Not long ago, many of the fire departments in the county relied heavily on volunteer firefighters to handle operations.
The cost to train a firefighter even on a volunteer basis, however, isn’t cheap. That has caused many departments in the county to drop their volunteer programs while their full-time staffs have grown along with the population.
Officials with Sugar Creek Township Fire Department made the decision recently to no longer use volunteers or train them after figuring the practice was not cost-effective.
“We got tired of paying thousands to train firefighters and watching them leave and go elsewhere around the state,” Chief Brandon Kleine said. “I joked around at one point saying ‘we were the best farm system in the state of Indiana.’”
Twenty years ago, the department, made up of mostly volunteers, had about 700 runs per year.