Archive for April, 2019

Firefighter Career Opportunities – Lenexa Fire Department


The City of Lenexa, Kansas Fire Department is currently seeking highly motivated men and women who are passionate about serving the public and delivering the highest level of professional service as a firefighter. The City of Lenexa is a progressive, dynamic,
and growing community located in Johnson County, Kansas. The department is accredited by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International and has been awarded the highest public protection classification rating by the Insurance Services Office. The firefighter position is a non-standard, rotating work, shift schedule (nine 24 hour shifts in a 27-day work period), requiring weekend and holiday work.

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS: To be acquired prior to conditional job offers on July 26, 2019.

  • Minimum of 18 years of age at time of employment offer
  • Valid driver’s license with good driving record
  • High school diploma or certificate of high school equivalency
  • Firefighter I and II certificate and EMT certification; OR a paramedic certification with or without the Firefighter I and II certificates
  • Successful completion of the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) within 1 year of application submission
  • Fire Service Entrance Exam (FSEE) minimum score of 70%

Information for CPAT and FSEE opportunities can be found in the following links: a New Window. a New Window. a New Window.

PREFERRED QUALIFICATION: National registry or Kansas paramedic certification highly preferred.

PROCESS: The application packet must be submitted before the close of business May 31, 2019. Structured interviews will be scheduled from June 24 to June 28, 2019. Candidates moving forward in the process will be scheduled for a ride along activity between July 8 through July 12, 2019. Finalists will participate in an interview with the Fire Chief July 22 through July 25. Successful candidates who receive a conditional job offer will be required to successfully pass a psychological and medical exam, urine drug screen, and pre-employment background screening. Lenexa firefighters are required to establish residency to be able to report for work within 30 minutes within one year of hire.

STARTING SALARY for Firefighter is $40,653/yearly and starting salary for Paramedic is $44,718/yearly. Firefighter I and II certification training will be provided for successful paramedic candidates without these credentials. Competitive benefits package includes vision, dental, and health insurance; short-term disability; life insurance; state and city sponsored pension plans; and educational tuition reimbursement.

TO APPLY: Applications are only accepted online and must include both resume and minimum qualification certifications. All documents must be saved as a single record and submitted with the online application. The resume should include education and
credentials, as well as the previous ten years of employment history. Application packets must be submitted no later than May 31, by 5:00 p.m. C.D.T. Additional information and application assistance is available at:

City of Lenexa, Human Resources Department




KSFFA Conference Banquet

The hotel has requested we have our final number of attendees for the banquet to them by Wednesday, April 24th at 12:00 as they have to place the final food order Wednesday afternoon. Anyone attending the conference that would like additional banquet tickets need to notify the Salina Fire Department Conference Committee as soon as possible.
After noon on Wednesday, April 24th we cannot ensure that we will be able to provide any additional banquet tickets, therefore no access to the banquet on Friday, April 26th.
KSFFA conference attendees that would like to request additional banquet tickets, $30.00 each, ( may be paid for at the registration table), please contact Mark Grosland or Shane Pearson with the Salina Fire Department.
Salina Fire Department Administration, 785-826-73440

Job Opening – Firefighter/EMT – Northwest Consolidated Fire District

CLOSING DATE 5/31/2019
Job Title: Firefighter/EMT

NWCFD is establishing a hiring eligibility list for new Firefighter/EMT positions in 2019. Firefighters perform duties related to fire prevention, suppression, emergency rescue, basic life support, and first aid under emergency conditions frequently involving considerable danger. Employees in this classification work under the direct supervision of a Battalion Chief or Lieutenant and must adhere to rules and regulations for the safety of all persons. Training provides firefighters with general guidance to perform this position, and ongoing knowledge development/maintenance is required.

