Archive for Wednesday, September 26, 2001

Fire Department celebrates 50th anniversary

September 26, 2001

In light of the heroic efforts by firefighters drudging through the rubble left by terrorists at the World Trade Center in New York, the 50th anniversary of the Fairmount Township Fire Department took on new meaning.

The Fire Department celebrated the anniversary on Sunday, Sept. 23, at the fire station located on 155th Street with a dedication ceremony.

An American flag hung from the top of a fire ladder suspended high above the city streets and a junior ROTC color guard performed a flag ceremony as part of the dedication.

Several local politicians attended the ceremony, including Basehor City Council member Joe Odle and Leavenworth County Commissioner Joe Daniels.

Odle, who works for the State Fire Marshall's office, read a written statement during the ceremony saluting the Fire Department and its members, both past and present.

"I have lived here for 23 years and this department has turned into a first-class fire department," Odle said. "Since the deal at the World Trade Center, it has brought attention to the risk firefighters take every time they are called."

Odle also saluted the work of Fire Chief Alan Goens, who in turn, thanked the Fire Department volunteers during the ceremony.

"We have a super group of volunteers that get the job done," Goens said. "This is a real good Fire Department, who do a real good job."

The Fire Department originated in 1951 when several local residents visitedKansas rep. Bill Denholm to persuade the politician to introduce legislation that would allow townships in Kansas to organize fire departments.

Of those eight men that visited Denholm at his Tonganoxie home, only one is still living.

Basehor resident Wilbur Grisham, an honorary lifetime member of the Fire Department, attended the ceremony on Sunday and was proud of how far the department has come since its inception.

"Amazing," he said. "To stop and think that one little truck has gone on to this is simply amazing. We had a bunch of dedicated people. If any of them were around today, they would have the same thoughts. We had quite a group in that original department."

After hours of debating with Denholm, the representative eventually gave his approval and subsequently legislation passed allowing township fire departments.

That legislation was passed on a Monday in the Kansas House of Representatives and the group purchased the first Fire Department truck the following Thursday.

The original fire truck was used in a massive fire equipment parade down 155th Street Sunday, following the dedication ceremony.

All of the fire equipment from the Fairmount Township Fire Department was in the parade as well as equipment from other township fire departments such as Stranger, Delaware, Shawnee and McClouth.

A banner on a fire truck in the parade from the Sherman Township Fire Department also saluted the efforts of the New York firefighters.

"In memory of our lost brothers and sisters," the banner read.

Although the events of the Sept. 11 attack weighed on the minds of many firefighters involved in the events on Sunday, Goens said the ceremony and parade went well.

"For the weather we had, the parade went better than expected," Goens said.

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