Concerned neighborhood questions plan to close fire station

(WISH photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A plan that would save the Indianapolis Fire Department millions of dollars isn’t sitting well with some homeowners on the city’s north side.

That’s because the plan includes closing a fire station that serves their neighborhood.

Earlier this month, IFD unveiled its 2016 Redeployment Plan. Part of it includes consolidating Station 16 in the Butler Tarkington neighborhood into Station 32 in Broad Ripple.

Homeowners in the Butler Tarkington neighborhood packed the neighborhood association meeting Monday night since IFD Chief Ernest Malone planned to make a presentation on the plan.

The concerned crowd had several questions as to why closing Station 16 was necessary and safe.

“Just the same as we have neighborhood policing, we need the neighborhood fire departments. It’s part of the community,” said Wanda Riesz.

She said she used to live down the street from the station. Even though she moved away, her real estate agency sells homes in the area. She said having a neighborhood fire station is a positive way to attract people to the area.

But others were concerned about IFD’s response times.

Chief Malone was adamant that even if Station 16 closes, four other stations would be able to quickly respond to the area for emergencies.

“Certainly a lot of things impact response times but as I said the standard is five minutes and twenty seconds and with all of our streets and all of our construction and all of our neighborhoods, your department’s averaging four minutes and nineteen seconds right now,” he said.

BTNA President Clark Kirkman said losing Station 16 would be a major setback for the area.

“We did have a violent late summer and early fall and to have those first responders move out of our neighborhood is something that we take very seriously,” he said.

Despite the reassurance on response times from Chief Malone, the idea of firefighters no longer being a part of neighborhood is tough pill for people to swallow.

“We’re optimistic that he still has an open mind about it and is going to take into consideration what’s being presented tonight,” Kirkman said.

“I have to look for those opportunities to create efficiencies (in the department),” said Chief Malone. He said the plan would save IFD $2.1 million annually and still keep their response times in order.

“But just know that as I said to (the crowd), the passion for our fire houses and our firefighters in their neighborhood I wouldn’t trade for anything,” he said.

“After Chief Malone’s presentation, BTNA board voted to officially oppose the redeployment plan.

Chief Malone said he would take their concerns into consideration then make his final presentation to Mayor Joe Hogsett. He said the mayor is who will ultimately approve or deny the plan.

Chief Malone said Mayor Hogsett could make a decision in the next few weeks. If the plan is approved, he said Station 16 could close between May and June.

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