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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Fire department waits for approval

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Lewis Township Fire Department is hoping to become a fire protection district in order to maintain its operations.

To become a fire protection district, the fire department needs to collect 500 signatures of real property owners or 51 percent of the freeholders in the township on a petition to establish the fire protection district.

Once the signatures are approved by the auditor's office, the county commissioners must sign and pass an ordinance before the restructuring can occur.

The commissioners will appoint either three or five property owners in Lewis Township to form a board for the district.

Currently, the Lewis Township Fire Department is waiting for the 500 signatures it has collected to be approved by the auditor's office.

Chief Bryan Husband said he's hoping to get approval by the end of the week. He is waiting on the attorney to deliver them to the auditor.

Right now, the fire department is a non-for-profit corporation.

"We're basically an organization within ourselves," Husband said. "Everything belongs to the fire department, not the township. We want to contract with the district for fire protection."

Becoming a district reestablishes the tax rate so the fire department can receive more funding to operate.

In order for the fire department to receive the funding by 2014, the ordinance must be passed by March 1 of this year, allowing the property taxing to start in January 2013.

"The township funding is very limited anymore," Husband said. "The trustees cannot raise the rates. We're trying to get this so we can stay in operation at the level we are now."

The fire department currently receives $17,000 a year to pay bills such as insurance, utilities and fuel costs, with an equipment fund of $8,000 for equipment and repairs.

"That doesn't go very far," Husband said. "We are at a point in our department where we cannot maintain equipment in our operations because of a lack of funding, and almost every department out there is going through the same thing."

Lewis Township Fire Department, which consists of 19 firefighters, four trucks and one station, will not change the locations it covers.

Husband said the fire department is not wanting to build a new station or buy all brand new equipment, instead, he said they just want to continue to operate.

"We are very well trained," he said. "We have a very strong fire department. We just want to be able to maintain our operations."

There are districts currently in Vigo County, Sugar Creek, Riley, Honey Creek, Lost Creek and Prairieton.

If established this will be the first one in Clay County.

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