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    Near tragedy guides Kansas firefighter to make fire trucks

    By Carina BransonPayton Steiner,


    HARPER, Kan. (KSNW) – Making things is a passion of Greg Blanchat. But instead of making art, he makes fire trucks. Blanchat turned a near tragedy into a passion to save lives.

    “When you suit up when you snap in, you really feel it. Like I say, ‘Fire is a living, breathing thing,’ and I really think it can think too,” said Blanchat.

    Roaring flames and billowing smoke were seen from miles around.

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    “We were up on a hill, most of us watching it and looking down on it, and we backed up because it was incredibly hot,” said Stan May, a spectator and retired 30-year firefighter.

    It wasn’t a wildfire. It was an experiment.

    “It’s amazing he was able to put it out that fast dealing with that kind of heat,” said May.

    It was performed by Blanchat.

    “Paper tells you one thing, live tells you if it really works,” he said.

    Blanchat is an avid and successful inventor who got his start in farming equipment.

    “This plow was the very first thing I did, second year out of high school. It worked so well the neighbors next to me said, ‘Why don’t you do one for me?'” He said.

    An inventive spirit he carried with him into his career as a firefighter

    “Every time I went out and fought a fire, I came back and changed the trucks. I’ve gone to funerals; I’ve seen it happen,” said Blanchat.

    Further bolstered by a near-tragedy of his own in 1988.

    “I was flicked off the truck, and the truck damn near ran over the top of me – my daughter was only a month old when it happened, and I about orphaned her,” said Blanchat.

    Now he works to keep other firefighters out of harm’s way at Blanchat Manufacturing .

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    “There’s such a thing as excellence, and we are striving for it to take care of my brother firefighters,” said Blanchat.

    A flame of ambition embodied by a single phrase:

    “There’s a better way to do it, I don’t care. There’s a better way to build this truck, and that’s what we’re doing,” said Blanchat.

    Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

    For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to KSN-TV.

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