South Hutch in need of volunteers to keep department alive

By Avery Anderson
KSN – April 24, 2017

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The future of South Hutchinson’s fire department is in jeopardy.

The number of volunteer firefighters is down, and the city needs more to keep the department running smoothly.

Even though South Hutch has a good track record of getting to fires and medical calls quickly, their volunteers are spread thin.

And now, to make matters worse, they don’t even have a fire chief.

It’s a job that’s exciting but demanding, and not everyone can do it.

“Volunteer firefighting is always a tricky game. It’s always a number game, you’re never quite sure who’s going to show up and when they’re going to show up,” stated Matt Stiles, South Hutch City Administrator.

The South Hutch Fire Department has 27 firefighters on the roster some part-time, but most are volunteer.

“We do have a lack of people who live locally that can respond in a quick manner, so that puts more pressure on the people that are here,” explained Stiles.

He says they make almost 400 calls each year, and 90% of them are medical. Though the average response time is 5 to 8 minutes, the city must find a way to bring in more people or merge with another department.

“We’ve talked about the Hutchinson fire contract situation, but the council has pretty much dismissed that as an option at this time. So we’re working on building up the volunteer base at this point,” stated Stiles.

Just this week, the city’s fire Chief, Matt Patterson resigned. KSN reached out to him and he did not want to talk on camera, but gave this statement:

“I really enjoyed working there. I think they’re going in a direction that I might not be fit for. I wish them all the best.”

Which now means, city officials are also forced to look for a new department leader.

“I’d like to see a full crew of volunteers, because if we have volunteers from your city they take pride in what they’re doing and they’ll make a great department like it used to be,” said Mayor Pete Murray.

Murray was a volunteer for South Hutch for 26 years, and says something has to change in how they recruit volunteers. Still, he’s optimistic.

“I think it’s going to smooth out and we’re going to have a great dept. again,” voiced Murray.

One solution the city council is discussing is building a new station where firefighters can stay, so they can be available around the clock.

A town hall meeting is scheduled for May 22, and the public is invited to come out at 7 p.m. in the community center, and learn more about the situation.

 

Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
http://www.ksffa.com
KSFFA’s Fire News Blog Home Page

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