THE STORY OF SOLDIER TOWNSHIP 1937-1976
This book was published on the 1st day of June, 1976 by the Soldier Township
Fire Department. We realize that the quality is questionable, and that some items this
book may trigger in your memory. The facts are as accurate as humanly possible since
most records from years past are not available. From scraps of information and
memories, we have made this book possible. We wish to thank the ones who
contributed their time and thought for this project.
Few seem to realize it, but the fire service in unquestionably the oldest protective
service in the United States——older by far than the Army and the Navy. Roots of the
service go all the way back to the Dutch settlers in New York in 1635 who established a
“rattle watch” to patrol the streets from sunset to sunup.
Volunteer fire companies were all that there were in this country until shortly
before the Civil War. Today there are more than 22 volunteer fire departments, far
outnumbering their paid brethren. With all the fanfare in marking our “BICENTENNIAL”,
let’s hear it for the volunteers. They passed their TRICENTENNIAL unheralded, quite a
few years back.
Soldier Township Fire Department started with a 1937 Chevy fire truck that had a
300 gallon water tank and a rope start pump on the back.
The Township board members were:
Joe Stock Trustee
Nelson Caldwell Treasurer
Fred Schlodder Clerk
An interesting item to note is the election results of 1936 for the Trustee position:
Joe Stock 1,227; R.K. Ream 5; Jess Smith 1. I wonder if Jess Smith was married?????
The fire station was the private garage of Fred Whiteman in the alley south of
what was then Seaman High School. The truck was kept warm by a wood burning
No set list of fire fighters was on hand and when a call came in anyone could and
would go to the fire to help.
Sometimes when a fire call was received, Fred Whiteman (the Township first Fire Chief)
would go to the high school and Mr. Logan would call some o the young men out of
classes to go to the fire. There is even a rumor that some of them would dive out the
windows when they heard the siren blowing. Some of those young men were Ralph
Lewis, Vern Evans, Don Carter, Dwight Jackson and Bill Jones. Lacking a car as a
youth Jim Sharp would answer calls in his area on foot,
The valuation of the township was 3 ½ million dollars and covered every thing
north of the city limits about the 1400 block of North Topeka. The Fire tax levy was
.0208 making a budget of $728 dollars.
Fred Whiteman was the Fire Chief and someone said that everyone else was the
assistant. The firefighters had no gear but were paid 50 cents a call.
Valuation was $3,570,790 dollars and the same board members were re-elected.
Valuation was $3,582,445 dollars. Sometime during 1939 an electric start was
put on the fire pump. It was an electric motor and used a V belt to start the motor turning
on the pump.
Valuation was $3,649,335 dollars. The same board members were re-elected,
Sometime during 1940 the old pump was removed and a front mount, power take-off
pump was put on the 1937 Chevy. A baby age 2 or 3 was killed by fire this year in the
Valuation was $3,721,615 dollars,
Valuation was $3,738,490 dollars. In September, Vern Evans joined the Army.
Joe Stock & Neil Caldwell were re-elected. Charles Andrews was elected as the Clerk.
Valuation was $3,790,560 dollars. In June, Don Carter joined the CB’s.
Valuation was $3,873,270 dollars, Goodyear started making tires at it’s new
Topeka plant, Howard Jackson elected Clerk,
Valuation was $4,494,075 dollars, In December Vern Evans returned from the
Valuation was $6,035,755 dollars. Fred Whiteman was the fire chief until July
when George Stanley took over on the death of Fred Whiteman. The Township Board
was re-elected. In April, Don Carter returned from the service, but didn’t rejoin the fire
department till about 1950. He should have though because when he let a grass fire get
out of control one day he called the fire number and was told he could come get the
truck because there was no one there that could drive it,
In July, the fire truck was moved to 1841 Blaine and a new truck, a 1946 GMC was
purchased. This was a regulation fire truck with a 500 gallon tank and a mid-ship pump,
Valuation was $6,329,670 dollars. Howard Jackson inquired from the Kansas
Inspection Bureau, the requirements needed to have a fire department worthy of an
insurance credit. The Bureau recommended the fire station be located about Topeka
and Lyman Road.
Valuation was $6,496,140 dollars. About this time Oscar Young was appointed
as Assistant Chief. Nelson Caldwell was re-elected as Treasurer, Howard Jackson was
re-elected as Clerk. Walter Geiser was elected to the Trustee position.
About, this time efforts ware getting underway to make plans for finding ground
for a new station and getting ready for a bond election to build a fire station. The bond
election passed but not by a large margin. As a matter of fact the Elmont precinct voted
it down by a vote of 101 to 93.
Soon after World W II, J Duermyer, George Rinner, Boyce Forbes, Louis Falley
and Lew Paramore began working on promotion of a bond election to build a fire station
for Soldier Township.
The Bond election passed for $39,000 but the actual cost was only $34,543
Pictured above is the brick fire station at 2705 North Topeka, and at that time was a
very modern designed fire station. Carl G Ossman & Associates were the architects and
the board members were Walter Geiser, N.T. Caldwell & Howard Jackson.
