Archive for August, 2018

Intentionally set fire damages rear of vacant central Topeka home

By Tim Hrenchir
Topeka Capital Journal – August 31, 2018

A fire that appears to have been intentionally set did an estimated $3,000 damage early Friday morning to the rear exterior of a vacant house in central Topeka, authorities said.

No one was hurt, said Topeka Fire Marshal Michael Martin.

He said Topeka firefighters were called about 4 a.m. to the blaze at 1617 S.W. Central Park Ave., which they quickly extinguished while keeping it contained to the house’s rear exterior.

Damage to the structure was estimated at $3,000 while there was no damage to the house’s contents, Martin said.

The home is owned by Charlotte B. Wheatley, of Racine, Wisconsin, according to Shawnee County appraisal records. It’s 2018 appraisal value is $8,340.

No other information was immediately available.

 

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Man killed in Coffey Co. head-on crash

By Nick Viviani
WIBW – August 31, 2018

One man was killed in a head-on collision north of Burlington early Thursday morning.

According to the Coffey Co. Sheriff’s Office, a white minivan was heading south on Hwy. 75 near 20th Road around 5:30 a.m. when it crossed into oncoming lanes. The vehicle then collided with an oncoming tractor-trailer.

The driver of the minivan died in the crash, the Sheriff’s Office said. They did not release his name, pending notification of the family.

The semi driver was not hurt, authorities added.

The wreck remains under investigation. The Sheriff’s Office says it will release more information when the investigation concludes.

 

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Wakarusa-area house fire under investigation

By Melissa Brunner
WIBW – August 31, 2018

Video

Flames forced a family out of their home in southern Shawnee County.

The Shawnee Heights Fire Dept. was called just before 6:30 p.m. Thursday to 1083 SW Jordan road, which is just west of Hwy. 75 in the Wakarusa area.

Fire officials said a couple who lived there – and their pets – got out unhurt. However, fire officials say the house is considered about a 50 percent loss.

In addition to Shawnee Heights Fire, firefighters from MTAA, the 190th Air National Guard, and Auburn all responded, along with AMR.

No information was available on what might have caused the fire or where in the house it started. An investigator remained on the scene late Thursday.

 

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Local EMS personnel undergo intruder training

By Joey May
Hiawatha World – August 31, 2018

Dealing with potential threats from armed intruders is something our society must be prepared for.

That’s the philosophy of Chief Eric Voss with KSFFA (Kansas State Fire Fighters Association) in Topeka. He led a two-day training in Hiawatha for area emergency service personnel and some law enforcement.

Around a dozen participated in the training, organized by Liz Jeschke, a member of Town and Country EMS and a volunteer for the Robinson Fire Department.

“I met Eric at a SCAFFA (State Capital Association of Fire Fighters) class in Topeka,” she said. “I enjoyed it so much and asked if he could come to Hiawatha and train our community.”

She said that Voss obtained a grant to cover the cost of the training, which focused on a mass casualty event with the threat of an active shooter.

Voss said these trainings are very important. In a follow-up phone interview on Thursday of this week, Voss mentioned his EMS crew was just involved in some events where city and county offices went into lockdown in connection with the Jewell County incident, where two deputies were shot.

Voss said the Hiawatha groups were excellent to work with and he has already been in contact with other agencies for continued training in Brown County.

Last week, the Hiawatha group trained at the Brown County Sheriff’s Office and also at a vacant farmhouse outside of town. There Voss led the group through several scenarios that included the threat of an armed intruder inside the house, while EMS personnel was also trying to take care of an injured victim.

“We triaged patients in a multiple casualty event,” Jeschke said. “We were trained to look for the unexpected. It was eye opening.”

In one such instance, Voss — who is also the Concordia Fire Chief — led armed personnel into the house and the initial group went past the downed victim to search for an intruder. While they searched the rest of the house, follow-up EMS personnel took care of the victim — putting a tourniquet on the leg of a mannequin sprawled out in the kitchen area. In another instance, one of the EMS workers was shot during the search and others drug him out of the house to treat his wounds.

Voss said it was important for the EMS personnel to stay alert while taking care of the victim and having multiple people there helped them treat the patient while others searched for the intruder.

Jeschke said this is the first of many trainings for local EMS personnel. She plans to organize another training for specifically Robinson and Hiawatha Fire Departments, Hiawatha Community Hospital — where she works as a nurse — along with the Hiawatha Police Department.

“Our goal is to come together as a community and to prepare for the unexpected,” she said. “If the community knows we are all being active in training, it helps them understand what we are doing.”

 

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Fire dept. to get three new trucks

By Stephanie Casanova
Manhattan Mercury – August 30, 2018

Riley County commissioners on Thursday approved spending nearly $70,000 to buy three trucks for rural firefighters.

Riley County Fire District No. 1, which serves the county outside Manhattan, tries to buy between one and three trucks each year to keep its fleet updated. Pat Collins, fire chief, told commissioners he came across Herington-based BC Motors and the owner offered him a discounted price if he bought three 2013 International diesel trucks for $66,125. The cost of one truck was $24,625.

The money will come from the fire department’s equipment reserve fund.

Collins said the trucks are already red, saving the county on paint costs. Once the fire department has the trucks, it will bid for an aluminum flatbed, emergency lighting, water tank and accessories. Collins said the department has money set aside in its capital outlay fund to do that over the next year.

 

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Fire report software purchased

By Gale Rose
Pratt Tribune – August 30, 2018

Pratt County Fire and Rescue is getting a new fire reporting system that all fire districts in the county can use.

Making fire reports will become more efficient with new software for Pratt County Fire and Rescue. The Pratt County commissioners approved the purchase of the software at their regular weekly meeting on Aug. 27.

Bill Hampton, fire and rescue chief, said right now, the various fire departments in third-class cities are all using different programs. With the new system, all the departments can use the same program that would make it more efficient for the entire county.

Commissioners approved the purchase of the program from Emergency Reporting out of Bellingham, Wash. at $3,289 for the first year and $2,371 for each following year.

Hampton said he had money in a contractual account to cover the cost of the program.

 

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Request from Ks Firefighters Alliance (Firefighters who fought or are fighting cancer) Special Tribute group photo for 2019

The Kansas Firefighters Alliance is making a special tribute in our 2019 Kansas Firefighter Calendar in the month of October.. If you know of a firefighter who has fought cancer or is currently fighting cancer in our state, please extend the invitation for them to join fellow Kansas firefighters who are being treated from cancer or have been treated for cancer in a group photo with the Pink Heals truck with celebrates the lives of those affected by cancer.
 
When:  Monday, Sept. 10th – Group pic –firefighters who have or are fighting cancer in our state
 
Location: Kansas Firefighters Museum, 1300 S. Broadway, Wichita, Ks. 67211
 
Time:6:00 pm
 
Please help us share this with department leaders and firefighters across our state. 
 
In this family, no one stands alone.
 
​Sincerely,
Nancy Peters
Kansas Firefighters Alliance, Inc., President
1809 W. Crawford
Wichita, Ks  67217
(316) 648-0563

WWII Marine cheats death multiple times, shares life lessons

By Rob Hughes
KMBC – August 30, 2018

Video

A World War II Marine who cheated death multiple times is sharing his life lessons. Jerry Ingram later survived a deadly hotel fire in Las Vegas. We had the honor and privilege of sitting down with him as he shared his message for the next generation.

“I fought for the same reason that other millions did, so our children’s children could be free, and they are,” said Kansas City native Jerry Ingram. At 16, Ingram was a tank commander, storming four different beaches in the Pacific with the Fourth Marine Division during World War II.

