City Looks to Hire Full-Time Fire Chief

The Kingman city commission, during a special meeting Wednesday, approved advertising for a full-time fire chief.

The decision came after City Manager Greg Graffman presented information to the city commission about the recent evaluation conducted by Wichita State University regarding the fire department.

Current fire chief Steve Drosselmeyer is planning to retire after 40 years with the department. Drosselmeyer is a volunteer, like the other members of the fire department.

Graffman told the Leader-Courier that the city will figure out how to budget for it as it gets the 2025 budget process underway.

During the meeting, Graffman reviewed the rationale behind hiring a full-time fire chief.

He cited the need for full-time professional leadership, similar to how the police department and EMS have that. Graffman also cited time demands, because the time to operate a modern fire department is more than can be expected from volunteers who have other commitments.

The reported that WSU compiled cited the need for a formalized training program for the fire department. There is also a need for developing equipment standards for the department, to include an inventory of existing or needed equipment.

Graffman noted that the fire chief can be the point person for grant opportunities for the fire department and can take the lead on finding appropriate apparatus for the department and sources of funding.

The city also plans to build a new fire station at some point. Graffman said the fire chief’s knowledge could help with that project. The fire chief could also put together a comprehensive capital improvement plan.

Also, Graffman said, a full-time fire chief would improve communication between the fire department and other city departments.

He also cited an issue with finding volunteers for the department and that having a full-time staff dedicated to the department would allow for more consistent and planned recruiting efforts.

Graffman added that the fire chief could devote time to other duties within the city. One area he cited was code enforcement and building inspections, given that planning and zoning administrator Tom Archer is currently spread thin among all his duties.

Graffman said that the position could attract a younger person who is interested in moving up the ranks or an experienced firefighter who is looking for a new challenge.

Bob has written for small-town newspapers for nearly 30 years. He has previously worked in Rocky Ford, Colo., Raton, N.M., and Duncan, Okla., before coming to Kingman, Kan.