of fires going on out there, and they begged whoever could stay to do so,” he said. “I was there for a total of 16 days. When you’re out there you meet people from all over the country. I met a lot of guys from Oregon and another engine crew had someone from Arizona.”

Penner has also traveled to Lowell, Idaho, and recently went to western Kansas to fight a fire that spanned more than 1,600 acres.

Besides the difficulties that come with fighting fires of this magnitude, Penner says it’s hard to be away from his family.

“I get a little homesick,” he said. “When you’re up in the mountains fighting these fires, there’s no cell service. Every three days when we go into to town to fuel up everyone is on their cell phones to check in back home.”

Penner said some of his specific training applies at the local level.

“Those are massive fires out there and you can bring a lot back to our department here and implement some of it.”

His passion for fighting fires goes beyond his time on the scene.

“I love it. I eat, drink and sleep it,” he said.

His ardor has spread to a growing volunteer fire department in Peabody. Penner’s enthusiasm motivated three other men to pursue their red card, including his 18-year-old son, Bailey, and firefighters Chris Carr and Christopher Brooks. The group plans on attending training this weekend.

Penner finds enjoyment in the challenge and surroundings of his time spent following his love of fighting fires.

“One of my favorite parts is being able to live in a tent for 14 days in a national forest,” he said. “I’ve camped along rivers and it looks like it’s right out of a magazine.”

Penner says that whether nearby or abroad any time spent doing what he loves is worth it.

“Anytime you can play with fire while helping others, it’s a good day.”


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Grass fire threatens Walmart store in Pratt

By Gale Rose
Pratt Tribune – March 15, 2018

Photo by Gale Rose

More Pics

A fast moving grass fire of unknown origin pushed up against the south side of the Walmart Wednesday afternoon sending huge clouds of smoke into the air. Pratt Fire Department, Township 12 and Pratt County Emergency trucks responded to the call.

The fire started next to a construction site and the wind quickly spread the flames north through the grass and right up against the Walmart building. The fire was quickly knocked down but it took firefighters over an hour to get all the hot spots extinguished.

Fire Chief David Kramer said the cause of the fire was unknown and next to a construction site. The new Pratt Family Dental building that is currently under construction was not damaged in the fire that was reported about 4:40 p.m.


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Rice County battling several grass fire

KSN – March 14, 2018

Photo by Sterling Police Department

Fire crews in Rice County are battling several grass fires.

Right now, all fire departments are out fighting fires in the eastern part of the county.

Officials ask that you stay out of their way.

Ave V is closed by barricade going east from 22nd.

Gov. Jeff Colyer made and emergency declaration for the fires in Rice County. He is deploying Black Hawks to aid in the response.


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Hays firefighters are not heroes

Garden City Telegram – March 14, 2018

On March 6, parts of the city of Hays were put at risk because of grass fires pushed by high winds. But for the efforts of firefighting crews, many could have lost homes and businesses, if not lives. The crews fought and won the battle with the fires.

It would be easy to call the firefighters heroes. I suggest they are much more than that. Instead, they demonstrated how well-trained and prepared they were for such an event. According to a quote in The Hays Daily News, “Such a grass fire has not been seen in our area in over 15 years.” Yet the firefighters (and those who assisted them) utilized their training and preparedness to protect and save the city.

A large portion of our practice is dealing with families in a crisis. It might be a chronic illness, a terminal illness or even frailty caused by aging issues. It also might be sudden, unexpected death.

For some of those families, we have been able to work with them to prepare them for such an event. We have talked about and played the “what if” game — what if you suddenly get sick, what if you die unexpectedly, what if you develop a chronic illness?

The planning we do takes into consideration those “what ifs.”

In the end, some families call us heroes. I like to think we are not heroes; that we are just well-trained and prepared. I also would suggest part of that success is because of our clients. They are the ones who allow us to be proactive in our planning. They allow us to partner with them to get prepared. They allow us to rally their family and other support systems during a time of crisis (much like the citizens and businesses of Hays rallied around the Hays firefighters).

In a time of crisis, it is time to rally the troops, but that rallying really needs to start well before a crisis develops. The Hays firefighters taught us an important lesson: There is nothing like being prepared, trained and having the available tools at the appropriate time. It is important to know when to call in help, and know how to coordinate that help.

To the Hays firefighters who fought the grass fires of March 6, and those who assisted them, thank you for doing your job, thank you for all of your training, thank you for being prepared, and thank you for saving our community.

