Hays residents displaced after Friday apartment complex fire

Hays Post – December 19, 2014

At 1:42 p.m. Friday, the Hays Fire Department, assisted by the Hays Police Department and Ellis County EMS, was dispatched to a building fire at 328 W. Ninth.

First arriving police officers reported smoke in the building and an injured person outside. On arrival, firefighters found an apartment on fire in a four-unit apartment building.

Firefighters placed two hoselines in operation to control the fire and check for fire spread. Ellis County EMS paramedics transported two persons to HaysMed and treated a third person at the scene.

The fire caused heavy damage to one apartment. The other apartments suffered smoke damage. The most probable cause of the fire was accidental but undetermined.

The Ellis County emergency manager reported 10 people were displaced by the fire. He arranged for the Red Cross to respond to assist these persons.

Five fire trucks and 22 firefighters responded.

The last fire crew left the scene at 3:56 p.m.

Guns and hoses exhibition

Abilene Reflector Chronicle – December 19, 2014

The Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum is proud to announce a new exhibition, Guns and Hoses, beginning Jan. 19, 2015 featuring photographs of the Police and Fire Departments.

There will be a number of photographs featuring the Abilene Police and Fire Departments throughout the years. The Studio Museum will be featuring artifacts on loan from the Dickinson County Historical Society, including Chief Engle’s badge and a hose cart.

In honor of the opening of this exhibit, the studio will be hosting an exhibit preview party. It will be offering beverages and hors d’oeuvres while you and your friends and family browse the new exhibit prior to opening day. The exhibit preview will begin at 5:00pm and continue until 8:00pm on Friday, January 16, 2015.

The studio ask to please make sure to stop by and enjoy the exhibit preview party at 5 p.m. on Jan. 16. The newest exhibit will officially open on the Jan. 19 and run through March 24. The museum hours are 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, and also other times by appointment.

Topeka firefighters make special Christmas donation at KNI

By Ann Bush
Topeka Capital Journal – December 19, 2014

Topeka fire Capt. Todd Harrison, center, and aparatus operator Robert Scott, right, Friday morning carry a television into Westwood house on the Kansas Neurological Institute campus. Photo by Ann Bush.

Topeka fire Capt. Todd Harrison, center, and aparatus operator Robert Scott, right, Friday morning carry a television into Westwood house on the Kansas Neurological Institute campus. Photo by Ann Bush.

Topeka firefighters and staff members pose for a photograph Friday morning with Kansas Neurological Institute staff members and clients in the Westwood home. Photo by Ann Bush.

Topeka firefighters and staff members pose for a photograph Friday morning with Kansas Neurological Institute staff members and clients in the Westwood home. Photo by Ann Bush.

Topeka firefighters — one dressed as Santa Claus — made a special stop at Kansas Neurological Institute on Friday to distribute gifts and holiday cheer.

Capt. Todd Harrison and apparatus operator Robert Scott from Station No. 5, 720 S.W. 21st St., smiled as they carried a large television into the Westwood home on the KNI campus.

“They look forward to it,” Larry McDowell, client training supervisor for KNI said of residents. “This is a joyful time for them.”

This is the third year Topeka firefighters, as well as administrators, have adopted residents of the Westwood home. However, the Topeka Fire Department has been adopting homes for at least nine years.

“We brought everything they had on their lists,” said Diane Bean, executive assistant to the fire chief. “We were able to do more this year than we have in the past thanks to the generosity of the firefighters and their families.”

There are seven men who live in Westwood, McDowell said.

Firefighters earlier this month had a holiday party — complete with a magician, food and Santa — for KNI residents. IAFF Local 83 and firefighters have been having the party for more than 30 years.

“The guys in the companies just care,” Bean said of the generosity.

Saying farewell

Leavenworth Times – December 19, 2014

leavenworth fire 12192014

Leavenworth Fire Chief Gary Birch jokes with Capt. Rich Jones, right, during a retirement reception Monday at Leavenworth Fire Station No. 1. Birch held a plaque that was presented to Jones during a retirement ceremony. Jones retired from the Leavenworth Fire Department after more than 26 years of service. Jones said it was a privilege to have served with the department for so many years. “There’s just a lot of good people here, very caring,” he said.

County 911 board addresses operations

By Jesse Murphy
Emporia Gazette – December 19, 2014

The Lyon County 911 governing board met on Thursday afternoon. County 911 director Bill Duggan and the board discussed arising issues with the radios, pagers and other communication concerns within the dispatch. Photo by Jesse Murphy.

The Lyon County 911 governing board met on Thursday afternoon. County 911 director Bill Duggan and the board discussed arising issues with the radios, pagers and other communication concerns within the dispatch. Photo by Jesse Murphy.

The Lyon County 911 Governing Board discussed communications issues at their meeting on Thursday.

One of the main concerns was over radio frequencies and the capacity of the current system to handle traffic.

Currently, outlying parts of the county use the same radio frequency in either the north or south end.

This means that dispatch will hear calls from multiple agencies about multiple events, without the ability to distinguish what units need to be sent to what location in situations that are located relatively close to each other within the county.

The problem is that with the dispatch consolidation that went into effect in October, multiple agencies have to relay to dispatch over the same channel.

This can cause confusion for law enforcement, emergency medical and firefighters, the latter being the biggest point of discussion on the topic during the meeting.

“You get a grass fire where you’ve got Miller and Reading out on one, then you’ve got Americus out on another,” 911 director Bill Duggan said. “Either they all end up on the same Lyon County North frequency or you can’t hear them. You can only hear one.”

