CEDAR LAKE | The town welcomed the Cedar Lake Volunteer Fire Department into the fold Tuesday night.
The Town Council approved a merger agreement between the department and the town during its meeting. Fire Chief Todd Wilkening will stay on in his position, per appointment by the council.
Wilkening was sworn in as fire chief after the vote, and Clerk-Treasurer Amy Gross also swore in the department roster and other fire officials.
“There’s a lot of history in 75 years (of the department),” Wilkening said. “A lot of people worked hard to make this Fire Department (what it is today.) The Fire Department was a department before the town was even a town. But as things are, it’s important we merge with the town and become a department. This is a really good day.”
The decision to make what has been historically a volunteer organization into a town department was announced in September. The change was necessary to ensure public safety and the continuation of excellent residential services as the town continues to grow, Town Council President Randy Niemeyer said.
The Cedar Lake Volunteer Fire Department was founded in 1942. It provides both fire protection and emergency medical services to Cedar Lake and Hanover Township. Among other things, the department participates in activities with the Cedar Lake Boys & Girls Club and raises money for scholarships for local high school seniors.
During the meeting, the council also approved an emergency medical services contract with Hanover Township.
“We’re looking forward to a (continued) relationship with the Fire Department,” Hanover Township Trustee Mitch Lopez said.
Niemeyer read into the record past and present board members and others involved with the department during its 75-year history.
“These (firefighters) aren’t afraid to run into burning buildings and save countless lives,” he said. “These are the people who stand up for you. They do it because they love this (work). We can never repay the debt we owe (them).”