Station 16 is closing. Am I happy about it? No. Am I disappointed that, after months of meetings, the Hogsett administration waited until 4:30pm on a Friday to issue the release (with no notice to neighborhood leadership as requested)? Absolutely. In response to receiving feedback from my constituents I would like to clarify a few things.
First, Chief Malone has the authority to use the IFD budget, appropriated by the 2015 Council, to deploy the Indianapolis Fire Department how he sees fit. The Council does not get a vote. Only the Mayor has the authority to change the IFD Chief’s plan to lead his department the way he deems best.
Back in March, I was presented this plan as a near-definite scenario. I connected the Chief to neighborhood leadership so he could present his plan directly. Was I concerned? Absolutely. I was concerned about potential response time increases for Butler-Tarkington and East Meridian-Kessler. I was concerned about an engine getting in and out of Broad Ripple when density is rapidly increasing. I pored over the data presented to justify Chief Malone’s decision. I asked a lot of questions, and spoke with constituents about more questions and concerns to raise. I raised them.
After three separate meetings with Chief Malone, one with the Firefighters’ Union (supportive of the plan), one with Mayor Hogsett, and after proposing several alternative solutions to the closing of Station 16, I am certain of a few things. First, I believe Chief Malone to be capable, full of integrity, and thoughtful about the complexity of keeping citizens safe as variables change in our city. Second, I am still concerned about response times in the neighborhoods mentioned. Third, I remain concerned about the logistics of moving an engine rapidly and regularly through Broad Ripple Village. While I believe all of these concerns are justified, I have never run a metropolitan fire department and I have to take Chief Malone at his word. Chief Malone has given me reassurance that this plan will not put anyone in danger and the IFD response times will still exceed NFPA mandated times (details noted below).
It is my expectation that when Chief Malone presents his next budget that the city will see a significant savings and that the response times still exceed the mandated rate. If that is not the case that will be my time to respond.
Let me be clear, I am absolutely against closing any public safety offices in District 2 or surrounding districts. Chief Malone, however, has presented me with data that says the residents of the impacted districts will not be any less safe than they are now. I will continue to monitor this situation and work with the Mayor’s office to make sure that everyone receives the same amount of protection as they do now.
NOTE: As I have continually assured BTNA leadership, I will work to give the neighborhood this biggest possible voice in the future of the Station 16 property. It is our collective goal that the property become the best community asset possible.
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1710 states the first arriving fire apparatus will arrive on the scene within 4 minutes 90% of the time. The remaining apparatus will arrive on the scene within 8 minutes 90% of the time. Currently these times are being exceeded in the coverage areas of both Stations 16 and 32.