Randy Clinkscales founded Clinkscales Elder Law Practice in 1985. He is a 1980 graduate of Washburn Law School and has represented clients at the administrative, county, state and federal levels.


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Conway Springs native Dawn Cornejo recalls her years with Conway Springs EMS

By Dawn Cornejo
Wellington Daily News – March 14, 2018

My exposure to EMS started when I was a little girl. My mom grew up living in a funeral home, as my Grandpa Lyle owned and operated the funeral home in Logan Kansas. Like most EMS services during that time period, my Grandpa’s funeral hearse did double duty as an ambulance as well. My Grandpa went back to school when he was in his 50s and became a paramedic. He attended the first paramedic class offered by KU in Kansas City. My grandpa then moved to Topeka Kansas where he became active with the Kansas Board of EMS, soon becoming the director. I spent a lot of my summers as a child with my Grandparents in Topeka, and would frequently accompany my Grandpa to work. So I kind of grew up playing with resuscitation equipment. (I suppose that sounds kind of odd…lol). My Grandpa Lyle (Eckhart) became known as the Grandfather of Kansas EMS and was referred to as Grandpa by his many students and younger colleagues.
I didn’t get into EMS immediately. I became a single teenage mother and needed to be able to make a living quickly. So after I graduated high school, I went to college and became a paralegal. I worked for Delta Dental Plan of Kansas until I gave birth to my 2nd and last child, Lyle. (I’ll bet you can guess how we chose his name). After having a uterine rupture during Lyle’s birth, with both of us having to be resuscitated, there was no way I was leaving him, so I didn’t return to my job. I stayed home with Lyle until he entered school. I saw an ad in the Conway Springs newspaper about an EMT class starting and about how they would handle paying for the class if I volunteered with Conway Springs EMS. I had some time on my hands, so I thought why not? Dixie Simpson came to Conway Springs and taught the class. I remember thinking that there would be no way I would be able to pass everything required to become an EMT. I studied like crazy, went to boards, and was completely shocked to hear that I passed. After I was told that I passed, and after I finished crying, I spoke with the examiners about my Grandpa (who had died about 10 years prior to this). They were all just tickled to be talking to “Lyle Eckhart’s granddaughter”.
I started running calls with Conway Springs EMS (before I was even certified). Jim Brozovich allowed me to ride along, with strict instructions not to do anything until I was certified. I remember the moment that I became aware that this is what I want to do with my life. I was in the back of the ambulance on the way home from a call with Jim. We were talking and I told him that this doesn’t feel at all like work. He told me that he had always felt the same way about EMS. Things just kind of took off from there. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to go to paramedic school right away, but I worked as an EMT for a few years. Then I took an EMT-I course which allowed me to perform a few more interventions than I could perform as an EMT. I then got a full-time job as an ER tech at St. Francis hospital in Wichita. I continued to work at St. Francis and run calls with Conway Springs EMS. I then decided that it was time to go to paramedic school. I began my paramedic education at Hutchinson community college and applied for a job with Sedgwick County EMS. I got hired with SCEMS as a part time EMT. I then dropped my hours down to part time at St. Francis and floated to St. Joe as well. I continued to work at the hospital, SCEMS, run calls with conway springs EMS when I was home and finish my education. It was after graduation that I was hired as a full time paramedic with SCEMS, so I decided that I had to quit my job with the hospitals. As luck would have it, my first partner at SCEMS was Jim! I couldn’t think of a better way to begin my career. We were partners for a little over a year before I got moved to a different shift. I then stayed at the county for a few years before my crew leader retired and started working for Mulvane EMS. He urged me to apply there as well. I was completely happy at Sedgwick County, but thought it might be interesting to work for a service that is a little further away from the hospitals. I went and interviewed, reluctantly, but they made me an offer that I just couldn’t turn down, so I went to work for Mulvane EMS for a few years. It was during my time at Mulvane that I became the director of Conway Springs EMS after some unfortunate circumstances. I would have to say that the circumstances