Duggan said that he would like to see the situation resolved before the storm season begins, followed by the controlled burning of prairie grass.

The amount of traffic is not the issue, but to keep the agencies separate and organized.

Duggan said that an update to expand the current system would cost $75,000, while a completely new system would run around $200,000.

“From a financial aspect, you’re spending almost two-fifths to expand this system compared to the next generation,” Duggan said.

An even bigger setback is an anticipated change on state regulation for dispatch communications.

The deliberation in Topeka has been going on for over a year, but an official decision on what system is best is expected to come any time in the next six months to a year.

This fact made the board apprehensive to make a decision to spend money now on an update versus waiting to see what the state is going to require in the future.

The technology is complicated, and the board discussed different ways to make the county’s system more effective and efficient for the fire districts, sheriff’s department and emergency medical staff.

After the dispatch consolidation, growing pains were expected by all entities involved.

“You can’t avoid that, we brought two agencies together into one,” board member and EMT Brandon Beck said. “You’re going to have to expand that, how we budget, we’re going to have to look at that.”

No action was taken on the issue during the meeting, but it was decided that Duggan will continue to look into options.

One of those would be encumbering funds for a future overhaul of the entire system in anticipation of directives that come down from the state, an issue outside of the hands of Lyon County officials who are concerned with what’s best for local residents.

If they were to spend money now on a new system, a state decision could determine that the system, no matter how up-to-date, wouldn’t meet standards.

“My concern is that I’m uncomfortable with the idea that we just brought together a consolidated dispatch center that has exceeded its physical hardware capabilities for expansion,” Beck said. “We’ve gotta put this at the priority as far as expansion. Because I’d hate for our hands to be tied as far as capabilities as we move forward with this.”

Aside from the radios, repeaters and other equipment, the paging system in the county has its own problems that Duggan has been looking into and troubleshooting.

“They walked me through the system, they couldn’t find anything obvious with the settings, but it’s not working,” Duggan said. “I don’t have an answer yet, I’m not pleased with it, I don’t like how it’s working.

“I’ve got some good dispatchers that are still having paging issues, so I don’t think it’s a personnel issue. I’m still working on that.”

Overall, the consensus was that more information needs to be gather before the board makes the decision to approach the county commission with a request to overhaul or update the current system.

House destroyed by fire

By Sam Jack
Times Sentinel – November 20, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – December 19, 2014

Click on photo to view full-size image.

Click on photo to view full-size image.

A fire tore through the Garden Plain home of Randall and Joyce Leis this weekend. The blaze began around 11 a.m. Sunday and quickly became intensely destructive.

“We began investigating Sunday, and right now the cause is still under investigation,” said Sedgwick County Deputy Fire Marshal Bill Hinkle on Monday afternoon. “From the numbers that we were given, it was a $270,000 loss on the house and $100,000 loss on the contents.”

The Cheney Fire Department joined Sedgwick County Fire Stations 35 and 39 in converging on the Garnett Avenue fire. The crews had the conflagration under control within 45 minutes and had it entirely out in about four hours, according to Cheney Fire Chief Brad Ewy.

“The fire had already broken through the roof when we got there,” said Ewy. “Until we got it under control, it was a defensive fire. We didn’t put anybody inside because it had already broken through. Then it took some time to get the hot spots out.”

Fortunately, nobody was at home at the time of the blaze, and there were no injuries.

“People on the scene when we arrived told us that everyone was out,” said Ewy. “It’s nicest if the homeowner can make it back and check in. Otherwise we have to go and search, to make sure.”

Fire hydrants in the neighborhood were unusable, so fire crews relied on water they hauled in. Garden Plain water and wastewater supervisor Art Ward provided an explanation.

“We can’t supply the new-era fire trucks because when they hook onto a fire hydrant, their pumps will pull 1,500 gallons a minute. The fire hydrants work just fine, but they are only rated for 500 gallons a minute,” said Ward.

The suction on the system could have collapsed the city’s water mains, which are all made of plastic.

“I can’t take the chance of ruining mains in town to fight a fire,” said Ward. “The guy that I replaced told me to watch out for this issue. I’ve been here 10 years, and this is the first big house fire I’ve seen.”

Students at Garden Plain Elementary are participating in “hat day” fundraisers all week to support the affected family. Students are given leave to wear a hat to school in exchange for a small donation.

Ewy advised all homeowners to watch out for fire risks.

“Any resident, you’ve just got to watch your fire and candles. Candles are a leading house fire cause this time of year, around Christmas. It pays to just be careful,” said Ewy.

Fire destroys attic in Galena

By Jordan Zabel
Cherokee County News Advocate – December 3, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – December 19, 2014

Firefighters responded to a small house fire one block west of Derfelt Funeral Home, at 1118 Short Street, in Galena Tuesday night. The incident occurred at approximately 8 p.m. according to Fire Chief Bill Hall.

“I hate fires anymore, and you can quote me on that,” said Hall. “When I was in my 20s I looked forward to getting in there, but anymore I just hate to see it happen.”

“We see that a lot in houses that are as old as this one. We found that the family there was using a couple of space heaters to heat the house during the cold weather. These houses with old wiring just aren’t meant to push as much electricity as those space heaters use,” said Hall.

“We also noticed the house was insulated with cellulose insulation, and that stuff just smolders really bad. So we believe it was a combination of those factors,” Hall said.

The house is owned and rented out by Jerry and Peggy Derfelt, who were in Columbus the night of the fire. The family who occupies the residence was home at the time of the incident, but managed to all make it out in time and there were no injuries reported. Hall attributed the family’s safety to their quick response. He said they smelled smoke and called for help immediately.