Kansas State Fire Marshal Doug Jorgensen has been in the first responder community for 40 years.

Saturday Jorgensen spoke about understanding the sacrifices and commitment required to an understanding audience as County and City law enforcement agencies, Kansas Wildlife and Parks, County Fire Districts, Emergency Management, Rescue & Medical Services, 911 Centers and School Resource Officers, along with family, friends and community supporters, were on hand for the Third Annual First Responder Appreciation Dinner held in El Dorado Feb. 29.

Jorgensen said few communities across the state recognize their first responders this way.

Jorgensen shared information about the programs and resources his office provides.

The Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) is dedicated to protecting the lives and property of the citizens of Kansas from the hazards of fire, explosion, and natural and man-made disasters.

He said the OSFM is funded through money generated from a small fee on every insurance policy sold in the state each year.

Jorgensen touched on recruitment and retention issues within the first responder community as well as mental health issues of first responders and the strategies being employed to address those needs.

According to Jorgensen, 86% of firefighters in the state are volunteers. Many of the dinner attendees are volunteers within the Butler County First Responder Community.

Dane Scherling, Managing Partner of Carlson and Kirby-Morris Funeral Homes, welcomed guests and served as the evening’s emcee. Carlson and Kirby-Morris sponsored the annual Appreciation Dinner and Jean Plummer served as the event organizer.

In the audience, El Dorado Police Chief Curt Zieman, was acknowledged for his 40 years of service.