Medora man honored for 50 years with fire department


HomeHome / News / Medora man honored for 50 years with fire department

Apr 30, 2023

Medora man honored for 50 years with fire department

MEDORA — Right out of high school, Dave Freeman was asked by Fire Chief Randy

MEDORA — Right out of high school, Dave Freeman was asked by Fire Chief Randy Miser to go with him on a brush fire run.

That wound up being the spark the Sparksville native needed to join the Carr Township Volunteer Fire Department.

He also recalled visiting his grandparents in Medora and going to neighbor Bill Butler's house, where he was always fiddling with an old firetruck and would show Freeman all of the ins and outs of it.

"It wasn't the red lights and sirens or anything like that. Remember the show ‘Emergency!’ Squad 51? It was back in the ’70s. It was the paramedics and that kind of thing, too. Just a little bit of everything," Freeman said of other influences in becoming a firefighter after graduating from Medora High School in 1973.

Dave Freeman stands next to one of the Carr Township Volunteer Fire Department's vehicles.

Zach Spicer | The Tribune

Current and former Carr Township Volunteer Fire Department firefighters and family members attended a surprise celebration for Dave Freeman's 50 years of service on May 25 in the 237 Building at Medora Christian Church. From left are Missy Robinson, Teia Thomas, Stephanie Barnes, Joe Barnes, Dave Freeman, Teresa Freeman, Eric Freeman, Logan Miser, Dave Scott, Bill Drees Jr. and Ryan Champion.

Zach Spicer | The Tribune

Joe Barnes, chief of the Carr Township Volunteer Fire Department, talks about Assistant Chief Dave Freeman's 50 years of service during a surprise celebration May 25 in the 237 Building at Medora Christian Church in Medora.

Zach Spicer | The Tribune

Dave Freeman, far right, holds a plaque he received for his 50 years of service with the Carr Township Volunteer Fire Department. Joining him are, from left, Associate Chaplain Rachel Bussey, Auxiliary Chaplain Judy Wirth and District 14 Chairman Richard Lee Cannon Sr. with the Indiana Volunteer Firefighters Association and Carr Township Fire Chief Joe Barnes.

Zach Spicer | The Tribune

Dave Freeman checks an automated external defibrillator in one of the Carr Township Volunteer Fire Department's vehicles.

Zach Spicer | The Tribune

Dave Freeman stands next to the cake that was made to celebrate his 50 years of service with the Carr Township Volunteer Fire Department.

Zach Spicer | The Tribune

Dave Freeman has been with the Carr Township Volunteer Fire Department for 50 years.

Zach Spicer | The Tribune

Now 50 years later, Freeman, 68, is still part of the fire department in southwestern Jackson County.

On May 25, he received a plaque recognizing his 50 years of service during a surprise celebration at Medora Christian Church's 237 Building.

His wife, Teresa, told him they were going to the church because their granddaughter had an event there. He said he thought something was up when she told him to wear a fire department shirt.

They initially walked into the church and a Bible study was going on, and they realized they were supposed to go to the 237 Building. When they walked in, Freeman saw Fire Chief Joe Barnes and then saw three officials with the Indiana Volunteer Firefighters Association.

"I go, ‘OK, it's starting to make sense now,’" he said, smiling.

Current and former firefighters also were at the celebration along with Freeman's family members. Before everyone enjoyed cake and punch, Freeman was presented a wooden plaque, and Barnes shared thoughts on Freeman's years of dedication.

"In a world where selflessness and commitment seem to be in short supply, David stands tall as a shining example of unwavering dedication and noble service," Barnes said. "For half a century, he has willingly put his life on the line, stepping into danger's path without hesitation, all for the sake of preserving life and protecting our community."

Barnes said Freeman has touched countless lives and made an indelible impact on the community.

"His selfless acts of bravery have safeguarded our neighborhoods and instilled a sense of security and hope within each of us," Barnes said.

Freeman's commitment to service goes far beyond the countless hours spent training and responding to emergencies, Barnes said.

