Beech Grove council to consider agreement for Indianapolis to take over Beech Grove fire services

Beech Grove council asked to consider researching an agreement for Indianapolis to take over Beech Grove fire suppression services

By Nicole Davis

Beech Grove and the Indianapolis Fire Departments work together on a regular basis, supporting each other on calls or being dispatched into each other’s districts. Beech Grove city councilors are now being asked to consider looking into an agreement for IFD to take over Beech Grove’s fire suppression services. Officials from both groups met on Feb. 25 for a council workshop.

“I think the service could be better, I know it would be better, if we merge our fire suppression divisions with the city of Indianapolis,” said Beech Grove Mayor Buckley at the meeting. “That is my recommendation to you. I want you to consider it. There will not be any votes taken this evening. I just want you to think about the future of fire protection in the city of Beech Grove. Over the next five to 10 years, what’s it going to look like? I can tell you they’re going to continue to be more busy and we’re going to have to invest millions of dollars into our local fire department if we don’t change the way we do business.”

This agreement would not include EMS services. Should an agreement take place, Buckley said the Albany fire station would become EMS only, and the Churchman one would remain a fire station with IFD. All of the firefighters would become employees of the city of Indianapolis. The potential cost of this transition is unknown and something that would need to be researched with council approval.

“Nothing has been decided,” Buckley said. “This is just an idea. I don’t want to approach it as an idea to save the taxpayers money. I want to approach this and advise you that I think this is better for the citizens of Beech Grove. I think this will make our service better.” 

The Indianapolis Professional Firefighters Local 416, a firefighters union, met and voted 30-1 to continue researching the topic and implement anything that the governing bodies may decide. Member Brent Henady said at the Feb. 25 meeting that their preliminary research shows this agreement would result in an in increase in pay, pension benefits, cheaper insurance plans and an option for retiree health insurance. 

“I’m very proud of our department and proud of the council with what you’ve been able to do with our budget for our people and our equipment,” said Fire Chief Rob Cheshire. “But as a fire chief I honestly have to sit up here and tell you we cannot operate without the city of Indianapolis fire department on a daily basis. It’s a pretty profound statement, but we do not have the money or the resources to provide the level of protection our city needs for fire protection. This agreement between the two for a merger is what’s best for the citizens of Beech Grove.”

Councilors are asked to decide if they wish to move forward by March 11 and if they would like to research the issue further, public meetings will be planned.