surrounding that change were some of the hardest times that I have ever been through. Throughout my career, I have often thought back to stories that my Grandpa told me and stories that my family told me about my Grandpa, and that helped guide my decision making processes. It was then that I truly understood that doing the right thing feels horrible sometimes.You often hear about the camaraderie and brother/sisterhood amongst first responders. I can attest that the relationships I have formed with my first responder family are very real and very strong. When I have to make a big decision or have questions about anything, I have an entire network at my fingertips. Other EMS directors and ER physicians and connections made over the years in the medical community have been such amazing help. There wouldn’t be a Conway Springs EMS without them.
I’m trying to think of some of the lows. The lows are pretty bad, so it’s a good thing that there are so many highs. One of the lows is losing our brothers and sisters. Helen Andra and Necia Billson’s deaths were pretty difficult. Mike Corn’s death was extremely difficult. Hearing the last page coming out over hundreds of radios at their funerals is something that I will never be able to think about without tears being near. There are also the calls and the patients. Most of the time, those are highs. Because even if all we were able to do was make sure the patient was warm, just knowing that we made them feel a little bit better is a pretty good feeling for us as ems providers. There are the deaths and tragedies. Those are pretty horrible, but again, being able to hug their family members, look them in the eye and tell them that we tried everything that we could think of is a pretty powerful thing. In a small community, you can tell that it really brings a comfort to the family, because they truly know that you tried your hardest. Just being able to give them that small amount of comfort outweighs the pain of what just happened.
And then there’s the politics. I think that is probably the hardest part of the job. At least for me, everything else has seemed easy compared to the politics. I have been very fortunate to have such supportive city officials in Conway Springs. That isn’t the case everywhere.
Throughout my career at Conway Springs EMS, I have gotten my entire family involved. My husband Mike has been with the Conway Springs Fire Department for years, and recently became a certified EMR, so he is helping run calls with Conway Springs EMS. My father, Ron Aubushon, became CPR certified, and is a driver, mechanic and handyman for CSEMS. My son, Lyle goes through all of our medications monthly and removes and replaces expired medications, as well as stocking shelves and cleaning. My mother, Cindy Aubushon, helps me out with office work.
I guess there really aren’t a lot of lows. The highs outweigh the lows by far for me. There are missed holidays and missed times with family. My family has just learned to adapt and overcome those kind of things. Who says you have to celebrate Christmas on Christmas? If I’m working a holiday or my birthday, they just come to me, with the understanding that I may get a call and have to leave. They will be there when I get back or we will be together another time. I am pretty sure that all of my colleagues on Conway Springs EMS feel the same way. They are some amazing people. Two of our members have 6 children. They are very active in each of their children’s lives, coaching, leading girl scout and boy scout troops, working other jobs. A few of our members have served our community for over 25 years! And they still get up in the middle of the night if the pager goes off. Some of our members don’t really have any ties to our city, they just heard that we needed help. So they drive, some as far as 45 miles one way, to cover a 15 hour shift and then drive 45 miles back home. All of our volunteers receive a reimbursement of $1.00 per hour they are on call. This reimbursement is used to cover expenses such as gas, meals, etc.
If one of us gets sick, there won’t be a day that passes that we aren’t visited, called, texted, etc by one of our first responder family members. My husband was ill a few years ago and was hospitalized at KU medical center in Kansas City. I of course went and stayed with him. There was somebody with me EVERY DAY from EMS or the Fire department. We were there for around 6 weeks. We received care packages, cash, you name it. We never had to worry about our laundry getting done, our bills getting paid or our child having someone to keep him and get him to and from school. I can’t tell you how many different houses our son was in during that time. We never would have made it through that difficult time without our first responder family.


