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Thu, Nov. 14

KFD stakeholders meeting a success

Fire Chief Jake Rhoades (background, right) briefs community members on the role of the Kingman Fire Department. (AARON RICCA/Miner)

Fire Chief Jake Rhoades (background, right) briefs community members on the role of the Kingman Fire Department. (AARON RICCA/Miner)

KINGMAN-The Kingman Fire Department was aiming to get community input and it looks like they succeeded.

25 people from all corners of town - Kingman Regional Medical Center, Kingman Unified School District, Kingman Chamber of Commerce, various departments from City of Kingman among other curious parties - converged at Station 2 to hear Fire Chief Jake Rhoades elaborate on what the department handles and what they can do to improve and streamline operations.

"We want to make you comfortable so you understand what we're talking about," Rhoades said. "We need to focus on what's working and what's a threat."

"We don't get out enough to let the community know what we do. This is that first step."

Rhoades went into brief but concise detail on what the department has been doing and wants to expand on for the 28,000 Kingman residents and the city's outlying areas.

First and foremost, the department clarified its mission is to provide the highest level of emergency response and effective prevention to preserve the life, property and well-being of the community

Major services part of that mission includes fire suppression, emergency medical services (EMS), hazardous materials (HAZMAT), and fire safety, training and prevention.

Rhoades pointed out that nearly 75 percent of calls are for EMS and that the department is working to reorganize its response to those calls.

"We have to change what we're responding to," he said. "A sore leg probably doesn't need the big, red truck on the scene."

One big question involved the use of department resources to a logistically and financially satisfying conclusion.

Bob Riley, economic development director for the Kingman Airport Authority, asked about the possibility of using a smaller, less street-consuming vehicle to respond to less intensive calls.

"What we've been looking at the last couple months is putting in a rapid response vehicle," answered Rhoades. "Let them run the EMS calls. That keeps the big, red trucks available so if there is a fire or rescue call, the truck is staying in service for its intended mission. Those big trucks were never meant to go on EMS calls."

Funding to increase staffing, upgrade stations and equipment and build a new station east of the railroad tracks was a major concern.

Plans to build a new station out in the "East Bench" - The Hualapai foothills and Rancho Santa Fe/White Cliffs Middle School areas - are still in limbo. That portion of Kingman has seen a 60 percent population increase since 2010.

Increasing response times tied in with that. The department is struggling to maintain a national standard response time of 2 minutes, 40 seconds from station to scene. Right now the KFD average response time is 6 minutes, 11 seconds.

Training will always be at the forefront. EMS training to compliment the high volume of those calls, and HAZMAT training is another priority with the towns' intersection of Interstate 40 and the railroad posing a potential threat.

The hour-long meeting was met with positive responses.

"I've always been interested in what the fire department does," said Kingman retiree Stephen Pebly. "I've been looking for community input on what would make the department better. We need to push for more fire and EMS services for the city."

There are currently no plans to hold another meeting but Rhoades wanted to reassure the public that the department is ready to roll at any moment.

"We have history and ties to this community. We have great people here that love their jobs."

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