Fire board request for new storage building turned down

Updated: Dec 8, 2021

MOUND CITY – Whether it was miscommunication or no communication, the recent gift of the former state highway department building east of La Cygne to Linn County Rural Water District No. 1 apparently left the Linn County Fire Department without a storage building for critical gear.

County Fire Chief Doug Barlet told commissioners that the Linn County Fire Board was requesting the county build a minimum 40-foot-by-40-foot building behind the La Cygne fire station for storage. The Linn County Fire Board of Trustees is appointed by the commission.

The reaction from one commissioner was swift. “Nope, not from me,” said Rick James, commission chair.

Barlet pointed out that the fire department had lost all of their storage when the county had signed over the highway department building to Linn County RWD No. 1.

James said, “There was nothing in there anyway.” He said that they had a picture of the inside of the building and there was hardly anything stored in it.

Barlet said the fire department had a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) entanglement prop, a SCBA rafter attic prop, wall breach prop, confined space prop, SCBA training rails for safety for the props, hard suction, extra ladders, grain engulfment equipment and panels that were donated to the department by Frontier Farm Credit Services.

Linn County Commissioner Jim Johnson asked where all that was in the picture?

Barlet said that they had removed the items in there and distributed them through the fire stations because Public Works Director Shaun West had asked them to make room for items from the La Cygne senior center and were waiting on West to tell them when they could move the equipment back. But before we learned that we could move back in there the building was given away.

"That's right, it was," James said.

Prescott’s got an empty building down there, said James.

Barlet explained that the building that the county had just signed over to Rural Water District #1 had been the fire departments storage building.

Barlet said that other equipment stored in the building included winter storage for the department’s boats.

But James cut him off and said there was a big building down at Prescott that they could put those boats in. He said he was not building another building, and that we just got rid of one that he never saw used.

I’m against it, they can vote however they want. Let your crew, let your board know that I am just not for it right now, said James.

Barlet said he would let them know, but that he had an obligation to report to the commissioners what the fire board decided.

Barlet found a little more acceptance to a request to purchase new software for reporting to the State Fire Marshal’s office. He told the commissioners that the fire board had voted 5-0 to change software for the fire department

He explained that FIREHOUSE, the software used now by the fire department, will no longer be in business by the end of 2022. The county has been paying $4,820 a year – plus technical support for $2,400 – for this software.

The fire department has been using this software since 2003. The new product from that company will be $20,600 to get started and then $16,800 annually.

Barlet said he had researched other companies and would like to go ahead and purchase software from FireWorks for $6,700 year.

The first year there will be a $2,000 set-up fee, he explained. The set-up fee will include transferring information from the present software and two webinar trainings. He said that this new software has more functions and features than the software the fire department uses now.

Barlet said that he would like to do this now since the annual fees for the current software are coming up the end of December or first of January and he would like to make that transition now. After that they will not be able to modify reports on the current software if they do not pay the fee.

James asked why each fire station could not fill out a report and they all be sent as PDFs to Barlet’s office where he could compile them and send them to the state. Barlet said that, without the software, there is no records management of everything the state needs to know.

Commissioner Danny McCullough asked what the small cities, like Pleasanton, use for this kind of software. Barlet said that they use a free software from the Kansas State Fire Marshall.

Barlet explained that the small cities might report 30 fire calls per year while the county reports 300 to 500 calls per year. If the county was to use that kind of software, it doesn’t do any kind of inventory and it doesn’t do any training records so the department would lose all of its records management it has in existing software.

County Information Technology Department head Chris Martin said if the county used the free software, they would end up with an issue with the state’s reporting. Martin said he was not sure how long the state would even accept that free version as they change that format quite often.

“I would recommend against that,” said Martin.

This software allows each fire station to file incident reports to the state, keeps inventory of equipment, and equipment servicing. It keeps training records, has mapping capabilities for locating fire calls, shows all the fire hydrants and their pressure, and shows a satellite picture of incident area so firefighters know what other structures are close by.

This information in the program is what the Insurance Services Office (ISO) uses to determine the county’s ISO rating. Barlet said that if ISO comes in for information, all they would have to do is print it off.

James asked Barlet to come back next week with possible software alternatives or a report that he was able to renegotiate with the new company to lower the set-up fee.

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