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Over 900 Indiana Volunteer Fire Departments to receive upgraded PPE, training centers

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Posted at 7:33 PM, Jun 14, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Volunteer Firefighters Association received millions of dollars to help replace old gear and improve training.

It's a major investment to help better protect the communities they serve.

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"We don't have the fire people that can come out in the rural areas, and we need them," Tammy Daily, an Evansville volunteer firefighter and resident, said. "A lot of people don't realize that they're a volunteer. Most of them don't get paid, and they're a blessing to everybody."

During the IVFA's annual convention, three volunteer firefighters learned new skills and are training to join their local fire trucks.

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According to IVFA, they're responsible for most of the state with about 850 departments operating on their own time and dime.

"It's probably 70% volunteers in the state of Indiana," Larry Curl said.

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Curl says when it comes to training, the state has too many training deserts.

"Our ability to train and recruit is very difficult right now," Curl said.

"In some cases, especially in southern Indiana, you have to drive almost two hours to get to a live fire training," John Shafer, with Indiana Fire and Public Safety Academy, said.

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The IVFA says part of that is due to a lack of funding.

But now, thanks to approval from the Indiana General Assembly and support of the Governor's Office, around 940 volunteer firefighters and 66 departments will receive upgraded gear.

$7.7 million will also go towards new training centers.

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"The goal was to try and create at least 15 training centers. We mapped it out so no firefighter would have to drive more than 30 to 45 miles to a training center to be able to accomplish those skills," Shafer said.

The $10 million PPE grant is something everyone at the IVFA is thankful for.

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"The greatest thing that's ever happened in fire service in my lifetime. Some haven't had turnout gear that was safe and fit to wear in many, many years," Curl said.

The IVFA did legislative work and vouched for the funding. Their convention continues Saturday at the Crowne Plaza on the west side of Indianapolis.