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Family donates pet respirator to local fire dept.

By Patty Decker
March 14, 2018 – Hillsboro Free Press

Marion firefighters will now have a better chance of rescuing animals suffering from the effects of smoke inhalation, and revived with oxygen, thanks to Cristi Soyez of Cedar Point.

“I have a tendency to buy my grandkids something at Valentines Day, and I tend to go crazy (on what I get them),” she said.

“But, this year, I decided to do something different.”

Soyez said she got the idea of buying the respirator kit for pets from her grandson, Ayden Brown.

“His birthday was Feb. 1, and instead of having a birthday presents, Ayden donated the money to the (Caring Hands) Humane Society in Newton,” she said.

Not long after her grandson’s donation was made to Caring Hands. Soyez said she started seeing all sorts of posting about animals that were hurt or died because no oxygen masks were available to help them.

“A friend of mine in Emporia lost two dogs. The kids were really close to those dogs, too.

“I don’t think resuscitation would have saved them, but it got us me to thinking about how it could help other pets survive.”

For Soyez, the idea of buying the kit made her feel better because now it’s there if somebody’s pet needs it.

“We were all very hap­py and it made our grandchild­ren feel good, and it was such an unselfish act by the grandchildren.”

“My daughters felt good about it, my daddy felt good and was excited about it and the firefighters were glad, too, because many of them have pets,” she said.

For no more than the kit cost, Soyez said, it was well worth it for peace of mind.

One of the reasons Soyez chose Marion’s fire department to donate the animal respirator kit was because her father. Marle Bruner served as its fire chief for many years.

“My dad also had a hand in building the fire station,” she said. “And I spent a lot of time as Smokey the Bear.”

Soyez said she would have started this year giving her grandchildren flowers this year for Valentines Day, but instead gave the pet respirators

In recognizing their selfless act this year, Soyez said her grandchildren all live in Marion and their names include the Taylor’s—Shannon, Quenton, Jaseon and Kolemon and the—Brown’s Ayden and Kasen.

Although Soyez said she lives in Cedar Point, she loves her animals, too.

“We have goats, bucket calves, dogs, cats, and did have alpacas until last week,” she said.

“Pets are family members, and I know firefighters want to do anything they can (the same as pet owners) to keep them safe,” she said. “It’s a new way to help our pets.”


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County issues burn ban

By Patty Decker
Hillsboro Free Press – March 14, 2018

The Marion County Commission issued a burn ban effective Monday, March 12, after hearing from Marion County Emergency Management director Randy Frank and Peabody Fire Chief Mark Penner.

The proclamation is effective and in place prohibiting people who are careless with use of cigarette, cigar and other smoldering-type remains; building or maintaining open campfires; burning of all fence rows, pastures; and/or using welding or torch equipment

One of the reasons Penner and Frank visited with the commissioners Monday was to talk about a burn ban after Thursday’s brush fire that went out of control at 100th and Indigo Road.

“We are a small rural fire department,” Penner said, “running a truck with two people on it with 300 gallons of water on it.”

Besides Peabody’s fire department responding to the afternoon call, Harvey County, and Goessel City went out, and the Walton Fire Department came with their equipment, too, Penner said.

It took firefighters more than four hours to put the fire out.

Emergency Management

One of the ways Frank helps firefighters is by thinking for them.

Penner said that a lot of times he is using a drone in the field looking at all aspects of the fire while crews are fighting the blaze.

“It’s a good deal, really, because he is seeing the big picture by using the drone,” he said.

In addition, Frank provides a lot of training information and emails to the departments in case someone is interested.

Fire chiefs favor ban

Eight of the 12 fire chiefs are in favor of the burn ban.

In fact, Penner said the forecast calls for no rain through Tuesday with winds picking up through next week.

Even if it does rain next week, and the burn ban is lifted, that doesn’t mean the grass will be wet, Penner said, people will still need to be careful.


Frank also requested the county issue a Fire Management Assistance Grant, which provides 75 percent federal cost share with the state’s share of 25 percent in the event of disaster.


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Commission purchase rescue equipment

By John Richmeier
Leavenworth Times – March 14, 2018

The Leavenworth City Commissioners voted Tuesday to purchase Hurst rescue tools from Danko Emergency Equipment, Snyder, Nebraska, in the amount of $26,472 and a Paratech 3 air bag set from Feld Fire, Carroll, Iowa, in the amount of $4,234.

Fire Chief Gary Birch said the equipment will be used mostly for extricating people after car accidents.

He said the Hurst rescue tools are also known as the Jaws of Life.

Birch said the Fire Department has used hydraulic rescue tools in the past. But in recent years, firefighters have started using eDraulic rescue equipment, which is battery powered.

He said the Fire Department already has sets of the eDraulic tools at two of its three stations. Tuesday’s purchase will provide a set for the third fire station.

He said the old hydraulic tools will be used on reserve trucks.

Birch said the bid from Danko Emergency Equipment is a sole source bid. He said there is only one supplier for the Hurst equipment in the region.

Birch said he wanted to purchase Hurst equipment because that company’s tools already are used by the Fire Department. Birch said he wants the equipment within the department to be universal.


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No injuries after late-night house fire near Emporia

By Chuck Samples
KVOE – March 14, 2018

Fire developed in a rural Emporia home late Tuesday night.

