INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Pike Township trustee and fire chief have started exploring the idea of consolidating with the Indianapolis Fire Department. Turns out, this came as a total surprise to the rest of the board and people in the community.
It was a packed house at the Pike Township board meeting as word quickly spread that Trustee Lula Patton was interested in the idea of consolidating. But it quickly became clear who knew this idea was on the table and who didn't.
"Generally when issues come up, the residents are informed about the pros and the cons, however in this particular case, nothing," said Pike Township resident Mary Rowley.
The fire chief says this is the first time consolidating with IFD has truly been explored. Tuesday night's board meeting was the first time a lot of key players heard about this idea. Now the board would like to press pause while they learn about this so they can pass proper information on to the public.
Tuesday's meeting was simply to introduce the idea and let the public know a resolution and public forum is coming in the future. Board member Annette Johnson says the board pumped the brakes on the plan because they knew nothing about it.
"As a board member, along with the other board members, we're very disappointed that this information just came to us within the last 24 hours. It should be transparency. There's nothing wrong with having talks of consolidation because that may be what some of the firefighters want, maybe some of the residents," Johnson said.
Chief Robert Saunders says under the direction of Trustee Patton, he had one meeting with IFD Chief Ernest Malone to explore if this could work.
"We could come to an easy agreement that there is potential that maybe we could pull our resources for what we're doing in each department and be better together than separated," Saunders said.
The public wasn't allowed to ask questions. For now, they'll have to wait to get more clarity about the future of who will keep them safe.
"I may be 100% for it as soon as I get some answers but right now it's very sketchy and up in the air in terms of what the process will be," Rowley said.
The board will get more knowledgeable about the pros and cons of this consolidation and what it could look like. A resolution will be introduced followed by a public meeting. And that’s when they’ll hear from neighbors. No dates have been set.