“There’s nothing nice about combat, it’s kill or be killed, that’s very simply the way it is,” reflected Ingram. Decades later, Jerry was in a terrible hotel fire at the Las Vegas Hilton, trying to escape with three other people in an elevator. “I heard one fellow say, oh my God, it still is with me, I hear it, body hitting the floor; the other three fellas didn’t make it out,” added Ingram.

Firefighters saved his life, inspiring him to start Jerry Ingram / Fire & Rescue, a local business that sells protective equipment to fire departments.

“In a way I’m giving back to the guys that saved my life, and I respect the firemen very much, God bless them,” said Jerry, sitting in his office surrounded by fire equipment, as well as Marine Corps awards and decorations.

Jerry has had hundreds of surgeries after being injured in the fire, and a horrific car wreck. “I’ve been blessed with a lot more life than I should’ve had,” added Jerry. He encourages others to be thankful for every day. “God never gives you more than you can handle, and when he does he’ll take you home.”

Jerry believes God has kept him around for a reason. “With faith you can face anything, because I’ve faced just about everything.”

Jerry helped bring an Iwo Jima Memorial to Leavenworth National Cemetery, and participates in an annual ceremony. He also speaks at Marine Corps events, and remains active in his church and community.

Jerry has been chronicled in Patriot Features, a local charity that tells Veteran’s stories for posterity.

 

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Kansas man dies in 3-vehicle motorcycle crash

Hays Post – August 30, 2018

One person died in an accident just after 7:30p.m. Tuesday in Reno County.

According to Police Sgt. Eric Buller, a motorcycle driven by Michael Jones, 58, Hutchinson and a vehicle driven by 25-year-old Krista Baker, 25, Hutchinson were westbound on East 4th Street in Hutchinson and stopped for pedestrians crossing the road.

A westbound vehicle driven by 73-year-old Jesse R. Penner struck the motorcycle forcing it into Baker’s vehicle.

Jones was transported to Hutchinson Regional Medical Center where he died. He was not wearing a helmet, according to Sgt. Buller.

Police have not released details on any charges or citations.

 

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Shawnee Heights fire crews battle house fire Wednesday

By Brianna Childers
Topeka Capital Journal – August 30, 2018

Photos by Shawnee Heights Fire Department

Shawnee Heights Fire Department crews worked to put out a structure fire Wednesday evening.

The fire was reported about 6:40 p.m. in the 5300 block of S.E. 49th Street.

At 7:15 p.m., Shawnee Heights Fire District posted on its Facebook page that crews were on the scene of the fire and everyone had evacuated the house safely.

SHFD posted an update about 7:51 p.m. saying the fire had been contained to the garage. There was minor damage to the home’s attic and little damage to the inside of the house.

 

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3 killed in fiery crash on I-70 near Ellsworth

By Jason Beets
Salina Journal – August 30, 2018

Three people were killed early Wednesday when the 2007 Chevrolet Silverado they were in struck the rear of a semitrailer on Interstate Highway 70 a mile east of the Kansas Highway 14 junction, veered into a ditch and caught fire, according to a Kansas Highway Patrol report.

According to the report, Reginald A. Miller, 32, of Arthur, Ill., was westbound in the right lane of I-70 at about 1 a.m. Wednesday when his pickup truck struck the rear of a trailer attached to a semi driven by Curtis Lee Garrison Jr., 43, of Vaughan, Miss.

The pickup veered into the north ditch, where it caught fire, according to the report. The semi came to rest in the lane then was moved to avoid the fire.

Killed in the crash were Miller and two passengers in the pickup, Darrin W. Stutzman, 20, of Arthur, Ill., and Matthew L. Herschberger, 16, of Arcola, Ill.

Garrison was treated in the emergency department at Salina Regional Health Center for a possible injury. A passenger in the semi, Cordell M. Wilson, 26, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was not injured, according to the report.

It was not known if Miller, Stutzman and Herschberger were wearing seat belts.

According to the report, Garrison was wearing a seat belt but Wilson, who was moving from the sleeper to the front passenger seat of the semi when the crash occurred, was not wearing a seat belt.

 

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Firefighters win grant for new gear

By Joe Warren
Atchison Globe – August 28, 2018

Firefighters recently learned that they will be receiving more than $100,000 from a federal grant, which will help the department buy new breathing equipment and a few sets of gear.

Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) allow emergency responders to breathe during smoky or other hazardous conditions. Obviously key for firefighters, the grant, which is actually $111,585, will allow the department to replace all 18 currently operating air packs.

The Fire Department will also use the grant to purchase four new sets of turnout gear, the protective equipment they wear while fighting fires.

“Obviously it’s a huge need for us,” Chief Ted Graf said. “That money is not something that is easy for the city to come up with.”

The SCBA equipment usually costs about $6,000 each, with the gear about $2,200 apiece.

The grant covers 95 percent of the costs for the equipment and comes from the federally funded Assistance to Firefighters Grant.

“This is a tremendous award for us,” Capt. Pat Weishaar said. “Without this funding it would be very difficult to budget for such costly equipment — equipment that is vital to firefighting.”

Graf said that the grant will allow his department to replace 21-year-old equipment.

“In 20 years the technology has changed,” Graf said. “This has a better ergonomic fit, providing better comfort. The newer equipment is lighter. We can even track our firefighters while operating in an area. We know their locations and even their air levels.”

There were 670 grants awarded nationwide. Atchison firefighters were notified of the grant award on Friday, Aug. 17.

Weishaar wrote the grant application, with help from City Finance Manager Cari Strieby and City Manager Becky Berger.

Weishaar said he anticipated the grant money to be available to the department in a few weeks.

 

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Occupants OK after house fire

Atchison Globe – August 29, 2018

Photo by Atchison Fire Department

Photo by Marcus Clem

A fire early Tuesday morning has left two women who lived at the house in south Atchison dependent on relatives for shelter.

Fire Chief Ted Graf said the women, who haven’t been identified but are estimated to be in their mid-50s, managed to get out after the fire started some time after midnight on Tuesday in the basement of the house at the 1300 block of Crowley Street. Fire department photos indicate the flames spread from the basement and had engulfed much of the interior by the dispatch time of 12:42 a.m.

At the time of arrival, the occupants didn’t know the location of their pets, a dog and a cat. Firefighters managed to enter the burning house and rescue the animals trapped inside, Graf said. He arranged for an Atchison County EMS unit to return to the site later on Tuesday to re-examine one of the women, but said no one is believed to have suffered any significant injury.

Graf said property and structure damage adds up to around $25,000, and the house has been left completely uninhabitable. Fire department tape has been established around the perimeter pending an investigation into the cause of the fire. Atchison police officers and municipal street department workers assisted fire and EMS units at the scene.

 

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Tire shop fire causes minor damage in Gardner, firefighters say

By Kaitlyn Schwers
Kansas City Star – August 29, 2018

Photo by Brandon Humble

Video

A stack of tires caught fire outside a shop Tuesday afternoon in Gardner, Kansas, causing minor damage, firefighters said.

Firefighters were called to Big O Tires at 331 E. Main St. at around 2 p.m.

No injuries were reported, but the building had “a little bit of damage” due to the flames, said Dennis Meyers, assistant chief with Johnson County Fire District No. 1.

Heavy fire was showing toward the back of the shop when firefighters arrived. Meyers said firefighters believe it started among a stack of discarded tires.

“The damage to the building is definitely repairable,” Meyers said in an interview. “They could be open tomorrow if they needed to.”

