February 12, 2018
Kansas Forest Service fire program coordinator to retire
Ross Hauck started his association with the volunteer fire service in Kansas in 1966, not as a fireman, but by building a fire engine. As a high school senior, he worked in the school agriculture shop to help build the first engine for the Miltonvale Fire District in southeast Cloud County. Following graduation in 1967, while farming and attending a local college, Hauck was an active member of that department.
When he and his wife Sharon moved to a township near Manhattan in 1972, the city of Manhattan provided fire protection, but in 1980 the residents needed to look for alternatives. Hauck was one of the key players that made the decision to join Riley County Fire District No. 1.
From 1971 to 2002, Hauck was a Kansas registered animal hospital technician, and many of those years were spent in the College of Veterinary Medicine at K-State. He always felt throughout most of adulthood he had a vocation and an avocation; his vocation being a technician and his avocation, his involvement in the fire service.
Completing his master's degree in adult education in 1984, he became the training officer for Riley County Fire Department No. 1, a job he enjoyed for the next several years. When he joined the fire department in 1980, he became the battalion chief for Station 15, a position he held until 2010.
In 2002, Hauck joined the Kansas Forest Service as a fire prevention specialist. In 2004, he moved into the program coordinator role, a position he has held until his retirement.
"There are many things I will miss when I leave," Hauck said. The Volunteer Fire Assistance grant program that he administered for most of his career at the Kansas Forest Service tops that list. "At the end of the day, if I helped a struggling department purchase a piece of equipment that kept fellow firefighters safe or suppress fire more effectively, it was good day."
He acknowledged that he will miss the phone calls and visits with firefighters across the state and acquaintances he has made across the nation.
"I want the K-State family to know that I have appreciated the opportunities afforded me throughout my career, both at the College of Vet Medicine and the Kansas Forest Service," Hauck said.
In retirement, he plans to spend time with family, enjoy his last years of eligibility on the RCFD No. 1, and watch his grandkids grow.
"There has been much growth in the fire program in the 15 years that I have been a part of it," Hauck said. "I'm leaving the program in very capable hands with many new opportunities on the horizon."
The Kansas Forest Service welcomes those wanting to join in the celebration of his service from 3-5 p.m. Friday, March 2, with a recognition at 4 p.m. at 2610 Claflin Road in Manhattan.