Bickford retires after 33 years of service with Burlingame fire department

013014-elora-bickfordKansas State Firefighters Association Treasurer Dan Romine presents a certificate to longtime Burlingame fire fighter Elora Bickford, commemorating her 33 years of service to the Burlingame community.

On January 18, 2014, Osage County Fire District No. 6, Burlingame, held its annual awards banquet and honored long time volunteer Lt. Elora Bickford for 33 years of dedicated service to the community of Burlingame and surrounding area. She was presented with a custom painted traditional helmet, a certificate from Kansas State Firefighters Association, presented by treasurer Dan Romine, as well as certificates from the Kansas Board of EMS and the Kansas State Fire Marshal.

Elora began her volunteer service on April 2, 1981, when she signed up with a newly formed group called the Burlingame Rescue Squad. This was a group of several community-minded people that saw a need for what we now call “first responders”. Their operating budget came solely from donations. The group was very well supported by the community.

As time went on liability insurance and other costs were more than the squad could afford. In July 1987 the group made a deal with the local fire department and they joined forces. Elora stayed until this day as one of only two of the original group that merged with the fire department.

Elora spent 33 years working for the VA hospital in Topeka, as well as being a dedicated wife to her husband, Ron, and raising a family of three girls. Elora passed on her sense of community to her daughters. Her oldest daughter, Teresa McNellis, was honored for 25 years of service at the banquet and is still an active member; Marisa Lacoe is married to Eric who volunteers for Beloit Fire Department, and Alicsa Mayer and husband Dana both volunteer for Alta Vista Fire Department. Ron Bickford spent many years as a volunteer for Burlingame Fire Department and served several terms on the Burlingame City Council.

As with all volunteer service there is always training and new things to learn. Elora took that very seriously. She became certified as a first responder June 9, 1988. She was later promoted to lieutenant over the medical program for the fire department on Jan. 7, 1993. As she challenged herself more, she became a certified EMT April 13, 1995, Firefighter I certified in June of 1997, and became an EMT-I on Sept. 11, 1998. You could always find Elora attending the SCAFFA school in Topeka every spring as well as numerous other training opportunities.

“Elora has been a very active volunteer for Burlingame,” said Burlingame fire chief Jim Strohm. “She has participated in and played a big part in the progress of the department, especially with the first responder medical program.

“There is no doubt she has touched many lives in the community,” Strohm said. “It takes a special person to do what she has done selflessly for 33 years. Burlingame Fire Department and the community wish her the best in her retirement.”

Information thanks to Osage County Fire District No. 6.

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