Archive for Friday, May 5, 2006

Chat with Lawrence Fire Chief Mark Bradford

May 5, 2006


Welcome to our online chat with Lawrence Fire Chief Mark Bradford.

The chat took place on Friday, May 5, at 1:00 PM and is now closed, but you can read the full transcript on this page.

Moderator: Hello and welcome to our chat today with Lawrence Fire Chief Mark Bradford.

I'm Dave Toplikar, online editor, and I'll be serving as moderator today.

Mark, I know you've had a busy time this week with the Old West Lawrence fire at 838 La. and the investigation into the cause, which was gasoline from nearby underground storage tanks.

Could you start off the chat today by giving us an update as to what caused that fire and to the status of the investigation and what the Kansas Department of Health and Environment is doing?

Fire Chief Mark Bradford: Our department is working with other city departments including Utilities along with Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) to assure a safe environment. As of this morning the sanitary sewer and storm water systems are free of any combustible materials.

Fire Chief Mark Bradford responds to reader's questions.

Fire Chief Mark Bradford responds to reader's questions.

The private contractor working for KDHE has removed approx 1,000 gallons of gasoline from the area around the underground storage tanks at the service station located at 9th and LA. The underground tanks will be removed on Monday.

Several monitoring wells are being installed in the area to determine the area contaminated . It will be some time before the contaminated area is determined.

Daily monitoring by the City Utilities department and Fire Medical will continue to ensure safety.

Ryan, Lawrence: Chief, congratulations to you on your new job. I have confidence you will do a great job. The fire station at 19th & Iowa that was recently completed, how does that fit into the long term strategy to cut down on response times for the Fire/Medical teams in times of emergency? Again, Congratulations on your new job. Thank you.

Fire Chief Mark Bradford: First of all thank you for the vote of confidence. I am pleased to have the opportunity to serve Lawrence and Douglas County as the 15 Fire Chief.

The construction of the 19/Stewart facility was part of a 1996 Public Safety Plan that was adopted by the city commission. The centralized location will benefit the entire community by adding the necessary human and fixed resourced necessary for the rapid growth and demand for service.

The facility houses both Fire Medical Station No. 5 and Administrative Offices. This is the first new station since 1982. Will are more efficient with the centralized location of all of our command staff in one location.

I would like to thank KU Endowment for providing the land (apprx 4 ac) at a cost of $1 a year. This gesture saved the community thousands of dollars in land acquisition costs.

John, Lawrence: Will the new firehouse have an open house for the public?

Fire Chief Mark Bradford: We are currently working to ensure that the facility is complete. A dedication ceremony along with an open house will be scheduled later this summer. It will of course be advertised in the Lawrence Journal World and other local publications.

If you would like to stop in we would be more than happy to show you around your new facility.

John, Lawrence: Hello Chief. Thanks for chatting. How can the City and County justify such nice facilities for the fire department? 19th and Iowa seems a little over done when all you need is a brick building, especially in such tough times. Do you agree with this?

Fire Chief Mark Bradford: I believe that a very efficient and effective building was built to provide the necessary Fire Medical services for Lawrence and Douglas County for many years to come. The design utilized several cost saving features, including stained concrete floors, radiant heating, natural light, and energy saving glass. The building sets in an area that resembles a below grade structure which is protected from North and West winds.

I believe the city and county elected officials made the correct choice in the design and selection of building materials.

Jack in North Lawrence: Is there a chance of seeing a fire station being built and operated in North Lawrence sometime in the near future? With only one bridge over the Kaw, there is a concern, in case we ever have another big flood, or some other event that cuts off North Lawrence from the rest of town.


Fire Chief Mark Bradford talks about the new fire station facilities. Enlarge video

Fire Chief Mark Bradford: The department is presently going through an Accreditation Process that will include the development of a strategic plan. This strategic plan will determine the necessity for additional stations and location of those facilities.

Jerry topeka: What is your future growth predictions for additional ldcfm employees to accommodate the growth that is happening in lawrence?

Fire Chief Mark Bradford: My answer is very similar to the last question. The strategic plan that is part of our accreditation process will develop our department staffing requirements that are necessary to provide the multiple missions of your department.

I hope that we will be offensive and not have to continue to play catch up.

George from Lawrence: One of the biggest threats to our community seems to be potential fire damage of the old downtown buildings that were constructed prior to current fire codes. What is being done to help prevent a fire from destroying an entire block or blocks of downtown buildings?

