Entire Kansas town’s fire department quits

BENTLEY, Kan. (KSNW) – The small town of Bentley, Kan. was without a fire department Friday.  The entire department, made up of 17 volunteer firefighters, quit after the most recent council meeting.

Former Fire Chief Donnie Bean, Jr. said in a statement the town’s financial troubles led to his decision to quit.

Bean said the town’s council had had to make some tough decisions, including cutting $6,600 from its budget down to just $29,000 for the year.

In his statement, Bean said,  “I feel like I was not the right person to lead the department in the new direction the council is looking to go based on the decisions they have to make.”

Among his concerns, Bean said he was worried about safety decisions the council made.

“There has been talk about removing the insurance (covering firefighters if something were to happen (during calls/training) to save money.”

He also said equipment is an issue.

Bean said he has three firefighters who must share one set of firefighting gear because it’s the only set that fits.  That means all three firefighters cannot go out on a call at the same time.

But, Bean said he did not encourage the other firefighters to resign.

“The decision by the rest of the department to resign was a unanimous decision of all the members.”

Some members of the community are concerned about what comes next.

“As a council, as a city, what are we missing?” asks Bentley resident Darren Woodson.  “Are we not meeting their needs so they can take care of ours? I mean there’s just a lot of questions that I wouldn’t have an answer for.”

KSN reached out to the Bentley Mayor, the City Attorney and members of the Bentley City Council.  None of them would talk with KSN.  However, the mayor did say he would be speaking about the issue on Monday.

In the meantime, the Sedgwick County Fire Department will be responding to fire calls in Bentley.

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