Indiana invests $10 million in protective gear for volunteer firefighters

April 19, 2024

State funds new equipment for Indiana volunteer fire stations

Governor Eric Holcomb and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) announced a significant $10 million investment in personal protective equipment (PPE) for the state’s volunteer fire stations.

This initiative aims to address the critical need for updated safety gear among volunteer firefighters, many of whom rely on outdated equipment to perform their duties.

The funding will provide 940 complete sets of PPE and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), covering 66 fire departments across every fire district in Indiana.

Details on the investment and its impact

The $10 million allocation is part of Governor Holcomb’s 2023 Next Level Agenda, which previously earmarked $17.7 million for firefighter support, including PPE and new training facilities.

This marks the first instance where the Indiana General Assembly has dedicated funds explicitly for firefighter equipment, beyond the usual tax revenue sourced from fireworks sales.

Governor Holcomb emphasized the importance of this initiative: “While most people run from dangerous situations, firefighters run toward them to serve their community.

“This investment is long overdue in our state. Nothing could be more important than for these brave men and women to be both properly suited and trained.

“It’s how we can best serve them as they serve us.”

Response from state officials

Indiana State Fire Marshal Steve Jones highlighted the dire condition of the gear that some firefighters currently use.

“I travel extensively across the state, and I’m shocked sometimes at the rags that some of these men and women are wearing on fire scenes,” he said.

“They run into burning buildings and are supposed to feel protected. The volunteer fire service is the backbone of Indiana fire protection.

!This investment is long overdue and we will be working hard to find additional funding to enhance safety even more in the years to come.”

The process of selecting which departments received the new equipment was focused on those with the most significant needs and oldest gear.

The funding will be managed by the Indiana Fire and Public Safety Academy, with support from MES Inc., which is tasked with measuring and fitting the gear for individual firefighters.

FSJA Comment

The allocation of $10 million by the Indiana government for new personal protective equipment for volunteer firefighters represents a critical step in supporting emergency services across the state.

The focus on equipping those with the most outdated gear first ensures that the funds are used where they are needed most, potentially saving lives and improving the efficiency of emergency responses in small communities.

This investment also illustrates a broader commitment to public safety and the well-being of those who serve their communities with little expectation of reward.

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