Answers to our most Frequently Asked Questions by our community
How are you currently staffed?
- There are 2 personnel on each shift, an EMT and a Paramedic. Both personnel are also certified Firefighters and with rare exception at least one is a Fire Officer. Crews work 24 hrs on and 48 off.
- There are currently 6 full-time employees, 11 part-time employees, 4 volunteers and a part-time office manager.
Why do you have so many officers?
- There are 6 Fire officers. The Fire Chief, one commander on each shift and two other Lieutenants. This is to ensure that there is always an officer in charge at all incidents.
Is there a policy or law that requires any specific number of personnel to man a fire truck for a response?
- There has never been a policy that requires at least 3 personnel to respond on a fire truck. There is also no law that requires any specific number to respond on a fire truck.
- We would love to have at least 3 and 4 would be best, but current staffing levels rarely permit that.
It has been rumored that it took us 23 minutes to respond to a car fire on 33 at third street. Is this true?
- The response to the car fire in question on 04-April took exactly 4 minutes and 37 seconds to get on scene from time of dispatch. This is documented at the Clinton County Communications and is recorded. We do not control how long it takes someone to call 911 or how long it takes to get dispatched.
If the duty crew is at a fire, who is available to staff the ambulance if it is needed elsewhere?
- We have an agreement with Tri-County Ambulance to send an ambulance to stand by at the scene of any structure fire in our district. This is for any injuries that occur at the fire, but also to cover our district in case of another ambulance call. If they are not available, we request an ambulance from somewhere else.
Why do we use Mutual Aid from other agencies such as Kearney or Lathrop to handle calls in our District?
- No fire department can safely conduct operations on a structure fire without mutual aid. We call Kearney, Smithville, or Lawson for trained, professional firefighters and Lathrop and Plattsburg for tankers, all depending on where the fire is. We also reciprocate that Mutual Aid by responding to fires in those jurisdictions. They are not running our calls but responding to help just as we do for them. We always give more mutual aid than we receive, every month. Liberty, Excelsior Springs, Kearney, even Kansas City need and use Mutual Aid for structure fires or Mass Casualty Incidents.
There used to be dozens of volunteers. What happened to them?
- Available time, health issues, aging, life changes and job changes are some of the reasons that there are not many volunteers. Many have moved away, experienced health issues, etc. Volunteers are in short supply nation-wide, and not just in the fire service. Ask anyone in volunteer service organizations such as the Rotary, Lion’s Club, Optimists, VFW, American Legion, School PTA, Little League coaching, scouting and even church organizations. Volunteerism is nearly non-existent everywhere. If we cannot get someone to volunteer to organize the Cannonball days, how do we get them to want to risk their life for free?
- ALL other fire Departments locally, in the county, state or country are critically short of volunteers. To say that they are not is simply not true. Plattsburg, a community of 2,300 people, cannot get volunteer firefighters. Like many fire departments, they must pay personnel to be present in the station and available for calls. It is not unusual for there to only be one or two firefighters available for a fire in Plattsburg in the daytime, and one of them is usually paid.
Do you turn volunteers away?
- We have not turned volunteers away unless they have a criminal history, a poor driving record, or live out of the area. We average 1-2 applications every year and lose 1-2 volunteer members every year.
Why do you have one of the highest tax levies for fire protection districts in the area?
- We have one of the highest tax levies in the Clinton County area because we have a manned station. Only Lawson compares to our organization as they are the only other manned fire and EMS organization (with a staffed ambulance). They have nearly the same levy we have but with twice the square miles and twice the population, but only about 10% of their district is in Clinton County. 60% is in Ray County, 30% in Clay County and 10% in Clinton County. This is why Lawson looks so low on the Clinton County Assessors’ list. Lawson’s total budget is over one million dollars, Kearney’s budget is more than twice that. You cannot compare us to any other Fire District in the area because they are all totally volunteer and do not have an ambulance available.
Why do you have two new ambulances?
- We have two ambulances that are identically equipped, and we rotate them between shifts to keep the mileage even. We have always had two ambulances. This way there is always a spare. These vehicles must be serviced and occasionally repaired. This ensures that there is an equipped ambulance ready to go. We do occasionally have both ambulances out at the same time on different calls or on a motor vehicle crash. If we only had one ambulance there would not be one available when the one was being serviced or repaired. Several times this year we had both ambulances out at the same time either on different calls or at the same call. We have part-time EMT and Paramedics that live in Holt or neighboring communities that come in and man the second ambulance, usually with the Chief, who is also a Paramedic.
Why did we ask for the bond issue and purchase new equipment in 2016?
- The old first-out ambulance was 16 years old with 100,000 miles on it. It broke down three times with a critically ill patient in the back and we had to call another ambulance to transport the patient while the ambulance had to be towed in for repairs. The reserve ambulance was 21 years old and in worse condition. The first-out fire engine was also 16 years old and had to be towed into the shop twice from calls. It also failed to pump water at a fire due to a small 16-year-old micro switch in the transmission. The tanker was a poorly converted third-hand army surplus truck that all but two people refused to drive because it was unsafe, and it was completely unreliable.
- You cannot have 20 or 30-year-old ambulances or fire equipment to protect your community and respond to your emergencies. They must start quickly, be reliable and operate efficiently every time.