Since 2003, when the Russellville-Lohman Fire Protection District celebrated its 50th anniversary and became a tax-supported entity, it has continued to improve equipment and training for the volunteers.
Turn out gear is one of the most important replacements. The boots, pants, coat, glove, helmet and mask are heat-resistant and essential to a volunteer's safety while fighting a fire.
The newest turn-out gear, acquired through a federal grant, is lighter, more durable and more comfortable, Stubinger said.
That grant also allowed the district to buy additional breathing machines
And they now have special packs to assist in firemen rescue.
"We didn't have that before," Stubinger said. "If a fireman goes down, it's definitely something that you need.
"We're pretty well up to snuff now."
But equipment wears out over time, so the district consistently applies for extra funding sources beyond the dedicated public funds.
The next beneficial upgrade the firefighters would like to see is a base station at the Rt. AA station. Currently, people inside the building do not have a means to talk to people in the field, Stubinger said.
The station received a generator from the department of conservation last year. With a dispatch radio in the building, the site could be used as a command center in case of an emergency, he said.
In the future, the firefighters also would like to set up dry hydrants, which would decrease the reliance on hauled water to some response locations.
"We've come a long way and being a district has helped," Stubinger said.
In recent years, they have added a station with three trucks in Enon and a four-truck station in Lohman. That also helps reduce insurance costs for residents.
A little more than two dozen volunteers currently are part of the district. That is a high number for a department of its size, Stubinger said.
They have logged more than 2,000 hours of training in the last year.
They have an active junior fire fighters program for youth ages 14-18 and an enthusiastic and organized training officer.
The bulk of training is done in the winter months, as spring and summer have the highest number of responses.
Through the years, the volunteers have been called to respond to severe emergencies, including a second-story blaze in downtown Russellville, an overturned propane tanker, and a five-man rescue from a flood-swollen Moreau Creek.
The volunteers respond mostly to natural cover fires. But they're also called out to assist in auto accidents, with emergency medical service calls and clearing helicopter landing zones.
Their run total is up by about 40 compared with their numbers a year ago, Stubinger said.