Posted on

Harrison Twp. now staffed 24/7 with paid firefighters

Harrison Twp. now staffed 24/7 with paid firefighters
Harrison Twp. now staffed 24/7 with paid firefighters
Juan Limon, left, Capt. Chris Schneider and Sgt. Derek Wood do an equipment check Friday morning at the Harrison Township Fire Dept. station in Corydon. The department, which hired its first paid firefighter in July 2018, then added additional paid members this past summer, now is staffed 24/7 with paid firefighters. Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor
Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor, Editor, [email protected]

A long-time goal of providing 24/7 fire protection in Harrison Township with paid firefighters came to fruition last month.

Jon Saulman, chief of the Harrison Township Fire Dept., said the department began operating three shifts a day with each featuring two paid and two volunteer firefighters.

“This is huge for the community,” he said.

Saulman was the department’s first paid firefighter, starting in mid-2018. Six additional paid firefighters were hired a year later and worked in crews of two Monday through Friday on 24-hour shifts. Volunteers worked alongside the paid crews and responded to calls for service on Saturdays and Sundays.

Then, on Dec. 9, the paid firefighters began working seven days a week, still with assistance from volunteers, who are paid a stipend for their shifts.

The number of runs continue to increase each year, with the department nearing 2,000 for 2019; it made 12 runs just on Christmas Day. Last year’s runs totaled 1,956, and, for 2018, Harrison Township logged 1,944 runs.

“We’re trying to do the most with what we have,” Saulman said. “This really happened because of the volunteers.”

Those volunteers consist of nine firefighters who live outside of Harrison Township who are able to work a full, 12-hour shift. (The paid firefighters still work 24-hour shifts.)

When those six paid firefighters were hired mid-year, Saulman said response times were cut roughly in half, going from 12 to 14 minutes to four to six minutes.

Also, the change has a positive impact on insurance costs, thanks to a lower ISO (insurance service office) rating. Saulman said property owners should contact their insurance company.

For 2019, Harrison Township Fire Dept. operated on a budget of $875,000. Next year’s budget is set at $1,050,000.

Saulman said the fire department will meet with the Harrison County Council early this year about receiving its maximum levy funds.

This year, Saulman said the department will continue to work hard on training, continue to assist businesses with pre-fire planning (about 350 businesses were assisted in 2019) and continue to upgrade its equipment.

In 2019, Saulman said Harrison County Sheriff Nick Smith purchased 10 portable radios not only for Harrison Township Fire Dept., but also for the other eight fire departments in the county.

“Our goal has always been to bring better fire protection to the community,” Saulman said.

Harrison Township Fire Dept. has 32 volunteers, with openings for five more, and two junior firefighters.

For more information about becoming a volunteer firefighter with the department, stop by the station, located at 120 Hilltop Drive in Corydon, or call 812-738-3221.