The year was 1949 and at the beginning the Fire Chief was George Stanley and
the Asst. Chief was Oscar Young In August, Milt Palmer was hired as Fire Chief and
Elbie Cowan was appointed his assistant.
Palmer had been Fire Chief at the Topeka Air Force Depot and Cowan was a
firefighter there. Cowan had also been a firefighter at Forbes Air Base, V.A. Hospital
and for the city of Topeka
The valuation of the Township was $6,735,050 and the fire department had two
pampers. Some of the men paid to fight fires that year were: Robert Self , Ray Shy,
Roy Glyn, Frank Van Hole, Lester Vandiver, Roy Hefner, Howard Jackson, Walter
Geiser , Joe Gartner and a Mr. Neiley.
December of 1949 saw a Holton Transport truck full of gasoline overturn at the
corner of 43rd & N Topeka. The driver was killed in the wreck and not able to control the
large fire it was allowed to burn itself out
Valuation was $6,880,540 dollars. The population was about 2,579. Township
Board members elected were: Geoge Fleischer-Trustee, Ernest Sechrist-Treasurer, R.
Anderson-Clerk. Palmer and Cowan were the chief and asst. and Dean Rinner was the
Fireman’s Relief Treasurer.
Chief Palmer realized the need to have a list of fire fighters he could depend on
and to give them training. The department was legally organized into proper fire
January 18th the large siren on top of the station started being used to call
volunteers to the fires. But it only brought an average response of 3 men,
On April 5th, the Kansas Inspection Bureau recommended that for a class A rural
rating the department would need a minimum of 8 men responding, 2-way radio
communications and would also need 12 – 21/2 gallon buckets, 50 feet of 3/4 garden
hose and a bushel basket. The extension ladder was also 2 feet too short.
In July, $700 dollars was spent on a Motorola radio for the 1946 GMC, Not
satisfied with the performance of the GMC on going to fires it was decided to put the
largest engine that could be found in it. The cost of the engine was $170.31.
David Dsitkovits Dwight Jackson Joe Deurmyer
Frank McKay Bill Shafer Don Robertson
Don Givens Jim Sharp Lawrence Thompson
Les Galligher Darrel Carnahan Jack DeBacker
Don Carter Bryon Boon Harley Jackson
Bud Forbes C.A. Price Dean Rinner
Guy Dillion Andrew Hahn George Rinner
Merle Sims Howard Jackson Roy Glyn
On December 1st, the Soldier Township Firemen’s Relief Association received its
articles of incorporation,
Valuation was 7,489,245 dollars. To say the least, it rained and rained and rained
during this year. The list of fire fighters remained the same and Dean Rinner was re-
elected to the Firemen a Relief Treasurer position.
April 2nd, Chief Gawker of the Topeka Fire Department gave his written
permission for Soldier Township to use the Topeka Fire Department radio frequency.
The volunteer firefighters took a course in basic firefighting from Keith Boyer an
instructor from KU.
At a fire on Lower Silver Lake Road and Brickyard at a café, Vern Evans broke
out a window before he was told to by Chief Palmer. Vern said that nothing was
mentioned about it at the time while the other fire fighters were around, but that several
days later when they were alone Chief Palmer really chewed him out about destroying
July, the great 1951 flood hit Topeka and covered much of Soldier Township
including the two year old fire station. The water was about 13 inches deep in the office
and it destroyed almost all the old records that were kept in the basement,
The fire trucks were taken to the home of Don Robertson at 3603 North Topeka.
Since phone lines were down between North and South Topeka, the radios were
left turned on in the fire truck to keep in contact with the Topeka Fire Department.
After a short time the battery ran down and the truck would not start by pushing
it. Finally a battery charger was located and when the truck started it was kept running
for two days 24 hours a day until the phone lines were restored,
All the fire fighters were used to help with the rescue operations during the flood.
Although the basement of the fire station was filled with flood waters, the electric
hot water tank was still operating when the basement was cleaned out,
In 1952 the valuation of the township was $7,779,235 and the population was
about 3,053. George Fleischer was the Trustee, Ernest Sechrist was the Treasurer, and
R. Anderson was the Clerk.
Dean Rinner was the Firemen Relief Association Treasurer and the township
listed $15,000 worth of fire equipment.
Firefighters in 1952 were:
Byron Boon Don Carter Joe Deurmeyer Galen Geiser
Vern Evans Bud Forbes Les Galligher Howard Jackson
Dwight Jackson Elmer Jackson Frank McKay Don Robertson
Dean Rinner Bill Shafer Jim Sharp H .A Thompson
John Cummings Marvin Palmer
In November $574.84 was paid to Motorola for a 2 radio for the 1937 Chevy
Valuation was $8,747,92O dollars. Eighty fire calls were reported and a dollar
loss of $6,300.00. Don Robertson-Trustee, Les Galligher –Clerk, Howard Jackson –
Treasurer saw a need to replace the 1937 Chevy and a payment of $832.56 was made
on a 1953 Ford to be built by American Fire Equipment Co.
Valuation of the Township was $8,854,940 and the population was about 3,527.
