Archive for May, 2018

WFD sports new rig

Cowley Courier Traveler – May 22, 2018
Submitted by Newz Group – May 31, 2018


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Belleville Fire Department Centennial


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Fire does estimated $17,500 damage to Topeka garage, outbuilding

By Tim Hrenchir
Topeka Capital Journal – May 31, 2018

Photo by Tim Hrenchir

A fire that burned a detached garage and a small metal shed did an estimated $17,500 damage early Thursday morning, said Topeka Fire Marshal Mike Martin. No one was hurt.

The Topeka Fire Department was called shortly after 1:30 a.m. to the back yard of 1411 N.W. Eugene, where firefighters were told the blaze began in a small metal shed and spread to a nearby detached garage, Martin said. Firefighters contained to the blaze to those buildings, he said.

Eugene, which runs north and south, is located about two blocks west of N.W. Topeka Boulevard, at the fire scene.

The cause of the fire remains undetermined, pending further investigation, Martin said.

He said damages were estimated at $12,500 to the structures and $5,000 to their contents.

Other agencies that assisted at the scene included Westar Energy, Kansas Gas Service and American Medical Response Ambulance Co., Martin said.


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Radios to bridge the gap

By Gale Rose
Pratt Tribune – May 31, 2018

Radios that can handle both UHF analog and digital signals will help fill a communications gap among first responders.

A gap in communication among all emergency entities in the county could soon be filled. Tim Branscom, county emergency manager, present- ed a plan to replace radios that can bridge that gap to the Pratt County Commissioners at their May 28 meeting.

During an active shooter exercise at Pratt Community College, it was discovered that there was a problem with communicating among all first responders.

The Pratt Police Department has changed to digital radios while the other emergency services and UHF analog units that can’t hear the police department.

Branscom has worked with the various first responders and come up with a wish list of upgrades and new equipment that will help improve communication and provide a variety of equipment, such as a robot that can be sent into dangerous situations instead of humans, that will make emergency services safer and more efficient.

At the top of the list is radios that can handle both digital and analog communications. These radios would have digital capability in the future. It would take 340 radios to cover all the emergency agencies, Branscom said.

The wish list is long and if everything is implemented, it would take several years to pay for it all. The list was presented to the Commissioners who will review it as they work on the next county budget. Undersheriff Max Barrett said changes in band width are happening and if they happen as predicted, it could require more repeater towers in the county.

Band width has been dropped from 25 Mb/s to 12.5 Mb/s and could drop to 6.25 Mb/s, Barrett said. If that happens, the narrow band would not reach out as far as it can now and it would take more repeater towers to get the signal from place to place.

Bill Hampton, county fire and rescue chief, brought in a revised cost estimate for a new Jaws of Life and power unit. He discovered the previous machine he bid on was not compatible with some of their equipment. So he reviewed his options and found what he needed for an additional $1,221. The new equipment was from Okie Extraction for $8,521 to purchase a pump, primary cutter combination tool and hose.

Pratt County EMS staff may soon have a new work schedule that would eliminate being on-call for 24 hours after just coming off a 24 hour shift. Scott Harris, EMS director, said he was considering a 48 hour on and four day off schedule that would take care of crew having to be on-call for 24 hours and not being able to leave Pratt. This would not change the number of hours for the EMS Staff, said Harris who wants to have the new schedule in place by July 1.

Harris also wants to review the patient transfer policy with Pratt Regional Medical Center and long term care facilities. There are times when EMS has been asked to transport patients at night to another facility in the region only for that patient to have to wait until the morning before they can see the doctor.

Harris wants to discus if that transfer could be done in the morning rather than have a crew make a transfer at night. Urgent need transfers would still be made anytime day or night as necessary.

Harris has hired a new paramedic and a new EMT. He still has positions to fill and has just finished interviewing six people for the remaining positions.


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Outhouse becomes smokehouse

By David Colburn
Peabody Gazette Bulletin – May 31, 2018

A Sunday call to Marion firefighters for an outhouse fire at the county lake may have had some wondering what time of year it was.

“The last one I knew was Halloween on Main St.,” fire chief Mike Regnier said.

A call about 1:20 p.m. said that smoke was streaming from a stone outhouse on the east end of the lake, on a hill just above the low-water bridge.

“Somebody that was camping over there called dispatch, and they brought out the fire department,” lake superintendent Isaac Hett said.

The first firefighters on the scene reported that the outhouse was filled with smoke, but no damage was observed.

“Somebody must have been bored and wanted to set something on fire,” Regnier said. “It’s a good thing they did it in a stone building. We just filled it with water and went home.”

So what caused a fire in an outhouse?

“Somebody I guess had balled up some clothes, lighted them on fire, and threw it down the hole,” Hett said. “I don’t know if they were mad at somebody and tried to burn their clothes, or how that came about. It could’ve got bad, but they were able to put it out, and it didn’t cause any real damage.”

A sudden influx of water far exceeded the capacity of the outhouse, so there’s still a little work left to get it back in operating order, Hett said.

“We’ll have to get it pumped out,” he said, “but that’s better than the roof burning.”


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Fighting Fire With Saints

By Joe Denoyer
KSCB – May 31, 2018

It’s a quiet Friday afternoon without a cloud in the sky — except for a dark plume of smoke spiraling up from the north end of Liberal.

Firefighters Braden Steckel and Jake Pewthers pause from the puzzle of a faulty electrical system on one of the Seward County tanker trucks to listen to the radio’s crackle. Moments later, they’re gone, suited up, lights and siren blaring from a completely different truck.

In just three months, they’ll be training students from Seward County Community College to replicate those actions.

SCCC’s newly-designed Resident Firefighter Program will launch its first cohort in August with six applicants who meet the criteria: full-time students with an interest in fighting fires and a willingness to serve. In return for joining the on-call team of Seward County Fire & Rescue as full-time residential members, the students will receive free housing at a new station immediately adjacent to SCCC, meals through the SCCC cafeteria and at the station house, tuition reimbursement, and on-the-job training that interlocks with their courseload. It’s a generous offer that comes with a two-year commitment.

“It doesn’t matter to us if you’re going to school for corrosion, for nursing, for auto tech,” says SCFR chief Andrew Barkley. “We want a student who wants some help with college, is willing to have an unusual job, and will learn.”

Dr. Todd Carter, SCCC Vice President of Academics, sees the partnership as a win-win-win, for students, the community, and the college.

“Education is a sum of all of our life experiences and at college, the experiences inside and outside of the classroom have equal importance,” he said. “We provide opportunities to work in teams, develop new skills, think critically, and apply knowledge in all of our programs. As a member of the resident firefighter program and Seward County fire department, the personal growth and development of these skill sets in a short amount of time would be very difficult to duplicate outside of this unique opportunity. At the same time, students are providing a very important service to the communities in Seward County and beyond.”

At a recent multi-board meeting, stakeholders from the county, city, school board, hospital, Chamber of Commerce and college echoed Carter’s perspective.

“I’m so thankful to be able to collaborate so well with the college, and all these community boards,” said Liberal Fire Department Chief Kelly Kirk, whose firefighters currently share the city’s north station on Fifteenth Street with the county crew. The introduction of a fire science course at Liberal High School and the college’s resident fire fighter program, “is a service back to our community to train workers we desperately need.”

County Commissioner Jim Rice, himself a rural resident, agrees. The fires have come “pretty dang close” to his home in recent years.

“Last year, that fire started up, the wind was blowing out of the south, then it reversed, and wiped out about four of my neighbor’s houses,” he said. “The fire got right up to the windbreak. If it had made it through, we would have lost ours.”

Thanks to SCFR, county road and bridge, and an farmer who tilled up a dirt barrier, the Rice home survived. The experience reinforced the rural reality that “it’s pretty important to have a fire department that is capable of reacting when necessary,” Rice said. “We need somebody to be there to head that direction. We need some kind of system put in place to help provide more volunteers, and I think this program is certainly going to help get more hands on deck.”

A California native who’s been on the job for more than 20 years, Barkley saw a similar program in place at University of California Davis, He believes the SCCC partnership program can answer that challenge.

“Across the nation, there has been a drastic decline in those paid-call firefighters — lots of people refer to them as ‘volunteers,’” Barkley said. “Believe it or not, 10 to 15 years ago, there were a lot of stay-at-home moms who were also firefighters. Not so many today. The economy has changed, and employers no longer let their personnel leave to fight fires.”

