Rural volunteer fire departments suffer; DNR helps

Taxpayers fund budgets for city fire departments. It’s a different story for volunteer fire departments. They rely on fundraisers or payments from an insurance company for work they completed. Here's how DNR is stepping in to help.

Posted: Jul. 19, 2018 9:08 AM
Updated: Jul. 19, 2018 9:14 AM

GREENE COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - Taxpayers fund budgets for city fire departments. It’s a different story for volunteer fire departments. They rely on fundraisers or payments from an insurance company for work they completed.

For rural areas like Greene County, the departments cover a wide range. Take Richland-Taylor Township Volunteer Fire Department for example. The chief says they cover 40 miles of Interstate 69. They are called to every accident that happens in the area. That's not including other calls such as fires or medical runs.

If you drive 20 minutes north, you'll find Center-Jackson Volunteer Fire Department. Jeremy Inman is the chief. He says extensive training for each volunteer firefighter can be the difference between life or death.

“If they're doing something wrong, it could really hurt someone quicker. If they're trained properly and efficiently, it can make for a better outcome of the situation,” said Inman.

Both volunteer fire departments in Greene County are ramping up their operations. That's thanks to a grant from the Department of Natural Resources.

Center-Jackson and Richland-Taylor Township are both receiving $5,000 each from the department.

Richland-Taylor plans to use the money for new mobile radios. They're also going to purchase lights for their trucks so they can be seen easily while working an accident at night.

Center-Jackson plans to build a new two-story training facility.
Inman says being able to train in their own backyard will increase volunteers in the county. This is critical in keeping their doors open, as rural fire departments are in desperate need of volunteers. Indiana leaders say it's a statewide issue.

To join your local volunteer fire department, click here.

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