Don Robertson was the Trustee, Les Galligher was the Treasurer and Howard Jackson
the Clerk. Vern Evans was the Firemen’s Relief Association Treasurer and the
Township listed $25,000 worth of fire equipment.
This picture appeared in the Topeka State Journal Saturday, July 24, 1954 along
with a nice article about Soldier Township and Topeka Township. This picture shows
the new 1953 Ford fire truck that was accepted on March 24 th . The acceptance test was
conducted at Lake Shawnee and the 500 GEM pump passed easily. The truck had a
1,000 gallon tank and served at Soldier Township in place of the 1937 Chevy, that was
sold to Nortonville F.D.
Volunteer wages were $1.00 per hour in l954
Al Meinert started as a volunteer firefighter in August of this year Some other
firefighters that were not listed last year but appeared on this years list were: Don
Givens, Robert Palmer, Merle Sims, Frank Thatcher and Daryl Carnahan.
Valuation was $9,181,360 dollars, The population was about 3,764 and the
department listed $25,000 dollars worth of fire equipment,
It cost $125.95 to print the yearly report.
Valuation was $9,468,080 dollars. The population was about 4,001.
December 29th, 10:00 AM, sealed proposals opened for the construction of a
residential addition to the fire station.
Don Robertson, Walter Geiser & Lee Galligher were elected. Vern Evans was the
Firemen’s Relief Treasurer.
Valuation was $10,404,955 dollars. When the new addition was completed it
made it somewhat easier for the two full time fire fighters. The Palmer family moved into
the new addition on the north.
Vern Evans was re-elected to the Firemen’s Relief Treasurer position.
Valuation was $9,974,460 dollars. The population was about 4,475, Fire
equipment was listed at a value of $25,000.00. The fire department budget was $15,800
dollars. Don Robertson, Walter Geiser & Ira Price were elected to the Township Board,
Valuation was $9,848,370 dollars. Budget was $15,800.00,
Valuation was $10,308,035 dollars. The population was 4,949 and the
department listed $24,000 dollars worth of fire equipment, Firefighters were:
Don Carter Dwight Jackcson Dean Rinner
John Cummings Elmer Jackson Jim Sharp
Vern Evans Al Meinert Tom Chaffee
Bud Forbes Joe Pollom Frank Thatcher
Les Galligher Don Robertson Bob Palmer
Don Givens Byron Robertson Marvin Palmer Galen Geiser
The county planning board predicts that the population of Soldier Township for
the year 1975 will be 8,488.
April 1st, Elbie Cowan was forced to resign due to ill health, On the 7th of April,
the Firemen’s Relief Assoc, voted to pay Elbie Cowan $100 dollars a month disability for
6 months until his Social Security starts.
May 28th, Barney Burks starts as the Assistant Chief, Shortly after Barney got off
training he was sleeping one night when an alarm came in. He jumped out of bed and
grabbed what he thought was his jeans. When he tried to get the zipper around to the
front it wouldn’t come, He had grabbed his wife’s jeans by mistake & they had a side
Nineteen volunteers attended a training session this year given by the fire
instructors from KU.
November 2nd, Soldier Township and Topeka enter into a mutual aid agreement,
Bert Line was the Topeka Fire Chief,
December, fire department buys several Proximity Suits.
Township officers elected this year were: Ira Price-Treasurer, Don Blanton –
Clerk and Cliff Fleenor – Trustee.
Valuation was $10,873,395 dollars. Population was 5,187. The fire department
listed $24,000 dollars worth of fire fighting equipment,
October 22nd, 2:35 PM House fire 2000 Burgess very little damage.
October 22nd, 9:00 PM House fire 2000 Burgess – very little damage,
October 23rd, 2:50 AM – House fire 2000 Burgess – destroyed the house.
Don Carter reported a suspicious car near the fire but it turned out to be a family
watching all the excitement.
Valuation was $11,318,405 dollars. Population was 5,397. $23,000 dollars worth
of fire equipment was reported for the year and 74 fire calls were answered with a dollar
loss estimate of $42,650 dollars. The department averaged seven men per call,
H,M, Michels was elected Trustee, Frank Thacher as Clerk and Elmer Jackson
February 19th, 3:55 AM 2633 N, Kansas, The Feedbag Nightclub caught fire,
Vern Evans and Don Carter found a five gallon gas can on the inside, The loss was
reported to be $32,000 dollars.
April 4th, 2:45 PM – 24 & 75 – 1956 Chevy suffered $150.00 damage. The car
belonged to Al Meinert.
July 4th, 10:45 AM 75 and Pleasant Hill Lane – a fireworks stand caught fire,
sssssssssssss, bang, bang, Booooom.
Valuation was $11,607,485 dollars. Population 5,674. The department answered
167 calls and averaged 6 men per call with a dollar loss estimate of $60,530.00.
