Firefighters focus on education, prevention

KINGMAN – They’re in the “respond on the worst day of your life” business, but Kingman firefighters don’t have to be the last people you’d want to see.

The department spends almost as much time on prevention and education as it does on emergency operations. Last year, firefighters – and Pumper the Clown – talked with children about fire safety, offered CPR classes for adults and met with the general public 8,600 times while responding to 9,422 calls for service.

Fire prevention is obviously important to protect the community, but it isn’t easy to show the public that it’s working, Chief Chuck Osterman said.

“We don’t know how many fires didn’t happen. We don’t know how many people didn’t get hurt because they didn’t happen,” he said.

The department uses a variety of training tools for children and adults including the traveling fire safety house, which firefighters use to show children how to avoid being burned. Last year, the KFD staff converted a golf cart into a mini-fire truck, known as Engine Co. 1/2. The department also uses Pluggy, a robotic fire hydrant and child-size firefighter gear in its programs.

The department provides adult training as well, including free CPR and first aid courses, fire extinguisher use courses, and free smoke detectors to seniors and low-income people.

Prevention also includes building inspections, code enforcement, reviewing plans for proposed structures and subdivisions and environmental crime investigations. The department also investigates fires and inspects the city’s water lines.

“We don’t do anybody any good if we don’t do it safely,” Osterman said.

As the city’s population has increased in the past five years, so too have the calls for service. The call volume doubled in the past five years and the department expects it to be twice today’s volume in another five years.

The KFD hasn’t added a new company since 1983, but Osterman said he expects three new fire stations would be needed to handle the projected growth. One would be located on Stockton Hill Road at the northern city limits and two others would be required to handle the expected development on the east side.

Those are future concerns. The priority project is a replacement building for Station 2 located on Andy Devine Avenue and Harrison. It is the oldest and busiest station, Osterman said. It handles 38 percent of the calls. Station 3, located on Stockton Hill and Gordon Drive, is the second busiest with 26 percent of the calls.

Station 2 was built in 1962. Trucks today are too large to fit in its bays. The department owns one ladder truck to protect multi-story structures, but must keep it at Station 3. Osterman said it needs to be centrally located, so he proposed to City Council a $4 million modern Station 2 to be built a little farther north next to Lewis Kingman Park.

The new stations would decrease the department’s response time to five minutes or less and improve the department’s ISO rating of 4. A lower rating equates to less risk for property damage and lower insurance rates for businesses and homeowners. The rating is based on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 meaning the best protection.

The KFD administration has moved into its new home at 412 E. Oak Street. The building, known as the Standerfer Building, recently housed the Development Services offices. The Planning and Zoning and Building departments moved to new offices on the corner of Fourth and Beale Streets. The move provided more space for the departments, plus opened up more room in the City Complex for other departments to expand.

The city-owned Standerfer Building provides more storage and desk space for fire officials as well as new office space to hire a third fire prevention specialist.

The mailing address, phone and fax numbers for the Kingman Fire Department will remain the same, 310 N. Fourth Street, 753-2891 phone and 753-7597 fax.