The Union Volunteer Fire Department hasn’t been on a recorded run since 2018, and it’s been much longer since the department was fully functional and active.
That will all change on January 1, 2024, thanks in part to a donation from Hoosier Energy.
To receive calls and send notifications out to its firemen, Union needed a pole tall enough to receive those communications. Located in Pike County, less than a mile from the Gibson County line in the service territory of WIN Energy – a Hoosier member cooperative, there was no local business that could fill the need.
But volunteer firefighter Rusty Hill, a former Hoosier Energy employee at Ratts Generating Station, knew who could. When he reached out, Hoosier agreed to not only donate the pole but send a line crew to install it.
“To say we’re grateful is an understatement,” Hill said. “Without this, we wouldn’t be able to function. Previously, it was very sketchy with how communications were. This is going to bring us into the 2020s.
“It’s a huge deal. We are beyond grateful that Hoosier’s been willing to help us because we needed a pole that tall. There aren’t many places you can find that have poles like that. We are coming from a long distance, so the taller our antennas, the better off we are.”
The Petersburg line crew of Greg Dooley, Bob Murphy, Mark Richardson, Jon Worland, Camrin Wright and DJ Wright dug the hole, mounted two antennas – a repeater on one side and communications on the other, set the pole and ran the wires from the antennas to the bottom of the pole as the fire department moved one step closer to action.
“Not every project has such a direct impact on a community, but we love being able to help people with a project like this,” said Hoosier Energy Manager of Delivery Services Todd Sims, who was also on scene and assisted in coordinating the effort. “It feels good to do something for folks who really need it.”
Union Volunteer Fire Department was founded in the 1970s and remained very active through the 1980s and even into the early 1990s before losing momentum.
“It’s just had its share of hard times,” Hill said. “Our goal is to take a mix of older and younger guys to build it up and keep it going. We don’t want to be a flash in the pan. We want to set this up long-term because there is a big void in this area.”
They also hope to add emergency services to provide aid until an ambulance arrives from a longer distance away.
Now, with reliable communications thanks to the newly installed pole, Union Volunteer Fire Department will be ready if and when it is needed.
“We look forward to no fires. We hope we’re bored to tears and never have one,” Hill said. “But we will be ready on January 1.”