County adds to firefighting fleet

By Robert Pierce
Liberal First – May 21, 2018

The Seward County Fire Department will soon welcome another truck to its growing fleet of firefighting equipment.

The latest vehicle is a 2018 International four-wheel drive fire engine, which Fire Chief Andrew Barkley said will be placed at the Kismet fire station and is fully equipped for the jobs it will perform.

“It’s got a 1,500-gallon water tank and a 1,250-gpm pump on it,” he said. “It’s similar to our engine that’s here in Liberal. It’s set up to do combination work for grass fires, house fires, car wrecks, EMS runs. It carries everything.”

The Seward County Commission gave Barkley the go ahead to purchase the engine at a meeting earlier this month, and the fire chief said the truck should be in Liberal by the week of May 28.

This, Barkley said, leaves the fire department in good shape in terms of its fleet.

“We’ll have two new engines, one in Liberal, one in Kismet,” he said. “We have the new tanker here in Liberal. We have the tanker in Kismet. This will get us to a place now where we have multi-purpose trucks instead of one truck for one job and another truck for another job. We’re getting there. We’re on the right path, and hopefully, when we’re done with the lease purchases on these two trucks, we can turn around and get another engine and a tanker and have one at each station.”

With newer model equipment, Barkley said this should mean little in the need for more equipment for the next few years.

“God willing, nothing happens, and we should be looking pretty good,” he said. “I think in the next five years to six years, you’ll look at towards the end of that time frame, us replacing command vehicles. Engines and apparatus will be probably closer to 10 years out before we buy anything else.”

The fire department has a new 3,000-gallon tanker in its fleet, a truck from the Kansas Forest Service that doubles as a truck for grass fires and a tanker with a 2,500-gallon capacity at the Cimarron station and a 2,500-gallon tanker that can also serve as a brush truck in Kismet.

The newest member of the firefighting fleet is a manufactured unit, running at a price of just less than $300,000, from the South Dakota-based company, Rosenbauer Fire Apparatus. Money for the truck will come from the department’s equipment fund for the lease purchase.

Along with new trucks, Seward County firefighters recently took part in a training offered by natural gas supplier Black Hills Energy to improve skills for fighting natural gas fires.

Barkley said both the trucks and the training are beginning to show some improvement in the efficiency of his department.

“I think with the training with Black Hills, what we look forward to when they do it every few years is it’s an opportunity for our personnel and the city personnel to come together,” he said. “They work in teams together and learned the different effects of natural gas fires. For us having new personnel in the department, this is their first time going. It was really a great experience for them to go in there with an instructor, with the veteran guys that had done it before and learn how to use their water streams to push the heat away from them, to get to control valves and how all that operates. It’s pretty good. We enjoy doing it every few years because it gives us an opportunity to really train for a few hours with the city.”

Barkley said fire department officials work on a train schedule with each new year, and standard trainings take place typically on the second Saturday of each month.

“The training material’s based on the stuff we do to stay proficient, whether it be grass fires, motor vehicle accidents, structure fires, extrication, EMS calls,” he said. “Our training all year is based on those things, and sometimes, we will do it one month and three months later, do it again. That’s just to stay proficient, but we get an opportunity from time to time to go out with Conestoga Energy, do trainings at their facility. We get to do different walk throughs in different places. That right there helps us with our awareness and to know what to expect when we arrive on scene.”

Recent rains have slowed the number of fires in the area, but Barkley said he still urges caution with blazes.

“We’re still in the time of year when we can have red flag warnings and critical fire dangers,” he said. “The drought’s still very much here. We’ve been getting a little bit here and there of rain, but it’s not enough to make a big impact. The other day, we had a pump engine backfire on an irrigation well, and it burned green grass. We’re nowhere near being out of the danger, but hopefully soon, we’ll get some moisture and get it rolling.”


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
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