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

 

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Liberal firefighter promoted

By Joe Denoyer
KSCB – August 29, 2018

The Liberal City Commission met Tuesday evening and at the start of the meeting, Fire Chief Kelly Kirk promoted Firefighter Eric Rodriguez to the rank of Lieutenant. He was pinned by his wife, and presented his helmet by his son.

 

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Fire early Wednesday damages Manhattan church

By Phil Anderson
Topeka Capital Journal – August 29, 2018

Firefighters battled an early-morning blaze on Wednesday at a Manhattan church, authorities said.

The fire was reported at 2:15 a.m. Wednesday at Living Word Church, 2711 Amherst Ave.

According to Manhattan Fire Department spokesman Ryan Almes, crews were sent to the location on a report of an alarm sounding.

Almes said first-arriving crews found smoke showing from the large, one-story building that, which also houses Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore. The building is located adjacent to Firehouse 3.

Almes said the fire was contained within 20 minutes, and ventilation took several house because of the size of the building, which was formerly a manufactured home factory.

The church is undergoing renovation. There was no immediate estimate of a dollar loss or the cause of the blaze.

There was no reported damage to the ReStore in the same building.

A total of 20 firefighters responded on seven fire apparatus units.

 

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Fire chief concerned after she says video shows firefighter struck by firework

By John Asebes
KSN – August 29, 2018

Video

Concerning, that is what one Wichita Fire Marshal is describing video he says shows a battalion chief getting assaulted while writing a citation on July 4.

“You can see one of the citizens actually using a firework, what may be a roman candle or something, to sort of hit the fire officer in the back of the head,” said Wichita Fire Marshal Stuart Bevis.

That’s what Fire Marshal Bevis says some firefighters got for trying to enforce the fireworks ordinance on July 4.

You can hear insults being hurled at a police officer and battalion chief after issuing a citation for illegal fireworks.

“It is very alarming,” says Fire Marshal Bevis.

Fire Chief Tammy Snow presented her concerns and a report filed from that night to city council. They are echoed by Fire Marshall Bevis.

“This is not something they are trained for or equipped for. There were several instances where the officers backed out of the situation because it was too volatile,” says Bevis.

Enforcing the law is something that Bevis says his department will always do. In fact, he says nearly everyone from the department was involved.

“Almost every exempt employee was out writing citations that night,” explains Bevis. “If they were not on duty almost every one of them was out on the streets.”

But after hearing about these situations, Bevis says they are planning to have more conversation on just what should be expected of the fire department.

“This is something that we have to take at look at and be decided on down the road. Right now, as the mayor put it, I believe that there is a lot of information that the council wants to digest.”

Bevis says the discussions about enforcement will go before the district advisory board meetings months in advance of July 4 next year to decide how the ordinance should be enforced.

He maintains that training his staff is not a viable option.

 

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Harold “Rowdy” Rempfer

Harold “Rowdy” Rempfer, 76, and Julia Rempfer, 73, of Wheatland died Aug. 25, 2018, from injuries suffered in an automobile crash in Miller County.

Harold Russell “Rowdy” Rempfer was born Oct. 15, 1941, in Sweetwater to George R. and Tabitha Allene Rempfer.

Rowdy was also baptized in his youth and was a member of Galmey Community Bible Church.

He is a U.S. Army Veteran of the Korean War.

He served in many other ways throughout his life, as well. He founded the baseball and softball program in Garden City, as well as the Sherwood Booster Club. He was an emergency medical technician for Garden City and a firefighter for the Cheney, Kansas, fire department.

He was an alderman and the current mayor for the City of Wheatland.

Rowdy and Julia had made several places home: Blue Springs, Pleasant Hill, Garden City and Marshfield, all in Missouri, as well as Cheney, Kansas.

Celebration of life: 1 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 30, at Galmey Community Bible Church under the direction of Hathaway-Peterman Funeral Home, Wheatland. Visitation: 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 29, at the funeral home.

 

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Local firefighters union to push for more firefighters, new station

By Rochelle Valverde
Lawrence Journal World – August 28, 2018

Government leaders can expect to be hearing more from the local firefighters union about increasing Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical’s staffing levels.

The Lawrence Professional Firefighters, Local 1596 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, announced in a news release Tuesday that it would begin focusing its efforts to “secure an increase to fire department resources,” including the number of firefighters and fire stations.

LPF Secretary Seamus Albritton told the Journal-World that the LPF’s main concern is that the number of firefighters and stations has not kept up with the growth of the city. He said emergency calls have increased about 40 percent since the last station, Fire Station No. 5, was added in 2006.

“So basically we are asking the same work force from over a decade ago to do almost 40 percent more,” Albritton said. “We want to be able to maintain proper safety for the citizens of Lawrence, and that’s why we are going to start advocating for this.”

Albritton said the LPF came to its decision over the past week after reviewing the fire department’s 2018 accreditation report and department assessments from last year, which note the increase in emergency calls and that response times are slowing. Responses to medical calls measure well over nine minutes, and one of the accreditation report’s recommendations was that the department continue its efforts to add a station in the northwest area of the city.

The LPF announcement also notes that simultaneous emergencies are becoming more common. Albritton said that just in the past month, multiple large-scale emergencies have happened at the same time, making it difficult for fire and medical staff to meet the department’s response-time benchmarks and at times necessitating assistance from other municipalities.

The LPF announcement states that the city has “repeatedly denied” the fire chief’s recommendations to increase department staffing and that the LPF is prepared to work with the city and the fire department to increase resources to an “appropriate level.”

As part of the city’s 2019 budget process that concluded earlier this month, the department requested 11 additional fire and medical positions. That request would have cost about $1.04 million, and the additional positions were not ultimately approved. The department currently has 149 staff members, according to the city’s 2019 budget documents.

Regarding what the new effort will entail, Albritton said that the LPF planned to research the issue further and begin advocating for more resources for the fire and medical department. He said the LPF’s efforts would include a public education campaign and a push for increased funding.

“We want all the citizens, as well those that are involved with the city government, to just be aware of this issue,” Albritton said. “This is something that we don’t want the community to fall behind in.”

The fire and medical department is jointly funded by the city of Lawrence and Douglas County. City Manager Tom Markus has previously said that he wanted to review funding agreements between the city and the county and that the fire and medical department’s funding should be discussed as part of the upcoming meeting among the city, county and school district. The meeting will take place Sept. 19.

Fire Chief Mark Bradford died in July, and Shaun Coffey has been interim chief since then. The city has not made any announcements regarding the hiring of a new chief.

 

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Saline County purchases wireless headsets for firefighters

By Jason Beets
Salina Journal – August 28, 2018

The Saline County Commission authorized the purchase of a wireless headset system for Fire District 5 Tuesday morning. County officials will purchase the system from Weis Fire, which submitted the low bid of $2,340. Half of that cost, $1,170, will be funded through a grant from the Kansas Forest Service.

 

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Fire damages vacant house in East Topeka

By Phil Anderson
Topeka Capital Journal – August 28, 2018

Photo by Phil Anderson

A fire that heavily damaged a vacant house late Tuesday morning in East Topeka is under investigation, authorities said.

The fire was reported around 11:30 a.m. at a house at 1401 S.E. Washington.

Topeka Fire Department Shift Commander Dan Macke said smoke and flames were coming out of the north side of the second floor.

Macke said firefighters made both a primary and secondary search of the residence, finding no one inside.

It took crews about 10 minutes to knock down the fire. Crews remained on the scene as of 12:15 p.m. as they were spraying down hot spots.

A Topeka Fire Department investigator was on the scene.

The cause of the blaze and the estimated dollar loss weren’t immediately available.

