Archive for June, 2019

Robert “Bob” Harris

For nearly 50 years, Robert “Bob” Harris was the face of the Paola Fire Department.

Whenever a call came in to the old fire station attached to Paola City Hall, Harris was never far away. In fact, he usually was across the street, working at his business — Bob’s Automotive.

Harris would jump in a vehicle and head to the fire, possibly stopping briefly along the way to pick up a fellow firefighter such as Arlin Prothe or Dennis Hinman.

“The fire department was his life,” Hinman said. “Saturdays and Sundays, he was always on call. He always wanted to be the first one at a fire.”

Even after Harris retired in 2006, the fire department remained a part of his life. While fixing radios and refilling fire extinguishers out of his small shop on Silver Street, Harris would keep a close watch on the department he led for nearly five decades.

“He was still listening to the scanner up to a few days before he got ill,” Hinman said. “He kept a list, and when he heard a number he didn’t recognize, he would call and ask us which firefighter that was. He was always keeping track of the department.”

Members of that department have been in mourning since learning that Harris passed away Wednesday, June 19, at the age of 91.

Current fire chief Andy Martin said Harris’ legacy can be seen all throughout the department.

“He was the turning point of the fire department really getting into training,” Martin said.

Harris also fought in the early 1980s to get the first Hurst Rescue Tool, also known as the Jaws of Life, into the county.

“Hard saying how many dozens of lives he saved with that equipment,” Martin said. “We ran so many of those grinder calls back before the cars were as safe as they are now.”

Harris’ legacy also lives on in the everyday language of the Paola firefighters. To most firefighters across the country, the strategy of getting a hose spraying water onto a fire as quick as possible is known as “resetting” the fire. To Paola firefighters, the practice is called “Bob’n” the fire.

The procedure was affectionately named after the department’s former chief, who practiced it frequently.

“He’d get off a truck, pull a booster line out, stick it in a window and have the fire out before the other guys finished putting their gear on,” Martin said.

During a recent training class in Olathe, Martin said he remembers getting a curious look from the instructor after Martin was asked what he would do in the training scenario.

“Well, I’d ‘Bob’ that fire,” Martin remembers saying.

Harris joined the Paola Fire Department in 1957 and was promoted to chief in 1969. He was already a veteran when he recruited Prothe in 1971, Hinman in 1973 and countless others. He hired Martin in 1992 and eventually passed the torch to him upon retirement in 2006 after 49 years of service.

“He always did a good job,” Prothe said of his longtime chief.

A lot has changed over the years for the department, which has grown from a handful of volunteers to 28 trained firefighters, but Hinman said the department has always taken pride in protecting and serving the local community. That’s something Harris always made sure of.

“I remember he did a great job on the Hadlock Cabinet fire (1983), and we saved the house next door in the middle of a blizzard,” said Hinman, who recently received his 45-year service pin from the city of Paola. “We had a pretty good team.”

Crisis in the Streets – Fire Department Response to Homeless Individuals

Tuesday, July 9, 3 pm ET/12 pm PT
From veterans to migrants, homeless (unhoused) people are found in nearly every community in the United States—even when their presence may not be obvious.

Responding to unhoused individuals living in alternative situations such as encampments, streets or vacant structures poses significant challenges for responders, including fire and life-safety situations, responder safety threats and proliferation of communicable diseases. Such calls also add to an ever-increasing incident volume.

Join Lexipol to learn how two urban fire departments have evolved their deployment systems and programs to address these challenges and worked to improve safety for both firefighters and unhoused individuals.

You’ll learn:

  • Health and safety risks unhoused populations face, from fires in encampments to substance abuse and exposure to communicable diseases
  • Firefighter safety considerations when responding to calls involving unhoused people or encampments
  • Strategies and tactics fire departments have used to successfully mitigate risks to firefighters and improve quality of life for vulnerable populations

Presented by:

Billy Goldfeder
Deputy Chief
Loveland-Symmes (OH)
Fire Department
Alan Long
Division Chief
Anaheim (CA) Fire &
Brian Schaeffer
Chief of Department
Spokane (WA) Fire Department

Darrin Lee Briggs

Darrin Lee Briggs, Burlingame, died Saturday, June 15, 2019, at Stormont-Vail Hospital, Topeka, after an extended illness. He was 53.

He was born Feb. 18, 1966, at Topeka, the son of Dean and Lyla Rae Lieshman Briggs. He lived Scranton, and graduated from Santa Fe Trail High School in 1985. He attended Scranton United Methodist Church until its closure.

He joined Scranton Fire Department and worked as a volunteer firefighter for 30 years. During that time, he also volunteered with Burlingame Fire Department. He always enjoyed being a volunteer firefighter and was ready to go any time he got a call.

He coached little league baseball when his children played and totally enjoyed it. He attended all of his kids sporting events and never missed them. He loved cheering the kids on. He also enjoyed watching sporting events on television with his children.

He married Tina Morgan, Sept, 6, 1991. She survives of the home.

He was preceded in death by his parents; and a brother, Jimmy Briggs.

Besides his wife, he is survived by three children, Joshua Briggs and fiancé, Bree Coon, Topeka, Crystal Briggs, Burlingame, and Jordan Briggs, Burlingame; twin grandbabies, Hunter Dean Briggs and Carter Andrew Briggs, Burlingame; a nephew, Aaron Briggs and family, Pomona; and a niece, Christina Briggs and family, Lawrence.

A funeral service will be 1 p.m. Friday, June 21 at Burlingame Federated Church, Burlingame. Burial will follow at Burlingame Cemetery. Visitation will be 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Carey Funeral Home, where the family will greet friends and relatives 6 to 7 p.m.

Memorial contributions may be made Scranton Fire Department and sent in care of Carey Funeral Home, P.O. Box 196, Burlingame, KS 66413.

Manhattan Fire Department is hiring





Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
KSFFA’s Fire News Blog Home Page
KSFFA Facebook

KSFFA Regional Fire School – Galena – July 2019

KSFFA Regional Fire School
Hosted by Galena Fire Department
July 13 – 14, 2019
Location: Galena High School, 702 E 7th St, Galena, KS 66739


Saturday – 8 a.m.

  1. Vehicle Extrication (Bunker gear) – 12 hrs.
  2. Rural  Water Supply – 8 hrs.
  3. Engine Company Ops for Small Dept. – 8 hrs.
  4. KSFFA Skills Trailer (Bunker gear, SCBA) – 8 hrs
  5. Incident Safety Officer – 8 hrs.

Sunday – 8 a.m.

  1. Fire Behavior – 4 hrs.
  2. Lessons Learned – 4 hrs.
  3. Vehicle Extrication cont. – 4 hrs.
  4. Chief Officer Class – 4 hrs.

Sunday – NOON

  1. KSFFA Burn Trailer (Bunker gear, SCBA)

Contact Info: Galena Fire Chief Bill Hall 620-783-5404, or KSFFA SE Trustee Ron Ewing 620-366-5399,

  • These courses are offered at no charge.
  • These schools are open to all firefighters/EMS
  • The KSFFA furnishes medical insurance for all participants.
  • The KSFFA is not responsible for lost or damaged clothing or equipment.
  • If you desire to have Firefighter One or Two testing, this must be pre-registered through Kansas Fire & Rescue Training Institute.
  • The KSFFA offers fit testing with its porta-count machine at all regional fire school.


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
KSFFA’s Fire News Blog Home Page
KSFFA Facebook

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