During Barkley’s three-year tenure at the helm of SCFR, he’s overseen the hiring of Deputy Chief John Steckel, and three full-time firefighters to boost the dwindling pool of “volunteer” firefighters.

“When you have some big fires and lose some houses, you gain support,” Barkley said wryly, adding that “the best thing I can tell you about that is we were able to do so without raising the taxes.” Though many taxpayers don’t realize it, Barkley said, the county fire department exists as its own taxing entity. Continued declines in residents willing to serves as per-call, “volunteer” firefighters mean the SCFR budget could double or even triple over the next few years. At this time, fire trucks routinely answer calls for structure fires with 10 fighters on duty; the ideal number is 18.

The first cohort of six resident firefighters will be joined by five new applicants each subsequent year.

Over time, that adds up to a combined force of 10 SCCC resident firefighters. Full-time firefighters Pewthers and Braden Steckel will take on the primary responsibility of training the SCCC Resident Firefighters, living at the new station with them in turn.

Kirk estimates that fire departments in this half of Kansas — from Pratt west — will need around 200 firefighters in the coming years, “and I hate having to direct them to other communities to receive that training,” he said. “Why not train our own, right here at home?” A student survey at LHS identified 55 current high school students with a strong interest in firefighting. That bodes well for the SCCC program, and the region as a whole.

Carter, who served for 15 years as a volunteer firefighter in the Oklahoma Panhandle, is familiar with the need.

“It is a tremendous responsibility to provide fire protection and emergency services to rural areas,” he said. “From1985 to 2000, I saw a drop in the number of volunteers available for fire calls as the number of farm families and local employers diminished.”

Barkley began his firefighting career in California where regulations vary, but on-the-job training is the key for a would-be firefighter.

“In Kansas, you can read the book and take your certification test, but if you don’t have experience, you’re going to have a hard time getting a job,” he said. “What we are offering SCCC students in an opportunity to get started with a whole set of job skills, regardless of whether they intend to follow that path for a career in firefighting. It’s also a chance for them to get a taste of it and find out if they’re suited for it.”

The SCCC resident firefighter program will begin with a three-week, intensive training session at the beginning of August. The full-time, immersive session will thoroughly orient the six newcomers to the basics.

“They’ll move into the new station just south of SCCC’s main campus, paired by shift. Be provided uniforms, gear, and start learning everything that’s typically covered in a Firefighter I class,” said Barkley. “Once they’ve completed that, they can take the test and get their certification.”

Classes at SCCC begin mid-August, and the resident firefighters “will be living what is like to be a firefighter, except at college,” Barkley said. “The students will be paired with the career guys who work full-time, and they’ll be on shift 48 hours at a time. When they have class, they’ll go, but they’ll take a radio and be ready to answer the call if one comes in. When class is over, they’ll go back to the station. If you’re on shift, you’re on shift and you do the responsibilities there, cleaning, yard work, vehicle maintenance. There’s down time when the chores are done … they’re going to get the full aspect of eating meals together, working out together, checking equipment together, working as a team over the two years they’re in the program.”

Barkley realizes the first year will require tweaks to the plan, and flexibility on the part of students, fire personnel, and SCCC faculty.

“We know they’ve got to go to school, take their classes,” Barkley said. He noted the program requirements include a minimum GPA of 2.5 with a course load of 15 hours. It’s a heavy load, he acknowledged, “but that is the kind of person we need, someone who can take on a lot of responsibility, and learn how to handle it as they mature.”

“If a fire comes in, they’ll be allowed to leave class, come to fire station, get on truck, respond to the call. On weekends and evenings, they’re having dinner, reviewing class or home work. When we catch the big fires and calls, you’re looking at an immediate response out the door of 11 people, including our career person. That makes a tremendous difference.”

Carter sees benefits for students as well.

“The program provides funding for college expenses with the flexibility for the student to attend college full time,” he said. It’s work worth doing, as research shows that “all of these factors substantially increase student success and completion.”

With applications for the coming year available at the college, Barkley hopes to see a rush of applicants for the SCCC Resident Firefighter program The firefighting life may not be for everyone, he said, but it’s a good life.

“You’ll learn what it is to be part of a family,” he said. “You spend spend those hours on call together, and it becomes a brotherhood, a family for male and female firefighters. You eat together, you work out together, you develop a really tight bond. You know that if something goes wrong, that’s the person who’s gonna save you.”

Applications for the two-year program are available on campus at SCCC in the admissions department, with online application access planned soon. Students who are interested may call Chief Barkley at (620) 626-3267 email for more information about the interview process, physical strength and agility tests, and other details.


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Fire destroys home in Petrolia Tuesday afternoon

Chanute Tribune – May 31, 2018

Fire destroyed the Petrolia home of Steve Cox and Janice Acher Tuesday afternoon.

Humboldt firefighters responded before 1 pm Tuesday to the house at 72 E. 3rd in Petrolia, about four miles north of Chanute. Cox was at home at the time of the blaze and escaped unharmed.

The Chanute Fire Department provided a tank truck through mutual aid, and the LaHarpe Fire Department provided a rehab truck to help firefighters recover from Tuesday afternoon’s heat and humidity.

Humboldt Fire Chief Sean McReynolds said he homeowner discovered the fire after he went home for lunch. No other occupants were at home, and firefighters were on the scene until they returned to the station at 6:30 pm Tuesday. The cause of the fire is unknown and the house was a total loss.


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Notice of Vacancy – Fire Prevention Supervisor – Requisition #189802 – Closes 6/13/2018


The Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) has an opening for an Unclassified Fire Prevention Supervisor.  This position provides technical work assisting in directing the field operations of the fire prevention division of the OSFM.  Extensive statewide travel required, including overnights.  This notice of vacancy closes on 6/13/2018.

Duties will include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Fire prevention work enforcing fire and life safety codes, regulations and laws.
  • Supervision of statewide staff; including planning, assigning and evaluating personnel as well as participating in fire prevention activities;
  • Conducting fire safety surveys of various occupancies, construction areas, analyzing and preparing a report of the results of the surveys, and making recommendations to correct deficiencies in fire safety.
  • Assist local fire officials in planning and conducting public fire safety education programs, fire prevention strategy and inspection techniques and administer various fire safety programs.

Pay Rate:  $22.16 per hour ($46,092.80 annually)

Qualifications:  Experience in managing and/or supervising the work of a department, program or agency; work experience as a fire prevention inspector and obtain Kansas certification as a Fire Inspector 1 through NFPA and Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services within twelve (12) months of hire date.  College courses in fire science may be substituted for the required experience.  Must have a valid Kansas driver’s license.

Preferred Skills:  Prefer applicants with exceptional skills in oral and written communication; exceptional computer skills; knowledge of the Kansas Fire Prevention Code and the 2000 National Fire Life Safety Code; extensive field, code and mechanical aptitude background.

HOW TO APPLY:  The application process has 3 STEPS:

STEP 1:  Register by completing the online Personal Data Form
STEP 2:  Complete the official State of Kansas application form and submit to the Fire Marshal
STEP 3:  E-mail the additional required documents to brenda.schuette@ks.govInclude your name and job requisition number on all correspondence when submitting documents.

Additional Required Documents:

  • Cover Letter
  • Resume
  • College Transcripts, if applicable
  • Copy of all Training Certificates and
  • valid Kansas Tax Clearance Certificate

Failure to follow the instructions and submit all required documentation by the closing date of the vacancy announcement may affect your consideration for this position.


Each applicant applying for a State of Kansas job vacancy must obtain a valid Kansas Certificate of Tax Clearance by accessing the Kansas Department of Revenue’s website.  Your application will be considered incomplete if not submitted by the closing date of the job posting.

A Tax Clearance is a comprehensive tax account review to determine and ensure that an individual’s account is compliant with all primary Kansas Tax Laws.  A Tax Clearance expires every 90 days.  All applicants, including current State employees, are responsible for submitting a valid up to date certificate with all other application materials to the hiring agency.  This is in accordance with Executive Order 2004-03.  If you need assistance with the tax clearance, please contact 785-296-3199.

Recruiter Contact Information:
Name:  Brenda L. Schuette
Phone: 785-296-0654

How Your Application Will Be Evaluated:  Once you complete and submit your application and materials, your application will be reviewed to ensure you meet the minimum and any necessary special requirements.  Please indicate all relevant prior experiences and training on your application.  Next, your application will be evaluated and rated based on preferred competencies and selection criteria for the position.

