Volunteer Fire Department in Indiana Gets Its First Boat
A volunteer fire department in western Indiana has increased its capabilities to respond to incidents on lakes and waterways after getting an unexpected grant.
The Bellmore Volunteer Fire Department purchased its first boat through funding from Marathon Pipe Line (MPL), a subsidiary of Marathon Petroleum’s midstream segment, MPLX.
The department’s chief said he had considered budget cuts to make the purchase possible before MPL surprised him with a check for all the necessary funding.
Bellmore Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jason Games said he assumed 2024 would begin with months of fundraising work. The department wanted to buy its first boat for responding to incidents on lakes and waterways around Rockville, Ind., and Games had even considered budget cuts to make it happen.
“In the past, we have always had to borrow a civilian's boat,” Games said.
“This gave me immediate goosebumps, and you could look around the room and see the shock in the eyes of the rest of my crew.”
Everything changed at the end of 2023 when Marathon Pipe Line (MPL) surprised Games by providing the full amount of a grant request he made to MPL with help from MPL Public Outreach Specialist Sally Arnet. The $37,500 check Games received covered the purchase of a boat, motor, trailer, sonar system and safety equipment.
“I had thought we might receive partial funding. This gave me immediate goosebumps, and you could look around the room and see the shock in the eyes of the rest of my crew,” said Games.
The check presentation occurred after an emergency preparedness workshop that MPL – Wabash Valley Area conducted for the fire department. MPL regularly provides such training to first responders located near its pipelines. The Bellmore department’s service area includes the Cecil M. Harden Reservoir, also known as Raccoon Lake, in the Raccoon State Recreation Area where one MPL pipeline passes under the lake and another underground MPL pipeline is just south of the lake.
“The chief mentioned they had been looking to cut costs in certain places to get a ‘barely good enough’ boat,” Wabash Valley Area Operations Supervisor Lee Hammond said. “Our grant allowed them to purchase a boat that better suits their needs and keep their budget for training and other equipment intact.”
In early January, the fire department used the boat for the first time when responding to a nighttime report of a dog in the water in neighboring Putnam County.
“We were able to take the dog’s owner out with us and locate the dog,” Games said. “This boat ensures our ability to respond to incidents on the water. We are blessed to have experienced this support and thankful for the generosity.”