Fire Chief pitches plan to consolidate stations, hoping to sway neighbors

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 10, 2016) -- The Indianapolis Fire Chief is himself presenting a plan to consolidate stations and streamline operations to neighborhoods that will be affected.

Chief Ernest Malone made his pitch to the Meridian-Kessler Neighborhood Association on Thursday.

Malone's plan calls for the closure of Station 16 in Butler-Tarkington, in order to add more operations at Station 32 in Broad Ripple. It also calls for the closure of two stations in Franklin Township, to be replaced by a new station. One of those stations would become a full-time center for firefighters to train and take tests that are currently outsourced to Wayne Township.

"It’s important that each neighborhood hear directly from me," Malone said.

IFD is currently moving all of its administration into a central location near Mass Ave. Malone said overall, the proposal would save millions of dollars.

While the reception was warm at the Meridian-Kessler meeting, residents in Butler-Tarkington have started a petition against the plan. One resident showed up to the meeting to voice his concern to the Chief.

"We’ll have an absence of first responders in our neighborhood. We’ve had a lot of lot of issues with violence ... and we’re really concerned about you guys leaving us," the resident said.

"I think they'll hopefully understand from me that we won’t ever advocate something to them that will make them unsafe. We’ll continue this conversation and ultimately I ask for their support," Malone said.

City-county councillor Colleen Fanning, R-District 2, told FOX59 she has been getting hundreds of emails about the plan.

"This is obviously a very hot topic, it’s really divisive," Fanning said.

She said that she understands the concerns of Butler-Tarkington, especially since Broad Ripple experienced a loss of services years ago.

"We went through it six or seven years ago, losing our engine, and it was really hard so I really symptathize with what’s happening right now, I get it," Fanning said.

Malone has said the plan is not set in stone, but told FOX59 Thursday that he was still unsure if it will require city-county council approval. He said he is awaiting word from the council's attorney on that point.

Butler-Tarkington residents will get their chance to face Chief Malone at their meeting on Monday. The meeting is being held by The Butler-Tarkington Neighborhood Association at the MLK Center, located at 40th and Illinois, Monday at 6:30 p.m.