Firefighters this year were:
Tim Barks Gaylord Grover Dean Rinner
Don Carter Dwight Jackson Don Robertson
John Cummings Elmer Jackson Tim Sharp
Vern Evans Clifford Lowe Frank Thatcher
Les Galligher Al Meinert Marvin Palmer
Galen Geiser Bob Palmer Gary Barks
Don Givens Joe Pollom
Soldier Township applied for a base radio license. January 26th, Century Lumber
requested a fire protection contract. Gloves were purchased for the volunteers at a cost
October 26th, the C.G.F. elevator burns – 5:04 PM. The Topeka Fire Department
responded with 7 engines, 3 chiefs and layed 9,000 feet of hose, They pumped 470,400
gallons of water and stayed at the fire for 4 hours.
October 31st, an Air Force semi-trailer on Highway 75 broke a line and started
leaking liquid nitrogen The fire department stood by until repairs could be made,
December 20th, 7:50 PM — 1416 Nickle Road (NW 39th) a house fire caused
$1,100 dollars damage. Spot lights shining on an artificial Christmas tree caught the
drapes on fire. The house belonged to Vern Evans,
Valuation was $12,099,555 dollars. The population was 6,131. The department
answered 184 alarms and averaged 6 men per call. The dollar loss estimate was
Firefighters were the same plus John Kessinger was added,
January 26th, 9:45 PM – 4515 N, Topeka – Valley Vista Locker Plant fire cost
$34,000 and the fire department was there for 5 hours, Since several false alarms had
been turned in at the plant, arson was suspected. Two brave men, Don Carter & Vern
Evans spent till 4:00 AM hiding at the location trying to catch vandals or arsonist It was
so dark they couldn’t see and a strange sound scared the—-of them. It turned out to be
December 9th, the department received a F.C.C. notice of violation for radio
procedures. No records had been kept and the radio was off frequency, H.M. Michels,
Vern Evans and Paul Collier won the election this year.
Valuation was $13,581,990 dollars. The population was 6,449, The department
listed $22,000 dollars worth of fire equipment, Eighty-seven alarms were answered with
an average of 6 men at a loss estimate of $53,800 dollars
Volunteers were the same as last year with the addition of Paul Collier,
June 2nd, 8:30 PM 3400 Meriden Road, a car fire was reported but when the fire
truck arrived the car was gone,
October 8th, a Ford chassis to be built into a fire truck for Soldier Township was
delivered to Noller Ford,
November, $681.00 was paid for a radio.
December, Noller Ford was paid $4,663.28 for the chassis, and $647.31 was left
in the budget.
Valuation was $13,527,445 dollars. Population 6,609. The department listed
$21,000 dollars of fire equipment, An average of 5 men responded to 183 alarms with
an estimated dollar loss of $11,340 dollars,
The budget was $29,951.89 of which $29,000 was spent during the year,
Ralph Lewis, Paul Collier & Bob Kahler were elected to the Township Board at the
Firefighters were the same this year minus John Kessinger. May 2nd, the 1966
Ford (16 Engine) is completed in Marsh Alltown, Iowa,
May 4th, the acceptance test is run on the new truck at the Topeka Fire
May, the 1948 GMC is sold to Grantville for $2,000 dollars
July 12, purchased 19 pairs of boots at $l8.95 a pair.
July 18th, purchased 22 badges at $2.95 each.
July 25th, purchased 1,200 feet of hose for $1,155.60.
August 18th, the tank on the 1953 Ford was leaking and had to be repaired at a
cost of $48.15.
October 22, purchased 6 fire coats @ $21.00 each. October, paid $114.00 for the
neon sign in front of station. December 28th, ordered a International chassis to be
made into a fire truck and paid $4,142.80 for it.
December 31st, $724.00 spent on a Motorola radio for the new truck.
Valuation $14,202,310 dollars. Population 7,322. The department listed $30,000
dollars worth of fire equipment. Vern Evans was still the Firemen’s Relief Treasurer.
There was 119 fire calls estimated loss at $12,875 dollars end there was an average
response of 4 men.
February 10th the IH chassis arrived at Marshalltown, Iowa. April, Jim Burks
started as a volunteer.
September 7th, the International (16 Truck) is ready to he picked up at the
September 18th, 16 truck passes the acceptance test at the Topeka Fire
September 21st, received proposal from Rinner Const, Company to add garage
on back of station for new truck.
October, Soldier Township is awarded a “Fireless Fire Prevention Week” award.
November, paid Stevenson Company $1,027.60 to replace the water tank on the
December, paid $3,050 dollars to Rinner Construction Co.
Balance of budget showed $2,454,55 remaining at years end,
Valuation was $16,800,833 dollars, Population 8,012 and $36,000 dollars worth
of fire equipment was listed. The department answered 134 calls at a dollar loss
estimate of $20,765 and averaged 4 men per call,
The budget was $30,000 dollars and $6,347.98 was left at the end of the year,
The Township Board members elected this year were:
Trustee Ralph Lewis, Treasurer Vern Evans, Clerk Bob Kahler. Vern Evans was
still the Firemen’s Relief Treasurer.
