The last blaze Batesville firefighters responded to with New Point volunteers was a field fire Sept. 29 on Enochsburg Road. “It just burned up the corn fodder. It didn’t get into the standing corn,” reported Batesville Fire & Rescue Chief Todd Schutte.
With continuing dry weather and burn bans in effect in Franklin and Ripley counties, folks should brush up on their fire prevention knowledge to prevent residential incidents.
When he discusses how to avoid blazes, “you tell everybody to be safe,” Schutte says. “Don’t overload your electrical circuits. Change your furnace filters once a month” or at other intervals recommended by manufacturers. “Make sure you have your furnace serviced in the fall.”
He adds, “I think the big push right now is for people to close their doors. When you go to bed at night, close your bedroom door.” The chief explains local firefighters have noticed when arriving at scenes there could be total destruction inside homes except for rooms behind closed doors, which may have minimal damage.
Likewise, “if your house is on fire, close the (exterior) door” on the way out. “It will make a big difference in slowing that fire down ... you’re shutting the air off.” In fact, the first thing the chief does when he arrives at an incident is to close doors. “I’m trying to choke that fire off.”
Working smoke detectors are “always a must. Make sure you change your batteries when the time changes” spring and fall. “Even though the batteries are not dead ... put a fresh battery in there.”
If new 10-year no-maintenance smoke detectors are installed, put the date on each one and remember to replace them when the decade is up. The reason? “The sensor inside of it goes bad. It won’t sniff.”
“Please have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen area” is another suggestion. “You want to make sure it’s rated for kitchen fires,” so look for the K class designation.
When firefighters educate children about prevention, they emphasize kitchen safety. “Always stay away from the stove,” the chief recommends. Pot handles should be turned in so hands don’t accidentally brush against them, spilling boiling grease or water.
“We do the stop, drop and roll with them. We practice that.” An exit plan is important if a home is ablaze. Families should be able to find two ways out of each room. “Always have a meeting place so everybody knows that everybody is out ... and safe. We tell them to go home and practice fire drills at the house.” One more tip: “Stay low in the smoke when you crawl out.”
Of the department, Schutte reports, “We’re in really good shape” with no equipment or vehicles needed right now. “The mayor and city council have been very generous to us recently. We had the building all remodeled and we received the new minipumper.”
When Schutte began firefighting at 22 in 1990, there were 36 volunteers and no paid staff. With lifestyle changes over the years, “our volunteer numbers have just fallen off.”
Now Batesville Fire & Rescue consists of four full-time paid firefighter/EMTs, including Schutte; 27 part-time firefighter/EMTs; and 13 volunteers.
“We meet with a lot of fire departments in the area” for a monthly breakfast. Most are all-paid departments, unlike Batesville’s mixed group. Other chiefs tell Schutte, “You’re a unicorn,” which makes him laugh.
He notes, “We’re looking to hire three more full-time people. ... That would give us two full-time people on the staff all the time.” Potential candidates must be between 21-36, have a clean record and be Indiana Certified Firefighter I/II and EMT-B or Paramedic, according to the city’s October newsletter. Applications are available at the firehouse or on the city website at https://batesvilleindiana.us. Resumes will be accepted only if accompanied by an application. The deadline for all applications and resumes is Thursday, Oct. 31, at noon.
The chief certainly appreciates the nonpaid workers. “Volunteers, they’re like the calvary. When things are going bad, they show up and help us get the job done. We’ve got some really good volunteers. They’re dedicated. We’re unique because we have that ... We’re all family.”
“If people want to volunteer, please step up and come forward.” Interested persons may call 812-934-2230 or stop by the fire station, 115 E. Catherine St., for an application.
Persons wanting to become firefighters must have training. Currently Batesville and Morris are partnering to offer a twice-a-week class over about three or four months. Students must take the course, then pass a state test to become certified forever.
To keep skills up to date, “we do training three weeks out of the month on Monday nights. We always have some subject we’re taking about.”