NWCFD offers a competitive benefit package including a health, dental, and vision insurance plan, Kansas Police and Fire (KP&F) defined-benefit Retirement System, eligibility to voluntarily participate in the supplemental State of Kansas KPERS 457 deferred compensation plan, paid vacation leave, paid sick leave, paid personal leave, paid holidays (x2.0 of regular wages on holidays worked; 12 hours on holidays not worked), and paid bereavement leave. Firefighters work a modified Berkeley shift schedule of alternating days of 24 hours on-duty and 24 hours off-duty for a total of three shift days over a five-day period. Firefighters are compensated with an overtime rate in accordance of the FLSA Section 7(k) exemption.

Annual Starting Earnings (Base; Excluding Overtime & Benefit Package):
$35,122 (Recruit)
$36,175 (Post-Probation in 1st Year)
Lateral pay will be considered for qualified candidates with previous full time experience.


● Must be 21 years or older
● Must possess a valid driver’s license with a safe driving record
● High School Diploma or equivalent
● Firefighter I and II Certifications
● Kansas (Transitioned) or National EMT Certification
● Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) Certification taken within the last 12 months
● Written Fire Service Entrance Exam (FSEE) with a score of 70 percent or better within the past two years
● The ability to pass a post offer physical, drug screen, and background investigation

NWCFD Employment Application and copies of Firefighter I & II, Kansas (Transitioned) OR National Registry EMT certifications, CPAT, and FSEE results must be included to be considered as a qualified candidate. Please submit all documents along with a NWCFD Employment Application (available at the address below or online at via mail or in-person at:

Northwest Consolidated Fire District
9745 Kill Creek Rd.
De Soto, KS 66018

Questions can be directed to Battalion Chief Brandon Shipman at (913) 585-0075 (M-F 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.).

An Equal Opportunity Employer


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Louisburg hires veteran fire official to be new chief

The Louisburg Fire Department has a new chief. And he is already well known in the community.

At its April 1 meeting, the Louisburg City Council endorsed Gerald Rittinghouse to be the new chief. Rittinghouse had served as an interim captain with the volunteer fire department while a search for former Fire Chief Paul Richards’ successor took place. Richards retired in fall 2018.

City Administrator Nathan Law said Friday, April 5, that Rittinghouse had accepted the position. The chief will begin his new duties April 23.

“We had a pretty good pool of qualified candidates,” Law said.

Rittinghouse stood out for his leadership capabilities, his 32 years of experience in firefighting service, and his familiarity with the Louisburg department — having been a volunteer with the department for a number of years, Law said.

Rittinghouse’s other professional experience includes serving 28 years at Johnson County Fire District No. 2 and four years of service with the Shawnee Rescue Squad. Chief Rittinghouse is credentialed as a Fire Officer by the University of Kansas. He also attended Hutchison Community College for his High Angle Rescue certification.

Louisburg has 21 volunteer firefighters which Rittinghouse praised for their professionalism and dedication.

“We’ve already made several changes since September,” Rittinghouse said of the interim between full-time chiefs. “One was changing some radio terminology.”

Rittinghouse said he thought Miami County commissioners made the right choice to hire a consultant to determine the best way to convert all the agencies in the county to a standard radio system. He said being able to communicate between departments is essential. The consultant’s review is ongoing.

Rittinghouse has been an avid off-road adventurer for numerous years. In his down time, the chief enjoys going to the Mark Twain National Forest (Missouri) or the Ouachita National Forest (Arkansas), he said.

Chief Rittinghouse said he is pleased to have this opportunity to lead the department. He said the public might not realize that about 85 percent of the fire department’s calls are for medical emergencies and vehicle accidents. Only about 15 percent are actually fire-related. But he emphasized understanding the proper way to handle each fire situation through training is an essential part of the job.

“We are committed to doing the right thing for community safety and firefighter safety,” Rittinghouse said. “We have an open concept, with firefighters out in the public to let them know we are here to protect them and to be sure every firefighter comes home.”