What to Expect Next:  After your application is evaluated and ranked, you may be contacted for a possible interview.  You will be notified of the outcome after the selection process is complete.

Reasonable Accommodation Policy Statement:  The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ensures you the right to reasonable accommodations.  A request for an accommodation will not affect your opportunities for employment with the State of Kansas.  Arrangements will be made if you have a disability that requires an accommodation for completing an application form, interviewing or any other part of the employment process.  It is your responsibility to make your needs known to the OSFM Recruitment Office at 785-296-0654.

The Office of the State Fire Marshal is an Equal Opportunity Employer


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Fire at Las Brisas

Emporia Gazette – May 30, 2018

A popular Mexican restaurant in Emporia caught fire late Wednesday morning.

Just before 11 a.m., scanner traffic indicated a structure fire at Restaurante Las Brisas, 312 W. South Ave.

According to Emporia Fire Department Battalion Chief Eron Steinlage, heavy smoke visible from the outside of the building when emergency personnel arrived.

“There was heavy smoke but we didn’t see any flames right at the beginning,” Steinlage said.

The fire was initially believed to be in the attic of the building. Scanner traffic indicated that there was nobody inside the structure shortly after emergency crews arrived.

Steinlage said the cause of the fire was still under investigation. Crews were still working on putting out hot spots in the building.
Florentino Ocampo and his wife, Manuela Salazar Ocampo, are the owners of Restaurante Las Brisas.


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2 semi tractors catch fire in Jackson County in battery charging accident involving jumper cables

By Eric Smith
Topeka Capital Journal – May 30, 2018

Two semi tractors caught fire on Tuesday night after jumper cables were being used to charge one of the trucks, the Jackson County Sheriff said.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a semi-tractor on fire near 190th and US-75 highway around 10:30 pm Tuesday night, Sheriff Tim Morse said. The fire was about halfway between Holton and Mayetta in Jackson County.

On arrival, crews found a second semi parked next to the other also caught fire. The fire was extinguished at about 11 p.m., Morse said.

No one was injured in the fire.

Fire departments from Mayetta, Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, Hoyt and Holton all responded to the fire, as well as Jackson County EMS, and Prairie Band police.

No other details were immediately available.


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Fire Department responds to two separate fires

By Heather Stewart
Sabetha Herald – May 30, 2018

The Sabetha Fire Department (SFD) responded to two separate fires this past week – a vehicle fire and garage fire.

Vehicle Fire

According to Sabetha Fire Chief Jim Johnson, at 1:39 p.m. Wednesday, May 23, the SFD was called to the backside of the Apostolic Christian village located at 515 Paramount for the report of a vehicle on fire. Upon arrival, the SFD found a 1986 Ford Bronco II –owned by Elwin and Mary Strahm – on fire, which was quickly extinguished. Johnson said the exact cause is unknown but seems to be electrical in nature. No injuries were reported.

SFD responded with three trucks and 11 firefighters. They were on scene until 2:19 p.m.

Garage Fire

According to Johnson, at 1:20 a.m. Tuesday, May 29, the SFD was called to the Mike and Yvonne Althouse home located at 1004 S. 14th Street to a garage fire. Upon arrival, the SFD found the garage had filled with smoke. They extinguished the fire, which the Kansas Fire Marshal said is believed to be electrical in nature, but the exact cause remains unknown. According to Johnson, they are still waiting on the insurance adjuster. No injuries were reported at the scene.

The SFD responded with five trucks and 17 firefighters. They were on scene until 2:44 a.m.


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Olathe firefighters free trapped goat from hole

By Chris Oberholtz and Nathan Vickers
KCTV 5 – May 30, 2018

Photo by Olathe Fire Department

Firefighters are frequently called on to rescue all kinds of critters, like dogs and cats. But Monday’s goat rescue was a first for some Olathe firefighters.

Joan Dechant’s goat, Lucy, has an inquisitive streak, but Lucy’s curiosity got the better of her on Monday.

Dechant’s husband had been digging a hole for a water hydrant in their barn. When he went to the house for a break, Lucy came to inspect.

“She snuck in there, being nosy, and fell down into the hole,” Dechant said.

The 170-pound goat was stuck three-feet deep. She was too big for the Dechants to pull out on their own, so they called the fire department.

“I don’t know what else we would have done to get her out,” Dechant said.

“It’s not something we see every day,” said Battalion Chief Josh Parrish who was among the firefighters who came to Lucy’s aid in the barn. “We just dug a hole next to that hole.”

Rescuing a goat was a first for many of them.

“Most of us are from the city. We’re not really used to animals,” Parrish said.

But they pulled Lucy out, and Dechant is thankful her goat is safe.

“She’s a little stiff and sore, but she weathered it better than I thought,” Dechant said.

Lucy’s owner says her goat should make a full recovery in the next few weeks.


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Louisburg fire chief to retire after more than three decades at helm

By John VanPelt
Miami County Republic – May 30, 2018

It was 1962 and Paul Richards was just 6 years old, playing at his home less than a block from Fox Hall and the old downtown fire station. Richards heard the alarm sound and rushed down to the fire station to open the doors so the firefighters could get the trucks out faster. He’s been heading to the fire station ever since.

Richards, who has been Louisburg fire chief for more than three decades, recently announced his intention to retire later this year. Brad Seely, who has worked with Richards as a Louisburg firefighter for 44 years, will take the helm of the department.

When Richards was just a 14-year-old high school student, he and a couple of other students started working as firefighters for the city of Louisburg.

“I was fighting fires in high school,” Richards said. “When the siren went off, we could leave class. That’s the reason my dad said I got into it was because it got me out of school. That’s just one of the many stories he said about me.”

Richards continued as a firefighter after graduating from Louisburg High School in 1973. He found full-time work at an auto parts store, working for 20 years in Louisburg and Paola, all the while volunteering for the fire department.

He was promoted within the fire department and eventually named fire chief. While Richards does not have grandchildren, he said there are kids that call him “Grandpa” because they see him all the time.

“But, most kids know me as ‘Chiefie,’” he said, indicating a plaque on the wall inscribed with that sobriquet. “I got that name years ago from a firefighter, and it’s kind of hung.

“I enjoyed being the fire chief for all these years,” Richards said. “I want to help people like it says on the sign there (he points to a wall hanging in his office), ‘You gave me this life with a request quite small; you said love thy neighbor, so I answer the call.’”

With his retirement approaching, Richards said he is most looking forward to “sleeping all night long.” It depends on the time of year, he said, but there are busy times where the fire department is called nearly every night.

“Back in the late 1970s/early ‘80s, we averaged 52 calls per year,” Richards said. “We went way past that and we run an average of 260 to 270 calls per year now.”

Richards said what he will miss most is the people he works with every day, some of whom he has worked with for decades including Seely (44 years), Stan Silance (34 years), Arlen Thompson (28 years) and Steve Town (26 years).

“Ninety percent of the people involved as volunteer firemen want to help somebody and do something good for their community,” Richards said. “They are all my brothers. I will still be around here in town; I’m not going anywhere. If they run into something and they don’t know what to do, all they have to do is call me and I’ll be there to help them.”

Seely, who was approved as the next fire chief May 21 by the Louisburg City Council, has worked with Richards the longest. Seely also started volunteering as a firefighter when he was in high school, just 16 years old.

“He’s (Richard’s) a great role model and leader,” Seely said. “It’s been awesome working with him all these years.”

Town agreed that working with Richards has been a wonderful experience.

“Working alongside of Paul has been outstanding and has helped me grow as an individual,” Town said. “Paul places his members first and is always looking out for his ‘family’ and their family. He has taken a wide variety of individuals, ages and occupations over the years and meshed them into a professional department the community can be proud of.”

Seely said he is a bit apprehensive about taking over the role of fire chief.

“It’s kind of scary because of all the responsibility,” Seely said. “I’ve got pretty big shoes to fill in making sure the guys go home safe from every call.”

Seely will not be alone in ensuring that. With the promotion of Seely from assistant fire chief to fire chief, the City Council also approved May 21 the promotion of the three current captains — Jerry Rittinghouse, Josh Weber and Arlen Thompson — to be assistant fire chiefs.

