The retirement of Fire Chief Michael Napolitano earlier this year resulted in some in-house promotions at the Great Bend Fire Department, starting with Captain Luke McCormick being named the new chief in September. More in-house promotions were announced in November.
Michael Reifschneider is the new GBFD captain. He has been at the GBFD for 12 years after coming from the La Crosse Fire Department. After six months on the job he went to school to become a paramedic. He is part of the tech rescue team and Emergency Medical Service education training officer. He graduated from Hutchinson Community College with a fire science degree. He is married and has two children.
“It is a great honor to be promoted to captain,” Reifchcneider said. “I am looking forward to working with the men and maintaining a readiness in the department.”
The captain’s responsibilities are to oversee the day-to-day activities of the engine, truck or ladder company, while observing aspects of the crew performance with an eye toward analysis and feedback. Each captain may oversee multiple lieutenants, one of whom will likely fill in for him when the captain is unavailable.
The captain is often the authority on hand directing operations at an emergency scene, and may be the one to speak on behalf of the unit to the public through media or other forum.
“My goals for the department as captain are to make sure everything is ready for an emergency situation, oversee day-to-day activities and make sure the men come home after every shift,” Reifchcneider said.
The fire department
The GBFD was founded in 1874 with a hand-drawn wagon, two dozen leather buckets and two 16’ ladders. The department has grown to a fully-staffed department of 24 shift members, along with the fire chief, fire inspector, department secretary, and volunteers.
Today, the department has two staffed stations in the city and one unstaffed station at the airport.
The department provides fire protection and rescue for the city of Great Bend and serves approximately 20,000 Barton County residents in the following townships: Buffalo, Liberty, South Bend and Great Bend. In addition, the department provides EMS response and transport to Great Bend, six townships, and the cities of Albert and Pawnee Rock. The average response time is 3.5 minutes in the city and 8 minutes in the county.