Kansas City Fire Department

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Kansas City Fire Department
Kansas City Fire Department Logo.png
Operational area
Country United States
State Missouri
City Kansas City
Agency overview[1]
Annual budget$151 million (2015)
Fire chiefGary Reese
Facilities and equipment[2]
Airport crash5
Rescue boats8
Light and air1
Official website
IAFF website

The Kansas City Fire Department provides fire protection and emergency medical service for Kansas City, Missouri.[3] It now operates 34 fire stations that are organized into seven battalions and cover 318 square miles (820 km2).


The Kansas City Fire Department first originated with the formation of volunteer bucket brigades as early as 1858. Church bells rung to signal a fire alarm and members would assemble at the scene to help. In 1867, the city abandoned the voluntary bucket brigade for a paid fire department, and Colonel Frank Foster was elected as its first chief.[4]

The first ladder company was organized in 1869, named McGee Hook and Ladder 1 in honor of former mayor Elijah Milton McGee. By 1872, the department consisted of three steamers, one hook and ladder, one chemical engine, and 36 paid professional firefighters.[4]

In 1877, not long after the city water works had been established, the city leaders thought that there would be sufficient water pressure to fight fires. The fire chief was ordered to remove all of the steamers from service and reduce the force to only 14 men. Shortly thereafter, there was a disastrous fire in the West Bottoms. The KCFD was only able to respond with hose wagons and suffered from low water pressure. As a result, the entire block was threatened and several buildings were destroyed. The steamers were placed back in service the next day.

In 1882, George C. Hale was appointed Chief of the KCFD, a role he held for 31 years. During this time, the KCFD twice represented the United States as the "American Fire Team" at International Fire Congress: London in 1893 and a Paris exposition in 1900. The London competition simulated a night alarm. The men began the race turned out in bed, had to descend a flight of stairs, harness and hitch the horses, and clear the engine house. The best time in Europe was 77.5 seconds, but was handily beaten in 8.5 seconds by the team from Kansas City. The KCFD fire crew won a similar competition at the National Fireman's Tournament in Omaha in 1898.[5] Hale, once known as the world’s most famous fireman, revolutionized fire fighting with his more than 60 patented firefighting inventions, including the Hale water tower, the swinging (horse) harness, the rotary tin roof cutter, and the telephone fire alarm. Chief Hale remains one of the most revered to ever head the KCFD.[6]

By the 1920s, the fire department had grown to 30 stations and 40 companies. In 1928, the first training school opened and the department was fully motorized. 1940 saw a new beginning for the department with 198 new hires, but manpower was depleted with enlistments for World War II. In 1956, a third platoon was installed.

On August 18, 1959, the Kansas City Fire Department was hit with their largest loss of life in the line of duty to that date, when a 25,000 gallon (95,000 liter) gasoline tank exploded during a fire on Southwest Boulevard, killing five firefighters. This was the first time the term "BLEVE" (Boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion) was used to describe the explosion of a burning fuel tank.[citation needed]

On July 17, 1981, the department responded to the Hyatt Regency walkway collapse, which killed 113 people during a tea dance.

On November 29, 1988, the fire department was struck with another tragedy when an ammonium nitrate explosion killed six fire fighters.[7] The memorial service at Arrowhead Stadium received over 5,000 fire fighters in attendance from the United States and around the world. As a result of this tragedy, a hazardous materials team was created and named HazMat 71 in honor of the companies, Pumpers 30 and 41, that lost men in the explosion.

In 1991, the Firefighters Fountain was dedicated at 31st Street and Broadway in Penn Valley Park to all firefighters who have fallen in the line of duty throughout the city’s history.[7]

On April 25, 2010, Kansas City's ambulance service, Metropolitan Ambulance Services Trust ("MAST") merged into the Kansas City Fire Department.

On October 12, 2015, the fire department experienced more tragedy when a wall collapsed during a fire on Independence Avenue and killed two firefighters.[1] The fire was the result of arson and the owner of one of the businesses destroyed in the fire has been charged with one count of first-degree arson and two counts of second-degree murder or felony murder since the firefighters died as a result of the arson.[2] The Kansas City Royals, who had an amazing come from behind win in game 4 of the American League Division Series against the Houston Astros on the same day the firefighters were killed [3], showed their support for the firefighting community by wearing KCFD shirts and hats during their workout day at Kauffman Stadium before Game 5 of the ALDS [4] and honored the fallen firefighters during pregame ceremonies [5]. On May 24, 2016, a 68 page report “Internal Investigation into the Line of Duty Deaths of Fire Apparatus Operator Larry Leggio Firefighter John Mesh” was released [6].

