TFD hoping to expand medical response with interim fire chief

TOPEKA (KSNT) — Many Topeka residents are concerned about why city officials decided to hire an interim chief all the way from Arizona. What expertise will he bring to this department? It’s something that the Topeka Fire Department has never had before and that’s Advance Life Support.

“Most of what the fire department does in terms of runs is more medical calls,” said Councilman Brendan Jensen.

Right now the Topeka Fire Department provides basic medical support to the community, things like bandaging wounds, administering oxygen and giving aspirin. The city would like to change that by providing more services.

Currently the city pays Shawnee County to handle its medical service. City officials hope Interim Chief Tim Wayne can find a solution. Wayne has more than 26 years of experience in fire and emergency response work.

But many still wonder why didn’t the city look inside TFD?

“At this point there just isn’t anyone in the department that really has community health expertise that we need,” said Jensen.

The city has Wayne on a 6-month “loan” from Arizona. But could he stay on board if he applies and is offered the position as head chief?

“As with any of our employees in the organization they could certainly apply for any open position through the country,” said Goodyear Fire Chief Paul Luizzi, Wayne’s boss.

The Council nor City Manager Jim Colson has a made a permanent decision, to keep Wayne as the fire chief past his 6-months, but says this move is important for the city to explore its options.

“This is an incredibly positive thing because this give us the chance to learn from someone in another community that’s already done what we are about to do,” Jensen said.

Jensen says it’s important for current Chief Greg Bailey to stay on as an advisor to show Wayne how the department operates. He say’s “it’s the best of both worlds”. The city will have a chief who understand the department, and one that can help bring medical assistance.

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