Senate kills fire consolidation bill

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The fight for control of fire protection in Marion County is being questioned at the Indiana Statehouse.

Should the last three township departments be forced to merge with the Indianapolis Fire Department?

A committee of state lawmakers said no on Wednesday.

The proposal passed the House, but the senate committee on local government killed the bill.

Supporters said this was a way to improve fire protection for the people of Indianapolis and make things more efficient.

Critics called it a power grab.

Dozens of people on both sides of the issue packed into a Statehouse committee room on Wednesday to tell lawmakers what they thought.

Five township departments have already merged with IFD voluntarily. But if passed, all it would’ve taken was approval from the mayor and City-County Council to consolidate the last three – Decatur, Wayne and Pike townships.

Wayne Township Fire Chief Gene Konzen says his township likes having its own department and is doing just fine by itself.

“Our community leaders, our residents, our businesses, are against this. They feel the services we provide are excellent, and they love their Wayne firefighters,” he said.

The firefighters Union was for this proposal. They say one unified department for the city would mean better service and would save money.

“But it still makes sense to do it as one. Everybody’s protecting their boundary lines. And if you take those boundary lines down, I think we can be much more efficient and effective,” Mike Reeves with the Indianapolis Firefighters Union said.

Lawmakers voted down the proposal, which means Wayne, Decatur and Pike townships can keep their own fire departments.

Sen. Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis) said she voted against the bill because it was clear this was not what these townships want and they shouldn’t be forced.

See what 24-Hour News 8’s Eric Halvorson had to say on his blog.

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