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Mass Notification System Prepares Small Community for Wildfire Threat, Saving Lives and Property

Manter, KS 67862, USA
CivicPlus

Cost

Zero upfront cost to local government

Project Status

Operational since 2018

At a Glance

A wildfire came through Manter, Kansas in April of 2018. With a large population of farmers, fires can be devastating to businesses countywide. Because of the town’s emergency notification system, citizens were able to band together to act quickly and minimize fire damage.

Problem Addressed

The citizens of Manter, Kansas are the type of caring residents who look out for one another. With a population of only about 180 citizens, Manter locals are hardworking farmers who are fiercely loyal to one another, and protective of their land and families. For Nina Sipes, her husband, Ron, and the rest of the Sipes family who owns the Sipes’ farming entities in Manter Kansas, wildfires in the Great Plains are an omnipresent risk—but one with the potential to devastate a business they have built and worked to maintain their whole lives. Worst of all, such fires have the potential to destroy the lives of friends, family, and neighbors.

On April 17, 2018, Colorado and Kansas faced above-average heat, drought conditions, and high winds, all of which contributed to the Badger Hole Fire in Baca County, CO. It quickly spread across the Colorado-Kansas border and into Southwest Kansas’ Stanton County, threatening important farmland. During the blaze, the citizens of Manter relied on one another, their local Sheriff’s Department and volunteer fire department, to protect their town.

Stanton County, Kansas Sheriff's Department used/is using CivicReady Emergency and Mass Notification System to address this/these challenge(s).

Solution(s) Used

Similar to many of Manter’s farmers, the Sipes family’s livelihood relied on their crops. Unfortunately, Nina Sipes was a whole 45 minutes away, visiting a friend when the fires were initially identified. With CivicReady®’s emergency mass notification alert, both Nina and her friend received notification of the fire. This gave them ample time to drive back home and contact their neighbors and family.

Sipes’ friend’s property faced imminent danger, so she rushed back to her house in order to deal with the pressing threat. She wouldn’t have been able to reach home in time if it weren’t for the notification.

On her drive home, Nina contacted her family, alerting them of the blaze nearing their property.

“My husband, my nephew, and one of our hired men spent the next 36 hours trying to make sure the fire could not touch our feed facility,” said Sipes. “And they were successful. Our houses and facilities were not touched by flames—only a few fields. It would have put us out of business permanently if our farm had been damaged. Our entire stored crop would have burned. It was a hefty job, but they pulled it off...I had forgotten that several years ago when our Sheriff’s department first implemented the alert system that I had signed up for alerts. At first, I didn’t know who sent the alert, but then I realized it was CivicReady...We can do a lot to stop these fires if we know about them soon enough. And people will help. I think CivicReady is one of the best assets our County can have. No one can wait for someone else to save them. We have to be prepared to save ourselves.”

Outcomes

  1. The Sipes family avoided property damage, saving their entire feed facility and ultimately, their business.
  2. While the town did incur structural damage, it avoided serious injuries and death because of its citizens’ ability to act quickly.
  3. Community members were able to work together and combine resources to protect property and contain the fire’s spread.
  4. The ability to quickly contact neighbors, family, and tenants allowed citizens to react quickly and orderly.

Lessons Learned

  1. Since her experience with the Badger Hole Fire, Nina Sipes has become an advocate for her fellow residents to sign up for CivicReady alerts from her County Sheriff’s Department.

Who Should Consider?

Towns or counties looking to implement mass notification systems as part of their emergency response and disaster preparedness plans.

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