MIKE NAPOLITANO, GREAT BEND FIRE CHIEF
I was born and raised in Great Bend.
Wife with kids.
What drew you to this work/service?
Helping people is what drew me to this type of work.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I enjoy working with the people in this line of work.
How has it changed since you first began?
Equipment, training and procedures have changed a lot since I started in this line of work.
What changes do you anticipate in the next 5-10 years?
More advanced equipment and advanced training.
The Great Bend Fire Department performs many duties for the community, from fundraisers to saving lives.
These duties could not be performed without the proper training and a good leader at the helm.
Mike Napolitano has been the Fire Chief since 1998 for the Great Bend Fire Department.
He ensures that all his men receive the best training possible.
In 2015 a new way of training opened up for the firefighters of Great Bend.
The burn building that is located behind Fire Station 2 provides a way for firefighters to experience a real fire in real time.
“The burn building gives us a more realistic training, which allows us to do our job better.” Napolitano said.
The burn building provides:
• Live fire training – exposes firefighters to the true heat and smoke condition.
• Watch actual fire behavior.
• Confidence with personnel and equipment.
• Practice different types of coordinated fire attacks.
• Promote teamwork.
• Practice rescue of victims.
The burn building not only benefits Great Bend firefighters with training but other communities as well.
According to Napolitano, Hays, Ellsworth and Russell use the burn building for their training throughout the year.
It was used six times in 2015 and there are three training sessions already scheduled for this year.
GBFD history at a glance
1874 - Founded with a hand-drawn wagon, two dozen leather buckets and two 16’ ladders.
1876 - 20 volunteer men were chosen. Will Stokes appointed first fire chief.
1911 - First motorized fire truck purchased.
1924 - First pumping apparatus purchased (to boost water pressure in the fire hose).
1938 - Fire department moved out of City Hall, into its own building which is now the Police Department.
1949 - First paid men were hired, two men per 24 hour shift and one fire inspector.
1961 - Station 2 built at 5005 Broadway.
1966 - Ambulance services taken over by fire department.
1972 - Fire Station 1 opened at 1205 Williams.
1975 - Emergency Medical Technician established.
1985 - EMT defibrillators established.
1992 - EMT intermediate established.
1999 - Paramedic service offered.
2002 - Construction started on Fire Station 2 located at 5851 10th.
Currently the GBFD operates two manned stations located at 1205 Williams and 5851 10th and one unmanned station at the airport. GBFD provides fire protection for the city of Great Bend and approximately 20,000 Barton County residents in the following townships: Buffalo, Liberty, South Bend and Great Bend.
GBFD also provides EMS services to the city of Great Bend, six townships, city of Albert, and city of Pawnee Rock. GBFD has an agreement with all surrounding county agencies to provide or receive mutual aid upon request.
The GBFD took over the ambulance and transport service from the funeral homes in October 1966 with a 1955 and 1961 Ford station wagon.
Currently there are four ambulances with advance life support capabilities that operate out of two stations.