 

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CES participated in FEMA Boat Operations Training

August 28, 2018

Today 9 members of CES participated in FEMA Boat Operations Training with our new water rescue boat. These 9 individuals are now proficient in the use, maintenance, and skills necessary to perform water rescues during flooding events. The boat and equipment was provided by a grant award from Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation. Training was conducted by Tac Rescue out of Arkansas. This is just another way your city leadership and the volunteers of Clearwater Emergency Services are looking at ways to improve your safety. The members of CES would like to thank the citizens and the city leadership for their continued support of our goals and mission. Photos of today’s training will be posted soon.

Chief Cooper and the members of CES

https://www.facebook.com/tacrescueservices/photos/pcb.1960440027310779/1960439297310852/?type=3

https://www.facebook.com/tacrescueservices/photos/pcb.1960440027310779/1960439313977517/?type=3

https://www.facebook.com/tacrescueservices/photos/pcb.1960440027310779/1960439343977514/?type=3

Scott Cooper
Director of Emergency Services
City of Clearwater, Kansas

 

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KCK swears in new fire chief with 40 years of experience in Chicago

By Charlie Keegan
KSHB – August 27, 2018

KSHB Video

The Kansas City, Kansas Fire Department has a new chief. The city clerk officially swore Mike Callahan in as fire chief Monday morning.

Callahan comes to Kansas City after working 40 years for the Chicago Fire Department. He said he had his eye on Kansas City as an option while he looked for places to apply as chief. It’s the only role in a fire department he didn’t have on his resume until Monday.

Callahan knows what challenges await him because he did his research. One priority is to replace outdated fire apparatuses and equipment while finding ways to improve the fire station buildings.

“I come from a fire department where one of my responsibilities was fire apparatus acquisition and physical facilities. In Chicago, there are roughly 100 firehouses. Here, there are 22. I think I can spend a lot more time looking at these firehouses and working out issues that currently exist in them,” Callahan said.

Another issue is the practice of shift trading. It’s where two firefighters swap shifts but still get paid as if the swap never happened because, in theory, they both should work the same amount of shifts. The former KCK mayor called the practice “corrupt” and said it cost the Unified Government of KCK and Wyandotte County nearly $1 million in one year.

Callahan said most cities and departments struggle with the practice. He plans to keep the concept in place under some capacity.

“It is a collective bargaining issue. It’ll be looked at in the collective bargaining sessions so we can still allow shift trading, so it serves the needs of the firefighters and of the UG at the same time,” he said.

County leadership chose Callahan over internal candidates for the job. They credited his long list of strengths and experience in the industry as reasons for the hire.

“He just checked the box every time we went along. I became more and more impressed by him the more and more I learned about him,” said Doug Bach, county administrator.

Callahan’s schedule is packed full of meetings on his first day.

 

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1 dead, 3 injured after pickup flips over I-70 guardrail, rolls

Hays Post – August 27, 2018

One person died in an accident just before 3p.m. Sunday in Russell County.

The Kansas Highway Patrol reported a 2005 GMC pickup driven by Steven C. Greenwood, 21, Burneyville, OK., was eastbound on Interstate 70 just east of the Gorham exit.

The pickup entered the south ditch and collided with and flipped over the guard rail and rolled.

Greenwood was transported to Hays Medical Center where he died of his injuries.

Three passengers Jesse D. Dominguez, 23 and Joseph A. Boatner, 22, both of Marietta, OK., and Tyler A. Bates, 22, Ardmore, OK., were also transported to Hays Medical Center.

Greenwood and Boatner were not wearing seat belts, according to the KHP.

 

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Job Opening – Firefighter – Derby Fire Department

Do you want to serve your community and make a difference? The City of Derby is seeking qualified candidates for a Firefighter position. Start at $39,719 a year. Apply by Sept. 9 at DerbyKS.com/jobs.

 

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Lawrence firefighters called to 2 fires nearly simultaneously on hot afternoon

By Elvyn Jones
Lawrence Journal World – August 27, 2018

One firefighter takes a breather in the shade of a firetruck while another heads inside the office building at 545 Columbia Drive to fight a blaze on Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018. Photos by Elvyn Jones

Firefighters spray water on the front of a two-story house at 336 Elm St. in North Lawrence on Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018.

Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical first responders were kept busy Saturday fighting two fires that were reported almost simultaneously during the hot afternoon.

At about 2:20 p.m. Saturday, a fire was reported at 336 Elm St. in North Lawrence. Just minutes later, at 2:24 p.m., firefighters were dispatched to a fire in an office building at 545 Columbia Drive. No one was injured in either fire.

The fire at 336 Elm St. displaced two tenants of the two-story wood-frame rental house owned by Jan Hurst, of Lawrence, said Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical acting shift commander Chris Morrow.

Hurst said the tenants weren’t home when the fire started on the porch of the building. A neighbor to the west of the house notified her of the fire after reporting it, she said.

“The house had beautiful wood floors,” she said. “My husband bugged me to sell it, but I loved that house.”

Morrow said the fire was brought under control at about 3 p.m. There was some damage to the interior to the house, but most of the damage was confined to the porch and exterior, he said.

Five Lawrence fire department trucks responded to the Elm Street incident, so that firefighters could be rested on the hot afternoon, Morrow said.

“I tried to call in another truck so we could rotate more firefighters through, but there was nothing available with the other fire,” he said. “Two working fires at the same time pretty much depletes our resources.”

Other city fire units were responding to the fire at 545 Columbia Drive, which is one block west of the Dillons store at the intersection of Sixth Street and Lawrence Avenue.

The office building is the home of Keller Williams Realty, Lawrence Dental Solutions, Movement Mortgage and Next Gen Hearing, said John Esau, a realtor with Keller Williams and a member of the partnership that owns the building.

Esau said he was working alone on the second floor of the building when he got a phone call from a Keller Williams agent telling him there was traffic on the police scanner of a structure fire at 545 Columbia Drive. There was no sign of the fire upstairs, nor were the building’s smoke alarms sounding on that floor, Esau said, but he ran into heavy smoke when he descended to the first floor to investigate.

Shaun Coffey, acting fire chief of LDCFM, said he requested mutual aid from the Wakarusa Township and Overland Park fire departments to help with the fire. The fire was controlled at about 4 p.m.

Damage was mostly confined to the first floor of the building, Coffey said.

There is no damage estimate yet for either building, and the causes of both fires remain under investigation, Coffey and Morrow said.

 

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Firefighters extinguish two fires at Tecumseh property

By Alexandra Martinez
Topeka Capital Journal – August 27, 2018

Photo by WIBW

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Two separate fires broke out Friday night at a property located near S.E. 53rd and Dupont Road in Tecumseh.

Shawnee Heights Fire Capt. Laramie McPherson said Saturday that Shawnee Heights firefighters were dispatched shortly before 10 p.m. Friday to a property in the 10300 block of S.E. Dupont, northeast of its intersection with S.E. 53rd.

An abandoned barn on the property was on fire, McPherson said. As firefighters arrived and began putting out the fire, they noticed a second fire, involving a camper on a separate part of the property.

Firefighters were able to quickly extinguish both fires, McPherson said.

McPherson said the fires remained under investigation, but he believed damages were minimal. According to officials, the property is currently vacant.

No injuries were reported.

 

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Firefighters quickly knock down structure fire at Joyland

KSN – August 27, 2018

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Multiple fire crews responded to a fire at the former Joyland Friday night.

The call came out around 10:00 Friday night.

Captain Tim Voss with the Wichita Fire Department said a metal building was on fire when crews arrived. They were able to knock the fire out quickly.

