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Source: Kokomo Perspective

Fire Department stays community-minded

KFD donates to several charities throughout the year, volunteers at local events

Jenn Goad

The Kokomo Fire Department began in 1867 as a bucket brigade. Over the years, the department evolved into an active member of the community, reaching out to the citizens of Kokomo in a variety of ways.

“The fire department has always had a history of being involved in the community. We don’t only live here; we serve here. One of the biggest parts of our mission in the union is to be part of the community and be involved as best we can,” said Kokomo Fire Department Local 396 president Chris Frazier. “Bona Vista and the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) are our longest charities. Bona Vista has been around forever, and the fire services have been involved with MDA for a very long time.” 

Annually, the fire department participates in the Labor Day weekend fund raiser for MDA by holding its Fill the Boot campaign. This year, the department was called on a couple runs in the middle of their campaign, but Frazier said the citizens of Kokomo gave generously again this year. 

At Bona Vista, the fire department hosts a Christmas party for the children by helping bring Santa Claus into their building for a visit and sharing a gift with each child. They also bring snacks that are provided by Western Schools’ Family and Consumer Science program. 

“We provide the supplies, and they make cupcakes that we bring in for the kids,” Frazier said. 

In the afternoon, the firefighters emcee Bona Vista’s annual Christmas skit portion of the party and help judge the best skit of the day. 

Another facet to the firefighters’ community involvement was a friendly competition with the Kokomo Police Department. The two groups came together over the summer for a charity slow-pitch softball game that benefitted the police department’s Cops 4 Kidz program and one of the fire department’s charities, Hopebridge. They were also battling for city bragging rights. Even though the police department won, the firefighters are ready to take back the title. It began as an idea and evolved into a decent evening at Kokomo Municipal Stadium. 

“We were able to raise a significant amount of money, and we were out there for bragging rights,” Frazier said. “We definitely intend to take the bragging rights back. We’re already talking about doing it again.” 

The two departments will meet soon for the annual Battle of the Badges that will take place at Applebee’s in Kokomo on Oct. 27. The two groups will work for tips to benefit the United Way. 

Last week, the Kokomo Fire Department held a battle of a different kind. They were called to battle a building fire on Superior Street that ended up making for a long day. The department battled the blaze for four hours. 

“We were trying to find all the hidden pockets of fire. One of our chiefs noticed that the front wall had started to separate,” Frazier said. “The older style buildings, there are pockets that fire can get into, and we have to find them.” 

He said that the building was clear, so the firefighters did not have to perform a rescue. Once they knew the building was clear, they were able to adjust their plan to locate and fight the hidden areas in the building that kept feeding the fire. 

The long day showed the camaraderie within the department as off-duty firefighters and some of the fire chiefs left their administrative duties to assist on the fire. They delivered bottles of water to the firefighters and kept them in rotation. Frazier said at one point, one of the chiefs was at the top of one of the two ladder trucks, battling the fire. 

“We may not always agree on things, but as soon as that call comes in,” he said, “we all put on our gear and pitch in to get things done.”

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