Community concerned after fire department doesn't respond to calls

LAKEVILLE, Ind. --- Lakeville residents and even the volunteer firefighters themselves finally got some answers as to why their volunteer fire department hasn't operated since Thursday.

“The fire territory contracted with a corporation that was not a valid corporation,” says Marcel Lebbin, Attorney for Union Township.

As explained in Tuesday evening's Town Hall meeting with Lakeville board members and the newly elected Trustee Kelley Carrico, it was discovered that the volunteer department was under contract with a corporation that allegedly was not abiding by rules; like not paying taxes and not filing returns.

Therefore, the firefighters were not properly insured.

“We had an insurance issue,” explains Lebbin. “We could not let the current volunteers go onto the fire trucks because they did not have insurance coverage. If they got hurt, if they hurt someone else, if they didn’t do something properly, the town and the township were not in a position to cover that liability because the protection wasn’t there.”

When that corporation in question declined to meet with the fire territory to discuss issues in the contract, the board had to find alternative solutions to make sure Lakeville residents and Union Township residents have fire protection.

“They contracted with Southwest for the short-term, and they’re looking to hiring the fireman from that corporation directly for a long-term fix,” Lebbin assures.

Questions were asked about public safety and having to pull in reinforcements like Southwest Fire Territory to cover calls in the meantime, but once residents and firefighters found out their department is not properly insured the conversation changed.

“She was able to shed some light on that tonight and let the community know,” says Volunteer Firefighter at Lakeville Fire Department, Ron Baker about Carrico’s explanation of the situation. “At the end of the day, insurance is key, if we’re not insured, your community’s not insured.”

Everyone agreed that this issue needs to be solved as quickly as possible, which can happen once the board reviews the applications submitted to them from prospective volunteer firefighters.

“We’re going to take the time we got, we’re going to submit those to insurance, we’re going to give them employment agreements, and we’re going to hope to move forward in short order,” Lebbin says looking ahead.

“We’re going to get the fire territory back where it belongs for Lakeville, we’re going to cover the citizens of Lakeville,” Baker assures.

Board members weren’t able to provide an exact timeframe for when the department will be back up and running, but they will be looking at the applications within the next week, which is the next step in solving the issue.

In the meantime, they are looking for more volunteers once they can respond to calls again. Visit their website for more information.

Share this article: