The new Pittsburg Fire Station No. 1 offers many advantages over the previous facility, according to Bill Scott.


The new Pittsburg Fire Station No. 1 offers many advantages over the previous facility, according to Bill Scott.

And he should know, because he spent 39 years working at the old station.

“I toured it, and it’s a fantastic facility,” Scott said. “It’s brought the Pittsburg Fire Department into the 21st century.”

A lifetime Pittsburg resident, Scott joined the department in 1964 and became chief in 1981, serving in that position until his retirement in 2003. He was voted Kansas Fire Chief of the Year in 1999 by the Kansas Fire Chief’s Association.

Being a firefighter was his childhood dream as well as a family tradition. His father, Bill Scott Sr., was a captain in the Pittsburg Fire Department and lost his life in the line of duty during a fire at a Pittsburg television repair shop in 1955 when his son was only 11.

During Scott’s time as chief there were numerous improvements in the Pittsburg Fire Department. To name a few, Station No. 2 was relocated from 15th and Joplin Streets to 20th and Rouse Streets, and a training tower was built behind the station; Station No. 3 was relocated from the Pittsburg State University campus to a new facility on Rouse; and old first-line fire apparatus was replaced.

But Fire Station No. 1 had its problems. “The old facility did serve us well,” Scott said. “But it was time to update and modernize.”

Lack of space was a big problem. “The new station has plenty of room for the apparatus, and that was a big drawback at the old station,” Scott said. “The apparatus just got bigger than the station. It became so crowded that we had to be careful getting in and out of the trucks because the doors might bang into the other trucks.”

The old station also lacked sufficient space for administrative offices. “There’s plenty of room now to sit and visit with the public if they come in with a question,” Scott said. “It gives more an air of professionalism. Then there are the new radio room and computer room, and plenty of space for equipment and hose storage. They didn’t hold back on this station, and it should serve well for many  years to come.”

Not only the facilities have changed over the years. The former chief said he has seen tremendous change in firefighting as well.

“We’re more safety conscious now,” Scott said. “Before, there was very little use of air-packs, and we carried the air-packs in a suitcase in back of the truck. Now when a firefighter gets off the truck, that air-pack is already strapped on his back. Firefighting tactics have also changed, and we have things like chemical foams that we didn’t have before.”

During an interview he gave before his retirement in 2003, Scott predicted that the Pittsburg Fire Department would become involved with Emergency Medical Services as first responders. He strongly supported the idea, reasoning that, because fire stations are located strategically around the city, the firefighters are in an excellent position to provide EMS first response in a short time.

“Now the Pittsburg Fire Department responds to all medical calls within the city,” Scott said. “Things have changed over the years, and it’s all for the better.”