FORTVILLE — Volunteer firefighters in Fortville are disbanding their organization after 130 years as officials restructure fire protection in Vernon Township.

The township has contracted with paid-per-run fire departments in Fortville and McCordsville, two separate nonprofit organizations.

But as Vernon Township grows, fewer residents, as in many places, are interested in serving as paid-per-run firefighters. That’s prompted township leaders to start the recent paid part-time force of 15 firefighters based out of the new fire station on Vitality Drive in Fortville. Paid part-timers are on duty 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and are backed up by paid-per-run firefighters, who also work nights and weekends. The township has mutual aid agreements with surrounding agencies as well.

Fortville’s and McCordsville’s firefighters were welcomed to apply to the newly formed Vernon Township Fire Department as paid-per-run firefighters, and many have, township trustee Florence May said.

Trevor Oak, treasurer of Fortville’s volunteer fire department, said the organization is disbanding because the recent changes leave little reason for it to exist. He added the organization started out the year with 15 firefighters and is now down to six.

He expects the dissolution to be complete by the end of the month and added that the department’s attorney is handling the required filings.

“It’s kind of sad to see after 130 years it’s all going away,” he said.

May commended the organization’s service.

“The volunteers did an incredible job for us for a very long time,” she said. “Fortville has a very long history, and it’s pretty remarkable what they’ve done and in an era where volunteer firefighting is disappearing.”

Amanda Fronek, township trustee office deputy, said at a township board meeting earlier this week that paid-per-run firefighters who serve at least 24 hours at the new Fortville station will receive $100 a month. Any service on top of that gets compensated at $15 a run, she added.

“We’re trying to move toward that 24-7-365 coverage, and we want them scheduled and we want them responding from on station,” she said.

May told the Daily Reporter that another reason for the on-station service and scheduling is to reveal any times where numbers might be lacking.

“We have to understand where there’s gaps,” she said.

Fronek said paid-per-run firefighters responding to calls from off station will get $10 a run, the same rate that was in place before the creation of the township fire department.

The McCordsville Volunteer Fire Department remains a nonprofit organization and owns the fire station that McCordsville-based Vernon Township paid-per-run firefighters respond from. Fronek said an insufficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning system and a lack of showers doesn’t allow firefighters to remain on station awaiting calls, however. The station also lacks sleeping quarters.

Vernon Township Fire Chief Todd Jordan said at the township board meeting that many McCordsville paid-per-run firefighters have signed on to the township fire department along with the six based in Fortville. About 30 more candidates expressed interest in paid-per-run opportunities at recent recruitment meetings, he continued, adding the township will be offering firefighting classes in the near future.
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