Emporia Fire Battalion Chief Rich Gould says crews were dispatched to 522 Road 170, about two miles west of the city limits, shortly before 11:15 pm after the resident came home to find smoke coming from the house as she opened the front door.

Firefighters from Emporia and Olpe got the fire out quickly, according to Gould. There were no injuries to anybody involved, including the resident and four pets.

A faulty extension cord was blamed for the fire. A damage estimate is pending. The Red Cross is providing lodging assistance in this case.


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Chicken coop fire had possibly burned for hours before it was discovered

By Chuck Samples
KVOE – March 14, 2018

Photo by Chuck Samples

Residents at a rural Lyon County home about 15 miles northeast of Emporia came home to a disturbing sight Tuesday.

Fire was burning through a chicken coop at 2874 Road S, killing an untold number of chicks and rabbits in the process. Emporia Fire Battalion Chief Rich Gould says the fire had been burning for some time before anybody noticed it.

The fire was noticed around 3 pm. Emporia, Miller and Reading fire crews responded to the blaze along with Lyon County deputies. The fire was mainly out by the time crews arrived at the house.

Gould says a faulty heat lamp caused the blaze.

A live electric wire was noted as well, but Gould says that was not a factor in the fire. At least one hay bale was also damaged.

No injuries to humans were recorded. Lyon County records show the property is owned by Kevin DeDonder.


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Man dies after McPherson County traffic accident

KNSS – March 14, 2018

A McPherson County man is dead after a traffic accident Monday. According to the Kansas Information Network the victim was identified as 53-year-old Gregory Geiman of Galva, Kan.

The McPherson County Sheriff’s office says Geiman’s vehicle went off a rural road north of U.S. 56, 10 miles east of the city of McPherson. The vehicle hit some trees and overturned.

The time of the accident is unknown, but the crash scene was reported after 6:30 a.m. The accident is under investigation.


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Parsons firefighter to retire Friday

By Ray Nolting
Parsons Sun – March 14, 2018

Parsons Fire Chief Jay Hawks presents a plaque to driver/operator Tom Jackson Tuesday for his years of service with the department. Jackson’s last day with the fire department will be Friday. Pictures by Ray Nolting

Parsons Fire Chief Jay Hawks uses string to cut Tom Jackson’s retirement cake. The technique keeps the frosting looking neat and makes for straight lines on the cut, he said.

Tom Jackson will retire this week from the Parsons Fire Department after nearly 29 years of service.

Jackson, a driver/operator, started work on Oct. 18, 1989. His last work day will be Friday. The city of Parsons had a reception for Jackson Tuesday afternoon at Fire Station No. 1, 1819 Washington. City Manager Debbie Lamb was on hand, as were Jackson’s fellow firefighters and other retired firefighters.

Fire Chief Jay Hawks honored Jackson for his service to the department and the community.

“It’s getting more rare to have somebody in a job, a single job, for 29 years. For all the service that you’ve done for the community, Tom, and for the Parsons Fire Department, we appreciate what you’ve done for us,” Hawks said.

Jackson received some gifts, including a plaque, a coat, a paper sack (to replace worn-out sacks he brings to the department) and a snack-size bag of Cheetos from retired firefighter David Schibi.

Jackson said he will continue to farm after he retires.


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Hesston marks 28 years since tornado

By Carly Willis
KSN – March 14, 2018


Jason Reynolds was off work from his job as manager of the Hesston Pizza Hut on March 13, 1990 but when he looked up in the sky and saw the winds moving in the opposite direction of the clouds, he went ahead and went in to the restaurant.

Through Pizza Hut management school, Reynolds had some severe weather training in his back pocket. That, and a whole lot of faith.

“It was like a really strong wind, the whistling, we could hear windows crashing in the dining room, so we knew we were getting a direct hit. The walls were rumbling as that came through,” Reynolds told KSN.

He and his staff escorted customers into walk-in freezers for protection. He remembers holding the door to keep it from flying open.

“I was in the bathroom praying. I didn’t care who heard me praying, just praying that we’d be safe and make it through and we all did,” Reynolds said.

Fitting enough, Reynolds now serves Harvey County Sheriff’s Office and Newton Police Department as a chaplain. But back in 1990, he used his job as Pizza Hut manager to serve the Hesston community in its time of need, using his store to feed the community in the weeks of storm aftermath.

It’s that giving, selfless spirit and resiliency that made the rebuilding process as quick as it was.

