Hello Kansas Fire Service. Hopefully this finds you all doing well. Spring has sprung and so has wildland fire season in many parts of the state. In several parts of the state, our partners in the National Weather Service have recognized the importance of public information about grass fires and are working towards more proactive issuance of Red Flag warnings when the criteria meets it, and pushing that information out to our media partners. Public information is key. I have seen several instances already where homes have been damaged by wildland fires in our state this year. One resource that we often overlook in the fire service is the NFPA. They have a program called Firewise. This program is full of free material and information that we can use to distribute to our communities to help reduce wildfire risks. Specifically, it has resources about helping homeowners create defensible space around their homes. As we have seen already this year, it does not matter if it is a rural area or a metropolitan area, the risk is the same. I know in my home area, we had Kansas Forest Service come in and do a survey of our area and we identified several areas within the metropolitan area of Topeka that area considered high risk for wildfire. Contact Ross Hauck or Eric Ward at Kansas Forest Service for more information.
Legislatively, we have been pretty fortunate so far. No big issues have popped up as most of the focus has been on budget and school finance. We continue to diligently watch for any issues that may pop up. One trend that we have noticed over the last couple of sessions is that many times, local governing bodies are turning to the legislature to solve local fire department issues. This is problematic because several times, those local issue bills have been introduced and have unintended consequences on many other areas of the state. It leads to the potential of 105 different ways of things being done and no consistency in application across the state. I mention this to ask that you all, as the members of the Kansas Fire service, ask your local elected officials to do their jobs. Instead of passing the responsibility up to the legislature, try to persuade them to handle it locally. This is truly the best place for those type of issues to be dealt with. Sometimes it may be unpleasant or politically unpopular, but its best if that local governing body can deal with their own issues, without outside intervention.
Finally, I would like to invite you all to attend the 128th annual conference being hosted by Sedgwick County Fire District #1 in Wichita, Kansas on April 28th to the 30th. The host department has done an excellent job of putting together an informative and exciting schedule. Remember this is your chance as members of our association to discuss with others the direction you want this association to go and bring up in committee, your issues that you want considered by the membership. It is my intention as President, to put more emphasis on those committees and the work they do. I will ask that those committees meet more often through the year to help do the business of this association. I also have asked the Riley County Fire Department to look at how they setup the 2017 conference to help us get to more of a focus on training at our venues. I would expect to hear some feedback from those of you in attendance this year on what you would like to see or not see at our future conferences. Those ideas can be forwarded to the suggestions committee.
Let’s all remember that this is your association. The membership gives the executive board the direction and input that drives where we go through committee reports and floor discussion. Participation is the way to have your voice heard. Not participating, and later complaining about action taken, is no one’s fault but your own. We look forward to seeing you all in April in Wichita. Stay safe out there this spring season!
Kevin Flory, President
220 NW Lyman Rd #8685
Topeka, KS 66608