Eudora Fire Department

2014_05_08_Semi_fireA semi-truck caught fire late Wednesday night near the HP Pelzer facility in the East Hills Business Park. (photo courtesy the Eudora Public Works and Police Departments)  

Eudora News and Informationwww.eudorareporter.com

Eudora Emergency crews were called to the scene of a semi-tractor fire late Wednesday night in Eudora.  According to Eudora Fire Chief Ken Keiter, the fire erupted just before midnight in a truck that was leaving the HP Pelzer facility with scrap materials from the the manufacture of floor mats. The HP Pelzer facility in Eudora produces molded urethane foam backed automotive floor carpets.

Keiter said that when crews arrived on the scene, they initially thought the building itself was on fire, but quickly determined that the fire was confined to a semi just off the property.

“After they saw it was a semi fire, it was determined that the City and Township Fire Departments would be able to handle the situation,” Keiter said. “We had a master stream to knock down the larger parts of the fire and then used hand lines to try and get it under control until Public Works could get here with the high loader to help us out.”

To put out the fire, crews from the City had to tear off the side wall of the trailer and empty the contents onto the street so that it could be completely extinguished. Keiter said that the scrap materials, which contained mainly carpeting and rubber, were bailed together and compacted causing extra difficulty in putting out the fire.

“For a deep seeded fire like this, we had to use foam to make sure it was all the way out,” Keiter stated.  Crews had the fire under control around 1:00 AM.

Keiter added that once the blaze was extinguished, Public Works crews moved the materials off of the roadway and made sure the street would be open to traffic. He said state fire investigators would be on scene today to try and determine a cause of the fire.  Keiter did not indicate there were any injuries to the truck driver or any crews involved.

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Eudora News & Information ~ www.eudorareporter.com

Ken Keiter has been the Eudora fire chief for just over a year.  He celebrated his first anniversary by fighting three house fires, one in Eudora and two in nearby rural areas, in just eight days during January’s most frigid weather.  It’s not a job for the faint of heart, but it’s one that Chief Keiter loves.

Keiter, 52, started out as a volunteer firefighter in Gardner in 1980.  The following year he began working for the Olathe Fire Department where he spent the next 31 years of his career.  He retired last year.

Retirement didn’t set will with Keiter, and after just nine months he began looking for a chief position.  One opened up in Eudora at just the right time and he got the job.

“When you’ve done something like being a fire fighter for that long, it’s amazingly difficult to stop,” explained Keiter.  “It’s in your blood.  I’ve done a 360—I started out as a volunteer and now I’m chief of a volunteer department.”

And he couldn’t be happier about it.  Keiter began his job in Eudora while the new Public Safety Building, which houses the Eudora Fire Department, was under construction.  He is very pleased with the facility and its amenities, and is grateful that the community is so supportive of the department.

Being the fire chief of a town, even a small one, is a big job.  It’s not unlike running a business. He is responsible for the overall coordination and management of the department. Chief Keiter coordinates training and scheduling of the 24 volunteers and employees, orders necessary supplies and medical equipment and makes sure that the trucks are maintained.  He does strategic planning to achieve the goals the city wants to accomplish while anticipating the growth of Eudora so that future demands are met.

“We provide the best possible service we can,” stated Keiter.

The fires he and his team have fought recently have been grueling.  With temperatures hovering around zero, the spray from the hoses froze on the firemen and their gear, making everything heavier and heavier.  It made it hard to move or bend.  He described it as feeling like the tin man in the Wizard of Oz but without a can of oil.  Fighting fires in extreme heat and humidity is equally difficult.  But the Eudora firefighters do it without complaint, and Chief Keiter is amazed at the dedication and hard work of his people.

Keiter and his team do other things besides fight fires.  Recently they gave an AED (automated external defibrillator) training class for a group of seniors at the Recreation Center.  Because of a grant from LMH, they’ve been able to install 70 carbon monoxide detectors in Eudora homes at no charge to the homeowner.  Chief Keiter has applied for another grant to continue the program which he hopes will someday include smoke detectors as well as the ones for carbon monoxide.

The biggest fire danger in homes according to the fire chief is improper use of space heaters, and all three of the recent home fires involved a heating device.

“Space heaters need space,” said Keiter.