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Job Opening – Firefighter/Paramedic Paramedic/Student – Wellington Fire Dept

The Wellington Fire & EMS Department is accepting applications for Firefighter/Paramedic.  Applicants must be currently certified as a Paramedic or will complete Paramedic class in 2019.  Applicants must be a certified Firefighter I or the ability to obtain that certification within 12 months.   Applicants must attend a physical ability test or a current CPAT will be accepted.  Interviews and physical ability test will be scheduled shortly after the application deadline.   Starting annual salary for a paramedic is $42,041 this does not include FLSA overtime.

Wellington Fire & EMS employs 18 full time personnel, and two administrative staff.  The department responds on an average to 2000 EMS calls and 1300 fire calls annually.  Staff work 24 hour shifts and must reside within 20 miles of the fire station within 6 months.

The City of Wellington offers KP& F retirement, 10 paid holidays, vacation, Christmas savings plan, sick time incentive, health insurance and opportunities for overtime.

Apply and review the City of Wellington Firefighter/Paramedic position requirements, at    Application deadline is April 23rd, 2019 at 5:00 PM.

Contact Tim Hay at 620 326-7443 with any questions concerning this position.


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Former chief, others honored by Newton Fire/EMS

Retired Chief Jim Werries, left, Retired Capt. Leroy Dick, center and Darin Werries, right.

From left to right: Newton Fire/EMS Capt. Luke Edwards, Christina Lynn Mattingly, Jared Bergner, Darrell Graves, Aaron Wald and Vincent Quentin

A Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to retired Chief Jim Werries by retired Capt. Leroy Dyck at the annual Newton Fire/EMS Awards Reception held Thursday night.

Dyck met Werries in 1967 when he applied for a job at Metropolitan Ambulance, a subdivision of a private ambulance corporation headquartered in Wichita.

Werries was passionate about providing the best ambulance services possible, even with budget restrictions and older equipment.

“We personally paid for some plywood and made three backboards — the first three backboards in Harvey County,” Dyck said.

When the city of Newton created its own ambulance department on Jan. 1, 1970, Werries was put in charge.

“There were a lot of things that had to be done to make that happen … Werries was the man for the job,” Dyck said. “He was the right man at the right time.”

Werries’ attention to detail could be seen in every aspect, from the way sheets and blankets were folded to the clip-on ties ambulance personnel wore.

“Chief Werries was adamant that we acted professionally while on a call and the public noticed the difference,” Dyck said.

During inclement weather, Werries made sure the ambulance was washed after every call.

“We also had to make sure the tops of the ambulances were clean,” Dyck recalled. “His reasoning was that people in the second story could look down and see the top of the ambulance and if we had washed it or if it would be dirty.”

The ambulance station was also expected to be clean.

“I didn’t know this a long time, but he used to go around and place toothpicks along the walls to see if the floors were being mopped,” Dyck said.

Werries was instrumental in implementing radio systems, started the practice of taking blood pressure on the ambulance and was an early adopter of CPR.

When ambulance personnel ended up with more items than they could carry into a house to take care of a patient in their hands, Werries bought a vinyl suitcase from Alco.

“This became our first jump kit and it worked well for many years,” Dyck said.

Another step forward for Newton’s ambulance department came in 1973 when Dr. Frances Allen insisted on getting a defibrillator on board. Paying for the machine was the initial hurdle, but community support prevailed.

“The Lions Club undertook the project with gusto and we had one of the best pancake days we’d ever had,” Dyck said.

Since Werries and Dyck were the only two who were trained to use the defibrillator, they outfitted their personal cars with red lights and sirens to be able to respond to a call at any time.

“Newton Ambulance Department became the first service in the state of Kansas to provide advanced cardiac care,” Dyck said. ”…Field saves became routine.”

One day, investigative reporter Charlie Plimpton from KAKE in Wichita came up to find out how Newton’s ambulance service worked.

“While he was doing interviews in the station, we happened to receive a call for a Code Blue,” Dyck said.

