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Saving lives: Kansas State University helps provide trucks, equipment for rural fire departments

Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016

Eric with trucks

Eric Ward, excess property manager and fire planning specialist with the Kansas Forest Service, stands in front of the rows of military vehicles that his department turns into fire trucks for rural fire departments.  | Download this photo.

 

MANHATTAN — Small Kansas communities are benefiting from a fire truck and equipment program offered through the Kansas Forest Service at Kansas State University.

The Kansas Forest Service, which is one of five state forestry agencies in the nation housed at a land-grant university, issues trucks and equipment through the Federal Excess Personal Property program and the FireFighter Property Program.

"These programs are a very good example of how K-State serves and engages with the citizens of Kansas," said Eric Ward, excess property manager and fire planning specialist with the Kansas Forest Service. "Along with free trucks, we provide screening, training and administrative oversight, so these programs embody Kansas State University's land-grand mission of providing direct service to Kansas citizens."

The forestry service receives used trucks and equipment from Fort Riley and other military sites, completes any necessary repairs, and issues them to departments in need of resources. It has provided fire trucks, rescue tools, protective clothing and medical equipment to communities across Kansas. Some of the communities receiving resources this year include Ashland, Beloit, Bennington, Conway Springs, Council Grove, Effingham, Fredonia, Gem, Girard, Horton, Marquette, Savonburg, Towanda, Wakefield, Waterville and many more.

About 50 trucks are issued by the Kansas Forest Service each year. Each truck would cost about $500,000-$600,000 if purchased new from a manufacturer. Ward said many small fire departments have annual budgets of $2,000-$3,000.

"Our programs give communities fire protection they wouldn't have otherwise," Ward said. "Larger towns have enough taxes to fund their equipment, but for a rural community with a limited tax base, these programs are often the difference between having a fire department or not."

The equipment is also potentially lifesaving for those who respond to emergency calls. The programs supply protective clothing and defibrillators, which are critical because heart attacks are one of the leading causes of death for firefighters.

"The cheapest defibrillators are about $1,500," Ward said. "We offer them for free because having one can make a life-or-death difference."

Fire departments qualify for the programs by submitting reports to the Office of the State Fire Marshal; completing a memorandum of agreement with the agency; and agreeing to paint the truck a non-military color and add a tank and pump within six months.

Ward said most fire departments are so grateful to receive any trucks or equipment that they fulfill those requirements immediately.

"The fire chiefs are very appreciative of the program," Ward said. "Some are repeat customers who come back to us over and over. Without this provision, they wouldn't be able to continue protecting their communities. Thanks to these programs, they can keep serving and protecting Kansas citizens for years to come."

The Kansas Forest Service is part of the horticulture and natural resources department in Kansas State University's College of Agriculture.

Source

Eric Ward
785-532-3307
eward@k-state.edu

News tip

Ashland, Beloit, Bennington, Conway Springs, Council Grove, Effingham, Fredonia, Gem, Girard, Horton, Marquette, Savonburg, Towanda, Wakefield and Waterville

Photos

Download the following photo.

Eric leaning on truck

Eric Ward, excess property manager and fire planning specialist with the Kansas Forest Service, leads a pair of programs that turn used military vehicles into fire trucks for rural fire departments.

Download the following photo.

Terry working on truck

Terry Fleming, equipment mechanic with the Kansas Forest Service, repairs an engine on a used military vehicle that will become a fire truck for a rural fire department.

Written by

Tiffany Roney
785-532-4486
troney@k-state.edu

At a glance

The Kansas Forest Service, which is housed at Kansas State University, provides trucks and equipment for rural fire departments.

Notable quote

"Our programs give communities fire protection they wouldn't have otherwise. Larger towns have enough taxes to fund their equipment, but for a rural community with a limited tax base, these programs are often the difference between having a fire department or not."

Eric Ward, excess property manager and fire planning specialist with the Kansas Forest Service