Stations and apparatus[edit]

Neighborhood Pumper Company Truck Company Medic Unit Chief Unit Specialized Units
3 Nashua Pumper 3 Truck 4
4 Line Creek Pumper 4 Medic 4 Battalion 108
5 Kansas City Airport Rescue 92, Rescue 93, Rescue 94
6 Avondale Pumper 6 Truck 12 Bariatric 6
7 Westside Pumper 9 Truck 6 Medic 9 High Rise 102
8 Crossroads Pumper 8 Battalion 102
10 Pendleton Heights Pumper 10 Truck 3
14 Shoal Creek Pumper 14 Medic 14 Battalion 103 Command 2
16 Kansas City Overhaul Base Pumper 16 Medic 16 Brush 16
17 Hyde Park Pumper 17 Truck 2 Rescue 31
18 Ingleside Pumper 18 Truck 5 Medic 5, Medic 18
19 Westport Pumper 19 Truck 7 Medic 19 Battalion 106
23 Northeast Pumper 23 Truck 10 Battalion 104
24 Blue Valley Pumper 24
25 Little Italy Pumper 25 Rescue 1
27 Sheffield Pumper 27 Utility 71, HazMat 71, Foam Tanker 1
28 Red Bridge Pumper 28 Medic 28
29 Brookside Pumper 29 Truck 11 Medic 29
30 Marlborough Pumper 30 Medic 30
33 East Swope Highlands Pumper 33 Medic 33 Brush 33
34 Winnwood Pumper 34 Medic 34
35 Swope Parkway Pumper 35 Medic 35 Battalion 105 Rescue 9, Rescue Support 75
36 Indian Creek Pumper 36 Truck 15 Medic 36 Battalion 107
37 Waldo Pumper 37 Medic 37
38 Gashland Pumper 38 Medic 38
39 Royal Meadows Pumper 39 Truck 13 Medic 39
40 Englewood Pumper 40 Medic 40 Brush 40
41 Hickman Mills Pumper 41 Truck 8 Medic 41
42 Ruskin Heights Pumper 42 Medic 42 Brush 42
43 Knobtown Pumper 43
44 Zona Rosa Pumper 44
45 Martin City Pumper 45
47 East Bottoms Pumper 47 Command 1, Utility 1, Air & Light Support
63 Downtown Airport Rescue 63, Rescue 64

Notable incidents[edit]

Hyatt Regency walkway collapse[edit]

The KCFD was the primary agency that responded to the Hyatt Regency walkway collapse which occurred at the Hyatt Regency Kansas City in Kansas City on Friday, July 17, 1981. Two vertically contiguous walkways collapsed onto a tea dance being held in the hotel's lobby. The falling walkways killed 114 and injured a further 216 people.[8] At the time, it was the deadliest structural collapse in U.S. history, not surpassed until the collapse of the south tower of the World Trade Center in 2001.[9]


  1. ^ "Budget". Kansas City. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  2. ^ "Stations". IAFF 42. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  3. ^ "About". Kansas City Fire Department. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  4. ^ a b Burke, Robert (1 March 2008). "Firehouse Magazine Hazmat response in Kansas City, MO: deadly incident led to formation of Hazardous Materials Team". Firehouse Magazine. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  5. ^ Kansas City, Missouri: its history and its people 1808-1908, Volume 2, The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1908.
  6. ^ Ford, Susan Jezak (1999). Biography of George C. Hale (1850-1923), Fire Chief. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  7. ^ a b Cole, Suzanne P.; Engle, Tim; Winkler, Eric (April 23, 2012). "50 things every Kansas Citian should know". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved April 23, 2012.
  8. ^ David Martin (September 14, 2011). "Former Chiefs doctor Joseph Waeckerle--a veteran of the NFL's concussion wars--is on a mission to protect young players". The Pitch. Kansas City. Retrieved January 15, 2011.
  9. ^ Petroski, Henry (1992). To Engineer Is Human: The Role of Failure in Structural Design. Vintage. ISBN 978-0-679-73416-1.

External links[edit]