“That’s kind of the nature of this community. It’s a strong Mennonite community and the philosophy in that particular church is to help your neighbor and the Mennonite Disaster Service moved in quickly after the event and started clearing debris and tearing down homes that were destroyed. And I would say within two weeks, other than there were notable empty lots that weren’t there before, you couldn’t have told there was a disaster two weeks prior,” Hesston Fire/EMS chief Russ Buller said

Buller remembers tracking the storm that day, noting that it first touched down southwest of Hutchinson near Pretty Prairie. He’s thankful they had lots of lead-in time to get the warning out to residents to take shelter. Residents heeded the warning.

“It was lined up to strike our Hesston College, our nursing home Schowalter Villa, and then our trailer park it was in a direct path to hit all three of those which I daresay I guess there would be significant injury and loss of life that would have occurred,” Buller said.

Instead, the storm took a turn to the north and hit more of Hesston’s commercial and residential area. Buller and company transported 18 people with injuries from Hesston, but no fatalities took place in the town.

Two people did die in the storm, one in Burrton and one in Goessel.

Buller reports some changes to the town’s emergency siren system and command structure since the storm.

“We enhanced the tornado siren network in the community. We had a strong one then but one of the downfalls we discovered that same evening, we had a second round of tornadoes near Hesston and we attempted to activate our sirens a second time only to find with all the power out, they had no battery backup,” Buller said.

Their system now is supported by backup power.

Another challenge? Fielding an outpouring of support.

“We had a huge number of volunteers that wanted to help and we hadn’t experienced that before to that scale,” Buller said.


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
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Dick Ramsey

Dick Ramsey, age 60 of Concordia, entered into rest on Saturday, March 10, 2018 at the Salina Regional Health Center, Salina, Kansas. He was born in on Aug. 15, 1957 in Riley Co., Kansas to Robert Ramsey & Mary Lou Bray Ninemire.

Dick graduated from Concordia High School in 1975 and was a lifelong Concordia area resident. He married Mary L. Revell on March 29, 1991 in Cuba, KS. Dick was a commercial truck driver for Kime Trucking, Daws Trucking and several other trucking companies. He has spent the last 5 years driving for Great Plains Manufacturing in Salina. He also worked for John Deere, Concordia and the Cloud Co. Co-Op elevator.

Dick was a member of the S.A.L. for American Legion Post #76 & served as Commander for 2 different terms. He also was a volunteer for Rural Fire Dist. #4.

Dick loved his grandkids and being able to spend as much time with them as he possibly could when he wasn’t on the road.

He is survived by his wife, Mary, Concordia; son, Kenny Marsh (Ashlea), Concordia; grandchildren, Torri, Treyton, Brody & Preslee; brothers, Bill Ramsey (Sondra), Concordia, Rick Ramsey (Linda), Springfield, MO, Rickey Ninemire (Rachel), Concordia, & James “Buster” Ninemire, Concordia; Dad, Leo Ninemire, Concordia & several nieces & nephews.

He was preceded in death by his mother & father.

Funeral Services will be held 10:00 a.m., on Saturday, March 17, 2018 at the Chaput-Buoy Funeral Home, Concordia, Kansas, with Rev. Dean Frazier officiating. Visitation will be held on Friday, March 16, 2018 from 10 am to 9 pm with family greeting friends from 7-8 pm, all at the Chaput-Buoy Funeral Home, Concordia. Cremation will follow the services and family inurnment will take place at a later time in the Saron Lutheran Cemetery, Concordia, Kansas.

In lieu of flowers the family suggests memorials to the American Legion Post #76 Youth Programs or St. Jude Children’s in c/o Chaput-Buoy Funeral Home.


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Fatal Crash East of Abilene

By Todd Pittenger
KSAL – March 13, 2018

First responders are working the scene of a fatal, fiery rollover crash east of Abilene Tuesday morning.

Law enforcement, firefighters, and EMS responded to eastbound Interstate 70, east of Four Seasons RV. At around 8:45 vehicle flipped off the interstate, landed on a gravel road below, and caught fire.

At least one person was trapped in the vehicle. The Kansas Highway Patrol reports that there was at least one person killed in the crash.

As more details become available this story will be updated.


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Grass fires consume hundreds of acres

By John Richmeier
Leavenworth Times – March 13, 2018

An emergency management official estimates that about 20 grass fires were reported over the weekend in Leavenworth County.

