TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Indiana (WLFI) —Two of three paid firefighters in the Township of Wabash speak out. This, after trustee Jennifer Teising announced Last week the end of full-time positions in the cantonal fire departments. This decision would leave the response to emergency situations to volunteer firefighters who have other full-time responsibilities.
The board of directors held an emergency meeting on Tuesday evening to determine what the township’s future will look like.
Current full-time firefighter and paramedic Drew Hampton wrote in a statement:
“Up to this point, I have intentionally refused to make a public statement for fear of some form of retaliation or my own dismissal,” he added.
“My dismissal being apparently inevitable, I now come to offer my sincere apologies to the residents of the township for not having had more opportunity to provide you with the fire and medical emergency service that you all deserve.”
“From June 29, 2021, you are all in my thoughts and I wish you all safety” Hampton said in a statement. He went on to say.
“I have full confidence that the remaining volunteer staff are competent, well experienced and well trained to look after the township, but the key word is VOLUNTEERING. These dedicated men and women have full-time jobs themselves, some are school engagement students, and some have new families to care for. With the growing population, these men and women have their hands tied and their time is already stretched to the limit to respond to existing calls and meet the training requirements of the state / department. Without 24/7 coverage. I fear for everyone’s life and safety. I hope everyone can take the time to look at this closely and bring your concerns to the attention of the appropriate authority. “
His colleague Travis Merkel co-signs in a statement saying:
“I would like to apologize to everyone in our community for not being able to provide you with the services you deserve. I have been hired to do a job that for unknown reasons, I will no longer be allowed to. make”,
“Leaving all the political games aside, myself and our WTFD family will continue to conduct our business as usual for as long as possible. If you need us, we’ll be there for you. Unfortunately for me, this will end. on June 29, 2021, ” said Merkel. He went on to say.
“I know we have a large group of committed and experienced volunteers who will respond, but again, these are volunteers who are not at the fire station and ready to go. It will take time for them to receive the call, get to the station, and be ready to answer with the necessary equipment. These extra minutes are typical and often expected in a completely volunteer service, but since the addition of paid staff in 2012, our community has grown used to what they deserve (and pay for), an I have a lot of friends. and family members who live in Wabash Township and I am concerned for their safety that they do not have paid staff on duty 24 hours a day and I ask you all to continue to make your voice heard on this situation as much as possible.
As News 18 previously reported at a board meeting last week, Teising secured a $ 400,000 emergency fire loan last year to provide benefits. Board member Angel Valentin said there is enough money budgeted in 2021 to keep firefighters on the books this year.