Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Who We Are 2013

February 28, 2011

Putting out fires

Many of our emergency responders, like Steve Chupp, volunteer their time

GOSHEN — Like communities throughout the country, we rely on the hard work and dedication of people we may have never met to keep us safe and respond to us in our hours of need. These people don’t do it for the money. They don’t do it for the glamour. They do it because they care.

Our volunteer firefighters are a rare breed who sacrifice to learn an often unpleasant craft and donate their time and service to make us a stronger community.

Steve Chupp of Goshen is one of those people.

“Firefighting to me is community service,” Chupp said. “Like life, if you have community service, you’ve done some things wiser.”

Every boy’s dream

Chupp, 65, is the Elkhart Township Fire Department chief. He joined the department in 1967 — at the urging of Rieth-Riley co-worker John VanderMass — and moved quickly through the ranks. He has served as chief of the department since 1979.

“I guess I thought it would be a lot of fun and it has been,” Chupp said. “Isn’t it every boy’s dream to be a policeman or a fireman?

“I’ve had a good time doing it. There are a good bunch of guys.”

And now the township department includes two women in its ranks.

Continued training

Since the 1960s, there has been constant training, Chupp said.

“We’ve grown and what we do and how we do it has changed,” Chupp explained. “Our equipment has improved by leaps and bounds.”

Township fire departments are overseen by township trustees who allocate funds for equipment.

“I’ve had good trustees over the years,” he said. “They’ve done a good job.”

Chupp retired from Rieth-Riley about six years ago and now has more time to lead the department. He served in the rank of lieutenant from 1973 to 1977, was a captain in 1978 and has been chief since 1979.

The 30-member department includes 11 who are certified EMTs. The three township stations are No. 1 Waterford south of town, which has an engine, tanker and grass rig; No. 2 East Goshen on 22nd Street where an engine, the ladder truck and a tanker are stored; and No. 3 Greene Road and Clinton Street west of town, which is a base for an engine company.

Doug Gadson, who is an EMT, is the only paid member, serving at the Waterford station.

The crew is also led by an assistant chief, three captains and three lieutenants.

What they do

The department responds to an estimated 300 calls per year, with 65 to 70 percent of them medical. At vehicle accidents, the township crews help city fire ambulance crews with medical attention and extrication, Chupp said.

“Goshen provides the first-aid service,” Chupp said. “We run on all medical calls and extrication. They do an excellent job. It has worked well over the years.”

Instead of referring to his firefighters as volunteers, Chupp prefers “non-paid professional.”

Chupp’s son, Steven, is a lieutenant at the Elkhart Fire Department and he has three cousins who are also in the fire service.

“I probably started something,” he said.

Chupp and his wife, Gladys, have four children, 11 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. They live in East Goshen near the 22nd Street station with their dog, Kia.

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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