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Hey, there’s the Lawrenceburg Fire Department! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Johnnie Tremain   
Wednesday, November 21, 2012 8:42 PM

A lot of people do not really know much about how the fire department currently works. So, here’s a brief history and lesson.

The Lawrenceburg Fire Department was established in 1882 as a volunteer organization. At the first sound of the alarm the volunteers would report to the stations and fire scene to solve the problem.

Not much has changed in 130 years, we still receive the alarm and respond to the problem.

We still have volunteers who respond when needed, but in August 2005 we hired our first full-time firefighters. Four firefighters were hired to help alleviate some of the burden set forth by state and federal guidelines/regulations.

This propelled the department to a combination department. As a volunteer organization it was the responsibilities of the officers to maintain the operation of all equipment on a monthly basis, which did get completed most of the time.

Having staffed personnel allowed the department to accomplish these tasks on a daily basis, which in tum the equipment operates more efficiently, is clean and firefighters are more proficient in its operation. Another benefit is that response times were decreased dramatically.

Attacking the fire sooner leads to less financial and property loss.

We also provide patient care quicker due to the fact that the first out response engine is certified Basic Life Support Non-Transport through the state of Indiana, which requires us to man a Basic Emergency Medical Technician 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

We assist the on-duty EMS crew as needed but the main goal is to cut the response time for medical intervention when a second EMS call is assigned. All of Lawrenceburg’s firefighters are trained to N.F.P.A. (national fire protection association) standards.

They are trained as Basic Firefighter, Firefighter I, Firefighter II, Instructor, Investigator, and Fire Officer, along with numerous state, and federal requirements.

There was no easy start to becoming a combination department. There were internal complaints about why the fire depa,rtment worked day shift only, “they do not have to work nights or weekends.”

Go figure someone complaining? So in 2007, the city hired two additional firefighters, which brought the number of full timers to 6.

So how do we work six full-time firefighters and provide efficient coverage to the citizens and visitors of our community 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year?

The full time firefighters work 3 shifts (A, B, and C Shifts) 24 hours on shift and 48 hours off, thus creating a 3-day rotation.

Example: A shift works on Monday, B shift works Tuesday and C shift works Wednesday, the rotation continues with the A shift working again on Thursday and so on.

But there are four firefighters on the engine?

We supplement the other two positions with part-time personnel, to which we have four firefighters working per shift.

The part-time shift is a 12-hour shift. The four firefighters in theory meet the federal requirements of O.S.H.A:  two in, two out rule before we can start a interior fire attack.

Now we solved the problem of all the complaints about working nights and weekends and people are still complaining about our shift!

So what happened to the volunteers?

Currently Lawrenceburg Fire Department has 43 part-time/volunteers, and one thing we must realize is that not all incidents can be handled with four crewmembers.

That is where we rely on our volunteer force to help when additional resources are needed. These people are trained and certified the same as our full-time people are and are just as important to us.

 In the past we have had as many as 90 members, but we need to understand that the economy does directly affect the fire service.

When we were 90 strong we also had the advantage of 10-15 employees working at the local businesses and industry that would allow these employees to leave when there was a call.

But after the down sizing, consolidation and closing of businesses and industry, volunteers had to find work outside of the cities and towns thus hurting the availability of these resources not just in Lawrenceburg, but all over Dearborn County.

With this in mind that is why when there is a incident that it is not uncommon to see a neighboring fire department responding to help Lawrenceburg and vice versa.

Johnnie Tremain is Lawrenceburg Fire Chief.