Fire Truck Modifications – The Mitchell Questionnaire

The big gong slammed the sides of the brass bell as it rocked back and forth in its cradle. The message “wasn’t” that it was lunch time. This was a fire message and the firefighters heard it.

Two of the responders were Fred Brodbeck and Raymond Miller – fire chief and driver. Their means of travel was a Mitchell car with a custom rear bed that carried firefighting equipment. This was a custom addition designed by the chief.

They raced down Ohio Street and just as they were approaching the Iron Street Bridge a horse and buggy pulled onto the street. Miller swerved but the car caught the rear of the buggy and launched the car down the banks of the Smoky Hill River.

Brodbeck was seriously injured in the accident and was taken to the hospital. But, this was well before we knew how to treat infection. Gangrene set in and the chief died five days later at the age of 39.

Brodbeck came to Salina, Kansas from Chicago. The local press chronicled the innovative things he implemented. Many of them were successful, but unfortunately one was the Mitchell modification.

Those of us in wild land firefighting have to be master innovators too. Standard trucks are converted into fire trucks. Military trucks are converted into fire trucks. All terrain vehicles are converted into fire trucks.

Most of our changes are good, but are there possibly some Mitchell modifications? Before you make modifications to a truck ask yourself some questions.

Have you exceeded the vehicle’s weight capacity? Turning ability could be adversely affected. Braking could be adversely affected. Rollover potential could be heightened.

Are undercarriage components heat resistant? Plastic brake lines could melt from heat. Fuel lines could do the same. This could happen at the most inopportune time, possibly endangering the lives of firefighters.

Have you designed rear-riding locations properly? Hand rails must be present and must be adequate. Some type of belting system needs to be present. Sharp cornered impact points should be eliminated or covered.

Are you changing a key operational component? You should not change the size of a truck’s tires without getting a stamp of approval from the manufacturer. Too small of tires might cause a heat build-up on brake pads.

Let a picture of the Brodbeck accident be your visual reminder. Prepare a list of safety questions before making any truck modifications. A good name for it might be The Mitchell Questionnaire.

Cigarette Lighters and Children – A Poor Combination

It was the Christmas season and there was snow on the ground.

The mother had just started a new job at a nursing home and had left her two children with her good friend named Charity.

Poncho and Rogue were their names.  Poncho was three years old and Rogue was five.  And then there was four year old Monique who was Charity’s daughter’s name.

The three children were upstairs playing with a cigarette lighter when the fire lit some plastic toys on fire.  Monique and Rogue came downstairs, but for some reason Poncho didn’t.

Minutes later Charity noticed the smoke coming down the stairs. Rogue and Monique made it downstairs, but Poncho was still upstairs.  She tried going upstairs but the smoke was too dense.

The fire department was called.  Firefighters quickly rescued Poncho, but not before he was in cardiac arrest.  Poncho was quickly taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The fire investigator determined the fire was started by a cigarette lighter. Pictured above are two novelty cigarette lighters.  If you smoke, be sure and keep your lighters secured so no children play with them.  Cigarette lighters and children are a poor combination.

Pictured below is Chief Moody carrying Monique over to the ambulance. 



Selfless Service

By Lieutenant Michael Rose

When you think about the phrase “Selfless Service”, what ideas are sparked or imagined in your brain? Is it a heroic act that is performed by a stranger or a simple act of generosity? The El Dorado Fire Department is comprised of several members that provide Selfless Service to the community. Each member is ready and prepared to fulfill their duty, when they are called upon.

April 27, 2017 was not just another normal day at the firehouse. It seemed to begin just like every other job but the day would unwind into something unique.  The on duty crew arrived to start the day and check in the apparatus. The daily grind had begun with a couple of events scheduled for the day, hose test, training and building inspections.

At 1 o’clock, Engine 10 arrived at Station 2 to perform the hose test. This test would require members to remove all the hose off the apparatus and place the hose onto the ground. Each hose was inspected prior to the pressure test. “This won’t take long”, stated a Student Resident, who has obviously never completed hose test before. If you were wondering, there is a little of 2000 ft. of hose on a fire engine, shouldn’t take long at all.

The test requires us to fill the hoses with water and pressure test the hose at 250 psi for 5 minutes. The test was completed and time for a break. As I walked into the bay to grab a cup of coffee, the El Dorado Fire Department was dispatched to North Emporia for a structure fire. Guys sprinting across the apparatus floor to put on their gear is the image that was seen by the neighbors at Station 2 that afternoon.

Engine 9 and Tower 1 responded to the call and arrived on scene to find a house with heavy fire on the front porch of the residence. Master Firefighter Caleb Carson was down the street mowing yards and responded to assist with pump operations and water supply. The extinguishment was witnessed by several cell phone taking pictures as bystanders stood in the street.

This is the picture that the community sees, these are the images that are printed and posted in the news. What most people don’t see, is the “Selfless Service” that takes place at the fire station during these incidents. Lieutenant Shane McCoy, Firefighter Chris McGathy, Firefighter Caleb Fistler and Student Resident Grayson Pryce arrived at Station 2 to provide Selfless Service to the community. These gentleman not only provided for the community that day, but went above the call to provide an unforgettable service to the brotherhood.

They decided to load the hose onto Engine 10 and wash several pieces of equipment. I, Lt. Rose arrived at the Station to find Engine 10 parked on the front apron and fully equipped for service. My jaw dropped and the words of Thank you should have been spoken, but in the moment, I was completely speechless. The guys were tired, worn down and needing rest and the thought of coming back to the station to load 2000 feet of hose was a little overwhelming. I don’t know how to repay the favor and we are in debt to these gentleman. Hopefully, this story has portrayed the image of “Selfless Service” and these gentleman will receive the gratitude that they deserve.