Pike Township public safety questioned by active firefighters, political candidate

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By Charlie De Mar

INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 21, 2014)- The Pike Township Fire Department administration is being scrutinized by its own firefighters and a candidate for trustee.

Veteran Pike Township firefighters asked to remain anonymous, but they expressed some of their concerns over the current state of the department to FOX59.

The firefighters say they are worried about staffing levels.

“We attempt and do a very good job of keeping four people on the engines,” said Chief Robert Smith, Pike Township Fire Department.

The National Fire Protection Association recommends four firefighters per engine.  However, some of the current firefighters claim they regularly go on runs with fewer people.

“Occasionally, we may drop down depending on a sick call or something like that, but the vast majority of the time we are at full staffing with four personnel,” said Smith.

Alonzo Anderson is a Republican candidate for Pike Township Trustee. Currently, the position is held by Democrat Lula Patton.

Anderson is a member of the Montgomery County Volunteer Fire Department.

“From my training and the things I've learned, that has helped me recognize the issues we have here in Pike Township. This is scary stuff,” said Anderson.

Anderson recently spoke at a public forum and questioned the current capabilities of Pike the Township Fire Department. The trustee is in charge of staffing the fire department.

“Politics has nothing to with it. This is about the safety of the people here in Pike Township. Tax payers pay money for these services,” said Anderson.

Anderson and active members of the department also expressed concern about the department’s decision to temporarily suspend its underwater dive unit.

“Every good organization from time to time has to take a real good look at itself and make sure we are doing the right things,” said Smith.

The department will now depend on its mutual aide agreements with Fishers and Indianapolis to respond to underwater rescue and recoveries.

Pike Township can still conduct surface rescues and provide assistance in shallow waters.  However, if there was a deep water rescue in one of the many retention ponds in the area or Eagle Creek Reservoir, Pike Township could not respond.

“We don’t believe at this time it will provide any degradation of service to our residents,” said Smith.

“We can’t leave ourselves in that position to be that open. It’s only going to take one time,” said Anderson.

“That team gets called out less than 50 times a year. It should be a very minimal impact on the community," said Smith.

Smith says the department plans on reinstating the dive team after they have reviewed their processes and policies.  He added that there is no time frame for when the department could get back in the water.