Fire District #1
Fire District #1 had many accomplishments in 2017 due to the combined efforts of the board of directors and command staff. I am extremely pleased with the efforts to continue to strive for improvement in service levels and equipment.
In January, three new firefighters were hired to better our staffing levels at all stations. An additional firefighter was hired due to the promotion of Battalion Chief Kirk Keller to Division Chief of training. This position was made a full-time position, as it is critical to ensure all firefighters receive the same training in both fire and EMS utilizing the most up-to-date technology. Additional promotions included Captain Mike Hirschman to Battalion Chief, Lieutenant Eric Kramer Captain and firefighter Adam Robinson to Lieutenant.
During the year we were awarded two grants, due to the efforts of Captain Pat Hultman and firefighter Andrew Dilda’s ability to write and research proper criteria. Firefighter Dilda worked on the grant from Firehouse Subs. The grant was used to purchase a UTV to be utilized in wildland fires as well as PR events. Captain Hultman landed a SAFER Grant which allows for the addition of three new firefighter positions. The grant pays salary and benefits at 75 percent for two years and a 25 percent for the third-year. The Fire District also received a donation from Waste Management.
Fire district’s board of directors approved the purchase of a new 3,000-gallon Tender to replace two aged tenders that held 1,600 gallons. The board also approved the purchase of a 550 ford four-door truck with a three-hundred-gallon tank with the capability of handling smaller fires as well as medical calls. This unit will be called a “Squad” and will be put into service during our peak times of medical calls. This vehicle can get around much easier than our engines. Both new units should be in service first quarter of 2018.
As your fire chief, the biggest news I can give is when it affects most of the district. I am proud to announce as of September the ISO rating for most of the district went from a 4 to a 2! This should effectively lower everyone’s insurance rates who are within 5 road miles of a station or 1,000 ft. of a fire hydrant. With a 1 being the lowest rating possible, there are over 500 fire departments in the state and 16 of them have a rating of two or lower – we are one of 16. I would like to thank publicly all the staff who worked hard on the mountain of information needed to achieve this rating; Assistant Chief Dennis Meyers, Administrative Services Mary Bush, Division Chief’s Jerry Holly and Kirk Keller, Battalion Chief’s Ken Phelps, Trig Morley and Mike Hirschmann.
All District #1 operations staff are trained to a Federal Wildland Firefighter Certification known as “Red Card”. We are the only department in Johnson County with this specialized certification. During the 2017 year, our wildland fire crew was deployed to Reno County to assist with the devastating fires in Kansas. They were also deployed to Montana and Oregon for a period of three weeks. During this time our team performed everything from front-line firefighting to house protection. The district is reimbursed for these wildland fire deployments.
In 2017, the fire district ran a total of 2560 calls for service, 1648 calls in Gardner, 251 calls in Edgerton, 351 calls in New Century, 244 calls in Johnson County and 66 calls for mutual aid. The average response time for all three cities was 3:40. The response time for the rest of the district was 7:06. Both response times are well within the national average and very near, if not the top of the county.
The fire district’s board of directors has worked with staff to not raise taxes and continue to increase the level of service with a vision of looking ahead at additional personnel, stations, and equipment needed to give our customers the best care we can.
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Residents benefit when FD#1 sees ISO rating drop from 4 to 2