Happy Summer, Missouri Fire Service. When we use that word, Summer, as a first responder there are some things we need to remember: stay hydrated, take frequent breaks, stay out of the sun when possible, wear sunscreen, and use common sense while working in the sun.
It is with a heavy heart that I continue the next portion of my article.
On Monday, May 29, we had our first line of duty death in Missouri. Firefighter Jesse W. Ketchum of the Memphis City Fire Department was responding on a mutual aid fire call. Firefighter Ketchum was driving a pumper truck en route to the fire when it overturned killing Jesse. We at the Division of Fire Safety and the Missouri fire service extend our continued support to his wife Jenna and their four children, Zada, Cora, Rhet, and Kruz. Let’s keep them in our thoughts and prayers please.
I was very proud to see all the support from the area fire department’s that rallied around the Memphis Fire Department. Fire Chief Jimmy Winn expressed how grateful and appreciative for all the phone calls, cards, along with the show of support the day of the funeral. There were two neighboring states that attended, law enforcement, EMT’s, and a very strong showing of community support. Let’s keep this department in your prayers going forward.
On Monday, June 19, a second line of duty death struck our state. Firefighter Jeffery M. Sanders and Firefighter Joseph Hayward from the Mayview Fire Protection District responded to a downed power-line emergency. They had the response vehicle sitting in the roadway to keep traffic stopped. While working the incident, a private vehicle crashed into the rear of another private vehicle that was stopped behind the response vehicle. This caused the response vehicle to strike the two firefighters who were nearby, trapping them underneath, as it went down an embankment and finally stopped. Firefighter Sanders was pronounced dead at the scene, while Firefighter Hayward was air lifted to Research Medical Center in Kansas City.
Jeffery is survived by his wife Connie, Daughter Samantha “Sammi” Burroughs, and Son Tyler Sanders. Let’s continue to keep this family in our prayers, along with Firefighter Hayward.
Fire Chief Kris White along with the entire Mayview Fire Protection District wanted to thank the Missouri fire service for all the words of encouragement, the attendance at visitation, and the strong showing at the funeral. Please keep Chief White and the Mayview FPD in your prayers in the weeks to come.
I want to thank the Missouri Fire Service Funeral Assistance Team for doing an outstanding job working behind the scenes during these two tragedies. Your many hours of service were much appreciated. If you are interested in becoming a member of this great team go to: www.mofirefuneral.org or call 888-491-4357.
The training division published an online survey, with over 1,426 participating. We are working on collecting the data from the survey which will be used to understand what direction we need to go to develop a firefighter standard.
I am encouraged by what I am hearing across our state from you on establishing a definition of what a Missouri firefighter might look like. I don’t want to get into the weeds with this, but… if you google the definition of what a “Missouri Firefighter” is, you will found the following, ____________ nothing!
Let me ask a question? If we have an event within our state, and you call us through the fire mutual aid system and ask for 100 firefighters what do you get? Do you get someone with twenty years of experience or two days of experience? The answer is yes, to both. Wouldn’t it make sense if we set a firefighter standard, so when you have that situation you would know what level of training that individual brings to you? We can do this as the Missouri fire service. Please help us get this right, your input is very valuable to us. Please contact us by email, phone, text, or come by the thirteenth floor.
To keep you informed about the Worker’s Compensation Grants Program, which is available to Volunteer Fire Departments that do not receive any tax base funding, it is still on hold. The new FY2018 budget has now been signed, but unfortunately this issue did not get funded. We will keep aggressively pursuing this for you.
The Fire Education Commission met in June. They spent two days listening to the state training partners solicit for the $650,000 dollars appropriated for state training. We are excited to say that the training education money was funded in the signed budget. Watch for upcoming training across our state.
I had the opportunity to visit MU FRTI’s 85th Annual Summer Fire School here in Jefferson City. Congratulations to MU FRTI for your vision to educate and train firefighters for all these years. You have set the bar high and continued to bring a great product across our state year in and year out! We look forward to 85 more!
We have established a date for our 45th anniversary celebration of the Division of Fire Safety. Mark October 25, at 1:00 p.m., here on the thirteenth floor on your calendar. Our plans are to have as many of the previous employees attend, with snacks, and good fellowship.
Another date you need to put on your calendar is September 10, 2017. This will be our first annual Missouri State Fire Marshal Stair Climb. Kim Fitzsimmons, the event organizer, and the division are working hard on making this a special event. There will be several door prizes, and drawings. Governor Greitens has tentatively committed to attending and climbing. This climb is to ensure the fallen firefighters from September 11 are never forgotten. The proceeds from the event go to support the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation. This organization is who supports us during a line of duty death. Go to http://events.firehero.org/jeffersoncity and register. I will be climbing along with other division members.
We will be working on legislative issues the month of July. If you have any legislative issues you would like for us to work on for you, please call or drop us an email. I would strongly encourage you to get to know your local representative and senator. They work for you and take great value in hearing from you, while they represent you here in Jefferson City.
Beginning July 1, 2017, Steve Grass will become the Deputy Chief of the Arson Investigative Unit. Steve retired from the Missouri State Highway Patrol. He comes with over thirty years of experience in the police and fire service. We are excited for him to be joining our team. We also promoted Scott Stoneberger and Jason Dunn as Regional Chiefs. They began their duties the first of June, and have hit the ground running. Robin Reynolds was also recently promoted to Executive One over the administrative duties for the investigative unit. Congratulations to each of you.
I would like to take a moment to recognize a recent retirement. In 1961 the Missouri fire service had a young man arrive on scene, and 56 years later he retires. This man joined the Bell City Volunteer Fire Department, as a junior in high school. He headed to college and formed a College Fire and Rescue Squad at Central Methodist College in Fayette, Missouri, and was chief until he graduated in 1966. While in college he also put in time at the State Fair Fire Department and ultimately became a captain. He worked as a captain on a 21’ jet fire boat at the Lake of the Ozarks. He entered the Navy flight program and put in five years of active duty, in which he was engaged in firefighter training which was required of aviation personnel. He served on the Waynesville Fire Department, for 3½ years as assistant chief and briefly served as chief until he moved to his final destination of Marble Hill. He joined Marble Hill Fire Department in 1975 and became chief in 1976. He has served on the Fire Safety Advisory Board, as an adjunct instructor for MU FRTI, as an EMT, the Bollinger County Emergency Management Director, and also taught for Southeast Missouri University Law Enforcement Academy. In his “spare time” he served thirty-six years as a State Farm agent. Throughout his career, he not only trained people, but trained side by side with firefighters throughout this state and beyond. Jim Bollinger, you are an amazing force in this state and we thank you for everything you have done for the Missouri Fire Service. They just don’t make them like you anymore. God bless you and happy trails my friend. Enjoy your much deserved retirement!
In closing thanks for all your support to the Division of Fire Safety. Remember we are here to service you. Come visit us on the thirteenth Floor, and join us on Facebook.
J. Tim Bean,
State Fire Marshal