January, Richard (Red) Kahler, Herb Massey & David Perkins joined the
volunteer ranks. Others on the force this year were:
Dwight Jackson Tim Sharp Don Robertson
Elmer Jackson Barney Burks Tim Burks
Don Carter Vern Evans Galen Geiser
Al Meinert Les Galligher Joe Pollom
Don Givens Gaylord Grover Robert Palmer
Dean Rinner Marvin Palmer
May 23rd, a squabble developed over who owns the driveway north of the fire
station. August 28th, the Firemen Relief Association received $449.93 from the
Insurance written in the Township,
December, $519.99 used to purchase the air compressor. And $1,354,40 paid to
Motorola most likely for the two Walky Talkie’s.
Sometime during this year Barney Burke resigned as the assistant and Paul
Collier was appointed to that rank,
Valuation was $17,693,291dollars. Population 9,110. An average of 6 men per
call answered 120 calls at a dollar loss estimate of $21,035 dollars and $36,000 dollars
worth of fire equipment was listed for the year. The budget was $30,000 dollars and
$5,790 was left at the end of the year.
During this year the township board considered the possibility of building a new
fire station. August 29th, received $424.50 from insurance written in the township to be
used by the Firemen’s Relief Association.
Ray Jackson and David Jackson joined the volunteer ranks,
Valuation was $17,827,176 dollars. Population 7,225. The budget was
$33,822.42 with $6,041.11 remaining at the end of the year,
The department answered 175 calls with an average of 7 men and a dollar loss
estimate of $16,189 dollars. Paul Collier, Vern Evans & Bob Kahler were elected to the
Township Board this year. Paul Collier resigned to take another job and he was
replaced by Gaylord (Slim) Grover.
June, Fire Chief Milt Palmer passed away at the station, Milt had served as the
Chief for 21 years and his wife Mable had served as the dispatcher all that time, Barney
Burks said that Milt was the nicest guy and the best firefighter he ever knew, “In 8 years
we never had a disagreement” said Barney.
Slim Grover was appointed to take over as Fire Chief and Ray Jackson was hired
as the assistant. Art Schimmel was added to the volunteer list and Paul Collier returned
as a volunteer.
October, Soldier Township was awarded a “Fireless Fire Prevention Week
October 21st, by board resolution the township joined the Kansas Public
Employee’s Retirement System.
Although this is not the year it happened, Barney Burks recalled how at the
funeral of Bud Forbes a fire alarm was turned in about 5000 Button Road, The Topeka
Daily Capitol the next day said that Soldier Township had the best dressed department
in town. Everyone wore suits.
Valuation was $21,437,400 dollars. Population 8,313. The department answered
120 calls with an average of 8 men at a dollar loss estimate of $67,643.00. The budget
was $27,500 for the year with none remaining. August 15th, Slim Grover resigns as Fire
Chief and David Perkins was hired as his replacement. October, Gary Murray was
added to the list of volunteer and Robert Palmer resigned.
October, Chief Perkins applied for Federal funds to build a new fire station but
was turned dawn since Shawnee County was not considered a low income county and
the employment rate was too high.
Fire run sheets for better records of fires was started.
Valuation was $22,304,436 dollars. Population 8,980. Dollar loss estimate was
$48,085 dollars for the 116 calls answered this year by en average of 7.7 men. Paul
Collier, Tern Evans & Bob Kahler were elected to the township board this year. The
budget was $27,500 dollars and none remained at the end of the year.
Robert (Doc) Domer and Gerald Magnuson were added to the list of volunteers.
A black top turn around was placed in front of the station to reduce the hazards
of backing in off the road. The fire pump on 16 Engine was overhauled during the year
with the help of the mechanics at Topeka Fire Department.
April 6th, the volunteers voted to loan $3,200 dollars to the Township at 1%
interest to be used to purchase 22 Plectron radios.
April 26th, a 1972 Chevy chassis was ordered to be made into a fire truck for
Soldier Township to replace the 1953 Ford that had served for 20 years. Chief Perkins
presented the board ideas on a 4-wheel drive vehicle and new fire station. He was told
to proceed on the new station idea.
July 12th Plectron radios were ordered for the volunteers. In August, phone
stickers with the fire number on them were distributed throughout the Township. On the
18th of this month the radio frequency was changed from Topeka freq. to one of our
October 3rd, $18,914 dollars were paid to American Fire Equipment Company
and the new 16 Tanker was picked up at Marshalltown, Iowa by Chief Perkins.
October, Open House was held during Fire Prevention week to let the public see
the new fire truck.
This a 500 GFM pump and a 1,000 gallon tank. Someother new ideas on this
truck were a 1,000 gallon portable tank and a portable pump.
October 25th, a request for a re-inspection for farm insurance rate credit was
made to the Kansas Inspection Bureau. A class “A” rating was denied because of the
excessive running distances in the Township.
December, the first monthly newsletter was printed and 2 fire companies group A
and group B were started to meet the Insurance Services Office requirement.
December 29th, a letter was sent to Water Districts #3 and #4 asking that more fire
hydrants be installed in, the township on their water lines
Valuation was $23,937,861 dollars. Population 9,323. The department listed
$60,000 dollars worth of fire equipment for the year. Only 70 fire calls were made at a
dollar loss estimate of $9,655 dollars and with an average of 9 men.
