Firefighters of county demonstrate mutual aid

It’s the way of firefighters to come to each others’ aid. A fire in one area of Bartholomew County sometimes results in a fire department from a nearby area coming to assist the lead department.

But mutual aid and the bonds of firefighting go beyond battling blazes, as nine local fire departments are admirably demonstrating. They are pitching in to help the Hope Volunteer Fire Department meet its financial obligations by working together to hold a countywide fish fry Nov. 7 at Hauser High School.

The participating departments are:

Hartsville

Clay Township

Elizabethtown

German Township

Clifford

Southwest Fire

Harrison Township

Wayne Township

Columbus Township

Hope Volunteer Fire Department had been providing fire protection services to the town since Jan. 1 without a contract, and had not been receiving money from the town since December. Its only source of income had been a $50,000 contract with the Hawcreek Township trustee’s office.

The department’s financial problems stem from the building of a new fire station, and a lawsuit by the construction company for unpaid work. Madison-based JHS Construction and Fueling LLC filed a lawsuit in December claiming the department owes the firm $189,000 for completed work. The fire department claims the construction company engaged in unauthorized work after being told the department had run out of money for the project.

With the lawsuit hanging over the fire department, the Hope Town Council was reluctant to agree to a new contract. That left the fire department in a pinch.

Fortunately, the town council and fire department reached an agreement that will help the situation. The department can submit expenses of up to $51,750 that it has paid since Jan. 1. In addition, the department can now submit up to $5,750 in claims monthly.

That’s a measure of relief, even though the town is holding off on signing a fire-protection contract until litigation is resolved.

The fish fry is another measure of relief, demonstrating again how much firefighters care about one another and will do what is necessary to help each other.

What the nine fire departments are doing is commendable and a great example of how and why emergency responders work together.

Their effort also deserves support from the community. In the end, it’s residents who benefit the most through protection.

If you go

What: Countywide fish fry to support the Hope Volunteer Fire Department

When: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Hauser High School, 9273 State Road 9, Hope