Plimpton was allowed to ride along for the call, but was told he couldn’t go inside the house to film anything. Upon arriving, they found the patient collapsed outside and successfully used the defibrillator to revive him. The whole incident was shown on that night’s evening news.

On Jan. 1, 1997, Newton’s fire and ambulance departments were combined.

“A lot of credit for the fine Fire/EMS department that we have today goes to Chief Werries for speaking up for what was right back then,” Dyck said.

Other recognition given out at the awards reception included an Outstanding Achievement Award for Firefighter/Paramedic/Acting Officer Aaron Wald.

In 2013, Wald volunteered to be a bone marrow donor, hoping to be a match for a young girl in the community fighting cancer. Though he was not a match then, he received a call five years later.

“They informed him he was a match for a patient who needed a lifesaving stem cell and white blood cell donation,” said Capt. Luke Edwards.

Agreeing to go through with the donation, Wald flew to Portland in November 2018 for the testing and donation process, which included a series of painful injections.

“Words cannot accurately describe how highly personal and incredibly self-rewarding the experience was for me,” Wald said. “I would encourage everyone who meets the requirements to get on the registry. It’s quick, painless and, hopefully, can save a life.”

A Lifesaver Award was presented to Wald along with Jared Bergner, Vincent Quentin and Darrell Graves.

“On the morning of Aug. 25, we received a call for a patient experiencing chest pain,” Edwards said.

Christina Lynn Mattingly was loaded in the ambulance, with the crew intending to take her to a hospital in Wichita.

“Before they got a block down the road, the patient stated that she felt numb and she went unresponsive after that. When paramedics checked for a pulse, they did not find it,” Edwards said. “The patient had gone into cardiac arrest.”

Ambulance personnel began CPR and performed defibrillation until the patient regained consciousness. Mattingly later went on to regain full neurological function.

Division Chief Phil Beebe stated 2018 was a challenging year for Newton Fire/EMS because it was, at one point, short six positions.

“We found ourselves, most days, at minimum staffing,” Beebe said.

In Sept. 2018, five new recruits — Dylan Richardson, Joseph Stovall, Cole Sturgeon, Stephen Gay and Jake Lindenmeyer — were added to the roster.

“Over the past six months since they completed their rookie training academy, they have really stepped up,” Beebe said.

The newest firefighters have faced structure and grass fires, injury accidents and one particularly challenging commercial fire.

“They said they could hardly see in front of their faces, it was so dark and black in there, but yet they went in together as a team,” Beebe said.

Peivi Tauiliili was honored with a Preceptor Award for his work training Trevor Yoder, the most recent new hire at Newton Fire/EMS.

“Being a preceptor for a paramedics team is a huge time commitment and is absolutely worthy of recognition,” Beebe said.

Fire Marshal Gary Crittenden also recognized Bobby Johnson for completing fire investigation certification.

Newton Fire/EMS Chief Scott Metzler presented Deputy Chief Steve Roberson with the Excellence in Leadership Award.

″(Roberson) developed and administered multiple, simultaneous hiring processes in addition to managing the daily operations of a higher-liability organization. He also shepherded our members through a major transition as we moved all of our emergency reporting processes to a cloud-based platform,” Metzler said.

Roberson recently had his original research published by the U.S. Fire Administration and is currently enrolled in the Executive Fire Officer program at the National Fire Academy.

“When he graduates, (Roberson) will be among the top one-third of the top one percent of the United States’ fire service,” Metzler said.

Metzler also acknowledged those who were promoted within the past year, including Aaron Wald, Capt. Luke Edwards, Lt. Zac Lujano, Kevin Plenert, Bobby Johnson, Darrell Graves, Lucas McNally and Drew Couey.


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Enel Green donates $25,000 to Roxbury Fire Department

Mark Wiebe, Roxbury Fire Chief

Representatives from Enel Green Power presented the McPherson County Rural Fire District 6 Station in Roxbury with a $25,000 donation on Wednesday afternoon. The money went into a general fund that will likely go towards new communication equipment.

