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Cedar Grove Volunteer Fire Department: Family and friends

By Lizzy Bachus, Contributor

On the quick drive through Cedar Grove, it would be hard to miss the firehouse.

It has been a staple in the small town since it was built in 1976.

The firemen had been a lifeline to those in danger years before then, though. The Cedar Grove Volunteer Fire Department (CGVFD), incorporated in 1959, has helped aid surrounding areas with fires, traffic and water accidents, and other safety needs for the past 60 years.

Being in such a rural area, they helped fill a crucial need of supporting the neighboring communities around Brookville.

To most members, becoming a fireman was tradition, and they grew up waiting until they, too, could join. Whether the desire came from giving back to their community or following in someone's footsteps, their end goal was always the same: to help when it was needed most.

Gary Fohl said, “it's a good thing” to have family on the


He has fond memories as a child of watching his dad build the old firehouse, and after being a member himself, Fohl was able to see his own son Randy join him on the department as well. Others joined because of community ties. They all would soon find out what else they had to gain, because those who weren't already family, became it.

When asked what his experience of being on the department is like, Chief Ryan Bischoff talked about the good things they have been able to do in the community, and John Bachus spoke of a great experience being with uncles and cousins. Like all families, there are ups and downs, but at the end of the day, the men on the department are there for each other. They've been able to learn from each other and help each other out whenever they can.

Assistant Chief Jon Brown said, “I very much have to rely on the guy that's beside me.”

They show up, together, to things most people would run from. Arriving at scenes and finding it to be, as Bischoff described, “things I'd rather not see again.”

Yet still they do, time and time again.

The firemen aren't only on call 24/7, they also meet monthly and have required training each month. Bachus said fire safety awareness and children's education and firefighters in turnout gear being a goal for the department as well.

All of this, on top of their own careers, is time away from family at home. This is a sacrifice that can be difficult as they recall leaving an event because a call came through. This is why CGVFD hosts events that help bring their families and the families in the community to the firehouse. Santa Claus pays a visit each December, taking wish lists and giving out treats, as well as a chili cook off each year at the firehouse.

One of the best parts of living in Cedar Grove (or knowing someone who does) is the festival every August that helps cover the many costs of the department. The fire department does not charge for calls, and when offered payment, they respond by simply asking their neighbors to attend the festival.

While many come for the fish or chicken dinners, everyone has one thing they really love about the festival. Most of the firemen's favorite memories of the festival revolve around when they were kids, getting to enjoy the games, food, and friends from in and out of town making an appearance.

As they became members, they were able to appreciate seeing their community come together and rally around them.

Bachus wanted to convey his thanks to community donors who helped make their new stage possible for the live bands this year.

Even years ago, it was known, that whether or not one was a member, this was one’s chance to be present and help by setting up, going and partaking in the festivities, or helping with tear down.

Gary Fohl told about two farmers in the community years ago who would come on Sunday each year and have tear down almost complete at the crack of dawn.

It gave the town of Cedar Grove a sense of ownership and community when they too were able to feel a part of it.