WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ind. (WDRB) -- A Southern Indiana fire department is shut down for now.

North Washington Volunteer Fire Department Chief Riley Shields said his firefighters cannot currently respond to 911 calls.

"Response times are going to fall off another 15 to 20 minutes," Shields said. "We do have a good little department up there, and it's ready to go. I just don't have a contract."

Before Shields took over, records show the North Washington Volunteer Fire Department was dissolved by the state in 2018.

"We didn't know this until just this year," said Shields. "I found out about it, and I immediately had to start another company."

It would be renamed the Monroe Volunteer Fire Company, if the board agrees to keep them around.

"They aren't up to date on their paperwork, have only a few members, and our insurance agent suggested that we try to contract with another department," said Monroe Township Trustee Susan Boling. "I've told them that we were looking into all of our options. The board and myself want the best for our neighbors and ourselves."

Boling told WDRB that the fire department is not currently covered under the township's workman's comp policy because the department is in the process of changing its name.

"We cannot do a contract with (the department) until this is done," Boling said in a text to WDRB. "We are in the process of seeing what our other options are also." 

"We hope they can work this out as soon as possible, so there's not a lapse in coverage here," said Washington County Sheriff Brent Miller. "There's not necessarily going to be a lapse in coverage, it's just going to be a reduced number of people who actually respond."

Miller said deputies and EMS will still respond as normal. Three surrounding fire agencies also agreed to cover the area: City of Salem, Washington Township and Gibson Township.

"It does have a delayed response time because of where it's located in our county," Miller said.

Fire contracts are expected to be discussed at a board meeting next month.

Copyright 2020 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.