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.”


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
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