While the fire department office hours will be reduced from 40 to 20 per week, this will not affect emergency response times.

“Fire department service will be as good as it has always been,” Seely said. “The level of fire protection will stay the same.”


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Lightning blamed for fire that claimed 15 tank batteries

By Jonathan Zweygardt
Hays Post – May 30, 2018

Photo by Bill Ring

Lightning is being blamed for a tank battery fire that occurred Tuesday northwest of Hays.

According to Ellis County Fire Chief Darin Myers, just after 5 p.m. fire crews were called to the 2700 block of Yocemento for tank batteries on fire.

Myers said individuals close to the scene reported the fire started from a lightning strike.

He also said after evaluating the scene speaking with the owner, it was determined that the fire was too dangerous for firefighters to approach and put the fire out.

There were approximately 15 different tanks involved in the fire causing multiple explosions throughout the evening. The fire was contained to the tank batteries inside the protective berm.

Fire crews stayed on scene for several hours to monitor the fire and Ellis County Sheriff deputies also kept an eye on it overnight, according to Myers.

Fourteen firefighters responded to the scene from Ellis and Hays.

Ellis County Director of Public Works Bill Ring said Wednesday morning that the column of smoke, combined with the storm moving through the area, prompted several reports of a tornado. Smoke could be seen as far away as Norton, he added.


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Man dies after truck hits downed power lines on closed Kan. road

Hays Post – May 30, 2018

One person died in an accident just after 3p.m. Tuesday in Haskell County.

The Kansas Highway Patrol reported a 2005 International Truck and trailer driven by Louis James Torres, 42, Midland, TX, was eastbound on Road 50 that was temporarily closed at the time. The truck hit power lines that were down.

Torres was pronounced dead at the scene and transported to Swaims Funeral Home. He was properly restrained at the time of the accident, according to the KHP.


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Off-duty Topeka police officer one of two killed Tuesday in head-on crash on US-75

By Savanna Maue
Topeka Capital Journal – May 30, 2018

Photo by Savanna Maue

Two people were killed — one an off-duty Topeka Police Department officer — in a wrong-way, head-on collision Tuesday afternoon just north of Topeka, authorities said.

The crash was reported around 2:13 p.m. Tuesday in the 6700 block of N.W. US-75 highway, Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Stephen LaRow said on scene at the crash.

In addition to the two men killed, another person was seriously injured, he said. No names were being released late Tuesday.

The two killed were men, and they were the drivers of the vehicles. The injured person was a female passenger in the vehicle that was driving in the correct lane. She was transported to Stormont Vail with injuries believed to be serious but not life-threatening.

“We appreciate the community’s support and ask for a time to process our grief in this devastating situation,” the TPD said in a release.

The crash involved two silver sport utility vehicles that collided head-on.

One of the SUVs was traveling north in the southbound lanes of traffic on the divided highway.

The highway is four lanes where the crash occurred, two lanes going north and two south.

All southbound traffic was blocked on US-75 in the area, and authorities were re-routing cars back onto northbound US-75.

Traffic was being rerouted at southbound US-75 and N.W. 86th around the scene of the wreck. If they’re coming southbound, LaRow said, they’re going to go a mile west (at 86th), a mile south and back onto 75.

Authorities expected road closure on the highway into the late afternoon.

Authorities were investigating the cause and notifying next of kin.

Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office, American Medical Response and Soldier Township fire crews were also on scene.


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Cash crunch hits Wichita Fire Dept.

By Karl Mann
KAKE – May 30, 2018



Millions of dollars in federal grant money for the Wichita Fire Department will be cut off at the end of the year. The cash crunch means ten Wichita firefighter positions will be eliminated. The 2019 approved city budget confirmed the cuts.

“We don’t understand why we are having to make cuts now,” said Matt Schulte the president of Local 135.

The Wichita Fire Department got federal grant money in 2013 and 2015. It added up to more than 1.6 million dollars. The city has burned through that money by spending it on hiring new recruits.

“There is a finite amount of money, personnel, materials, stations, and land,” said deputy fire chief Stuart Bevis.

The domino effect?

At the start of the new year ten firefighters will be taken out of station 6 which covers the northeast corner of Wichita. Without a crew engine 6 won’t run and will be parked as a reserve.

Why do the cuts have to hit this specific area?

Bevis told KAKE-TV over the phone it comes down to a low call volume.

On the other side the local fire union looks at the lack of manpower and worry about response time to northeast Wichita.

“We are behind the eight ball if we can’t get there in time,” said Schulte.

The budget cuts come with more questions than answers. Those that spoke with KAKE-TV see it as the balance between public safety and priority spending.

“Our biggest citizen safety and firefighter safety…but we got to figure out some way to help fund the fire department,” added Schulte.

Recently there was public discussion of a quarter cent sales tax to create a revenue stream for city fire and police.

Could that be something we vote on in November?

Schulte said right now it’s just an idea and the tax talks are in the very early stages.


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Crews respond to vehicle fire early Wednesday in downtown Topeka

By Phil Anderson
Topeka Capital Journal – May 30, 2018

Topeka Fire Department crews were on the scene of a vehicle fire early Wednesday on the north edge of the city’s downtown area.

The fire was reported around 5:35 a.m. in the 100 block of S.W. Jackson.

There was no report of injuries or damage beyond the vehicle that was on fire.

The Topeka Police Department also was on the scene.

Additional details weren’t immediately available.


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House fire in Falun causes substantial damage to kitchen

By Gary Demuth
Salina Journal – May 29, 2018

A burning candle was determined to be the cause of a fire Sunday at a house on the 100 block of North Main Street that caused extensive damage to the kitchen area.

Saline County Sheriff Roger Soldan said resident Sarah Sharp, 28, returned home about 11:15 a.m. Sunday and saw smoke coming from the kitchen. Firefighters from Saline County Rural Fire District 2 quickly contained the fire to the kitchen area, Soldan said.

Initially, arson had been suspected, Soldan said, but it was determined that a candle had been left burning earlier by another resident of the home, William Carr, 44, who then left the home.

Estimated damage to the kitchen was $60,000, Soldan said.


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Galena Days is coming soon

By Autumn Bracey
Four States – May 29, 2018


An annual celebration in Southeast Kansas is on the horizon.

Galena Days 2018 is scheduled for Wednesday, May 30th through Saturday, June 2nd. Fire Chief Bill Hall says he is encouraging the public to come out to support the many events occurring throughout the week. There are a variety of activities happening each day including, musical performances, prizes, car shows, parades, and much more.

“The purpose it is of course is to help the Volunteer Fire Department, whatever’s left over. If we make any money, after it’s over we use it to buy equipment. We’ve got four sets of jaws of life, we’ve got 3 at cameras, and we buy all of this and we’re glad to do this to help city. And I’ve always told our guys if we’re not going forward, we’re going backwards,” says Bill Hall.

Hall also adds some of the other organizations benefiting from Galena Days includes local churches, fraternal, and civic groups. For more information about Galena Days you can visit the link we’ve provided here with a list of all scheduled events.


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Dashcam Video Shows Kansas Deputy Narrowly Avoid Being Killed by Driver

By Kaitlyn Alanis – May 29, 2018


Intense dash cam footage shows a Kansas deputy sprint across the street to avoid being hit by a truck headed right toward him — and captures the sounds of a screech, crash and bang as two trucks collide.

You’ll then hear the deputy call for Emergency Medical Services.

The Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office posted the video clip to Facebook on Saturday, the same day as the crash. The dash cam shows the crash occurred just after 1 p.m.

The footage “shows a Greenwood County Deputy narrowly avoiding being killed by a driver who decided getting to his destination was more important than the safety of others on the roadway” in Eureka, the post states.

The video shows the deputy conducting a traffic stop — he had pulled over a driver in a red truck — and he then begins to walk back to his patrol truck.

As the deputy is walking back, the video shows him look to his right — and then begin to run across the road. Just as the deputy makes it to the driveway across the street, you’ll see a sliver of the silver truck as it collides with the parked patrol truck.

That’s when you’ll hear the crash and see as the truck is pushed about 90 degrees. It only takes seconds before the deputy calls in for help.

The driver of the silver truck, believed to be in his 60s, was likely speeding when he crossed over two lanes of traffic, drove through a driveway, crashed into the patrol truck and then continued into a light-blue garage, a spokesman with the sheriff’s office said on Sunday. The truck was pulling a U-Haul trailer.

