Southsider Voice correspondent
Could the Beech Grove Fire Department become the first “excluded municipality” in Unigov to merge with the Indianapolis Fire Department?
The answer seems to be unlikely, although the BGFD budget has been restricted for several years, dating back to the administration of Mayor Joe Wright.
Mayor Dennis Buckley, a former Beech Grove fire chief, has floated the idea and has received input from Indianapolis Professional Firefighters Local 416 President Mike Reeves, who contends the savings could amount to $1.5 million.
BGFD operates on a $3.1 million budget that is supported through property taxes. According to figures on the city’s website, $2.6 million of the department’s budget is for salaries, wages and benefits.
In a posting Sunday on Facebook, Clerk-Treasurer Dan McMillan stated, “I say we need to keep Beech Grove Fire Department in Beech Grove, and as the clerk-treasurer I can tell you we can afford it.”
Buckley contends that any decision to merge with IFD would have to come from the City Council, although the Board of Works and Public Safety oversee many BGFD issues.
The department has 32 firefighters with stations at 330 E. Churchman Ave. and 1202 Albany St.
A recommended 2015 fiscal plan from the city’s financial adviser calls for $500,000 in cuts to attain a balanced budget. It does not include requests of $160,000 for contractual ambulance or a minimum of $80,000 for medical supplies. The suggested budget is $7.7 million.
BGFD and IFD have reciprocal agreements to help each other in emergencies such as Saturday evening.
Beech Grove firefighters aided IFD by responding to the fatal house fire in the 2700 block of Duane Drive on the Southside. Bettie Bradley, 72, and Henderson Wyrick, 82; each died Sunday at Eskenazi Memorial Hospital. A third relative was hospitalized in good condition.
Buckley issued a statement Sunday on Facebook: “I would like to thank the BGFD 56 crew for their bravery in helping extricate three people from a house fire yesterday outside of Beech Grove. They were the second engine crew arriving at a house fire on Duane Drive ... Your job is to help people in their time of need and you did just that!”
Perry and Franklin townships are among two of five township fire departments in Marion County that have merged with IFD. The cities of Speedway and Lawrence and the townships of Decatur, Pike and Wayne townships operate their own departments.