Retired Garfield Park firefighter gives back with Indianapolis Fire Buffs

By Stephanie Dolan

Formed in 1963, the Indianapolis Fire Buffs are a volunteer organization dedicated to providing rehab to firefighters and public safety officials in Marion County. Marc Parton, 50, is the vice president of the organization, and is dedicated to providing these resources to firefighters and other public safety officers as he himself used to be one of them.

“I used to be a volunteer fireman with the Wayne Township Fire Department on the west side,” the Garfield Park resident said. “They went from volunteers to combination volunteer and paid to totally paid in 2001. They did away with all their volunteers. There was nothing really for us to do unless we wanted to go further out away from where we lived into small communities to volunteer.”

A friend of Parton’s, who was also a volunteer in the same department, said there was a volunteer unit that does rehab services for IFD.

“We made plans to go to a meeting together, and joined at the same time,” Parton said. “Funny enough, half the people there were from the Wayne Township Fire Department. I knew a lot of them.”

Marc Parton is the vice president of Indianapolis Fire Buffs. (Photo by Rick Hinton)

Dedicated to serving, rain or shine

The Indianapolis Fire Buffs respond to any calls that are long and enduring or extremely hot or cold.

“We respond out and provide the firefighters with Gatorade, water, coffee, hot chocolate and healthy snacks like granola and fruit bars,” Parton said. “We sneak a few Snickers here and there, but it’s mainly geared toward the healthier side. We also respond out to the IMPD if they’re out with a barricaded subject, or if they’re out with a silver or amber alert. They’re going to be out there for hours, so we respond and provide them the same service as well.”

“The Buffs operate four Rehab Support Units (RSU’s),” Fire Buffs president Byron Jacobs said. “Three of these units are furnished by the IFD, as well as one from Wayne Township Fire Department. These units are maintained by both IFD and Wayne Township. IFD supplies the fuel for the units.”

The Buffs are supported by Salvation Army Disaster Service Unit.

“They supply most of the items we use,” Jacobs said. “Without the help of the Salvation Army, and IFD and Wayne Township, it would be difficult for us to provide this service.”

The Buffs are made up of former firefighters, and citizens who want to make a difference.

Indianapolis Fire Department Station 35 after making breakfast for the on-duty crews. Front row, David Chambers and Maureen Killilea, Back row, from left to right, President Byron Jacobs, Wally Walker, Jerome Traub, Jim Williamson, Jim Leaver Chara Leaver, Gail Lock, Marc Parton, Mark Burke and Randy Cox. (Submitted photo)

“We are always looking for new members,” Jacobs said. “An application can be downloaded from our website, and we have monthly meetings. Officers can be contacted via the website if you have questions or are interested in joining. The Buffs are supported by IFD, and IEMS, Salvation Army, as well as donations from private citizens and corporations as well as a yearly raffle.”

“It means everything to me to be able to give back like this,” Parton said.

An early calling

Parton said that IFD came to his third-grade classroom and did a fire safety class.

“Later, when I was 11, I got hit by a car in my neighborhood and broke my back and had some other injuries. IFD responded and took care of me. When I came of age, and was 15 or 16, I really wanted to be involved in the fire department.”

At that time, Wayne Township offered a cadet program.

“When I was 16, my parents signed off, and I joined the cadet program,” Parton said. “When I turned 18, I applied to the department and they accepted me as a full member. I ultimately became a lieutenant, but I had to eventually take a medical retirement because of I was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. Once I was deemed unable to work, I needed something to keep my mind busy more or less. That’s about when my friend told me about Indy Fire Buffs.”

That diagnosis came in 2006, and Parton is still going strong with the Fire Buffs.

If you would like more information about the Indianapolis Fire Buffs, visit the website at indianapolisfirebuffs.org.

Five Questions with Marc Parton

  1. Who or what inspires you? Steve Dillman – he’s a retired IFD officer.
  2. What are you currently reading? Any and everything about woodworking.
  3. Do you have any pets? A black lab – Chance. He’s a rescue from Marion-Grant Humane Society.
  4. What’s your favorite TV show? The Curse of Oak Island
  5. What’s your favorite movie? The Towering Inferno