Leavenworth County Emergency Management Director Chuck Magaha estimated that the fires consumed about 500 acres of vegetation.

Most of the grass fires were small, but Magaha said there were a couple of large grass fires in the Easton area and a large one south of Tonganoxie.

Many of the grass fires reported over the weekend were started by people who had burn permits. But Magaha said people still need to show caution once they have been issued burn permits.

At 12:30 p.m. Saturday, officials stopped issuing burn permits for unincorporated areas of the county. That is because nearly all of the fire departments in the county were busy with grass fires, Magaha said.

“We were out of resources in the county,” he said.

Magaha said people who obtain burn permits need to make sure they have an adequate water supply to keep fires from becoming out of control. He said there also needs to be an adequate number of people on hand to keep fires under control.

Magaha said it also is a good idea to inform neighbors about plans to burn so people in the area do not become alarmed.

It is anticipated that temperatures in the area will warm up later in the week. Magaha said this likely will reduce humidity and increase the danger of grass fires.

Magaha said vegetation in the area is extremely dry.

“It is a tinderbox,” he said.

Even with rain, the danger of grass fires will not diminish substantially until vegetation “greens up,” he said.


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Kansas departments fight fires from space

By Morgan Downing
March 13, 2018 – KAKE


A new tool is helping firefighters get ahead of the flames this grass fire season.

Ask any firefighter and he or she will tell you minutes matter when it comes to stopping a fire. In low populated Kansas counties, like Greenwood County, time isn’t always on emergency responders’ sides.

“A lot of times we have fires that can burn for 30-40 minutes before anyone is notified,” Levi Vinson said.

Vinson is the Greenwood County emergency manager. He says last week, a new hot spot notification system helped firefighters act more quickly. The National Weather Service sent him a text message letting him know a satellite was picking up a grass fire near the town of Hamilton.

“We’re receiving these a lot of times before a 911 call,” Vinson said.

On high fire danger days, the men and women working in the National Weather Service office in Wichita are paying attention to hot spots that pop up on satellite. As soon as they see something suspicious, they send out the text message to emergency managers and fire chiefs.

Meteorologist Chance Hayes says the text alert system is in the testing phase for 26 Kansas counties.

So far it’s working. The NWS is getting alerts to firefighters up to six minutes before a 911 call is made.

“I would estimate we’ve probably issued approximately 20 hot spot notifications across our area up to this point,” Hayes said.

Hayes says they only use the hot spot notification on high fire danger days. If it continues to be successful, it could be rolled out statewide.


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Press Release: Building Fire, Staab Repair, 611 East 13th Street, Hays

At 1:18 PM, Monday, March 12, 2018, City of Hays emergency dispatchers were alerted to a building fire at Staab Repair, 611 East 13th 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.

Arriving firefighters found a pick-up truck on fire inside a vehicle repair shop. One hose line was used to control the fire. The fire did not spread to the building. No one was injured. After the fire was extinguished, firefighters used ventilation blowers to remove the heavy smoke from inside the building.

The most probable cause of the fire was a malfunction in the engine compartment of the pick-up truck.

Five fire trucks and 24 firefighters responded. The last fire crew left the scene at 2:13 PM.

Your Hays firefighters would like to remind everyone to call 911 promptly when a fire occurs. Fires can grow and spread very quickly. Having the fire department on the way as soon as possible can help to limit the damage from a fire.

Gary A. Brown, Sr., EFO
Fire Chief
City of Hays Fire Rescue


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RV fire spreads to northeast Topeka house

Katie Moore
Topeka Capital Journal – March 13, 2018

A fire that started in a recreational vehicle Monday spread to a residence, causing more than $77,000 in damage.

The incident was reported shortly after 4:30 p.m. at 526 N.E. Burgess, the Topeka Fire Department said in a news release.

A person driving by alerted the occupant of the residence and 911 was notified.

Fire crews found heavy smoke coming from an RV in the backyard. The blaze spread from the vehicle and burned into the residence through the attic spaces.

The RV was consumed and there was substantial damage to the dwelling, the fire department said.

The preliminary investigation indicates the fire was accidental and likely caused by the failure or malfunction of an energized space heater being used in the RV.

The fire caused $45,000 in damage to the residence and $25,000 to its contents. Another $7,500 was associated with the loss of the RV, according to TFD.


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