Reno Township welcomes lower insurance rates with its new fire department.
Reno Township's fire department has a grand old history of two days.
A little more than a year ago, Richard Ogden thought the time had come for Reno Township, population 970, to have a fire department.
As of Saturday, it did.
To increase safety and help lower residents' insurance premiums, Ogden, Reno Township's first fire chief, started a petition drive last year that culminated with the opening of the new department's doors.
More than 100 residents, Leavenworth County emergency crew members and others were on hand Saturday to celebrate the department's first official day.
"I think all the fire departments in Leavenworth County came down to see what we've got," Ogden said.
The atmosphere was a mix of barbecue, potato chips, shiny red trucks and content.
"Everybody thinks it's a real good place," fire department president John Winsor said. "Everything has been going great."
Previously, the township contracted for services with Sherman Township's fire department, several miles to the east in Linwood. Neither residents nor insurance companies liked the location of the nearest fire protection, and insurance rates were high.
Once residents gave the OK, the township used funds from a mill levy increase to pay for construction of the building, which will also be used as a voting precinct.
"We had no place to vote," Reno Township trustee Melba Conner said.
The department officially opened its doors Saturday but has already had plenty of business.
Fifteen grass fires, four house or barn fires and a railroad locomotive fire were among the incidents keeping the 13 volunteers occupied since February. A firefighter suffered the only injury: minor facial burns during a grass fire.
"We've been busy this spring," Ogden said.
And they've had the equipment to handle it.
Using a bank loan, the township acquired a tanker truck, pumper truck, a pickup truck and a jeep for fighting grass fires in timber areas.
With increased safety comes its welcome relative -- lower insurance rates.
A commercial insurance service informed township trustees that homeowner rates could drop 15 to 17 percent, compensating for the mill levy hike used to build the facility, Ogden said.
An additional decrease is expected when a volunteer is able to take a permanent position.
"When somebody's here full time, that's when rates will really go down," said Louis Box, a resident whose son, Dale, is a firefighter in Linwood. "Things will get nothing but better."