Voss said the building was empty and no one was injured.

This fire comes just weeks after the Wacky Shack burned down.

The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.

 

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Motorcyclist dies from injuries sustained in crash with Tonganoxie Police vehicle

By Shawn Linenberger
Tonganoxie Mirror – August 27, 2018

A motorcyclist died Friday night following an accident involving a Tonganoxie Police officer.

The accident happened just before 6 p.m. near U.S. Highway 24-40 and Village Street in Tonganoxie.

Tonganoxie police officer Nicholas Ontiveros, 33, Lansing, was driving a 2015 Ford Explorer west on U.S. 24-40 when he activated his emergency lights and made a U-turn in attempt to stop a vehicle traveling east on the highway, according to Kansas Highway Patrol reports.

Tommy Roe, 62, Anchorage, Alaska, also was traveling west when his 2018 Harley Davidson collided with the police sport-utility vehicle. Roe was ejected from the bike and taken to Providence Medical Center, Kansas City, Kan., where he died later Friday of injuries sustained in the accident.

Roe was not wearing a helmet, KHP reports said.

Ontiveras was not injured and was wearing a safety restraint, according to KHP reports.

 

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Fighting fires, fighting cancer: Overland Park approves fund for cancer reduction

By Taylor Hemness
KSHB – August 27, 2018

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This month, as part of the city’s 2019 budget, the Overland Park City Council approved just more than $50,000 in new funding for the city’s fire department. It’s specifically meant to improve cancer-reduction strategies, but the funding is just the first step in a long-term goal to protect firefighters from dangers they can’t even see.

When firefighters go into a burning building, they wear a piece of equipment called a hood. It’s literally wrapped around their head, making direct contact with their face and neck.

“After a fire, it’ll be blackened, it’ll be sooty,” OPFD Capt. Andrew Grove said. “It’ll be covered in…products of fire.”

With these new funds from the city, the department will be purchasing new hoods that are designed to block much more of the chemicals in the smoke that these men and women wade through every day, for decades in some cases.

“Looking at them from a distance, there is no recognizable difference between the two hoods,” Grove said. “But when you feel them and hold them, you can tell that one is just a more robust hood.”

But fighting cancer in the department can’t just be about cleaning the exterior of the uniform after a fire. It’s also about changing the entire mindset of what they’re carrying home with them, the threats that are seeping right into the seats of their own fire trucks.

That’s why fire departments, including Overland Park, are now taking extra steps, like purchasing two sets of gear, so firefighters always have a clean one to wear. And, they’re planning for the future, including buying machines to properly clean all that gear.

“We just have to get out of that mindset of, ‘I’m going to take care of me last,’” OPFD Chief Brian Dehner said.

Just last week, the Greater Kansas City Firefighters, Local 42, posted on its Facebook page honoring the life of North Kansas City Fire Captain Mark Skeens, who died from occupational cancer in July.

He’s not alone. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that firefighters had higher rates of several types of cancers, and of all cancers combined, than the U.S. population as a whole.

“We have these memorials all throughout the cities, every fire department has one,” Local 42 President Tim Dupin said. “If we never put another name on that wall, it would be good for me.”

Dupin said losing a firefighter, no matter the cause, feels like a failure, and he’s pushing for more awareness of just how dangerous fires can be years after they’ve burned out.

“Firefighting is inherently dangerous, but anything we can do to reduce that is important,” Dupin said. “It’s not cool to be dirty — make sure you get your gear clean because it’s killing us.”

In July 2018, President Donald Trump signed the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act into law. It requires the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to create a voluntary registry of firefighters, including the number and type of fires each firefighter attended. It will be used to monitor cancer in the profession.

 

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Blaze takes house in North Ottawa

Ottawa Herald – August 27, 2018

Photo by John Jared Hawks

Firefighters with the Ottawa Fire Department work to extinguish a structure fire Friday evening in the 300 block of N. King St., Ottawa. The fire was reported at 6:10 p.m., and first responders arrived to find “flames coming from every window,” according to Tim Matthias, Ottawa Fire Department chief. The building was estimated to be a total loss, with no potential cause yet available. There appeared to be no damage to surrounding structures. The building was thought to be vacant, and there were no injuries at the scene.

 

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Blood drawn during Battle of Badges

By Jason E. Silvers
Fort Scott Tribune – August 27, 2018

American Red Cross personnel assist Chris Anderson, Fort Scott Fire Department firefighter, and Fort Scott Police Chief Travis Shelton, as the two men donate blood at the eighth annual Battle of the Badges blood drive Friday at Community Christian Church. Photo by Jason E. Silvers

The Fort Scott Fire Department came out on top in a friendly blood drive competition Thursday and Friday, according to organizers.

In the eighth annual Battle of the Badges blood drive, local law enforcement and fire personnel teamed up with the American Red Cross to see who can recruit the most eligible donors in their community to donate blood. The drive took place at Community Christian Church.

Donors’ blood donations help decide who wins bragging rights in the competition. All presenting donors had the opportunity to cast a vote for either law enforcement or fire to help decide the winner.

Ruth Waring, blood drive coordinator, said Friday the FSFD drew 56 votes, topping the 50 votes received for law enforcement agencies.

The annual Battle of the Badges blood drive began in Bourbon County in 2011. It is supported by various organizations within firefighting, law enforcement and EMS units. Counties or groups who participated in this year’s competition were the FSFD, FSPD and the Bourbon County Sheriff’s Office.

 

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Montezuma smoke scare

By Sandy Myers
Dodge City Globe – August 24, 2018

At approximately 2:30 p.m. Friday, fire department crews from Gray County responded to a report of thick smoke coming from the elevators in Montezuma along Highway 56.

Ford County Fire Department was also dispatched, as fire in or near a grain elevator could become catastrophic.

Bystanders reported they saw smoke billowing from the south side and top of one of the elevators. Co-op employees had been unloading grain earlier from elevators to ship out and fortunately were on hand to report the smoke quickly. Grain dust can easily be combustible, which was the major concern.

John Goossen, head of the Montezuma Fire team on site, stated that bearing or mechanical issues were the cause of the alarm.

There was no fire in the grain tanks themselves, just in the boot and grain leg of the elevator.

The fire crews will hose down the grain and area to err on the side of caution, to make sure no residual heat could cause damage.

Fortunately, the fire crews were quick to be on-site and any catastrophic damage was avoided.

 

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Wichita firefighters honored on department’s 132nd birthday

KSN – August 24, 2018

Lieutenant Mark Misek with the Wichita Fire Department

The 8th annual Medal’s Day Awards Ceremony was held Thursday night.

It is a chance to honor the men and women in the Wichita Fire Department.

Among the honorees was Chief Tammy Snow who was honored for 30 years of service.

Lieutenant Mark Misek was named Firefighter of the Year.

“It’s an extremely humbling thing to see so much outpouring of support from the people I work for, because again, it’s a team sport,” said Lt. Mark Misek. “And individual recognition is a little unique and so when you get those accolades from your teammates… It really… Really strikes home, and makes you feel really good.”

Today is also the Wichita Fire Department’s 132nd birthday.

 

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Hawks reviews hazmat response for committee

By Ray Nolting
Parsons Sun – August 24, 2018

Parsons Fire Chief Jay Hawks shows a level A suit used to respond to hazardous chemical spills or leaks.

Parsons Fire Chief Jay Hawks on Thursday discussed Labette County’s hazardous materials emergency response and equipment hazmat technicians use in those times with the Local Emergency Planning Committee.