The spokesperson said he believes the driver was inattentive and had fallen asleep at the wheel. Alcohol is not believed to be a factor.


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Kansas man dies in ATV accident

Hays Post – May 29, 2018

One person died in an accident just after 5:30p.m. Sunday in Wabaunsee County.

A group of individuals were having a holiday gathering and were riding various types of all terrain and off-road vehicles on private rural property west of Alma near west Spring Creek and Panther Roads, according to the Wabaunsee County Sheriff. One of the vehicles overturned on a rider and he was reported to be injured.

Members of the Alma Fire Department; A.M.R. and Wabaunsee County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene.

The injured man identified as Jordan Lee Miller, 27, McFarland, Kansas, was transported by ambulance to Stormont Vail Hospital in Topeka where he died from his injuries, according to the sheriff’s department.

The accident is being investigated by the Wabaunsee County Sheriff’s Office.


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Teenager killed in UTV crash

KAKE – May 29, 2018

A teenager was killed in a utility terrain vehicle crash in Saline County. Emergency crews were called to the 3200 block of Assaria Road about 5:00 p.m. Sunday.

The Salina Journal reports a 15-year-old was driving the UTV. The driver and a passenger were taken to a hospital. The driver later died.

The names of the people involved have not been released.


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Late night fire at new restaurant in northwest Wichita

By Stephanie Bergmann
KSN – May 29, 2018


A fire broke out Sunday night around 10 at the 6S Steakhouse at 6200 W. 21st Street North.

When crews arrived, they found smoke coming from the building.

Firefighters knocked down the blaze quickly, but the restaurant still suffered smoke and fire damage.

No damage estimate is available yet.

One firefighter was taken to the hospital with a minor shoulder injury.

Investigators are still looking into what started the fire.


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Crews respond to house fire

KWCH – May 29, 2018

Wichita firefighters are responding to a house in the 1300 block of north Wilbur.

Firefighters were initially dispatched to the area of Dunsworth but then received information the fire was actually a block west at Wilbur.

When crews arrived on scene, they found heavy fire in the garage.

One person inside the home managed to escape. They were taken to the hospital in critical condition.

Firefighters say they were able to knock it down quickly. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.


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Authorities investigate drowning at Milford Lake Sunday

By Grant Stephens
WIBW – May 29, 2018

One person has drowned at Milford Lake Sunday.

According to the Geary County Sheriff, emergency crews were sent to the lake Sunday afternoon. Those included a crew from Mission Township Fire.

Multiple people at the lake Sunday told 13 News that there had been a drowning.

Geary County Sheriff Tony Wolf later said that a man in his 20s had tried to swim across a cove at the south end of the lake, but didn’t make it to the other side.

Authorities do not believe the drowning to be suspicious.


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Motorcyclist killed in Butler County crash

KSN – May 29, 2018

One person has died following a motorcycle crash involving multiple vehicles in Butler County Sunday.

The crash was first called in to emergency services around 1:15 in the afternoon. It happened near the intersection of Southwest 100th St. and Hopkins Switch Road in Augusta.

The person on the motorcycle was killed. No other injuries were reported.

Authorities are investigating the cause of the crash and no other details have been released at this time.


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Fire Damages Fossil Station Convenience Store

By David Elliott
KRSL – May 29, 2018

Photos by Trevor Dinkel and Keith Haberer

The Russell City Fire Department responded to a commercial structure fire early Sunday morning at Fossil Station Convenience Store on South Fossil Street in Russell.

According to a statement from the RCFD, they were assisted by the Russell-Grant Township Fire Department, the Gorham Fire Department, Russell County EMS, the Russell Police Department and the Russell County Sheriff’s Office.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office is assisting with the investigation.

There were no injuries.

The business is closed until further notice.


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Lucas Firefighters Respond to Boat Fire at Wilson Lake

By David Elliott
KRSL – May 29, 2018

Photos by Justin Couse and Julie Counts

Lucas Firefighters responded to a boat fire Saturday afternoon at Wilson Lake.

At about 4:30 PM Saturday, firefighters were paged to the fire.

According to Justin Couse with the Lucas Fire Department and Russell County Emergency Management, the fire started in the boat’s engine compartment after an explosion.

The occupants of the boat bailed out and were picked up by other boats.

There were no injuries.

The boat was destroyed.

Russell County EMS, Russell County Sheriff’s Deputies, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Officers, and the US Army Corps of Engineers also responded.


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Two cars catch fire in front of home in east Wichita

KAKE – May 29, 2018

Fire crews are still determining the cause of a fire that destroyed two vehicles and damaged a home in east Wichita.

Crews responded to a house fire call just before 11 a.m. in the 2000 block of Stoneybrook Court. When firefighters arrived they found two vehicles on fire in front of the garage. Lieutenant Troy Thissen tells KAKE News the fire likely spread from one car to the next and caused minimal damage was done to the home.

It’s unclear the cost of damage. The cause of the fire has not been determined.


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MO man dies in Doniphan Co. motorcycle crash

WIBW – May 29, 2018

A Missouri man is dead after a motorcycle crash in Doniphan County.

The Kansas Highway Patrol says Charles Loucks, 64, of Mound City, Missouri was driving a Harley Davidson North on K-7 when the accident happened.

Around 3:35 p.m., officials say Loucks veered right, then over-corrected to the left and lost control.

KHP says the bike went off the right shoulder drop before coming to a stop.

Loucks was pronounced dead at the scene.

Officials say he was wearing a helmet.


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Kansas woman dies after rear-end crash into semi

Little Apple Post – May 29, 2018

One person died in an accident just before 8a.m. Saturday in Pawnee County.

The Kansas Highway Patrol reported a 2013 Chevy Cruze driven by Danielle C. Garcia, 22, Larned, was eastbound on U.S. 56.

The Chevy rear-ended a semi that was slowing to turn right onto a private drive just west of Larned.

Garcia was transported to a hospital in Wichita where she died.

The semi driver James M. Thompson, 55, Burdette, was not injured. Both drivers were properly restrained at the time of the accident, according to the KHP.


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Local firefighter wins Helping Hand award

KNSS – May 29, 2018

Back when firefighters used horses to pull their equipment, dalmatians used their strong bonds with horses to run in front, clear a path and guide the horses to fires.

Potwin Fire Chief Heath Austin uses a dalmatian named Tory for another reason: to teach children fire prevention safety. Unfortunately, Tory tore her ACL a few months’ ago.

Austin was able to raise enough money to have her ACL surgically repaired with the help of donations, but the costs are still piling up to get his beloved dalmatian back to full strength. On Friday, KWCH and DeVaughn James Injury Lawyers gave him $1200 as part of a Helping Hand award to help him continue Tory’s rehabilitation, because they believe that Tory’s and his work with children is very important.


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Apartment fire displaces 17 Wichitans

KWCH – May 29, 2018

Wichita fire investigators are looking for a cause after an early-morning apartment fire south of downtown Wichita.

Crews were called to the 800 block of S. Emporia at around 1:30 Sunday morning. They found flames along the outside wall, which had made their way into the attic.

Firefighters worked to get everyone out of their apartments and put out the fire.

The American Red Cross was called in to assist the 17 people who were displaced by the fire.

Fire officials estimate damage at more than $100,000.

Four of the 24 apartments sustained fire damage, the rest were damaged by smoke.

No one was hurt.


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Cooperative effort could lead to fire science class

By Robert Pierce
Liberal First – May 25, 2018

Fire departments throughout the region are lacking in workers, and a program will soon be available at Liberal High School to help train workers for both the Liberal and Seward County fire departments, as well as those in other parts of the country.

“We are extremely excited at Liberal High School to be offering for our students next year a fire science program and the opportunity to gain their credentials to become firefighters,” LHS Principal Ashley Kappelmann said Wednesday at a joint meeting between several local entities.

Kappelmann credited LHS teacher Wes Fox with much of the work to get the project off the ground.

“Mr. Fox has worked very hard with the city, and we’ve also been in discussions with the county as well on what the programs look like,” she said.

Kappelmann also praised the work of Seward County Community College for collaboration on the program as well as the Liberal Fire Department.

“The city fire department has been amazing to help us get this going and guide us in the right direction,” she said. “We’ve had the opportunity to meet with the college and the high school, along with the county, to talk about what programs what we’re doing and basically how this is a service back to our community to be able to provide and train workers that we desperately need in Liberal.”

