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Holcomb invests $10 million in volunteer firefighter equipment


Holcomb invests $10 million in volunteer firefighter equipment

Apr 16, 2024 | 12:14 pm ET
By Niki Kelly
Holcomb invests $10 million in volunteer firefighter equipment
Sixty-six volunteer fire departments are receiving millions in new personal protective equipment, such as turnout gear. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

Gov. Eric Holcomb on Tuesday announced $10 million in new personal protective equipment (PPE) for volunteer firefighters across Indiana.

Most Indiana communities are served by volunteer fire departments, operating on shoestring budgets with dilapidated equipment, a press release said. Some wear protective gear and self-contained breathing apparatuses (SCBA) that may be more than a decade old.

Through Gov. Holcomb’s 2023 Next Level Agenda, $17.7 million was allocated to firefighters for PPE and new training facilities for volunteer stations across Indiana. This investment marks the first time the Indiana General Assembly has dedicated funds specifically to firefighters. The only other funding source for firefighters is tax revenue from the sale of fireworks in Indiana.

“While most people run from dangerous situations, firefighters run toward them to serve their community,” Holcomb said. “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.”

The $10 million will purchase 940 complete sets of PPE and SCBA, benefiting 66 fire departments across every Indiana fire district. The selection process addressed the poorest volunteer departments first and those with the oldest equipment.

“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. They run into burning buildings and are supposed to feel protected,” said Indiana State Fire Marshal Steve Jones. “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 funds are administered by the Indiana Fire and Public Safety Academy, led by the Indiana State Fire Marshal and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. The vendor, MES Inc., will work directly with individual firefighters to measure and fit the equipment before delivery.

IDHS accepted submissions for several months in 2023 to determine the highest need departments. Here is a list of the departments that received gear.