The Labette County LEPC meets monthly to discuss various aspects of the county’s overall emergency operations plan and other issues. The committee is made of up local government officials as well as community members and leaders, including those involved in health care and law enforcement. The emergency operations plan would be implemented in times of emergency such as a tornado, or a large chemical spill.

Parsons Fire Department has seven hazmat technicians in its ranks and the department and Coffeyville’s fire department each keep specific pieces of equipment related to hazardous materials events and together they can respond to emergencies as needed or requested in Southeast Kansas.

Hawks on Thursday also spoke to Emergency Support Function 10 of the county’s emergency plan. This relates to hazardous materials that travel through the county and those stored in the county.

Susan Belt, who provides the county with training and guidance in emergency management, said a commodity flow study tells about the materials that travel through the county on highways and railways. “It’s a very scary document,” she said.

Emergency management workers will monitor this by sitting at major intersections and writing down what passes by in trucks. The railroad provides documents on its transports through the county. Manufacturers in the county and other companies that have certain hazardous chemicals onsite must file Tier 2 reports with Charlie Morse, the county’s emergency management director. The public can request summary documents related to these reports under the Community Right to Know Act.

Belt reviewed the emergency plan as it relates to Tier 2 chemicals and the various reporting that has to be done in case of a spill at a facility. Generally, people or businesses within the one-half of a mile buffer zone of such a spill need to be notified. This can be complicated when looking at day cares that operate in the county near these facilities, especially when the list of day care providers is difficult to keep up to date.

Other maps and documentation show watersheds, where water could carry away potentially hazardous chemicals into rivers or streams.

Belt mentioned Wolf Creek Nuclear Power Plant near Burlington and its 50-mile buffer zone, which drops down as far as K-146 in Neosho County, where potential hazardous fallout could drop to the soil. In that event, citizens in that zone may question if they can eat food from their garden, crops from farmers’ fields or harvest cattle in that area. Media would be used to disseminate accurate information, she said.

Hawks then showed some of the equipment hazmat techs use on the job. He brought thermal imaging equipment and suits that techs would wear depending on the severity of the spill.

The yellow suit he brought was a level B suit and the red suit was a level A suit, which offers the most protection. Level B suits require the self-contained breathing apparatus, chemical resistant gloves and secured areas for the wrists, ankles and waist. The level A adds flash over protection, in case of fire. Its gloves are built into the suit.

Its flame resistant material will protect the wearer in a flash fire.

“If you’re in something like that (yellow suit, level B) and something flashes, you’re shrunk wrap. It’s plastic. It will shrink, burn, stick to you,” Hawks said. The red suit, level A, has a foil-like layer.

“So now you’re a baked potato rather than (getting) shrink wrapped,” Hawks said.

The suits are expensive, about $2,500 each, and they have a shelf life that requires them to be replaced periodically.

When passing around the thermal imaging equipment, Hawks encouraged those at the meeting to point them at objects and people. The equipment shows hot spots and he said it would show how hot someone was, which drew some laughter.

Thermal imaging is key in firefighting, but also serves a purpose in hazmat, he said. It can show how full a leaking tanker is, which can help technicians decide how to take care of it.

Parsons has a hazmat vehicle and stores some equipment for the regional response team. Coffeyville has some different equipment for hazmat, he said. Each truck carries various plugs and caps and other standard equipment, though. Parsons has more suits and Coffeyville has more monitors, he said.

“So we don’t have everything, they don’t have everything, that’s why it has to be a partnership.”

Hawks said hazmat teams are sometimes criticized for the perception that their response is slow or that they aren’t doing anything when a chemical is leaking from a tank. He said the hazmat team must have a more measured response, in part for self-preservation, and cannot charge off to place a finger in the leaking container.

Many times if the substance leaking or spilled is known, the technicians can get working quickly to cap or plug a leaking tank, or dike or dam a road that has something creeping down it.

“On fire, we’ve trained on it a lot and we are very reactive to the situation. We see what’s going on, we know what to do, we go in and we attack it hard.

“Hazmat’s a little bit different just because it’s uncertainty. If it can be more uncertain than a fire, it is,” Hawks said.

Hazmat takes planning, a decontamination area, medical support and many other considerations.

“You want to know what you’re dealing with before you send somebody in haphazardly.”

 

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Drugs, speed factors in deadly crash, Wichita police say

KAKE – August 23, 2018

Wichita police believe drugs and speed contributed to a crash that killed a 24-year-old woman and sent two men to the hospital.

The crash happened at around 1:30 a.m. at Longlake and Longford, in a neighborhood near Harry and Rock Road. Officers arrived to find a Ford Contour had struck a tree.

Officer Charley Davidson said a 23-year-old man was heading north on Longford, lost control and hit the tree. The woman in the front passenger seat, Tiana Thomas, died at a local hospital.

The driver and a 23-year-old passenger suffered non life-threatening injuries.

“Speed and drugs are believed to be contributing factors in the accident,” Officer Davidson said, adding that the crash was Wichita’s 18th fatality accident of the year.

 

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Fire reported at apartments near Sixth and Lawrence

Lawrence Journal World – August 23, 2018

Photo by Dylan Lysen

Lawrence firefighters responded to a fire at an apartment complex north of Sixth Street along Lawrence Avenue shortly before noon Thursday.

Fire crews were called to the 500 block of Lawrence Avenue around 11:30 a.m. following a report of smoke at one of the apartment buildings. A caller indicated that they saw the smoke coming from the roof following a lightning strike, according to emergency radio traffic.

The apartments are located just north of the Dillons grocery store and gas station at Lawrence Avenue.

Radio traffic indicated that firefighters had evacuated the apartments.

The fire appeared to be under control as of 12:05 p.m., according to radio traffic.

 

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Agencies team up for training

No matter the time of day, day of the week, or week of the year, volunteer firefighters must be ready at a moment’s notice. The key to safely executing a fire scene is training.

On Monday, Aug. 20, the Hiawatha and Robinson Fire Departments along with Squad 48, joined together for an evening full of training. Before the training began, Fire Chief’s Dennis Tietjens and Ryan Shockley, along with volunteer firefighters Jason Hooper and Gordon Hooper, planned out the training agenda.

The firefighters teamed up and entered a smoke filled house searching for victims. Volunteer firefighter Elizabeth Jeschke, a member of the Robinson Fire Department, was teamed up with Nicholas Barber, a member of the Hiawatha Fire Department.

“I think training with Hiawatha was a great experience since we work together so many times at fires,” Jeschke said. “It’s great to have a neighboring department that has such a commitment to making their department better by training and learning from one another. Nicholas and I worked together searching for our victim. It wasn’t an easy task since you couldn’t even see your hand in front of your face. We really relied on each other for direction and encouragement feeling our way around the house.”

Once a victim was found, the firefighters carefully brought him out, all while wearing an additional 70-80 pounds of gear.

The departments were able to utilize the Holley Transfer Pipe, which was purchased with the donations received from the Hiawatha Pancake Feed in early April of this year. The Holley Transfer Pipe is an efficient method of moving water from one dump tank to another.

“Joint training is vital among smaller communities and I would like to say ‘Thank You’ to the fire departments for inviting Squad 48 to the training,” said John Merchant Jr., Squad 48 member. “As a rescue member, it is nice to be a part of such training to expand knowledge and skills.”

Training with surrounding departments allows volunteers firefighters to see their own strengths and weaknesses. Not all firefighters are able to wear the additional weight of air packs and mask; however, those same firefighters proved to be a better pump operator.