“McPherson County is updating their radio system,” Chief Mark Wiebe explained. “It is very likely the funds will be used for radios for our trucks and supportable radios for the firefighters…The ability to immediately interact with other firefighters and other departments is critical and the proper technology is expensive. These funds from Enel Green Power will provide cutting-edge communication equipment improving efficiency and potentially saving property and lives.”

The department is made up of 18 volunteer firefighters who serve the small town of Roxbury, 15 miles east of Lindsborg.

“It’s a fine group of volunteers interested in serving the community and helping out wherever they can,” Wiebe said.

Enel Green Power started construction on the Diamond Vista wind project in Marion and Dickinson counties in 2018. The 300-MW facility became one of six Enel Green projects in the state of Kansas, making it the largest wind power provider in Kansas. They are the leading owners of renewable energy plants in North America, with facilities in 24 of the United States and two Canadian provinces.

“We’re proud members of the Tampa and Roxbury communities,” said James Henderson, assistant site supervisor for Diamond Vista. “Enel Green Power is grateful to partner with these agencies to create shared value for our neighbors.”

The company has made a massive footprint in the state of Kansas with about 1,250 construction jobs and 210 full-time employment opportunities. That isn’t all, in addition, they entered into a partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Service to provide $8.5 million in support of research and preservation of tallgrass prairie in Kansas and have given approximately $300,000 to local education and scholarship programs.

This week they made small-town, public servants and community needs the recipients of their generosity. The $25,000 in Roxbury was part of a larger donation that included another $25,000 to the Tampa Fire Department and $5,000 to the Paul Gooding Memorial Library in Tampa.

“The donation was very much appreciated,” Wiebe said. “In a small department, we operate on a small budget. With trucks getting old and things needing to be replaced every donation is greatly appreciated.”


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Hazardous Materials Tech Training – Open for Enrollment

Hazardous Materials Training 06 03 2019 Flyer


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Brandon Lee Barbo

Brandon Lee Barbo, age 19, of Ulysses, Kansas, died Sunday, March 31, 2019, in rural Kearny County, Kansas. He was born January 18, 2000, in Ulysses, Kansas, the son of Benjamin and Jessica (Randolph) Barbo.

Brandon grew up in Ulysses and graduated from Ulysses High School in 2018, and was currently a student at Garden City Community College in Garden City, Kansas. He was active in theatre, music and tennis. Brandon’s life-long dream and greatest passion was to be a member of the US Army, Air Borne Division. He had joined the Grant County Fire Department and had plans to study fire science in college. Brandon enjoyed racing sprint cars, he had an unmatched sense of humor, loved his family and giving hugs. He had an inquisitive mind and was very knowledgeable about all wars. Brandon was a computer wiz and a master of video games. He had a natural talent playing the guitar.

Brandon is survived by his parents, Ben and Jessica Barbo of Ulysses; sister, LynDen Barbo of Ulysses; girlfriend, Skylynn Lane of Ulysses; grandparents, Tracy and James Byers of Balko, Oklahoma, Jeff and Nancy Randolph of Garden City, Kevin and Debra Barbo of Ulysses, Robin and Keith Dugan of Falcon, Colorado, Mike and Laurie Reid of Colorado Springs, Colorado; great-grandparents, Vic and Millie Barbo and Chuck and Mary Griffith; many aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Brandon is preceded in death by his great-grandparents Cliff and Joyce Randolph, Peggy Dailing, and Lee Crawford.

Memorial service will be Friday, April 5, 2019, at 10:00 AM at the Oasis Church in Ulysses with Pastor Garrett Gretz officiating. Memorial contributions may be given to National Epilepsy Foundation in care of Garnand Funeral Home, 405 W. Grant Ave, Ulysses, KS 67880.


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Structural PPE in the Wildland Environment

Significant attention and research has been given to the protective gear that a firefighter wears. Gear needs to provide a level of protection against the overall thermal environment and products of combustion. Additionally, the gear needs to provide abrasion protection, resistance to bloodborne pathogens, and a level of water and liquid repellency.

