The fight over firefighters continues in Lawrence

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A local community is at ends over what to do with the city’s fire department. It is a fight that has been going for a while and it shows no signs of stopping.

Because of budget cuts, there isn’t a fire truck at Fire Station 40 in Lawrence. Several employees have also been laid off. The city’s common council has an idea to address the problem, but the mayor isn’t on board.

Earlier this year, the Lawrence County Council drafted a resolution for Mayor Dean Jessup to sit down with other communities to talk about how to better Lawrence’s response to emergencies. The mayor said he’s already done that, though, so he vetoed the resolution. On July 1, the city voted to override the mayor’s veto.

“Truthfully, a resolution is not law, so whatever I want to happen is what is going to happen,” said Lawrence Mayor Dean Jessup.

The battle is over Resolution 3. Drafted by members of the city’s common council, the goal is to create a conversation to help make emergency response better.

“I cannot make him or anyone, do anything in the administration, but if we can come up with a better set of ideas than what we currently have, then it is worth the discussion,” said Common Council member Jeff Coats.

The proposed plan included the city of Lawrence sitting down with city of Indianapolis. Jessup argues that’s not what the council is pushing for, though.

“I would certainly meet with other people to always try to improve the staffing that we have and how we do things,” said Mayor Jessup. “I do not need to meet with someone who might like to merge with me because my guys would like to merge with them.”

Council members say Jessup has it all wrong.

“I do not think there is anyone on our council that is interested in merging with Indianapolis,” said Coats.

“I held up the resolution and said, ‘This looks an awful lot like a resolution to merge with IFD.’ (A council member) denied that, but then got on TV and said, ‘Oh, we may have to do that.’  What am I supposed to think?,” said Jessup.

The council doesn’t think the mayor is playing fair. The mayor says the council does not know what it wants.  The only thing cut and dry about this issue is that it will be a “slow burn.”

“I do not know if we will form a study committee of our own or what but, stay tuned,” said Coats.

Stuck in the middle are the city’s firefighters.  They would like to merge with the Indianapolis Fire Department.  They said it would help save jobs and save Lawrence money in the long-run. Staffing cuts could continue, with sanitation and mowing jobs possibly being the next to go.

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