“Trainings allow me to step back and watch each firefighter individually,” said Fire Chief Ryan Shockley. “I’m able to see their strong suits and point them to a fellow team member to help succeed on scene.”

The agencies involved in the recent training are already planning their next training night.

 

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Young artists win ride to school in fire truck

Osage County News – August 23, 2018

Coloring contest winners, from left, Andrew Baughman with assistant chief Gregg Sunday, and Nathaniel Baughman with chief Russell Mitchell.

Winners of Osage County Fire District No. 4’s coloring contest were given an exciting ride to Overbrook Attendance Center on the first day of school. Nathaniel Baughman and Andrew Baughman rode to school in a fire truck with Fire Chief Russell Mitchell and Assistant Fire Chief Gregg Sunday. The boys participated in a coloring contest at the fire district’s open house during the 2018 Overbrook fair.

Photos and information thanks to Ken Dale.

 

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One hurt in house fire near south Broadway

KWCH – August 23, 2018

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One person is hurt following a house fire early Thursday morning.

Firefighters responded to a house fire with a person possible trapped shortly before 4:30 a.m. at a home near Broadway and Indianapolis.

When crews arrived on scene, they heard voices inside and were able to rescue one person.

Fire crews found a fire in the basement and managed to contain it to that area. Crews say the basement was heavily damaged.

 

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Vehicle fire reported on I-35

Wyandotte Daily News – August 23, 2018

A vehicle fire was reported about 7:08 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 22, on northbound I-35 near the 18th Street Expressway, according to KC Scout. The two right lanes were closed. (KC Scout photo)

 

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Supporting training opportunities for Liberal’s bravest

Liberal First – August 23, 2018

(Left to right) Black Hills Energy Liberal operations supervisor Ronnie Sumner, Liberal Fire Chief Kelly Kirk, Assistant Liberal Fire Chief Skeety Poulton and Liberal Fire Marshal Cody Rieger truly stand together in promoting strong partnerships and safety cultures for the community.

As a gas utility, Black Hills Energy understands the critical importance of supporting safety and training opportunities.

Black Hills Energy was thrilled to recently provide a $1,000 donation to the Liberal Fire Department which enabled its personnel to participate in a Driver/Pump Operator course.

“One of the most essential elements of emergency response is to get the fire engine from the station to the scene of an emergency safely and quickly,” Liberal Fire Department Chief Kelly Kirk said. “This Driver/Pump Operator course covers a wide range of topics including vehicle readiness, safe driving skills, defensive driving skills, pump operations and water supply operations. Upon completion of the course, our Liberal firefighters will take both a written and practical skills examination administered by the University of Kansas Fire & Rescue Training Institute to receive a nationally-accredited certification. With BHE’s donation, we plan to schedule and complete this course in the fall.”

What’s also important to share is that two Liberal employees of Black Hills Energy volunteer their time and efforts in serving on the Liberal Fire Department – operations supervisor Ronnie Sumner and senior gas operations technician Eric Smalldridge.

“As I have always said, having Ronnie and Eric as members of our department has countless benefits to both the City of Liberal and Black Hills Energy,” Chief Kirk added, “Their immediate presence as firefighters and their level of expertise in their field benefits our department on a multitude of emergency scenes almost daily.”

 

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Marven Dale Modrow

Marven Dale Modrow, 89, passed away Tuesday, August 21, 2018 in Lindsborg. He was born October 9, 1928 in Lincoln, KS to John and Lena (Castle) Modrow.

A 64 year resident of Kanopolis, Dale was a mechanic for White Construction for many years and also worked as a hoist operator for Independent Salt Co. He married Muriel Ardith Bunch in Lincoln on March 26, 1952. He served his country during the Korean Conflict while in the U.S. Army. Dale was a member of the former American Legion Post of Kanopolis (now of Ellsworth) where he was a commander, vice-commander, and secretary. He also served as the mayor of Kanopolis and on the Kanopolis Volunteer Fire Department.

Dale is survived by his sons, Richard (Connie) Modrow and Jack (Joan) Modrow both of Kanopolis; five grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren; and brother, Lee (Carol) Modrow of Lincoln. He was preceded in death by his wife, Ardith; daughter, Audrey Cravens; brothers, Lawrence and Roy; and sister, Marleen Gleason.

Memorial service: 2:00 p.m., Friday, August 31, 2018 at Parsons Funeral Home, Ellsworth with inurnment following in the Kanopolis Cemetery.

Memorial contributions can be made to American Legion Post 174 of Ellsworth, Bethany Home of Lindsborg, or Kindred Hospice, c/o, Parsons Funeral Home, Box 45, Ellsworth, KS 67439

 

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Wichita crews respond to fire near downtown Wichita

KWCH – August 22, 2018

Wichita firefighters worked quickly to put out a fire near downtown Wednesday morning.

Crews arrived at the strip mall at 1421 E. Central to find flames coming from the roof.

The fire was coming from an air conditioning unit on the roof that caught some roofing materials on fire.

There was no damage to the inside of the building, and everyone made it out safely.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

 

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New fire truck, wildfire gear on order for Ellis County Fire Department

By Margaret Allen
Hays Daily News – August 22, 2018

Elden Hammerschmidt at Hays Fire and Rescue Sales and Service on Tuesday was ordering parts so the local factory is ready to start work on a new multipurpose Ford fire truck for Ellis County.

The truck will be delivered after the first of the year to Ellis County Fire Department Company Six in Ellis.

“As we speak I’m in the process of ordering the light bar and the other emergency lights,” said Hammerschmidt, sales and office manager for Hays Fire and Rescue.

The new brush and rescue truck will serve the western third of the county, said Darin Myers, director of Ellis County Fire and Emergency Management. It will replace a 1978 International that’s been out of service for a month due to increasing mechanical problems from the advanced age of the 40-year-old truck.

“Usually we try to get 20 years out of a truck,” Myers said.

Like the department’s other 18 fire trucks, the new one will be four-wheel drive and can fight both wildfires as well as rescue from the station.

“Any type of rescue incident, that’s the truck that will respond,” he said. “It could be in the middle of a field. It could be on the Interstate. Farm accidents. ATV accidents. With high speed accidents you don’t always land on the road, it can be in ditches and fields.”

The Ellis County Commissioners earlier this month approved the $113,049 purchase, which is part of a 25-year capital replacement plan for the fire district. The chassis is being ordered from the low-bid vendor, Lewis Ford in Hays, and will come with a cab, a V 10 gas motor and custom-built bed.

From there it will go to Hays Fire and Rescue’s factory, where they bend, shape, weld and paint the red aluminum body, install it on the chassis, and then add a 500-gallon water tank, fire pump, plumbing to hook together the pump and hoses, and emergency lights.

“We pretty much do everything it takes to create a fire truck out of a raw chassis,” Hammerschmidt said of the company’s 11 welders, fabricators, plumbers and electricians who work in the plant.

Besides Company Six in Ellis, the Ellis County Fire Department has stations in Hays, Schoenchen, Catharine, Munjor and Victoria, covering 900 square miles of Ellis County. The department’s 85 part-time firefighters are paid per call to respond to wildfires, vehicle fires and farm fires, as well as assist with emergency medical calls, and respond to rescue calls and any other hazardous emergencies.

Besides replacing the old fire truck at Company Six, Myers is also adding $8,450 in protective gear for the firefighters to fight wildfires.

“Wildland gear is different than structural gear,” Myers said. “It’s about 75 percent cheaper and it’s a lot lighter, otherwise firefighters get exhausted out in the field.”

The cooler material protects firefighters from getting overheated or overexerting. Wildland gear works for rescue also, so it prolongs the life of the more expensive structural firefighting gear by not using it as much, he said.