Gerald Magnuson was elected as the Sec/Tres of the Firemen’s Relief Association.
February, Fire school was held at the station. March, Jim Davis added to
volunteer list. April, started having make meetings on Saturday.
May 18th, the fire department sponsored it first Circus. May 18th, adopted
revised bylaws for the Firemen Relief. May 18th, a meeting was held to discuss
incorporation of the Township into a 3rd class city.
June, Clayton Tice was added to the volunteer list June 14th, the fire fighters
took $500 dollars to Mabel Palmer from the circus proceeds as a token of their
appreciation for her and Milt’s long years of service. Too many restrictions placed on the
relief funds had kept the Relief Association from giving her anything at the time of Milt’s
June, bought 4 Scott Air Paks for $1,528 dollars.
June, donated. $300 dollars to Northern Hills Jr High for the use of the school
grounds for the circus.
June, purchased 350 feet of new yellow fire hose.
July, received a Army jeep from the forestry service.
July, Galen Geiser resigned due to moving out of town.
July 3rd, Ray Jackson resigned as the assistant chief.
July, purchased a 4,000 watt portable generator for $460.
July, Don, Robertson resigned due to moving out of town.
August, pumped 810,000 gallons of water from a pond at Elmont for the
September, purchased tires and wheels for 16 Jeep and it made it’s 1st fire run.
In March, petitions to County Commissioners to incorporate Soldier Township
into a 3rd class city called Northern Hills effectively stop an annexation attempt by the
city of Topeka.
October, purchased an Air Hammer Rescue Kit, During the testing of this device
the hose lines froze up. It was later learned that some moisture was present in the dry
nitrogen bottle used to power the hammer.
October, the department received the “Fireless Fire Prevention Week” award.
November, Wayne Newell is added to the volunteer list.
December 9th, 2:18 PM – 1320 Daisy Drive a house fire was reported. Nothing
was found at the home of Larry Smith, December 15th, David Drotts is hired as the
assistant chief ending a 5 month search to replace Ray Jackson. December, purchased
two Scott Air Paks.
Valuation was $26,108,675 dollars. Population 9,668, The department listed
$65,000 dollars worth of fire equipment. An average of 9 men answered 109 calls with a
dollar loss estimate of $25,175 dollars.
Gerald Magnuson was elected to the Sec. position for the Firemen’s Relief
Association and Jim Andrews and Art Schimmel were elected as board of directors,
Wayne Newell, Vern Evans and Bob Kahler were elected as Township Board
member at the November election.
The list of firefighters for 1974 were:
Don Carter Elmer Jackson Jim Burks
Gerald Magnuson Bob Domer Paul Collier
Vern Evans Dean Rinner Jim Davis
Las Galligher Art Schimmel David Jackson
Larry Smith Jim Sharp Dwight Jackson
Jerry Glasgow Al Meinert Wayne Newell
Red Kahler Jim Andrews Clayton Tice
January 14th, the School Board of District #345 is requested by the Fire Chief to
consider installing automatic fire alarms in the school district.
January 24th, a meeting is held by residents in the Hiller Addition to complain
about underground storage tanks for gas and diesel fuel being located at 62nd & North
Topeka. The Chief assured those at the meeting that all safety precautions were being
followed and the tanks should not present a fire hazard to the community
January 30th, a new base radio, a General Electric model was purchased. This
new radio gave the department better, more reliable communications and was also able
to communicate with the City of Topeka Fire Department.
March 11, Chief Perkins met with Mr. Conrad, Goodyear Plant Manager and his
staff to discuss fire protection and the need to have a contract with the Topeka Fire
Department. It was decided at the meeting that Soldier Township and Goodyear’s own
fire department could handle most of their calls therefore a contract with the city fire
department was not signed.
March 12, several volunteers used one of the fire trucks to wash the parking lot
of Northern Hills Jr. High so they could paint markings for the track teams.
March 27th, the Topeka Water Department was asked to install fire hydrants on a
new large water line being ran through the township to serve District #3. A total of 5 new
hydrants were placed on the line as a result of this request.
April 15, the Kansas Attorney General agents stop ticket sales for our 2nd circus.
New laws on the book required registration of sales people, reports and other items that
had not been needed the year before. The laws were so new that forms for the reports
were not even printed yet by the state. After a week of meetings with the agents,
lawyers and circus owners, the ticket sales were started again.
April, purchased foam nozzel to be used on gas spills. April, purchased a wet
vacuum to clean up buildings after a fire.
May, the fire pump on 16 Engine was making too much noise, The bearings were
replaced and the pump was back in service in less than 24 hours thanks to the help of
the mechanics at the Topeka Fire Department.
May 11th, Chief Perkins made an appearance on the Whizzo show on WIBW to
advertise the circus ticket sales. Whizzo was appointed as a Honorary Fire Chief of
Soldier Township and had a badge to that effect.
May 30th, a meeting is held with Fleming personnel to discuss a fire protection
contract for their warehouse on highway 24 in Menoken Township.
