December 31, 2019, marked the 58th anniversary of the Vincennes Township Volunteer Fire Department. Born out of a financial dilemma, the department has grown to include four fire stations, ten paid firefighters, and 50 volunteers committed to protecting the Vincennes Township community, which represents an incredible expansion from its humble beginnings.
The initial concept of an independent fire department was spurred when in 1961 the City of Vincennes proposed that the annual fire protection contract would increase from $11,000 to $40,000. Vincennes Township Trustee Marvin Westfall and township resident David Simpson approached the Indiana Fire Rating Board in Indianapolis with an alternative solution – a township fire department. A plan was set into motion that summer as the township officially denied the city’s increase request and announced that the new department would be “open for business” by the end of the year.
To build the infrastructure, the Vincennes Township informed the Vincennes City Council that they would reclaim the apparatus the township had purchased for the city to use as part of the previous fire protection contract. The rest would rely on the community’s support, which was immediately evident. Residents responded with donations to cover the legal fees required to create the articles of incorporation as well as a membership drive to raise $10,000 for start-up costs. The campaign was a success.
On December 31, 1961, as the clock struck midnight, the Vincennes Township Volunteer Fire Department assumed the responsibility to provide fire protection for its residents. The new headquarters next to the Number 1 school building housed one homemade 1,000-gallon unit plus the 1,000-gallon unit that the city had used for the last eight years. Paul Onken, Jr. and Sebastin Yochum were the first full-time firemen who rotated 24-hour shifts and were supported by 40 volunteer firemen.
Full historical timeline coming!!!!
(Historical information was taken from department and new articles and written by friend of VTFD Kristi Deetz)