Wichita Fire Department

Courtesy photo

Retired Wichita Fire Chief Larry Garcia died on Tuesday morning. He was 81 years old. Chief Garcia was the longest serving city of Wichita employee, working in the department for nearly 50 years. Recently retired Fire Chief Larry Blackwell remembers Chief Garcia as a leader and a mentor.

"Very compassionate and caring and, in fact, one of the last things he said to the department was 'Never get tired of doing good,' and with that, he completed his retirement ceremony and went out the door," Blackwell says. "It's been 10 years since he retired but we think about him every day."

Wichita Police / Facebook

Wichita police officers and firefighters are visiting the communities they serve to deliver books as part of a literacy program.

The book drop is for the Building Bridges through Books program.

The Wichita Police Department and Watermark Books and Café are working together to help elevate literacy skills while creating a connection between first responders and families.

Carla Eckels / KMUW/File photo

Wichita Fire Chief Ron Blackwell retires Friday after 24 years with the department, 10 of them as fire chief.

KOMUnews / flickr Creative Commons

Fireworks tents are up, and starting Tuesday, customers can legally buy fireworks and set them off during the next week.

This Fourth of July tradition also comes with a safety reminder from the Wichita Fire Department.

The City of Wichita has a stricter fireworks law than neighboring cities in Sedgwick County.

Fire Chief Stuart Bevis says only items that are tested by the fire department and don’t shoot sparks more than six feet in any direction are legal in Wichita.

Jim Crocker / flickr Creative Commons

As temperatures rise this summer, the Wichita Fire Department is warning people not to leave kids or pets in hot cars.

Even on mild days, the temperature inside of a car can climb to dangerous levels.

Wichita Fire Chief Ron Blackwell says every year, his team has to respond to reports of kids or pets being left in cars—sometimes it’s by accident, sometimes a parent just isn’t aware of the danger.

Courtesy photo

The Sedgwick County Fire Department is looking to add new firefighters to its ranks. An informational meeting is set for this weekend in Bel Aire.

Sedgwick County Fire Chief Tavis Leake says the fire department offers $41,000 a year in full-time annual salary, health and dental benefits, as well as tuition reimbursement.

He says most often people aren’t sure of what it takes to be a firefighter.


The Sedgwick County Fire Department is offering a free program to help locate rural residences in case of an emergency.

Rural residences are often set back from the road or have mailboxes grouped together for convenience. This makes finding the correct address difficult for firefighters, EMTs and police.

The free house number signs will be attached to existing mailbox supports, and can be made in horizontal, vertical or diagonal fashion.

Courtesy Kathy Kennard / Wichita Fire Department

Four Wichita firefighters who lost their lives nearly five decades ago were honored today.

The Wichita Fire Department unveiled a memorial plaque near English and South Topeka, the former site of the Yingling Chevrolet Company.

On the evening of November 21, 1968, a fire broke out in the building. Four members of the Wichita Fire Department—Merle Wells, Dale Mishler, Jimmy Austin and Chief Thomas McGaughey—were killed when the roof collapsed.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW/File photo

Wichita City Council members have approved the purchase of $7 million worth of equipment for the fire department.

Fire Chief Ron Blackwell says the funds will go partly toward replacing a command truck that was purchased in 1993.

“The current unit lacks the technology that is available to us today that can be really beneficial in a number of emergency situations, including hazardous materials, rescue, high-rise building fires and other special needs," he told the City Council at its meeting Tuesday.

Radek Szuban / flickr Creative Commons

Fall may have just started, but the Wichita Fire Department is urging residents to start prepping their houses for "home heating season."

Wichita Fire Chief Ron Blackwell says the department typically sees an increase in house fires during the winter months when people start using their heating systems. There have already been four fatal house fires in Wichita this year, he says: two caused by smoking, and two whose causes have yet to be determined.