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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Indian Creek Volunteer Fire Department Celebrates 50 Years of Service

FAYETTEVILLE - NOVEMBER 7, 2022 - The Indian Creek Township Volunteer Fire Department has reached a milestone within the community. The fire department has now been serving the community for more than 50 years now.

Indian Creek Volunteer Fire Department makes a water rescue on Salt Creek earlier this year

The fire department was organized in October of 1972, with the fire department responding on its first fire run in November of 1973.

Receiving the fire calls were a little bit different back then, the firefighters received the call by phone call that rung in to each the firefighters' homes. At the time the Lawrence County Sheriff's office would receive a call on a seven-digit number, then the sheriff's office will ring into all the firefighter's homes at one time. This was before 911 was around.

Newspaper clipping of the Heltonville School fire in 1975 - Indian Creek Volunteer Fire Department helped Pleasant Run Fire Department fight the fire

The original department had 15 members and two fire assistant fire chiefs, Willard Stiles, and Harold Crane.

By 1979, the fire departments in Lawrence County finally were able to be dispatched by alert tones, however during that time the tones were only received by a home alert monitors. If firefighters were out traveling, or working they still ran a risk of missing the call.

As time progressed firefighters received the call by scanners, and eventually pagers that were worn to alert firefighters of a fire call. Now most volunteers carry a two-way radio to alert them of a fire or EMS call.

Many attend a soup supper Saturday night to celebrate Indian Creek Township Volunteer Fire Department 50 years of service

Fundraising and financial help were always needed in small volunteer fire departments, when the first volunteer fire departments were organized. The volunteer fire departments heavily relied on community support to fund the operations of the fire departments.

There was little to no government grants to help the volunteer fire departments in the early days of organizing volunteer fire departments.

Scrap book photos of various training sessions and how the department existed in the late 70s and early 1980s

The departments did not have the fire helmets, coats, boats and gloves as the departments in 2022 now have. The departments then, if they were lucky to have fire gear, consisted of rubber coats, gloves and boats, that sometimes got very warm while fighting fire. The air packs the fire departments have been few and far between, for many years only about four within the department.

Photo of a similar fire engine the Indian Creek Township Volunteer Fire Department will be receiving in fall of 2023

The fire trucks were usually used trucks converted into the purpose of fighting fires. For Indian Creek Township the first trucks were donated to the department from Crulo Trucking, National guard, and a third was donated by that needed a whole lot of work to every start fighting fires.

the fire station in Fayetteville has since expanded and now the fire department has taken over the operation of the Williams Volunteer Fire Department that went out of service. The Williams Volunteer Fire Departments were one of the first volunteer fire departments organized in Lawrence County.

Indian Creek did not get a new truck until 1974 when the department received a FHA loan both for the building of a new fire station, and the purchase of the truck.

Firefighting equipment and training have improved for the department over the years

Today, like with all most departments, equipment, fire engines, and training have all improved since the humble beginnings of establishing a rural fire department. Most locations in Lawrence County did not have any form of fire protection until their communities organized them.

Today, the volunteer fire services are evaporating with number of volunteer firefighters are the lowest record level in 2016 and 2017. The number of volunteer firefighters has declined from 300,000 in the 1970s to 38,000 in the state of Pennsylvania, alone. In North Carolina noted a 22 percent decline in 2019.

In the 1970s the only purpose of a fire department was to fight fires. Now, the fire departments across the nation are now emergency response teams responding to vehicle accidents, emergency medical calls, hazardous materials releases, and over this last weekend tree removal when storms hit the area.

Indian Creek Volunteer Fire Department responds to recent wildland fire in Silverville

Federal and state regulations now require training for both firefighters, emergency medical personnel and specialized training for various other functions the department performs. The training requirements along with responding to a increase in call volume, have made the volunteer a third (non-paid) job for many men and women who decide to help their community by volunteering.

The volunteer fire departments throughout the State of Indiana, and Nation will probably look a whole lot different in the next 50 years.

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