The City Commission of Arkansas City approved the purchase of protective equipment for the Arkansas City Fire-EMS Department on March 7/Tuesday night.

Fire Chief Bobby Wolfe said much of the current equipment used by the fire-EMS department is reaching its maximum life expectancy.

The protective suits used by the department while fighting fires has a federal mandatory retirement age of 10 years.

“It basically consists of bunker pants and bunker jackets,” Wolfe said, although the same strict standards also apply to breathing apparatus.

Some of the equipment the fire-EMS department is using was purchased in 2008. Wolfe said he would like to start replacing five sets a year.

“The least we can do is a five-year purchasing plan,” he said. The five sets of protective gear cost $11,217.75.

The bunker gear must be washed between fires to get rid of carcinogens that are deposited while fighting a fire.

This expenditure was included in ACFD’s budget for 2017, but Commissioner Jay Warren asked if the department could look into grants.

Wolfe indicated the grants available for protective gear such as this are intended for equipment that has reached its expiration date.

He did not want to push it that far, though, preferring instead to be more proactive in gear replacement.

The gear will be purchased in different sizes and any firefighters hired after the gear has been replaced will be fitted with what is available.

In other business, the commission:

  • witnessed Mayor Duane Oestmann read proclamations of March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and March 6-10 as Flood Safety Awareness Week in Arkansas City.
  • heard an update on the financial status of South Central Kansas Medical Center, as well as a presentation from the hospital’s new group purchasing organization.
  • addressed concerns regarding fire protection raised by Jim Sybrant.
  • heard complaints about codes and business growth from Holly Pool and Connie Carder.
  • addressed the dangerous structure owned by Brett Martin, who has about 60 days left to make substantial progress on the property. He still had not pulled a permit as of the meeting and Oestmann instructed him to do so the very next day.
  • unanimously approved four personnel policy updates.
  • unanimously approved the purchase of a 6- by 3-foot precast reinforced concrete box culvert from Wichita Concrete Pipe, for an amount not to exceed $29,195.66.
  • executed its annual reorganization, minus the selection of a new mayor and vice mayor, which will occur in September. Commissioner Karen Welch replaced Commissioner Charles Tweedy III on the Strother Field Commission and was added as an alternate for the Arkansas City Public Library Board of Trustees, while Commissioner Dan Jurkovich replaced Tweedy as a delegate to the Cowley First Coordinating Council, with Oestmann as an alternate.
  • unanimously approved the purchase of real estate located at 518 W. Madison Ave., for $18,000.
  • unanimously approved scheduling a public hearing March 21 to determine the advisability of issuing taxable Industrial Revenue Bonds (IRBs) to Ark City Industries (ACI) for the purpose of financing the acquisition, construction and equipping of a commercial facility to be located within Goff Industrial Park.
  • unanimously approved scheduling a study session at noon March 17 in the city manager’s office to discuss code enforcement and the potential IRBs for ACI at Goff Industrial Park.
  • received the Arkansas City Police Department’s annual forfeiture report from Police Chief Dan Ward.
  • discussed the mandatory annual city audit and who will conduct it next year. The recommendation from staff was to follow industry best practices and retain the current auditing firm for one more year, then issue a request for proposals next year for a new firm to start with the 2018 audit.
  • tentatively set a date of April 29 for the 2017 budget retreat.
  • requested that the minutes of city advisory boards and committees be included in meeting agenda packets.
  • discussed the possibility of having a presence at the Cowley Home and Outdoor Living Festival on March 25-26. The commissioners agreed to take shifts at an information booth.