Fox, who is a volunteer firefighter with the LFD, talked about the training needed to become an instructor in fire science.

“You have to have a Firefighter I certification, fire science or a Fire Instructor I certification,” he said. “They worked with me over the last year to get these certifications that I have to have.”

Fox said those who take advantage of the fire science course will get a great benefit.

“It’s a good career, and it’s a good choice for students,” he said. “Not everyone intends to go to college. There’s plenty of careers and opportunities out there for students. They may not have a direction or a purpose or even know what’s available to them.”

Fox emphasized the demand for firefighters in the region.

“There’s openings in both departments here in town,” he said. “There’s openings all through Western Kansas. There’s openings in Oklahoma, and once the kids get these certifications, it’s a certification they can take with them to California or Texas, New Mexico, anywhere in the country because it’s a national certification.”

Fox said just as with many local businesses and entities, keeping young people in the area is important as well.

“We want to grow our own people, and we want to grow our own people with this as well,” he said.

Liberal Fire Chief Kelly Kirk said he and Seward County Fire Chief Andrew Barkley are looking to get more firefighters to their departments.

“What I hope to get out of this program is employees who will work here in Liberal and stay here in Liberal,” he said. “I’ve been in a hiring position with the Liberal Fire Department since 2000, when I became deputy chief. I’ve been chief for 10 years.”

Kirk said having the fire science program could likely reverse a bad trend for both his department and others like it.

“In my time with the fire department, we’ve had more than 150 employees come and go,” he said. “That’s huge turnover. It’s expensive to the city. It’s expensive to the taxpayers.”

Kirk said the program would likewise mean local education would be available for those who would want to become firefighters.

“I have to take them and direct them to Butler County Community College, Hutchinson Community College, one of the community colleges in the state that offers a fire science program,” he said. “I want them to mature at age 20 before they start making decisions and driving the size of trucks that we drive.”

Kirk said he would like those who come to work for him to have a two-year associates degree and be work ready, and he said the benefits of becoming a firefighter are great.

“These students are looking for roughly 11 credit hours of college credit to be just baseline hireable for a fire department,” he said. “Male or female with an associates degree in fire science could start out with great benefits and $32,000 a year. That’s not a bad gig for someone two years out of high school in a career that he can have for 20, 25, 30 years that’s going to really take care of him. I tell people you won’t get rich, but it’ll be the most rewarding career you’ve ever had. The benefits are great, and the retirement would be great for you in the end. I’m looking for employees, and that’s what this program to me will provide.”

Kirk said when youth finish the fire science program, they should be ready for the workforce in the firefighting field.

“They’re hireable for me and Chief Barkley,” he said. “They’re hireable for any other Western Kansas town. They’re usually Kansas kids who were born and bred and more likely to stay here than a kid who comes here from Montana and goes back home after two years.”

Kirk said the program is beneficial to the city, the county, the school district and SCCC, just four of the seven entities represented at Wednesday’s joint meeting at Eisenhower Middle School.

Seward County Administrator April Warden attended some of the meetings to plan out the fire science program, and she said she liked what she saw.

“I saw how well everybody worked together from the college,” she said. “I don’t think anybody realizes the time they put into it with the work to get everything through the different agencies to make it happen, and it was awesome to see it come together.”


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Companies give $3,755 to fire department

By Brooke Haas
McPherson Sentinel – May 25, 2018

Photo by Nichole Gouldie

As McPherson County a strong rural community, the McPherson Fire Department also serves area farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses.

Deputy Chief T.J. Wyssmann, of the fire department, said in the 16 years he has worked there they have conducted three grain bin rescues.

“This type of technical rescue takes specialized equipment, which is called a cofferdam — or a grain bin rescue tube. Once we get the gear around a victim… inside of the grain bin, we then put an auger inside the bin and remove the product,” Wyssmann said.

This type of equipment can cost around $3,500 Wyssmann said.

Thanks to Mid Kansas Coop, of Moundridge, and PrarieLand Partners in McPherson, the department will be able to purchase the equipment. The two companies gave $1,887 each, which came out to $3,755 total.

“It’s tremendous not just for the city of McPherson, but also for our contracted areas and the county. That’s a big deal for us. For us to go on these types of rescues county-wide or even into other counties — it’s just tremendous. To have that type of support and for those companies to see the need and reach out to us — it’s an awesome thing to see,” Wyssmann said.

“Before being able to purchase this equipment, we had a makeshift cofferdam. We built our own with plywood. We called fire departments that were 30 minutes away to see if they could bring their equipment.”

“Both MKC and PrairieLand Partners work with farmer customers across the area. This is about providing lifesaving tools for the benefit of farmers, our customers,” said Nichole Gouldie, communications and brand manager at MKC.

“We feel like we have a responsibility to support or local community and this is a product that has a direct impact on our customers,” said Kelly Pitts, store manager at PrairieLand Partners.

Because of the high cost of the equipment, Wyssmann said the department made do with what they had because they didn’t want to tax the community even more.

“This would not be possible without those businesses donating that money.

This would not have been possible to purchase without having to increase taxes and do things of that nature — it makes it really easy for us to do our jobs when these businesses participate,” Wyssmann said.

Grain bin rescues can be extremely dangerous for both the victim and the rescuer. When someone falls into a grain bin, the grain quickly surrounds the victim and can suffocate them, which causes them to lose blood flow.

“When people fall into grain bins, they don’t just fall straight down into the grain, usually their legs are in an awkward position, which is what we found in a previous rescue. The cofferdam helps keep the pressure off the victim so they can breathe, which is the most important thing… We want to be able to introduce blood flow slowly back into the body.”

“This donation allows the local fire department to stretch their budget and have equipment available to provide quick responses in the case of a grain entrapment. We hope the equipment is never needed, but in the case that it is, we feel much better knowing local emergency personnel have the equipment to help in a rescue,” Gouldie said.


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Olathe program prepares next generation of first responders

By Andres Gutierrez
KSHB – May 25, 2018

Photo by Andres Gutierrez


As the school year wraps up at Olathe West High School, so is the first year of the Public Safety Academy.

“I want to just help protect the streets of Kansas City,” Libbie Winkleman, a freshman, said.

Winkleman and her friend, Kamri Brooks, are among 75 students who are interested in pursuing a career as a firefighter, EMT, or in law enforcement.

“When I was going into the program, a lot of people were surprised. They didn’t think I wanted to go into law enforcement,” Brooks told 41 Action News.

From its inception, the academy has had strong community partnerships.

Members of the Olathe police and fire departments sit on the advisory board and mentor students.

“Those connections are going to help these students in the future gain employment in those agencies,” Jeff Van Dyke, one of the instructors, said.

Nathan Barthol, whose parents work for the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, realizes the realities of his future profession in the current climate.

“People are watching our shoulders. If we make a mistake, just like that, it really ruins your life, so we have to be able to properly train and practice, practice, practice over and over again,” Barthol said.

“By the time they get to their academy when they’re in their early 20s, they’ll have more background in officer safety, investigative skills, and also how to deal with the public,” Van Dyke said.

They’re also equipping these young men and women with practical skills.

“Really how to be a better leader, how to listen, and all these skills, even if you’re not going into–if you decide after this academy that you don’t want to be a first responder, you still need these life skills,” Barthol said.

For more information on the Public Safety Academy, visit:


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County officials considering incentives for volunteer firefighters

By Stephanie Casanova
Manhattan Mercury – May 24, 2018

Riley County officials are considering ways to compensate volunteer firefighters and volunteer first responders to increase the number of volunteers.

Pat Collins, emergency management director, raised the issue with Riley County commissioners during their Thursday meeting.

Collins said other volunteer fire departments have started to provide incentives like per-call stipends and training incentives like a stipend increase.

“When I started years ago, there was a line of people that would step up and help protect everybody, neighbor’s property,” Collins said. “And that’s, across the nation it’s declining. There’s not that kind of participation in volunteer systems now and if you look across the nation, across Kansas, a lot of the agencies have some form of reimbursement they’re providing for their volunteers.”

Collins said last year volunteer firefighters put in about 6,000 hours of training. He said he’s met with Cindy Volanti, Riley County Human Resource manager, to talk about the possibility of offering volunteers some form of incentive.

