Firefighters from across southwest Kansas visited Ellinwood this weekend to take part in free training from the Kansas State Firefighters Association. They spent most of Saturday in classes that included field training, and today they’ll step inside a specially equipped trailer for a “live-burn” exercise with thermal imaging equipment.
Ellinwood Fire Chief Chris Komarek said about 40 firefighters attended Saturday’s training, which included pumping exercises at Wolf Pond and search-and-rescue drills at an abandoned farmhouse. For the pumping exercise, they practiced setting up a 2,500-gallon portable tank, which can be filled with water from a tanker truck. That allows firefighters to pump water from the holding tank while the truck goes back for more water.
Ellinwood’s volunteer firefighters usually spend at least four hours a month in training, but the SKFFA’s services add another dimension to the training, Komarek said.
“It allows us to do some training that we normally don’t have available to us,” he said. Training props such as the live-burn trailer are a good example.
Leading the training was Doug Schmitt, assistant fire chief for the Riley County Fire Department and SKFFA trustee for the northeast region. The association offers free classes for firefighters at least one weekend a month, making sure to bring three schools to each of the state’s four regions during the year. A portion of Kansans’ fire insurance premiums pays for the training.
Any station can request to host a school, as Ellinwood did. The Claflin Fire Department plans to host one next February.