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Radium to keep fire department

Fran Brownell
An unidentified Stafford County volunteer fireman fights a blazing wildfire in this photo posted on the St. John Fire Department Facebook page. Stafford County Fire Director Marshal Sanders said the Radium Fire Department had to call on neighboring fire departments twice during 2019 to combat wildfires when only one Radium Fire Department volunteer responded to the alarms. Recruits are in training to keep the fire station there open.

The Radium Fire Station in Stafford County will continue to provide services to more than 30 residents who call that community home and to the farmers and ranchers in the outlying rural areas. A shortage of volunteer firefighters in the area of Radium which is located about 30 miles northwest of St. John, brought into question recently how best to protect and serve that portion of Stafford County.
“There was never really a possibility of closing it down--we were just concerned about the lack of response,” said Stafford County Commissioner Todd Wycoff, who represents Radium constituents.
Wycoff and fellow Stafford County Commissioner Clayton Grimmett met with Stafford County fire personnel in early December 2019 to discuss whether or not to shut down the Radium Fire Station for lack of response to call-outs.
According to Draft Minutes of the December 4 Stafford County Commissioners, there were 13 fires paged out to the Radium station to that date, with only one firefighter responding to two calls, both of which were wildfires.
In those situations, calls were made to neighboring fire departments in the county for help, according to Stafford County Fire Director Marshal Sanders.
Despite that low-response dilemma, Marshal now has said that the Radium Fire Department issue has been resolved.
“It’s been pretty much settled,” Sanders said earlier this week. “We’ve got people in the process of training to bring available volunteers up to a full staff of six.”
Radium Mayor Theresa Detherage confirmed that the community’s fire station would remain open.
“Marshal said it would be kept open,” Detherage said by phone.
Along with the St. John and Radium Fire Districts, Stafford County has four additional districts—Hudson, Seward, Macksville and Stafford.
“They are all very active fire departments. They have good responses,” Wycoff said.
Radium Fire Department Volunteer Clayton McAllister said Sanders has been to the Great Bend Co-Op Radium Branch to recruit volunteers who are paid $15 per response to a fire call.
Sanders said it is up to employers whether or not the volunteers are given time off with pay.
Most of the calls to the Radium Fire Department are for wildfires, Sanders said.
“Wildfire are a threat to property and lives of farm animals and wildlife,” Sanders said. “We take them very seriously.”
Controlled burns in Stafford County require burn permits which stipulate regulations which must be followed, including to be mindful of weather conditions and wind, according to Sanders.
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelley has designated February 3-7 as Wildfire Awareness Week. Radium area residents can be rest assured volunteer firefighters will be available should they need those services.