A local lawmaker believes offering free college could get more young people to volunteer with their local fire department.
Dillsboro Fire Department is among 824 volunteer fire departments in Indiana. File photo.
(Greensburg, Ind.) - When your property catches fire and you call 911, you expect somebody to show up and put out the blaze.
But what if your local volunteer fire department did not have sufficient staff available to answer the call?
That’s the situation Indiana State Rep. Randy Frye (R-Greensburg) is hoping to help Hoosiers avoid.
“The best bargain in Indiana is volunteer fire service. We’ve got some fantastic volunteer fire departments throughout Eagle Country, but one problem is that our rural population is declining and at the same time folks in younger generations just don’t volunteer like my generation did,” explains Frye.
Frye, who is a retired firefighter, plans to introduce legislation that could get young people to seriously consider becoming a firefighter. The lawmaker wants to provide free college tuition for Hoosiers who join their local fire department, emergency medical service, or police department.
Under the proposal, those utilizing the program would attend Ivy Tech Community College or Vincennes University to receive up to an associate’s degree tuition-free. An individual would have to be an active department member and making runs in order to qualify.
“I call it my GI Bill, if you will, for public safety in Indiana,” Frye says.
In addition to saving lives, Frye says sufficiently manned fire departments can help lower property insurance rates for homeowners.
Frye’s bill will be considered in the 2019 Indiana legislative session, which begins in the first week of January at the Statehouse in Indianapolis.
According to the Indiana Volunteer Firefighter's Association, there are 824 fire/rescue departments/organizations in the state.