ANDERSON, Ind. — Calling it a plan to “right size” the department, Fire Chief Phillip Rogers wants to close to two existing fire stations, build a new one near St. Vincent Anderson Regional Hospital, and stabilize the number of firefighters at 111.
Those are some of the significant changes contained in the department’s proposed budget plan for 2014, which was presented to the Anderson City Council during budget workshops recently.
In addition, Rogers wants to buy two new ambulances, hire two civilian employees to handle emergency medical service billing (that work is current being performed by a certified firefighter, he said), and buy a new ladder truck.
Rogers said the proposed staffing levels are consistent with other similarly sized cities in Indiana and elsewhere in the country, and that the plan to shutter Station 1 at 44 W. Fifth St. and build a new, somewhat smaller, yet more environmentally efficient station near St. Vincent Anderson, capitalizes on where Anderson is expected to grow and develop in the future, which is to the southeast and southwest of Interstate 69.
"This plan coincides with the city’s growth,” he said. “We have the opportunity to adjust to that with this budget.”
Overall, the department is proposing a spending plan for fiscal 2014 of just over $10.1 million. Emergency medical services billings are expected to net $1.6 million, and the city will pursue a $1.7 million SAFER (which stands for Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) grant from the federal government to pay for staffing the department at 111 firefighters.
Preliminary estimates for a new 20,000-square-foot fire station are anywhere from $3.5 to $5 million. The oldest firehouse in the city is Station 6 at 133 W. 29th St., which was built in 1946. The newest is Station 4 at 621 W. Cross St., which was built in 1995.
Station 1 was built in 1975, and is in need of significant repairs. Plaster is dropping off the outside of the building, and concrete walls throughout hold moisture, which has led to a mold problem at the facility, Rogers said. In addition, electrical systems, heating, ventilating and air conditioning equipment needs to be replaced, as does the building’s roof. And those fixes would only be stopgap at best, he said.