Hope fire contract reaches approval

HOPE — An $88,000 contract for the Hope Volunteer Fire Department to provide fire protection to the northeast Bartholomew County community has been approved by the Hope Town Council.

Although the wording for the contract hasn’t changed, the contract amount is about $2,000 more than what was approved for this year, Hope Fire Chief Chad Emmitt said. That represents slightly more than a 2% increase from this year’s amount, he said.

The fire department also received funding through the Haw Creek Township Trustee’s office. But Emmitt said he and trustee Debbie Hatton have agreed to wait until early next year before she and her advisory board consider a potential funding increase, Emmitt said.

“We haven’t even discussed any amount at this time,” Hatton said.

While explaining why he was seeking more money from the council, Emmitt said his organization is facing increases in fuel, training expenses and maintenance costs.

Emmitt’s reply prompted an inquiry from town council member Ohmer Miller.

“I’ve seen other departments holding fundraisers,” Miller said. “What are you guys doing? Are you doing any fundraisers? Do you even think about fundraisers?”

The fire chief explained that while the department did make a healthy profit from their Old Fashioned Independence Day fish fry, funds raised during a similar event at the Hope Heritage Days in late September were not as successful, Emmitt said.

One reason profits were down was that the price of fish from their supplier had gone up to over $39 for a 10 pound box, Emmitt said. On top of that, the price of other necessary items such as breading, buns and condiments has also increased, he said.

The department also spent nearly $500 to obtain a new fryer, according to the fire chief. And for the first time, Hope firefighters were forced to buy propane for the fryers. In the past, the department had always managed to recruit an outside organization into donating the propane, Emmitt said.

As a result, while the firefighters were able to sell 1,700 lbs. of fish in late September, the financial return did not warrant the large amount of time and effort required, Emmitt said. He also said that with busy schedules and different work shifts, it is difficult to gather all the firefighters together for any event.

The Hope Volunteer Fire Department has been able to raise money by renting out the large meeting room within their 9,642-square-foot firehouse at the corner of South and Aiken streets, the fire chief said.

Due to the increasing wear and tear on the tankers, the department made a decision to no longer raise funds by filling swimming pools at the beginning of summer, he said.

Emmitt also reminded the council how difficult it has become for any small fire department to recruit and train volunteer firefighters. Nevertheless, Hope firefighters have already responded to 350 runs this year, he said.