The Wichita Fire Department is always ready to respond to fires in the city, but outside city limits, Fire Marshall Stuart Bevis says their crews are more or less grounded.
“The biggest issue there was we are not really equipped,” explains Bevis.
Last year, when the fires in Hutch scorched thousands of acres, Wichita was there, but they weren’t exactly fighting the fire.
“We were able to go maybe fill a station for them with one of our heavy apparatus’s and with one of our heavy engines,” says Bevis. “We were able to take that call load off of them so they could either rest and recuperate.”
That’s mainly because city fire trucks aren’t designed for that kind of fight.
“If they get into any kind of sandy soil and they are going to sink in,” explains Bevis. “You carry 300 pounds of water that is a lot of weight.”
A brush fire truck can. They’re typically higher off the ground and can handle the terrain while laying water down.
Even though Wichita is an urban department Bevis thinks they may need one.
“It does seem like recently, in the last few years, there have been more significant wild fires, if not in Sedgwick County, but in the counties surrounding us,” he says.
He says they are taking a hard look at the budget and getting creative in the mean time.
“Right now, we are modifying a piece of equipment we have on hand, or at least looking at modifying it,” he says.
Bevis says everyone on the staff completed wildfire training with the Department of Forestry, and they are forming a team to be able to respond to those events.