Community leaders in Franklin Township upset over decision to close fire stations

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FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, Ind. — Community leaders in Franklin Township are upset over the decision by Indianapolis leaders to close two fire stations.

The plans are part of The Indianapolis Fire Department’s Redeployment project, also closing a station in Butler-Tarkington.

Station 52 and Station 54 in Franklin Township would be consolidated into one station. That new station would be in between the two current stations and cost about $3 million to build and construct. Station 52 would close entirely and station 54 would be used as a training facility.

City-county council member Aaron Freeman (District 25) said he was blindsided by the news of the closures.

“I was shocked.  had no pre-notice. None of the councilors were made aware of it. This decision just came out of nowhere,” Freeman said.

Scott Williams, Vice President of Firefighters Local 416 said they are on board with the project. Through research, Williams said they documented the response time in Franklin Township would not change. The national standard is four minutes, 90 percent of the time. Williams said that number will not be impacted by the consolidation.

“It was an adequate way to save some money, be responsible with taxpayer dollars and still provide coverage,” Williams said.

Fire Chief Ernest Malone previously told CBS4, the savings from closing Station 52 would be around $1.5 million each year. He said the new station will pay for itself in 2.5 years.

“We’ve vetted this, as well as the department. We don’t believe the department would do anything to put our members in jeopardy as well as the citizens,” Williams said.

He also added no firefighters would be losing their jobs.

Freeman argued, the costs could be made up elsewhere.

“We’re gonna ask the voters in Marion County in November, to support a mass transit plan. We can’t keep two fire stations open in Marion County. Our priorities are not only out of whack, they’re so out of line with what people need and want,” Freeman said. He added, “we’re already down three fireman in Franklin Township since the consolidation, now we’re going to take away a fire house. This is just too much. I can’t support it.”

Franklin Township Trustee, Clifford Kight, said he’s concerned the consolidation means less firefighters and fewer resources in an area that doesn’t have hydrants.

“The people in Franklin Township are going to be suffering in the end,” Kight said.

IFD said the two stations will not close until the new one is constructed. That could take another year to begin construction.

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