Edinburgh native steps up as town’s fire chief

Edinburgh Station 41 as shown during the grand opening celebration in Oct. 2023. The new building offers the fire department more space and accommodations to better serve the growing Edinburgh community.

Daily Journal file photo

EDINBURGH — A firefighter with over 30 years of experience is stepping up as Edinburgh’s new fire chief.

Justin Lollar, who started at Edinburgh Fire and Rescue in 1992, will replace interim chief Chuck Ridpath in April. Ridpath filled in as fire chief after the resignation of John Henderson in Dec. 2022.


Following a fire chief search process, the town council ratified Lollar’s employment agreement at their meeting last week.

Lollar has a range of public safety experience. He’s served as a firefighter, an EMT and even for a short stint as a police officer in Indianapolis. He has been working at the Franklin Fire Department for 20 years and will return to serve his hometown this spring.

He is a lifelong Edinburgh resident and a graduate of Edinburgh Community High School.

“It is home to me,” he said.

Lollar credited former Edinburgh fire chief Allen Smith for igniting his passion for firefighting as a career.

“He would have to get some credit there,” Lollar said. “A lot of us from that generation went on to work in the fire service as a career. Allen was a big part of me getting my start at Edinburgh. Taking a position that he held for many years is a neat thing.”

The new fire station’s completion last year was big for the fire department, but Lollar is already thinking about the next steps to improve the department. His goals include assessing the current apparatus and equipment, and adding staff as the town budget will allow.

“Our main goal is to continue to work on our staffing,” Lollar said. “Maybe eventually, we will add some more full-time staffing down the road.”

Edinburgh Fire frequently works with other local agencies, and Lollar wants to maintain good relationships with them. These include departments in Nineveh, Amity, Trafalgar and German Township.

“We are very dependent on having resources from Bartholomew County and Johnson County,” Lollar said. “It is really critical to have those relationships formed. We all work well together. It takes a lot of us working together to handle big incidents like (the recent fire).”

Edinburgh’s fire department has gone through a growth spurt in recent years. Five years ago, the town didn’t have a full-time fire chief and still operated as a volunteer department, said Ryan Piercefield, town council president. A Franklin firefighter himself, he commended the first responders who have returned to Edinburgh to serve.

“I’m proud of what we’ve done for the community,” Piercefield said. “Everyone is excited about the future. Edinburgh is going to grow. We are going to have that small-town feel but we are going to keep growing. As we grow, public safety is part of that.”