"His dedication has inspired younger generations to follow in his footsteps, fostering a legacy that will continue for years to come," he said.

Behind the uniform and the heroism lies a man of great compassion and humility, Barnes said.

"David's genuine care for the well-being of others has left an indelible mark on all who have had the honor of working alongside him," Barnes said. "His reassuring presence, wisdom and calming demeanor have provided comfort to those in distress, a true beacon of hope during some of life's most challenging moments."

Barnes also recognized the sacrifices made by Freeman's loved ones all of these years.

"Behind every firefighter, there is a family that stands strong supporting their hero through thick and thin," he said. "To David's family, we extend our deepest gratitude for sharing him with us, for understanding the demands of his noble calling and for being pillars of strength and unwavering support."

In closing, Barnes told Freeman to remember the lives he has protected and enriched.

"You have personified the very essence of a hero, and we are eternally grateful for your service," Barnes said. "May your legacy continue to inspire future generations of firefighters, reminding them of the profound impact that one individual can make when guided by a genuine desire to help others."

Since he started with the fire department, Freeman said there have been many changes.

At the start, there were nearly 25 firefighters. Today, there are 10. With it being a volunteer, or unpaid, department, people have come and gone for various reasons.

Being a firefighter requires spending time training, attending meetings and responding to calls, including medical runs and fires. For many, that's along with holding down a full-time paid job.

"It just has to be in your blood, I think," Freeman said. "The communities don't know what they have in the volunteers. Usually, when we have a run, there are six or seven of us there. That's about the way it is."

The size of firetrucks has changed, too, now being bigger and holding more gallons of water.

Plus, more advanced equipment has come along, and when Carr Township started responding to medical calls, that added to the firefighters’ capabilities.

That began during Freeman's tenure as chief. During a meeting one night at a café in town, he met with some firefighters to discuss the department's needs.

From that conversation, they took Firefighter 1 and Firefighter 2 courses offered by the county fire chiefs association and completed emergency medical technician training.

"We decided that when we had fish fries or anything like that that the proceeds or anything we made off of it would be put back for our medical stuff so that our township wouldn't (have to pay for it)," Freeman said. "We were a fire department, but we would do medical (training), but we would not make the taxpayers pay for it. We spent all of the money to do that stuff."

Today, about 95% of the department's runs are for medical purposes, he said. Many times, that's assisting Jackson County Emergency Medical Services. Freeman worked for that agency on a part-time basis for six years.

"We don't have many fires. Mostly medical runs," he said. "That, to me, has been the biggest help to the community because we’re right there. I think that keeps (firefighters) more energized, keeps them more involved because if you had a fire once every two months, you get kind of lackadaisical. I think this keeps us going a little bit more."

Freeman served as chief for 15 years before going back to a firefighter role.

"It was time to let some of the younger guys step in," he said. "I just felt like it was time to get some new blood in there. I never backed away, was always there to help. You know how sometimes, you need somebody to back you up a little bit."

At one point, he took a short hiatus from being a firefighter. When he returned, Barnes was chief, and he asked Freeman to be his assistant chief. He has held that title ever since.

In July 2022, Freeman retired after working for 34 years at Dorel Juvenile Group in Columbus, formerly known as Cosco. He was a production supervisor. Out of high school, he worked at United Plastics in Medora and stayed there until it shut down in 1988.

Retirement has given him more time to help with tasks around the fire department.

"I told Joe I don't really want to fight fires because of my age. I can, I’m certified and I can still do it, but I said, ‘I’ll drive the truck. I run the pumps. I take care of the water. You guys don't have to worry about that,’" Freeman said. "I fill in as fire ground safety officer because you’re supposed to have one."

Freeman said one of the things he has liked about his 50 years with the fire department is helping people, and he plans to continue doing that for as long as he can.

"I just recertified for my EMT for two more years, so at least two more years," he said. "I’m retired. I’m just out doing stuff all day long and available."