Three local fire departments are teaming up to provide temporary coverage to Railroad Township. The North Judson-Wayne Township Volunteer Fire Department announced on Facebook Thursday that Chief Joe Leszek, along with the chiefs of the LaCrosse and Medaryville-White Post Township volunteer fire departments, have agreed to cover Railroad Township on a non-contracted basis.
They say they will do their best to completely cover the people of Railroad Township, while making sure their own districts don’t lose service. Firefighters stress the arrangement is only temporary, and Railroad Township officials are working on a permanent solution.
The township’s contracted volunteer fire department has stopped responding to calls, amid accusations that the township government has failed to uphold its end of the agreement. Specifically, firefighters accuse Trustee Mandy Thomason of being unwilling to provide insurance for each member of the department.
Chief Leszek says Thomason notified him Saturday of the possibility that Railroad Township Firefighters would no longer respond to calls, but it wasn’t immediately clear whether or not some of the firefighters would continue. That question was apparently answered Wednesday night, when a car accident was reported in Railroad Township. Leszek says dispatchers called both Railroad Township and North Judson firefighters to the scene, as usual, but no Railroad Township Firefighters responded.
He explains that Railroad Township does not pay his department a yearly fee for fire protection service. Instead, the North Judson-Wayne Township Volunteer Fire Department and Railroad Township Volunteer Fire Department have an agreement to help each other free of charge, with both agencies automatically being dispatched to structure fires and car accidents. Without an active fire department in Railroad Township, Leszek says his department will likely start billing Railroad Township for any calls.
He says he hopes the dispute comes to a speedy conclusion, and that Railroad Township will once again have its own fire department.