“Our big deal here is going to these closed cabs,” Betzner said. “They’re safer. These guys are harnessed in and protected. Right now, the crews take a beating sitting back there.”
And the upgrades and improvements keep coming.
The department moved into a new Station 2 in 2011, after trading the old station with Peru Township for its building, which was later remodeled to accommodate fire engines. The old Station 2 was built in 1943 as only a two-man facility.
This year, the department purchased a 2005 ambulance that’s now housed at the central firehouse. The old 1994 ambulance went to Station 2, which had never had an ambulance. For the first time, the department has two ambulances.
In 2011, the county bought a small off-road vehicle with grant money to use on walking trails or driving into fields and woods for emergency rescues. It’s available to every fire department in the county, but it’s housed at the central fire station.
Over the last decade, the facilities and equipment at the Peru Fire Department have advanced and expanded by leaps and bounds, but its mission to serve and protect the community hasn’t changed since it was first founded as a volunteer department back in 1843.
The mission may be the same, but serving as a firefighter today requires more training and skill than ever before, Betzner said.
That’s why Peru firefighters spend every Tuesday in intensive training sessions at the station, honing their skills as emergency medical technicians, HAZMAT specialists, pump operators, engine mechanics and other specialized abilities every firefighter has to have.
They need to know it all, because they have to do it all.
“Every job that we do here, we rotate,” Betzner said. “You might go from running the fire engine one day, to driving the ambulance the next, and then into the control center after that.”