The department has some wildland gear already, but a recent $4,225 cost-share grant from the Kansas Forest Service makes possible the new purchase.

“This is another grant we get to beef up and make sure everyone gets some,” Myers said.

Wildfire has been on the increase not only in Kansas, but in Ellis County.

In 2016, wildfire burned about 1,011 acres in the county. In 2017, that jumped to 8,737 acres. So far in 2018 through Aug. 1, 7,265 acres have burned, including northeast of Hays in early March near Toulon Avenue and Homestead Road. That fire was 8 miles long and more than 2 miles wide.

Myers hopes this year’s number won’t equal the 2017 acres burned. He explained one of the reasons for more fire.

“With all the rain we’re getting, the pasture and ditch grasses are growing thicker and heavier and taller. In years when there’s a lot of snow, the grass compacts and when Spring comes — February, March and April — the grass doesn’t burn as fast,” he said. “We need the snow to help us out, to slow down the burning.”

In recent years, though, snowfall has been sparse. As a result, prairie grass presents a hazard.

“It’s tall. It’s loose. And the wind can push through it, and the fire can start easier and spread faster,” he said. “And there’s more surface area to burn.”

Wildfire in many respects is the norm now, according to state forester Larry Biles, who leads the Kansas Forest Service. The Ellis County Fire Department fights back wildfires alongside the 486 rural fire departments across the state. So far in 2018, about 70,000 acres of grassland have burned in Kansas, Biles said. In 2016, more than 300,000 acres burned, and in 2017 it was more than 500,000 acres. So far for 2018, 70,000 acres have burned, Biles said.

“When those fires break out, the local firefighters are the first responders to start knocking that fire down,” he said. “The locals are critical.”

 

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Firefighters’ statue takes its next step

Derby Informer – August 22, 2018

A molding of two firefighters is loaded into a truck in Derby for its recent journey to a Colorado foundry. After it is set with bronze and shipped back to Derby at the end of this year, the work will be next to the new Fire Station 81, which now is under construction at the corner of Madison and Woodlawn.

The artwork, by local artist John Parsons, is totally original, and one Parsons said he worked to incorporate the teamwork inherent in firefighting and capturing the action in answering an alarm.

The sculpture shows two running firefighters, with the lead firefighter holding an ax in his right hand with his left hand outstretched, pointing ahead and with his mouth open, his partner, with a solemn expression, has his hand on his buddy’s left shoulder, a hose draped over his left shoulder.

The work costs $139,000 plus shipping and installation, for an approximate total of $145,000. There was some $50,000 in private donations raised and public funding was employed for the remaining $95,000.

 

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Bids for Buhler fire station remodel exceed project estimates

By John Green
Hutchinson News – August 22, 2018

Bids to remodel a fire station in Buhler came in thousands of dollars above what the project’s designer had estimated, but the Reno County Commission agreed Tuesday to consider awarding the project next week anyway, rather than seeking new bids.

That after officials with Reno /Harvey Joint Fire Station No. 2 agreed to use additional funding from their equipment carryover to cover the gap between bonds authorized for the project and the award.

The commission in March approved the expansion of the fire station located in Buhler, adding a second story to the existing office space and making some modifications in the seven-bay station to move a training space and accommodate larger trucks.

The work includes handicap accessible restrooms that can serve as storm shelters, converting the ground floor of the offices into the training room and adding lockable offices on the second floor.

The lowest of four bids received on Aug. 2 for the project was $376,200, from Ward Davis Builders of Hutchinson.

That was more than $57,500 or 18 percent above the engineer’s estimate of $318,685.

The next closest bid was $455,900 from Compton Construction Service Inc. of Wichita, which was some 43 percent above the engineer’s estimate. The highest of the four bids was $538,000 from HIEB and Associates.

The fire district, which previously agreed to spend $100,000 from its equipment fund to bring the share of the project covered by bonds down, was willing also to cover the additional $57,500 from that fund, County Administrator Gary Meagher advised the commission, which would still leave nearly $200,000 in the fund.

One issue raised by one of the higher bidders, Meagher advised, was that Ward Davis Builders did not include an estimate of how long it would take to complete the project. The contract states that all blanks in bidding documents must be filled, so the bid was not in compliance.

The contractor, however, Meagher said, proposed setting a 180-day completion date, matching the middle estimate of the other three bids.

Commissioner Dan Deming suggested including liquidated damages as part of the contract, if it not completed in the 180 days. It was unclear, however, whether the county could add the clause since it wasn’t an original part of the contract.

The bid also included an add alternate for painting and other interior work, which will be performed by firefighters if bids exceeded available funding. The bid by Ward Davis Builders for the job was $4,000.

They looked at possible ways to lower the project cost, Meagher said, but the only real significant reduction would be keeping the building single-story, but that’s not possible because the station is landlocked.

The project architect advised he’d reviewed other recent projects after the bids came in, Meagher said, and found costs for similar projects were currently about $120 per square foot. His original estimate was only $100 per square foot.

Based on the size of the 3,200 square foot project, the Ward Davis bid was a good one based on those estimates.

The commission is expected to take up the issue again next week.

 

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City of Wellington shows off its new ambulance before start of City Council meeting

By Adam Catlin
Wellington Daily News – August 22, 2018

The City of Wellington recently put its newly purchased ambulance into service, and it was able to show it off to the public Tuesday evening. From 6:00 p.m. until just before the start of the Wellington City Council meeting at 6:30 p.m., the public was invited to come and take a look at the new vehicle.

 

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Concordia home damaged by fire

Concordia Blade Empire – August 21, 2018

Fire caused extensive damage to a house, located at 428 East 11th Street, Monday afternoon.

The Concordia Fire Department received the call at 4:23 p.m. and found the back of the house and a porch on the southwest corner were fully involved when firefighters arrived.

“We had a great response by the guys. Great teamwork, and were able to get it knocked down,” Concordia Fire Chief Eric Voss said.

Voss said that the house is a total loss, and the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Judy Marie Slye, who rents the house, was inside when the fire started.

“She was wakened by her dog,” Voss said.

Lou Ann Dudley, who lives at 430 East 12th St., and her daughters Jessica Dudley and Tiffany Detterline, saw the smoke and called 911.

The three then got into a car and drove around the block to see where the smoke was coming from and spotted a dog in the driveway of the house that was on fire.

Jessica went to get the dog, and said it kept backing up as she approached.

“She was trying to tell us something,” Jessica said.

Jessica noticed the brake lights on a car in the driveway were on, and she found Slye in the car.

The three ladies helped Slye out of the car and across the street. She was taken by private vehicle to Cloud County Health Center to get checked out.

“I am just glad we were there,” Lou Ann said.

Voss said there were no smoke detectors in the house.

 

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One killed in two-car crash

Pittsburg Morning Sun – August 21, 2018

A Pittsburg man is dead following a mid-morning, two car wreck Monday.

According to the Kansas Highway Patrol Crash Log, at a little after 9 a.m Monday, Stephen Hite, 70, of Pittsburg, was driving south on U.S. Highway 69 about two miles south of Pittsburg in a 1989 Ford Ranger when he slowed to make a left-hand turn onto E 510 Ave.

According to KHP, as Hite slowed to make his turn he was struck from behind by a 2005 Chevrolet Malibu driven by Patrick Commons, 49, of Pittsburg.

Hite’s vehicle overturned and both vehicles came to rest in the east ditch.

Hite died in the accident and Commons was taken to Via Christi with unspecified injuries.

Both drivers were wearing seatbelts.

 

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