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JL Ellis, President
Kevin Flory, 1st Vice President
Shane Pearson, 2nd Vice President
Dan Romine, Treasurer
Ron Ewing, Southeast Trustee
Justin Couse, Northwest Trustee
Troy Wolf, Southwest Trustee
Governor declares Kansas Firefighter Day
On Aug. 13, 1887, a group of firefighters gathered at Minneapolis and organized the Kansas Firemen’s Association. The purpose of the association was to build friendship and camaraderie among firefighters from across Kansas.
For many years the primary mission was to hold competitions among firefighters. These competitions included events like ladder raises, hose coupling, hose cart races and the like.
“In those days firefighters had to travel mostly by rail to the annual event held in various communities across the state,” said Kansas State Firefighter’s Association Historian Sonny Ruff, of Logan. “It was a huge commitment of time and devotion to travel and compete.”
Over the years the fire service changed and so did the association, even to the point that it’s name changed to the Kansas State Firefighter’s Association, recognizing that it was not just the males that were firefighters any longer. The emphasis on events evolved as well.
“While the annual gatherings of the association were centered around competition, there was always an element of training in those events,” said KSFFA Present J.L. Ellis, of Colby.
“Starting in the 1930s, as firefighting became a more skill based occupation, the gatherings began to center around training firefighters to handle the challenges of a modern, industrial world,” Ellis said.
The modern Kansas State Firefighters Association continues its commitment to the “safety and education of the Kansas firefighter” by hosting regional fire schools each month. At these regional fire schools firefighters are trained in techniques for fire suppression, rescue operations, hazardous materials responses and a whole lot more. This training is free to those that attend.
Today the Kansas State Firefighters Association represents all firefighters in Kansas. It is estimated that there are nearly 16,000 firefighters in the state. The state association will celebrate its birthday at several events over the course of the next year.
The first celebration will be at the regional fire school August 11-12 in Tribune, where the Greeley County Fire Department will be host. The next celebration will be December 8-9 when the Minneapolis Fire Department will host a fire school in their community, bring the association back to its roots. Then in April 2013, the association’s 125th year celebration will move to Topeka for the annual conference of firefighters.
Governor Brownback signed the resolution July 26 with several members of the executive board of the KSFFA in attendance. In the resolution he urged that all Kansans join in the observation of Kansas Firefighter Day, recognizing the proud heritage of the association and recognizing it as “…pre-eminent fire service organization in the state…”
“This year has been a rough one for firefighters with the severe lack of rain,” said Ellis, “firefighting is similar in many ways today as it was in 1887. The fires are hotter, due to the increase use of synthetic materials, but equipment has improved and we are able to protect our firefighters better. Nevertheless the camaraderie that those pioneers wanted to encourage at Minneapolis 125 years ago is very much alive in the Kansas fire service of the 21st century.”