LARNED — Marking the return of four experienced council members for another term in office, Larned City Attorney Ronald Smith administered the Oath of Office to Gary Rainbolt (Ward One), George Elmore (Ward Two), Jason Murray (Ward Three), and Sharon McGinness (Ward Four). The council then agreed to re-elect Councilman Dennis Wilson as president.
City Manager Brad Eilts recognized the efforts of two Larned firefighters who recently completed advanced training through the University of Kansas Fire Training Institute, acquiring Firefighter 1 certification.
“ Rachel Hill and Bill Jones worked hard to better themselves in order to be better prepared to serve the citizens of Larned,” he said.
Larned Fire Chief Randy Bird talked about the commitment required today to complete the program. The Larned Fire Department hosted the Firefighter 1 course in 2018, which was attended by firefighters from Larned, Rozel, Garfield, and Burdett fire departments and employees of the state hospital. They attended the four hour sessions every Monday night for six months, in addition to numerous Saturday sessions and more extra training. Six from Larned enrolled, and four completed the training. Two more are in the process of completing their national testing as Hill and Jones have, at which point they will receive national certification.
“When I took it 14 years ago, we only had three months of classes one night a week, and then you were done,” Bird said. “Now, there’s more testing, plus training in hazmats and more.”
Bird presented certificates to Hill and Jones.
“It takes a lot of dedication,” Bird said. “I wish we could have more of them sign up.”
Firefighters received compensation while they underwent training.
Councilman Jason Murray asked how many of the city’s firefighters had completed the training. According to Chief, 10 of the 20 on the roster have now completed FF1 and five have completed FF2.
The chief provided a brief update on efforts to increase the city’s ISO rating, which affects the premium charged for homeowner’s insurance. The city is striving to regain its ISO 4 rating. In 2018, land was cleared near the city dump for a fire fighting training facility, and hopes to install fencing and set a storage container on site to be used for controlled live burn training.
“Once that’s in place, we’re halfway there,” chief said. “Then, we can conduct fire schools and bring in the University of Kansas.
Having more certified firefighters on staff factors into grants a department may be eligible to receive, Bird said. It also plays into the ISO rating. Since then, the city has been working on making adjustments to bring it back up. Bird provided an update on what the city has been doing to raise its rating with the Insurance Services Office.
A few months ago, Bird, Eilts and Water Department Supervisor Josh Taylor attended a teleconference with representatives of ISO. They’ve determined the water department is already achieving a near-perfect score, but there is work to be done on the communications and the firefighter training sides of the puzzle. The city’s addition of a CAD system will help raise points for communications, and plans to create a firefighter training facility will go a long way towards fulfilling the training needs of the fire department.
“Building the facility alone will net 27 of the 40 points we need to raise our score to a .89 and bump us up to an ISO 4,” Bird said.
The city has already acquired and leveled land. Placing a storage container and installing a fence around it will provide the basics required for the facility. The department already has a few vehicles to use for extractions, and future improvements will include building a three-story tower out of power poles. Once that is done, the department will be able to conduct controlled live burns and will be eligible for the rest of the available points. At that point, all training can then be conducted on site.
The cost of the storage container is anticipated to be $2,000. Still to be determined is where the money to pay for it will come from. Sunday, the department held a fundraiser, and the funds could come from that, or it can come from the fire department’s budget.