June, an electric garage door opener was installed on the other large door of the
June 2nd, the 2nd circus sponsored by the Soldier Township Firefighters was
held at Northern Hills Jr. High.
June, a 6000 watt generator is purchased by the fire fighters to be used at the
station when the electricity goes off. Shortly after installation, it was used to run the
radio for a fire and only the people at the station knew it was being used.
June, a rescue saw was purchased by the fir fighters and Northland Auto
Salvage was kind enough to let the firefighters make a convertible out of a car to try it
June, donated $300 dollars to Northern Hills Jr High for the use of the school
grounds for the circus. This money, plus what was donated last year, was used by the
school to purchase items they could not afford otherwise. Some of the money was used
to purchase items to be made into a safety rail to go all the way around the track during
track meets and the items were made, welded, etc. by the students themselves
providing them with a worth while project and learning experience, Wood was
purchased and shelves were made for many of the class rooms again this was done by
the students, Two baseball back stops were made by the students and one of them is at
Pleasant Hill Grade School the other is at Northern Hills, these were again made by the
students from material purchased from the donations.
July 12th, Galen Geiser retires due to moving out of town on his job. Galen
requested that he receive a copy of the monthly newsletter each month.
July 13th, Vern Evans arrived home from work to find the fire trucks out in his hay
field fighting a grass fire.
August, purchased 750 Tot Finder decals courtesy of Joe Pollom State Farm Ins,
and the North Plaza Bank,
October, rules were adopted by the firefighters requiring attendance at training
David Drotts resigns as assistant chief to take a job with the Federal Government
at the Leavenworth Prison.
November, tags to be placed on the front of volunteers cars are purchased.
November 9th, fire fighters and board members are saddened at the news of the
death of Mable Palmer.
December, Danny Sales is hired to fill the position of assistant chief.
Valuation was $28,060,900 dollars. Population 10,008. The fire department list
$70,000 dollars worth of fire equipment, An average of 8 men answered 132 fire calls at
an estimated dollars loss of 4 dollars,
Gerald Magnuson elected as Firemen Relief Association Sec, and reported a
balance of $5,780.24. Tim Andrews and Art Schimmel are re-elected as board members
of the association.
February, 2 2/3 acres are donated to Soldier Township at 600 NW 46 Street to
be used for a new fire stations. John and Irene Glump of North Carolina donated the
February, 12 volunteers learn CPR to be able to save a person stricken with a
heart attack. Fire fighters purchase 24 new style helmets to provide for more comfort
and more protection to the head during fire operations.
March, Bob Domer, Red Kahler and Paul Collier resign.
April, Ray Jackson, Bruce Lanning, Randy Fredricks andTom Woodrow are
added to the list of volunteers.
April 20th, a chili feed. Was held at the station, Vern Evans ate 5 bowls of chili, (a
June 11th, 16 Jeep is used to help escort and provide 1st aid to 4-H walk-a-thone
June, Jim Sharp resigns after 38 years of continuous service,
July 18th, Herb Massey remembering the CPR training was able to revive a
Charles Baker who suffered a heart attack.
July 19th, Although 14,000 bales of hay were ablaze as the first units arrived, the
fire was contained in the original pole barn,
At 4:54 AM a fire was reported at 62nd and North Topeka in a hay barn on
Hiller’s Farm Dairy, This location is four and a half miles from the fire station. Initial
response was with 16 Engine and 16 Tanker. Each truck is equipped with a 500 GPM
front mount pump The Engine carries 500 gallons of water and the Tanker 1,000
gallons. Both tanks are enriched with a wetting agent.
Still three miles from the fire scene the glowing horizon warranted a report of a
signal 2. code 2 fire (large fire, send all available help) To the dispatchers this means to
start calling by phone any volunteers who have not reported yet even though all
firefighters have radios.
On arrival at the scene we were confronted by a pole barn containing 14,000
bales of alfalfa hay completely engulfed by flames and, a moderate breeze carrying
flying brands for several hundred yards and dropping them on roof tops of all the other
buildings in the dairy complex A 2 ton truck was less than 15 feet from the fire and a hay
conditioner and bailer were in a portion of the pole barn not yet filled with hay.
Sixteen Engine was first in and began cooling hay in a barn only 25 feet from the
original fire. The radiated heat was so intense in this driveway that the Assistant Chief,
Danny Sales suffered burns to both heels through fire boots and socks. The Tanker was
used to pull the hay conditioner away from the fire and then pushed the truck away,
Tires and paint on the farm truck had started smoking. The window glass had shattered
from the heat. At this time a call was made for the remaining piece of equipment, 16
Truck another 500 GPM pamper with a 500 gallon tank to respond. Upon it’s arrival
Chief Perkins placed it to protect the buildings at the north end of the complex.