NFPA 1971: Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting (2013) establishes the minimum requirements for PPE. Firefighters have bemoaned the weight and isolative properties of modern PPE but have found it increasingly necessary due to the thermal environment within a modern structure fire. However, the very gear that is designed to protect the firefighter from the hostile environment of a structure fire also imposes a physiological burden.

Urban meets wildland

A project recently completed at Skidmore College’s First Responder Health & Safety Laboratory that was designed to evaluate the use of technology to monitor the physiologic impact of firefighting took an unanticipated twist related to the impact of heat stress. The research team, which included a number of fire service partners, worked with the Hanover Park, IL, Fire Department to test technology options in a “real-world” environment. The study, titled SMARTER—Science, Medicine And Research, Technology for Emergency Responders—had firefighters wearing physiological status monitoring (PSM) devices to capture their heart rate, activity and estimated core body temperature. The project was funded through a FEMA Assistance to Firefighter Grant Program (EMW-1015-FP-00731). (Learn more about the project in the Firehouse supplement “SMARTER: Advancing Health-Related Technology” at

When the research team partnered with Hanover Park to evaluate the usefulness of the PSM during fire department operations, it was implicitly assumed that the focus would be primarily on structural fires and other types of emergency incidents. The study did not anticipate evaluating responses to wildland firefighting. Hanover Park is a suburban department located in the Chicago metro area and rarely responds to wildland type incidents. However, 2017 proved to be different in that the department managed three fairly large wildland incidents early in their calendar year.

Since Hanover Park rarely handles these types of calls, personnel are issued structural PPE. Like many departments, the cost associated with the purchase of both structural PPE and wildland PPE is weighed against the number of responses in which the specialized gear would be needed. The physiologic findings discovered while personnel conducted wildland suppression efforts while being monitored, as part of the SMARTER study, provided valuable information that showed the need to reevaluate the cost/benefit equation.

Case review

This question of appropriate gear is not new. Departments for many years have wrestled to find the appropriate balance between the cost of providing specialized gear and the risk of excessive heat strain during wildland fires. This prolonged struggle has likely resulted in many heat stress-related illnesses and injuries, as fire departments have not been able to justify an additional set of gear.

One of these tragic incidents that highlights the seriousness of the decision about gear, and how long it has been a problem, occurred on Sept. 6, 1990, when 25-year-old Firefighter Todd David Colton of Sedgwick County, KS, Fire District 1, died in the line of duty due to heat stroke.1

Colton and his captain responded to a field fire caused by a resident burning trash. The ambient temperature at the time of the alarm was 95 degrees F with sustained, and sometimes gusting, winds between 17 and 28 mph. Colton wore full structural PPE that included a turnout coat and bunker pants. On arrival, he and his captain deployed and operated two 200-foot booster lines for nearly 60 minutes. The captain reported that the two continued working until they were both exhausted. The captain then told Colton to remove his PPE, get a drink of water and rest while he walked to the command post to discuss the incident with the responding assistant fire chief. 1

Due to several issues, commanders lost track of Colton and his body was later discovered in an unburned brush covered area, dressed in full PPE, approximately 4 hours after his arrival at the scene. The Sedgwick County Coroner ruled the cause of death to be heat stroke. Contributing factors listed were high ambient temperatures, high radiant heat, and the performance of heavy work while wearing PPE.1

Wildland situation

The question of how best to protect firefighters at wildland incidents is an especially timely matter as departments nationally are experiencing an increasing number of wildland fires. More specifically, wildland/urban interface (WUI) fires are more frequent and providing an increased challenge for firefighters equipped and accustomed to structural operations. Since 1990, 60 percent of all new homes have been built in areas considered WUI. The U.S. Forest Service identifies the WUI as “places where built structures abut or intermingle with undeveloped natural areas.” Over the last decade, the fire season has become 2½ months longer, and fires covering more than 10,000 acres are increasing.2

