Miami County Commissioner Rob Roberts puts on a self-contained breathing apparatus with help from Louisburg Fire Chief Gerald Rittinghouse. The commissioners took a tour of the Louisburg fire station on Metcalf Road before the start of their study session Wednesday, Aug. 21.

LOUISBURG – A fire doubles every 14 seconds.

Louisburg Fire Chief Gerald Rittinghouse talked about how quickly a fire can spread while he was providing Miami County commissioners with a tour of the Louisburg fire station Wednesday, Aug. 21, on Metcalf Road. The station shares a building with Miami County EMS station No. 2.

Commissioners looked over the equipment at the station, which houses trucks and other equipment owned by the city of Louisburg as well as trucks, pumpers and grass-fire rigs owned by Miami County Rural Fire District No. 1. The county commission recently took over management of rural fire district operations.

Rittinghouse and volunteer Louisburg firefighter Josh Weber showed commissioners some of the equipment the department uses to keep firefighters safe during fires, including the self-contained breathing apparatuses often called air tanks.

“It’s heavy but balanced,” Commissioner Rob Roberts said as he tried on the apparatus with help from the fire chief.

Rittinghouse and Weber set off two alarms, one that lets firefighters know when their air tanks are low and the other indicates when a firefighter is in trouble.

The alarms echoed through the massive station.

“They sound loud in here, but they have to be,” Weber said. “Fires are extremely loud. I was amazed at how loud they are (at my first fire).”

Fires also burn extremely hot.

Rittinghouse explained fire gear is good up to 900 degrees. He said a Christmas tree burns at 1,700 degrees. Weber, who is also a Master Trooper with the Kansas Highway Patrol, showed commissioners where a suit had blistered near the ankle.

The fire chief said most people are killed by toxins emitted in a house fire and not the flames. He said it’s not uncommon to find victims near the doorway or in a closet, which they had mistaken for the door to go outside.

“If you get out, never go back inside (a burning structure),” Rittinghouse said. “Nothing in there is worth your life.”

News Editor Doug Carder can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or doug.carder@miconews.com.

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