Knowledge gained by past inspections of the dairy was put to good use as the
Chief ordered 16 Tanker to a pond about 100 feet from the fire, The Tanker began
drafting operations and 16 Engine was sent to a larger pond about 1,500 feet from the
fire. The 2 ½ inch hose layed on the way to this pond was layed to two 1 1/2 inch lines
and the fire was soon reduced and cooled to a smoldering state no longer producing the
flying brands and radiated heat so threatening due to the direction of the wind. At this
tune 16 Truck was returned to service,
At 8:30 AM the small pond was almost dry and 16 Tanker was returned to
service, A neighbor to the dairy. Ralph Gordon being co-owner of Quality Excavating
Company, offered the services of two Caterpillar hyloaders to tear down and scatter the
large pile of smoldering hay,
At 10:30 AM the units arrived and the long process of moving and wetting down
the hay began At 8:30 PM, 15 ½ hours after the call came in, all equipment was
released with the fire out. making this the longest battle in our history. The 16 Engine
drafted continually from about 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM. The departrnent used 1,800 feet of
2 1/2 inch hose, 500 feet of 11/2 inch hose, 300 feet of booster line and pumped
approximately 2 1/2 million gallons of water from 3 different farm ponds Both full time
men and 17 of the 22 volunteers attended this fire. Loss was estimated at $45,000
dollars. Since natural causes were for the most part eliminated, arson is suspected.
July, Larry Howe is added to the list of fire fighters
July, Soldier Township fire department assisted the city of Topeka and Silver
Lake Fire Department at a large fire at the Century Lumber Yard.
October 5th, Fire Prevention Week Open House was held to explain and promote
a bond election for a new fire station.
October, Tom Woodrow resigns.
October 21st, Herb Massey is honored at a supper by the Red Cross for his life
saving efforts on July 18 th .
October, 12 signs promoting the bond election were placed around the township
to encourage voters.
November 4th, a special bond election was held for the purpose of voting for or
against bonds for a new fire station for the amount of $137,000 dollars. The bonds
were approved by 677 to 179. The Architect firm of Knight, Remmele and Eaton began
final drawings for the new fire station.
December 6th, Soldier Township sponsored a Regional Arson Detection School.
December 15th, bids were opened for the sale of the old fire station at 2705
North Topeka. Highest bidder was Harold Dotty of Kansas Sewing Machine Co.
Valuation was $27,447,320 dollars at the beginning of the year and the
population had passed the ten thousand mark. Township board members: Wayne
Newell – Trustee, Vern Evans – Treasurer, Bob Kahler – Clerk
Full time fire fighters: David Perkins — Fire Chief
Danny Sales — Assistant Chief
Virginia Perkins – Dispatcher
Marcia Sales — Dispatcher
Volunteer fire fighters:
Jim Andrews Larry Smith Herb Massey
Gerald Magnuson J Davis Al Meinert
Nick Scofield Jerry Glasgow Wayne Newell
Don Carter David Jackson Bob Clark
Bruce Lanning Dwight Jackson Dean Rinner
Vern Evans Ray Jackson Clayton Tice
Les Galligher Randy Frederick Art Schimmel
Jim Andrews and Art Schimmel were elected to the board of the Firemen’s Relief
Association and Gerald Magnuson was elected as the Sec./Tres. He reported assets of
The department now has 3 members who are Paramedics and can supply
emergency procedures to firefighters and others in the Township.
America’s 200th Birthday and the inspiration for this book finds that plans were
finished for a new 4 bay fire station to be located at 600 N.W. 46th. When the station is
moved (about October) it will culminate four years of planning, researching, talking,
writing letters and calling to get the land donated and the bond election set.
We with to take this opportunity to thank Mr. & Mrs. John Glump of Walker, N.C. for the
gift of the land. Mrs. Glump the former Mrs. Ireene Meade donated the
2 and 2/3 acres in memory of her father Marion O. Land.
THIS BOOK IS DECICATED TO ALL THE CORAGEOUS FIREFIGHTERS, PAST AND
PRESENT, WHO HAVE GIVEN SO MUCH OF THEIR TIME AND THEIR SELVES TO
CONTROL THE SPREAD OF DESTRUCTION OF FIRES IN SOLDIER TOWNSHIP.
PAST AND PRESENT, WHO HAVE GIVENN SO MUCH OF THEIR TIME AND
We hope you have enjoyed reading it and that it brings fond memories of the past to
mind for you.
Sometimes I really wonder why we do the things we do.
Why should we rise at three A.M. to stop a fire for you?
Why should we come to your house and maybe risk our life?
To save your possessions, your children, and your wife.
Why should we sweat for hours, working at your place?
And breath the rank and deadly smoke and get soot on our face.
You helped to start this fire you know, one way or maybe three.
Why should the stopping of it now, be left to my friends and me?
We’ll do our best as we know how to save all that we can.
We’ll work our fingers to the bone to help our fellow man.
And when we finally leave your house, so early in the mourn.
Some cleaning chores are first at hand though we’re tired & worn.
The fire trucks must be ready, and ready very soon.
We could have more runs to make before it’s even noon.
A few of us can relax for now, the rest are off to work.
For we have other jobs you know and those we can not shirk,
FIREFIGHTERS are a special breed, I know this heart and mind.
And SOLDIER TOWNSHIP has the BEST, that you will ever find,