In addition to the challenge that many fire departments have with the WUI, many Midwestern and Great Plains departments experience significant agricultural field fires. These fires are often sparked by harvesting equipment and can produce substantial fire losses to expensive equipment and cash crops that are destroyed and will not ultimately reach market. Many departments that have historically viewed themselves as structural firefighters are now tasked with responding to these types of incidents. Statistics from the NFPA related to brush, grass and forest fires suggest that, nationally, departments respond to just over 900 of these types of incidents each day. In 76 percent of these incidents, they were managed by local fire departments requiring no assistance from state or federal forestry agencies.3

Physiologic findings

At the wildland incidents handled by Hanover Park, personnel responded wearing structural PPE. In addition to structural PPE, firefighters wore a base layer shirt manufactured by Globe or a strap that is equipped with Zephyr WASP (wearable advanced sensor platform) physiologic monitoring technology. Physiological status was captured using the WASP system and was transmitted to on-scene monitoring equipment.

During the first of the Hanover Park incidents, firefighters responded on Feb. 14, 2017, at 4:06 p.m. to a field fire in a county-owned forest preserve. Two companies were originally dispatched to this incident, an engine (three personnel) and a firefighter-paramedic ambulance (two personnel). They found fire quickly advancing over open vegetation driven by 18-mph winds. The ambient temperature was 45 degrees F with a humidity level of 56 percent.

Firefighters ranged in age from late-20s to late-30s, with the oldest responding member being the engine company lieutenant at 39 years old.

Data collected indicates that these responders had peak heart rates ranging from 159 to 205. These rates indicate that firefighters were at or near maximum heart rate at various times during the incident. Similar numbers have been seen during laboratory testing and are not overly concerning for personnel who are in good health and do not suffer from an underlying cardiac condition.

More concerning, however, was the high peak estimated core body temperatures. Core temperatures are estimated via the WASP technology by using a calculation developed by Dr. Mark Butler of the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine. Butler originally developed this algorithm using military personal. An important objective of the SMARTER project is to update and tone this algorithm to ensure that it accurately estimates core temperature responses in firefighting situations. The non-invasive assessment of core temperatures being readily available to incident commanders (ICs) has the potential to assist in fireground decision-making.

At this incident, estimated peak core temperatures for the initial attack firefighters were 103.1 degrees F, 102.2 degrees F, 101 degrees F and 99.28 degrees F (one WASP device malfunctioned, so no data is available for this firefighter).

A generally accepted standard for defining heat stroke is a core hyperthermia above 104 degrees F.4 We understand from prior laboratory research that even when firefighters are removed from the hot environment and their PPE is doffed, it is common for their core body temperatures to continue to rise. Taking this factor into account, it is easy to determine that firefighters responding to this incident were, at least in one case, very close to meeting the clinical definition of heat stroke. Additionally, of great importance is the fact that the ambient temperature at this incident was 45 degrees F. As the ambient temperature increases, the risk of heat-related illness increases dramatically.

Based on the availability of this real-time data, the IC made the decision to pull the firefighter with the highest estimated core body temperature and send him for immediate rest and hydration, which also included doffing of PPE. Note: It is understood that it is not always possible to remove a firefighter from an assignment based on physiological conditions, as they may be entrenched in duties that they can’t abandon, such as making a rescue, advancing and operating a hoseline, etc. In these situations, likely the best an IC can do is simply see that the firefighter is being stressed and give them additional resources to ease the workload.

Future gear considerations

The findings from this incident highlight the logic of having firefighters operate at wildland incidents wearing structural PPE when the overall thermal protection offered by these garments is not required and can be physiologically detrimental.

The cost associated with equipping and maintaining firefighters in current NFPA standard PPE is high and very challenging for many agencies. Many departments opt for structural PPE as their only source of protection since this reflects the majority of their fire work and because it provides maximal protection. They also require the usage of this same PPE for all other incidents requiring a level of protection, such as vehicle crashes, extrications, structural collapses, technical rescues, etc. The question is, does this make sense?

