Twenty-five years ago, November 29, 1988, six Kansas City firefighters gave the ultimate sacrifice, their lives while serving the citizens of Kansas City. The incident occurred at a construction site near U.S. 71 and 87th Street during the early morning hours of November 29th. Two construction trailers were on fire when crews arrived, but unknown to them was the contents of the trailers, ammonium nitrate and fuel oil. The resulting explosion was heard 40 miles away. Although tragic, this incident had a positive national impact causing states to review and draft code changes relating to storage of hazardous materials so as to avoid such similar incidents. This too resulted in the development of Kansas City Fire Hazmat Response Team.
- Captain Gerald Halloran
- Firefighter Thomas Fry
- Firefighter Luther Hurd
- Captain James Kilventon, Jr.
- Firefighter Robert McKarnin
- Firefighter Michael Oldham
We shall never forget the sacrifices of our fallen comrades and to validate this commitment, a tribute was held at the incident site on November 29th. Located on-site is a Local 30/41 Firefighter’s Memorial honoring those who gave their lives on that day twenty-five years ago.
This legislative session started January 8th and there are already a few legislative proposals we are following.
- HB1077 – changes to burn ban law that passed in 2013. This bill would remove the State Fire Marshal’s Office from consultation with county commissions when establishing a county burn ban. In addition, the bill would not allow the discharge of any fireworks during a burn ban.
- HB1137 – adds additional daycare facilities required to be state licensed. This would increase the number of fire safety inspections conducted by State Fire Marshal’s Office.
- SB561 – establishes a state permitting process for fireworks hobby manufacturers for the sole purpose of personal use. Prohibits the hobby manufacturer from selling or distributing fireworks.
Efforts to explore possible options related to escalating worker’s compensation premiums are still at the top of our list. In January, I will be meeting with officials from Division of Insurance, Division of Worker’s Compensation and Department of Public Safety to discuss the issue. As we all know there are two main insurance carriers who write worker’s compensation policies. We are learning that the companies underwriting staff are targeting the elevated risks when evaluating volunteer firefighter claim frequencies. The lack of mandatory training requirements, as a general rule, and health related issues are contributing factors when evaluating premium costs. Reducing costs may lie directly in the hands of the fire service and an evaluation of potential changes may be needed to adequately address premium costs over a period of time. I will keep you updated as we continue to move forward with discussions. Worker’s compensation insurance, along with the Affordable Health Care Act, are definitely issues to watch which may impact Missouri’s fire service.
Through a Department of Energy grant the Clean Cities Coalitions in Kansas City and St. Louis will soon be scheduling two free train-the-trainer workshops in the St. Louis and Springfield areas dealing with alternative fuels for first responders. The training will include bio-diesel, hybrid, ethanol, LP gas and natural gas. The Division will forward dates and locations as the workshops are scheduled.
When it comes to statistics, preventive measures and efforts are nearly impossible to measure. This would hold true with The “Move Over” law that passed a few years ago. There is no doubt this is and continues to be a valuable tool in the prevention of injuries and deaths to our emergency responders working various roadway incidents. Keep in mind the law is simply a tool, just as is training on best practices when dealing with roadway emergencies. When I identify quality no-cost readily available training I definitely feel the need to pass the information on to you as an end user. Below is a link to emergency responder safety online training available at no cost. If this raises the level of awareness to inherent dangers when working roadside emergencies and prevents a responder from being injured, then it was well worth passing the information along. This is not in any manner an endorsement; it is simply passing no-cost training opportunities along to you: http://learning.respondersafety.com/Services.aspx
SAVE THE DATE: April 22, 2014 — Fire Fighter’s Day at the State Capitol
In conjunction with Fire Fighter’s Day, I have invited the various training vendors who contract with the Division and Fire Safety Education/Advisory Commission to be exhibitors at the event. This should be an excellent opportunity to raise the level of awareness for our legislators and to thank them for past and future funding support of firefighter training.
On January 11, 2014 Division staff presented life saving certificates on my behalf to three citizens and an off-duty Potosi firefighter for their brave efforts in relation to a pickup truck accident which resulted in a fire. On October 28, 2013 a single vehicle accident occurred near Potosi on Highway 21. The truck left the roadway and struck a tree head on resulting in the engine compartment catching fire. Witnesses Ashley Jenkins, Aaron Fitzgerald, Bob Agers and off-duty firefighter Randy Eaton stopped to assist. Due to the damage, the vehicle doors could not be opened with the driver trapped in the burning vehicle.
A shovel lying in the back of the truck’s bed was then used to break out the truck’s back window. The driver’s foot was stuck beneath the brake pedal and his seat belt stuck as the fire began to spread into the interior cab area. The three men were ultimately able to pull the driver from the front seat through the rear door of the extended cab truck and extinguish flames on the driver’s pants leg. Ashley, a nursing student, continued to care for the driver until additional firefighters and medical personnel arrived. The driver suffered multiple fractured ribs, broken vertebrae, bruised lungs, head and facial lacerations. After being admitted to ICU trauma unit his breathing all but stopped and was then placed on a ventilator. After two weeks in ICU he was transferred to a step down unit and eventually released. Today, the victim continues to recover with minor pain from rib fractures. There is no doubt had it not been for these individuals the driver most likely would not have survived. Congratulations to all for a successful outcome!
In December and January the Division recognized two deputy chiefs for their service to the State of Missouri. Deputy Chief Gary Scriber with our Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspection Program announced his retirement after ten years with the Division. The level of Gary’s experience and knowledge of the boiler and pressure vessel codes will definitely be a loss to the Division, but we wish him well in his new endeavors at the national level. In January Deputy Chief Ron Thompson with our Fire Safety Inspection Program tenured his resignation due to a job offer as Fire Chief of the Grand Colorado Fire Protection District in Granby, Colorado. During his short tenure with the Division Ron was a tremendous asset to the inspection program and he too will be a challenge to replace. Thanks to both Gary and Ron for their years of service and positive impact to the Division and the citizens of our State.
I along with Division staff look forward to working with you in 2014 and excited about our continued efforts to support and move Missouri’s fire service in a positive direction. We cannot do this alone; we need your input and feedback on issues you are facing as well as emerging issues.