Vernon Township inducts fire corps

Vernon Township Fire Chief Chad Abel, standing at the front of the room, speaks to members of the township's new volunteer fire corps in September. Submitted photo

VERNON TOWNSHIP — A group of volunteers has assembled to help keep first-responders safe and healthy as they work to help those who are hurt and in danger.

The Vernon Township Fire Department recently inducted its fire corps, which will provide support to first-responders during longer emergency events.

Ray Hashley, a Vernon Township firefighter and captain of the fire corps, said the corps has 12 members.

“It’s pretty overwhelming, with the new program like this, to see not only the number of people, but the caliber of people that have shown interest,” Hashley said. “We have a great cross-section of people with talents and skills and a desire to be a part of their community. It’s really been amazing to see.”

Fire corps members will support first-responders at longer incidents through tasks like providing them with water, snacks and spare air bottles, Hashley said. They’ll man the fire department’s Tactical Support Unit 438, a rescue truck that was part of the former Fortville Volunteer Fire Department’s fleet. It has lights if needed for nighttime events and can be equipped with items like pop-up tents and chairs.

Hashley said the fire corps will be valuable because during difficult events, first-responders expend a lot of energy, compromising their safety. Helping to ensure they stay hydrated and energized will go a long way toward keeping them safe, he continued.

The fire corps is also a way for the fire department to connect with the community through citizen involvement, Hashley said.

Vernon Township plans for its fire corps to be available to assist other agencies in Hancock County as well.

One of the corps’ members is McCordsville resident Nicholas Rhoad.

“We’re at just a remarkable time in the state of our community, and we really are going through an unprecedented area of growth and opportunity like none other,” Rhoad said.

He added there’s never been a better time to give back and make Vernon Township a better place to live, work and raise a family.

“More importantly, there has never been a better time to stand shoulder to shoulder with our first-responders and let them know that we have their back,” he said.

Rhoad said his responsibility to help make his community better and his desire for new experiences makes him well-suited for the fire corps.

“I think that everybody has an obligation to lifelong learning and stepping outside of your comfort zone,” he said. “You should never be afraid to learn new things and take on challenges.”

Starting soon, the fire corps will meet regularly for a standing meeting and to train, Hashley said.

Fire corps members will also have training opportunities available to firefighters.

“Basically any training that we (have) for our firefighters will be open to our fire corps members as well, so they cannot only get additional training that they’re interested in, but also can start interacting with firefighters who they will be serving as part of the fire corps,” Hashley said.