Marion: What is your position on mandatory retrofitting of sprinkler systems in the old buildings in the downtown corridor?

Fire Chief Mark Bradford: I could talk about these two questions for several days. George is correct that one of our community's biggest threat is a fire downtown. Both in the sense of human loss but also in economic loss. The City Utilities department will begin the second year of water line replacement and upgrades in the downtown area in the next few weeks. I realize that this is a significant burden on downtown businesses, however for the long term it is vital for the protection of our downtown.


Fire Chief Mark Bradford discusses sprinkler systems being required downtown. Enlarge video

This installation will not only effect our need for large water flow, it will provide a mechanism for business/property owners to install fixed fire protection systems. Currently there are several businesses that have sprinklered the basement levels based on current fire/life safety code requirements.

The city is looking at alternative funding mechanisms for installation of sprinkler systems.

Jacob/Atchison, KS: David Winebrenner, the man that murdered, by arson, Lawrence firefighter Mark Blair in 1986 is coming up for parole this month. Do you and/or members of the LDCFM plan to contest his request for parole? If so, what are your plans and how can others help your department keep Winebrenner in prison?

Fire Chief Mark Bradford: Various members of our department will be present at the parole hearing to contest Mr. Wienbrenner's release.

I would encourage all citizens speak their peace in regards to this issue.

Kevin, Lawrence: Is it true the fire department will not enter a burning building?

Fire Chief Mark Bradford: One of my greatest decisions is to determine what areas/structures we should or should not send in members of our department. The question is that of risk management.

It is our mission to be prepared to enter any environment that is necessary to save a life. We do that safely using experience, knowledge and a sense of urgency. There are a number of decision factors in making that determination.


Fire Chief Mark Bradford explains the latest information on the fire at 838 Louisiana. Enlarge video

In most cases we will make entry into a structure to search and remove victims from that environment.

Ken, Lawrence: Chief, we've seen pretty successful national campaigns for child safety seats and seat-belt use. Why do you think that we've yet to see a really large national campaign promoting the use (and changing of batteries) of smoke detectors?

Fire Chief Mark Bradford: There have been a number of national campaigns regarding smoke alarms. The largest is the International Association of Fire Chiefs and Ever Ready Battery. "Change Your Clock Change Your Battery". This campaign is used every spring and fall with daylight savings time change.

What's more important is what are we doing locally with this effort. You will see something soon in Lawrence. I promise you that!

Suzie, Lawrence: There are several hot firefighters. Have you ever thought of doing a benefit calendar with Lawrence Firefighters??

Fire Chief Mark Bradford: Suzie, Im confident you have just inflated the heads of several of our members.

We have been approached on several occasions for this type of benefit. However, I have not permitted it due to it's perception of inappropriateness.

Bob, Lawrence: Is there any chance for a reasonable compromise with regard to July 4th and fireworks? It seems the city just has a flat "fire bad" mentality that sort of ignores reality.

Fire Chief Mark Bradford: Bob, The elected officials make this call. However, they ask for professional input from our department. My recommendation has and always will be that we should ban fireworks based on national data indicating significant trauma users that occur from the use/misuse of fireworks. There is also significant data that shows millions of dollars of structural loss to the use/misuse of fire works.

I do believe that the appropriate discharge of fireworks by a trained fire works firm the best choice for those of use that like to watch fireworks displays.

Bob, Lawrence: Does LDCFM have minimum and maximum age requirements for new hires?

Fire Chief Mark Bradford: Currently our minimum age for new hires is 18. We do not have a maximum age. Each candidate must complete a Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT). This is a nationally recognized physical certification that has been developed by the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC). The Department of Labor has approved this testing as being job related in regards to the essential functions of the job.

Moderator: That will be our last question of the day.

Mark, thanks for coming down and taking part in this online discussion with our readers.

Fire Chief Mark Bradford: It is my pleasure to chat with the citizens of Lawrence and Douglas County. If anyone would like to stop by any station please do so and see what we are all about and what services we provide for you.

Everyone have a safe weekend.


Mike Blur 11 years, 9 months ago

Kudos to Chief Bradford for his stance on fireworks used by amateurs. "Bob" must have forgotten about the structure fire back on July 4, 2000 (I think it was 5th and Colorado) ignited by a stray bottle rocket--caused several hundred thousand dollars in damage, and changed several people's lives. Do you want YOUR home and family threatened by a random firework that could have been set off a block away?

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