Commissioners agreed that Collins should move forward in discussing the costs involved with paying firefighters a per-call stipend or other incentives. Collins said he anticipates the stipends will cost $41,000 per year.

“I don’t think that anybody is going to get rich doing this,” Collins said.

Commissioner Ron Wells said something has to change soon because the county will likely continue to see a decline in volunteers as people’s lives get busier.

“At some point, if we have a fire and don’t have anybody show up that’s going to set the parameters right there,” Wells said.


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Video shows JoCo firefighters battling house fire as live ammunition ignites inside structure

KSHB – May 24, 2018


Video released by Fire District #1 of Johnson County, Kansas shows crews battling a blazing house fire in Gardner on Tuesday.

Crews responded to the fire at about 8:35 p.m. on the 100 block of S. Pine Street.

The occupants made it out safely, including a dog, but they advised live ammunition was still inside the home, which can be heard going off in the first few minutes of the video.

Crews managed to attack the fire from outside the home and then get it under control enough so if could be fought from inside.

Officials did not say if they have determined a cause of the fire.


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Merle Dean Bruner

Merle Dean Bruner was born August 19, 1933, in Hillsboro, the son of Cecil and Virgil “Virgie” (Westerman) Bruner. He was raised in Marion along with his sister Genevieve “Sis.” Merle enlisted into the Army in 1953. On Feb. 12, 1956, he was united in marriage to the love of his life, Nova Bredemeier. Their union was blessed with two daughters, Cristi and Cathy.

Merle was a diesel mechanic by trade. When their daughters were young, they would spend their weekends at 81 Speedway. He raced a car one time, and Nova decided she could not handle him racing and she told him he could only work on the cars and not race them. He had a love of all things racing, especially midget and sprint cars.

In the late ’70s, following his retirement as a mechanic, he and Nova made their home in Marion, where they ran a jewelry store. Later, he was superintendent for the city of Marion for 24 years. Merle enjoyed being a volunteer fire chief for many years until he retired.

After retirement, he could be seen waiting in the car for Nova to get done shopping or sitting in the bleachers at his grandkids’ ball games. Upon the death of Nova in Nov. 2012, he was able to stay at and enjoy their home until July 2017 when he moved to Marion Assisted Living, where he made new friends and caught up with old ones.

Merle was called home to be with Nova on Wednesday, May 16, 2018.

He is preceded in death by his wife of 56 years, Nova; his parents, Cecil and Virgil; his sister, Genevieve “Jenny”; and an infant brother, Quentin.

Merle is survived by his two daughters, Cristi Soyez and husband, Frank, of Cedar Point, Kansas; and Cathy Cleeton and husband, Rick, of Marion, Kansas; grandchildren, Melanie Grimmett and husband, Tyson; Ashley Hoffman and husband, Jeff; Sara Miller and husband, Steven; Jenile Taylor and husband, Mike; Brent Cleeton and wife, Sequoia; and Amanda Brown; 11 great-grandchildren, Bethany and Heidi Grimmett; Jagger and Jettlyn Miller; Shannon, Quentin, Jaseson, and Kolemon Taylor; Hagen Gardner; and Ayden and Kasen Brown.

Merle will be missed by all who knew and loved him. We take comfort he is with our Mom, Grandma, and Great-Grandma.


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Brown Joins Fire District #3

Rose Hill Reporter – May 3, 2018
Submitted by Newz Group – May 23, 2018

There is a new face under Fire Helmet 313 at Butler County Fire District #3 and that would be Joe Brown. He holds one of the five full-time positions at the station and replaces former firefighter Dan Harshbarger.

Brown came on board in March as a rookie having never been a firefighter before. “I am very grateful to Fire Chief Jim Woydziak for taking a chance with me,” said Brown.

He was literally baptized in fire on his first day. “I had only been in the station for two minutes when a fire dispatch came in. They suited me up in short order and I jumped on board and away I went to my first house fire,” said Brown. His most harrowing experience during his short tenure was rolling up on a suicide after it happened.

He may be new to firefighting but he is not inexperienced. Brown was an active duty E5 Staff Sergeant in the United States Air Force and saw two tours of duty in Afghanistan. He was also in the Kansas Air National Guard for the last three years.

Firefighting was chosen as his new career because he wanted to be in a position to help people and he wanted it to involve a uniform. To Brown, the uniform symbolizes a trusted individual who can be relied on to act in any situation for the good of the people. He is also an emergency medical technician.

The best thing about the job for Brown is the personnel. “They are a good group of people to work with, we are a family here and I like that comradery,” said Brown. “I am 100 percent dedicated to firefighting.”

Brown lives in Wichita with his wife Ashley, two cats and a rabbit. In his leisure time he is at the gym, does a little video gaming and enjoys a good movie.


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Hesston Firefighter Retires After 38 Years Of Service

By Jacquelyn Nelson
Hesston Record – May 3, 2018
Submitted by Newz Group – May 23, 2018

Brian Reimer turned in his pager after serving 38 years as a volunteer for the Hesston Fire Department.

In the fall of 1979, Reimer, along with the current Fire/EMS Director Russ Buller and Jon Friesen, joined the emergency response team in Hesston as teenagers.

“I started out on the fire department and then joined EMS. At some point I quit EMS and stayed strictly on the fire side. I was encouraged by a couple other friends of mine who were doing it. I enjoyed it and I enjoyed helping people,” said Reimer.

Buller chose to make a career of small-town emergency response, taking over the Hesston department.

“Brian, Jon Friesen and I went to high school together and had an interest in emergency response. Jon was the first to sign up and then myself and Brian were soon to follow. It was an amazing experience to work with my good friends doing something we were all passionate about. I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to work my entire career with Brian,” said Buller.

Reimer said when he turned in his pager earlier this month, “I just felt like it was time.”

Reimer has helped Hesston through some of its toughest times – from the 1990 tornado to the Kropf Lumber fire. However, he said there were every-day accidents and calls that have stuck with him.

“Some of the drunks…You wonder, ‘How did they survive that accident,’ “ he said.

One of the most memorable calls was to the off-ramp of I-135 onto Lincoln Boulevard, a man lying outside his vehicle unconscious.

“I’ve only ran one of these in my entire career. … We got there and he was code blue [no pulse] and we did CPR. He woke up and he said, ‘What are you doing? Why are you doing that? It hurts. Stop!’ and we’d stop and he’d pass out and be gone, no pulse. We would do CPR again, he’d come back and talk to you. That was an odd call. You don’t see that every day,” Reimer said.

Through days when calls were difficult, or on stressful scenes, Reimer gave immense credit to his colleagues who were fighting fires alongside him.

“You really rely on your coworkers. You watch out for your partners. Your adrenaline is going crazy and you’re doing things left and right. I have people that just stop for a second, take a deep breath, and do it this way. After a time, you learn to take a deep breath and work through it,” said Reimer.

Coming up through the department together, Buller said he relied on Reimer during some of the most stressful calls to provide leadership and calm.

“Brian has been an amazing tactical officer. There isn’t anyone I would rather have working a fire scene than Brian. He has both the practical knowledge and the common sense that gets the fire out and it stays out. He also proved to always be extremely considerate of a fire victim’s property, going the second mile to make sure that it is protected from further damage and secure after the fire is extinguished,” he said.

Reimer said there were times when his mental was tested, but he always was able to find the will to carry on.

“I never thought I’d be able to go into a burning house and do what I did. That can be pretty unnerving having the gear and mask on and go into a building where you can’t see your hand in front of your face and being able to stay calm and rely on training you’ve done. I didn’t know if I’d have that in me to do that,” he said.

Through the years and thousands of calls, Reimer said even at the end of his time as a volunteer he still got an adrenaline spike when the pager went off.

“Once you get into the call – there’s 100 things going through your mind when a page goes out – once you get there, all those things calm down and you just do what you have to do,” he said.

However, Reimer said calls on the interstate continued to unnerve him.

“We run a lot of calls on the interstate and when it’s icy, those were kind of scary, standing on the highway with trucks going by at 50 to 60 miles and hour and it’s icy,” he said.

Reimer said one of the greatest improvements he has enjoyed over the years is the safety of responders. Early in his career, Reimer recalled catching a ride on the back of a fire truck on the way to a fire scene in frigid weather.

“We went to a house fire that was seven or eight miles west of town. There were two of us on the back of the truck, and it was really cold and windy. We crawled on top of the truck and got behind the cab and huddled up behind the cab to try to stay warm,” he said.

