The Wichita Fire Department on Tuesday announced equipment and personnel improvements designed to improve service, enhance firefighter safety and maximize new and existing resources.
Fire Chief Ronald D. Blackwell said 10 new fire apparatus, nine new Pierce fire engines and a new ladder truck have been placed in-service at the City’s 22 fire stations. The new fire trucks will be dispersed throughout fire stations to replace an aging fleet. The department utilizes a replacement plan based on age, mileage and repair cost when determining how often replacement apparatus will be purchased, he added.
“The acquisition of the new apparatus will help insure the emergency services in our community remains at a high level,” Blackwell said. “The equipment and staffing investments are another demonstration of the City Council’s commitment to public safety.”
On Monday, 17 Fire Recruits launched their new careers as members of “Wichita’s Bravest” at the department’s Training Center. A federal SAFER grant - Staffing Apparatus For Emergency Response - was used to hire additional firefighters with preference for military veterans. The grant allows the department to fill six firefighter vacancies with federal assistance. The WFD worked with the International Association of Fire Fighters – Local 135 – to secure the funding. The new firefighters are expected to complete training by fall.
“Our local was very pleased to learn that the grant application was approved, working together with fire management on this important project will help make Wichita a more safe and secure community,” Matt Schulte, President of Local 135, said.
WFD officials also thanked those who contributed to the department’s request to acquire smoke alarms and batteries for distribution and installation in homes across the City. The department worked with area partners to acquire and install smoke alarms. So far this year, the department has installed smoke alarms in more than 200 homes. In 2013, Wichita experienced 11 fatalities in residential house fires.
“A working smoke alarm can save lives,” Blackwell said. “The generosity of those that assisted will certainly help reduce the number of fire incidents, injuries and deaths.”
For more information regarding smoke alarms and fire safety, please call 268-4441, visit www.wichita.gov
, or find the WFD on Facebook.