Within the Hanover Park Fire Department, the cost associated with wildland gear has not been justified due to the low number of wildland calls; however, as we considered the findings from SMARTER, we are beginning to question whether wildland gear could be used for other purposes that might be a modifier to the economic decision.

Based on this, Hanover Park and Skidmore are currently evaluating a wildland pant and coat (i.e., non-structural PPE) configuration that provides flash/abrasion/bloodborne pathogen protection. This study, approved by the Skidmore College Institutional Review Board (IRB) and funded by the Hanover Park Fire Department – Foreign Fire Tax Insurance Board, will allow us to compare the physiologic responses of firefighters working in structural PPE vs the non-structural gear.

Final thoughts

The financial impact associated with firefighters being issued two sets of PPE (one structural and one non-structural) may be cost-prohibitive for many jurisdictions. However, the corresponding reduction in heat-related illness/injuries and associated costs may contribute to an analysis for possible change. At this point, the change in PPE is a theory that requires additional research and analysis. Should our hypothesis prove to be correct and the lighter-weight gear provides a decrease in the negative impact of heat stress while still providing an acceptable level of protection, it has the potential to help solve this challenging dilemma and work to prevent incidents like the one befallen Sedgwick County and the Colton family.

In a statement remembering Firefighter Colton, the Sedgwick County Fire District website reads, “The best way we can honor Todd Colton and the Colton Family’s sacrifice is to take every possible step to keep the same accident from happening again.”5

The SMARTER team is using information gained from the project to make informed, data-driven recommendations about appropriate protection for fire service personnel.


1. Shults, R, Noonan, G, & Turner, N. “National Institute of Safety & Health—Firefighter Death Investigation(T.D. Colton).” HETA 90-0395-2121. 1991. Cincinnati, OH: NIOSH.

2. Weber, T. “Wildland-urban interface risks are increasing.” ISO Mitigation. 2016.

3. Ahrens, M. “Brush, Grass and Forest Fires.” NFPA – News and Research. 2018.

4. Mayo Clinic. “Heatstroke.” 2017.

5. Sedgwick County, Fire District 1 – In Memoriam. “Fallen Members.” 2018.


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Stipend program for volunteer first responders to move forward

The Riley County Commission on Monday supported moving forward with a first responder stipend program that would pay volunteer firefighters to provide improved basic life support coverage to the northern area of the county beginning in September.

The three commissioners said they would draft a motion and vote on the issue at a future meeting.

The program would provide all volunteer fire personnel with a stipend for each call they respond to. The county would pay $15 for a firefighter, $20 to a fire officer and $25 to basic life support providers and first responders. Paid fire staff members would not receive stipends.

With this program, Emergency Management Director Pat Collins said he believed it would help retain or attract volunteers, which the district has historically had struggles with.

Collins wrote in a report to the commission that some workers experience burnout, are busy with day jobs or move away for better pay or a full-time job. He wrote it is also time consuming and costly for first responders to maintain proper certifications and use their own vehicles to respond to calls, which they currently pay out-of-pocket.

Riley County Fire District 1 has an agreement with county EMS to help provide basic first response to emergency medical calls. In 2018, the district had 557 total calls for first responder services including 261 “unanswered” medical calls across the county, a record high.

It is the district’s policy to continue paging people until they have enough to mitigate emergencies, but Collins said they did not have available personnel to respond to those calls.

Collins said EMS and ambulance services eventually did respond, but with a delayed response time.

The average initial response time to medical calls in the northern area is more than 15 minutes. Collins wrote that the money will help reduce response time for medical calls to 10-15 minutes.

Commissioners tabled discussion on hiring one or more full-time employees with EMT and Kansas firefighter certifications who would help respond during the day when most volunteers are unavailable.


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
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