Today, such rides would never happen.

From an equipment standpoint, Reimer said today’s firefighters are better protected than ever.

“We’d have boots that came up to our thighs, a coat and our hat would have flaps we would pull down over our ears to keep them from getting too hot. Now they have bunker pants, a coat, helmet, hood. Today’s equipment is just so much better,” he said.

With thousands of volunteer hours logged, Reimer has received not only training, but hands-on experience with nearly every situation imaginable.

“The different types of training that we do now a days compared to what we did when I started. We’d sit on the back of the fire trucks, discuss a few things and be there for an hour and a half and go home. Now, it’s every bit of three hours of training,” he said.

Buller said the loss of that institutional and situational knowledge will be keenly felt.

“Brian brought 38 years of experience as a volunteer with Hesston and 33 years of full-time service with Newton Fire/EMS. That much background and knowledge is irreplaceable. His retirement will be felt for many years in our organization,” he said.

Even after officially leaving the department, Reimer said he is now working on forgetting decades of muscle memory.

“It feels kind of odd [not having a pager.] I’d always check, if I do something at work, I’d reach to make sure I didn’t lose my pager and I don’t have that anymore. In the last number of years, they started sending texts, and I don’t get those texts anymore.

“After 38 years, I’d still like to hear what’s going on. Maybe in six months to a year, OK, I’m good with it. But you can’t just drop it and walk away. You still wonder what’s going on when you hear sirens,” he said.

However, as Reimer left the department, he still encouraged others to step up and protect Hesston.

“There are tons of classes out there that you can take. Join a department. We do a lot of in-house training and we’ve had a lot of people that have come through as young kids and they end up going on to working full time for a department,” he said.

As for why Reimer remained so loyal to the Hesston department, “I just enjoyed it. I loved being a part of an organization like that. I enjoyed helping people out,” he said.


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1 dead, 1 hospitalized after van rolls in SW Kansas

Hays Post – May 23, 2018

One person died in an accident just before 7p.m. Tuesday in Kiowa County.

The Kansas Highway Patrol reported a 2007 Chevy Uplander Van driven by Larry Dale Stamper, Jr., 47, Enid, OK., was northbound on 17th Avenue.

The vehicle traveled off the right side of the road. The driver overcorrected crossed the road, entered the west ditch and rolled.

Stamper was transported to Bucklin Hospital where he died. A passenger Laura Kay Stamper, 28, Enid, was transported to Kiowa County Hospital. They were not wearing seat belts, according to the KHP.


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House Fire Claims Beloved Pet

Gardner Edge – May 23, 2018

Fire District 1 responded to a house fire in the 100 block of South Pine Street on the evening of May 22. The cause of the fire has yet to be determined, but the house was quickly enveloped. The fire was quickly doused by the fire department. The resident is safe, but his beloved dog, Chief, wasn’t so fortunate.


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Johnson County emergency crews practice trench rescue skills

By Melissa Stern
FOX 4 – May 23, 2018


Several emergency crews from Johnson County spent hours out in the heat, practicing their skills Tuesday.

They want to make sure they know exactly what needs to happen if they’re every called to rescue someone from a trench. They know every second matters.

“It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it`s very dangerous for the person. Soil is very heavy, it constricts their ability to breathe, and actually profuse oxygen and nutrients through their blood,” said Brian Montgomery, an apparatus operator with Johnson County Consolidated Fire District #2.

They take this training seriously because each person here knows they may be called to help save someone’s life at any time.

“Accidents happen. When a hole has been open for a long amount of time, it gets susceptible to cave in,” Montgomery explained.

The challenge is finding locations to practice, getting decent weather, and fitting it into everyone`s schedule.

“It`s something you want to keep your skills up to date, so when it does happen, you`re not trying to remember, ‘how do we do this? How do we do that?’ It`s fresh in your mind,” Montgomery said.

“You need to make sure that those things are trained well, your people are prepared, they know what steps need to be taken, they know the safety procedures, and that we can do that process, that doesn`t get done very often, in a manner that`s both safe for the people involved in the rescue and the people we`re rescuing,” said Steve Chick Jr., the training chief at Consolidated Fire District #2 in N.E. Johnson County.

Each shift gets training, so training continues Wednesday and Thursday for different groups.


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Rescuers search Kansas River in KCK after finding capsized boat

By Nick Sloan
KCTV 5 – May 23, 2018

Rescuers from the Kansas City, KS Fire Department searched the Kansas River near the Turner Diagonal after a boat was found capsized.

The water rescue call initially came out around 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

After searching for about an hour, it was called off and no one was found.

In a Facebook post from the Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Office, officials said the fire rescue crews performed “double searchers” along shorelines and the river.

Deputies ran boat numbers and found no records.

It was towed out.


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Crews battle, contain blaze at Hale Library

By Brady Bauman
KMAN – May 23, 2018

Photo by Brady Bauman


A fire at Hale Library on the campus of Kansas State University in Manhattan kept several fire and EMS crews busy late Tuesday afternoon.

According to K-State news services, the Manhattan Fire Department was responded shortly after 4 p.m. for a call of reported smoke at the library and the building was safely evacuated. By 5:30 p.m. seven different fire departments were battling the blaze.

Riley County EMS Director David Adams told KMAN no injuries were reported and the cause is unknown at this time.

No flames were visible, however smoke billowed periodically as crews worked. By 6:24 p.m., K-State officials reported the fire was contained and that it occurred in the northwest part of the original Farrell Library portion of the building.

K-State Vice President for Communications and Marketing Jeffery Morris told Media crews responded to the library within minutes of the first reports of smoke and that the building was undergoing renovations at the time. Construction crews stood outside the building as firefighters attacked the blaze.

The library was in the early stages of a $6.5 million renovation.

The original Farrell Library portion where the fire occurred was built in the 1920s, according to KSU. Today, Hale Library is more than 400,000 square feet and has more than two million books in its collection.


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2 Kansas women dead after rollover accident

Hays Post – May 23, 2018

Two people died in an accident just before 3p.m. Tuesday in Marion County.

The Kansas Highway Patrol reported a 1996 Chevy 1500 driven by Rhonda Michelle Hannon, 43, Newton, was northbound on Kansas 15 just south of 150th Road.

The vehicle traveled off the roadway to the right. The driver overcorrected, traveled across the center of the highway into the northbound ditch and rolled.

Hannon and a passenger Christina Renae Miller, 45, Canton, were pronounced dead at the scene. They were not wearing seat belts, according to the KHP.


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Job Opening – Fire Science Instructor – Topeka Center for Advanced Learning & Careers


Fire Science Instructor – Topeka Center for Advanced Learning and Careers


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No chance for ‘goodbye’

By Jason Tidd
Wichita Eagle – May 22, 2018

An 11-year-old cancer survivor was killed when he was run over from behind while riding a mini bike on a Kansas road Sunday afternoon.

Kayden Blaes Samyn, 11, of Mound City, was riding a 49 CC Super Chopper, described in a Kansas Highway Patrol crash report as a mini bike, westbound on 300 Road in Linn County about 7 miles west of Prescott at 1:36 p.m.

Also westbound was a 2004 Chevy Silverado, which struck the miniature motorcycle from behind and drove over it and the boy, the crash report states.

The boy was pronounced dead at the scene. He had been wearing a helmet and a safety restraint.

The 21-year-old pickup driver from Missouri was not injured.

Kayden was diagnosed in 2013 — when he was 7 years old — with leukemia, a cancer found in blood and bone marrow, states Facebook page Kayden’s Fight.

It was T-cell acute lymphocytic leukemia, a rare form of the cancer, the Fort Scott Tribune reported. When Kayden was 8, he was sworn in as an honorary firefighter in Fort Scott.

“I keep hearing that everything happens for a reason,” a post to the Facebook page states. “Maybe the leukemia was coming back and God did not want him to suffer. Maybe the leukemia came in the first place so that we could spend every waking moment on ‘him.’ Maybe there will never be an answer as to why this happened.”

Kayden fought leukemia for nearly four years and beat it, the post said.

“I am not going to request prayers for Kayden, he is with Jesus and was not afraid to die,” the post stated. “He always said he knew grandpa Jesse would be there when and if that time came, we just didn’t ever think we would not be prepared or have a chance to say goodbye.”


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