Fires often start when flammable items are too close to a heater.  Chimney fires are another concern.  Because creosote can build up in a chimney over time and cause a quick and dangerous fire, he recommends having chimneys checked and cleaned regularly.  Keiter said that the best fire prevention of all is to have smoke detectors throughout the house, check the batteries monthly and replace batteries yearly.

Chief Keiter hopes to grow the department to 30 firefighters soon.  The department has had a good response to its search for new volunteers and has more applications than they have open positions.

Right now Keiter and his wife Liz still live in Olathe, but they are hoping to move to Eudora.  They have two grown children, a son, 26, and a daughter, 24.

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City hall parking lotCrews thoroughly search a truck looking for a missing child that was reported Wednesday evening in Eudora (photo by eudorareporter.com editor John Schulz)

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Eudora City Police and Fire crews were called to the north parking lot of Eudora City Hall on Wednesday evening around 6:00 PM when officials received a report of a child stuck in a pickup truck in the parking lot.

Crews from Eudora, Lawrence and the Douglas County Sherriff’s office responded to the incident.  The driver of the truck had reportedly to officials that he had picked up a youth approximately 30 miles away who was hitchhiking and the youth wanted to be taken to a police station for an unspecified reason.  The driver drove into Eudora and not being familiar with the town, parked at City Hall trying to locate the Police Station.  After the driver found the police station and brought police to the scene, the youth was reportedly nowhere to be found.

Fire Department and Douglas County sheriff deputies thoroughly searched the vehicle which was loaded down with equipment and could not locate the child. It was initially thought that the youth was trapped inside the vehicle.

Authorities began a door to door search for the individual and questioned any possible witnesses within a five square block region of City to attempt to locate the child.  After approximately two hours and no signs of the child, the responding departments gave up the search.

Officials continued to get to the bottom of the story and started investigating all avenues. After a discussion with a relative of the driver, that relative revealed that the driver was susceptible to delusional thoughts and had a previous history of reporting activities that had never occurred.

The driver was taken to Lawrence Memorial Hospital for evaluation.  According to Eudora Police Chief Bill Edwards, there were no plans to file any charges against the driver.

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Pete Feyerabend honoringEudora Fire Chief Ken Keiter  (left) and Lt. Pete Feyerabend at a ceremony honoring Feyerabend for his service as Interim Fire Chief

Eudora News and Informationwww.eudorareporter.com

During the City Commission meeting on Monday evening, Eudora Fire Chief Ken Keiter honored Lt. Pete Feyerabend for his service as Interim Fire Chief.  Feyerabend served as Chief from September 2012 until January 2013 when Keiter took over permanently.

“Being a volunteer firefighter requires a selfless commitment to help others in time of need,”Keiter said. “Dedication means spending whatever time or energy is necessary to accomplish the task at hand and Pete emulates both.”

Feyerabend who has served on the volunteer Fire Department since 2007, was very humbled by the recognition.

“This is such a great honor, but really not necessary, “Feyerabend sheepishly stated following the ceremony.  “All the firefighters on the Eudora staff do such a great job, I just filled a role to help out a bit.”

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Eudora Fire Chief Chris Moore has tendered a letter of resignation with the City of Eudora effective September 14, 2012.  Moore was hired as interim Fire Chief in 2010 and later named as Chief in the summer of 2011. Mo0re served part time as Chief of both the Eudora and Wakarusa Township Fire Departments. It is unknown if he is staying with the Wakarusa Township Fire Department.

“At the conclusion of the strategic panning process,”  referring to the new public safety building, Moore stated in his resignation letter, “it became clear to me that the needs of the fire department require a full time Chief to effectively serve the community.”  Moore added that he decided this was the time to step aside so that a new Fire Chief may be hired prior to the completion of the building.

“I would like to thank Chief Moore for his service and his leadership of the Fire Department over the last two years,” City Administrator John Harrenstein said.

With the resignation becoming effective in less than 48 hours, Harrenstein did state that there is a plan in place for a turnover of administration and an interim Fire Chief would be announced in the next couple of days. Harrenstein said that there will be no disruption of response times on calls for the Fire Department.

Moore’s resignation comes less than two weeks after the resignation of Eudora Police Chief Grady Walker.

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