Lawrence public safety budget critical

Fire department had to borrow tires from IFD

LAWRENCE, Ind. - The Lawrence Fire Department faces severe shortages of money and manpower, and some say that has affected public safety in Lawrence.

Station 40 in the heart of the Fort Harrison has become nothing more than a warehouse for broken and unused equipment.

Two water rescue craft have been taken out of service because the vehicle needed to pull them has broken down, and at fire headquarters, officials had to borrow four tires from the Indianapolis Fire Department in order to avoid putting the aerial truck out of service.

"I don't think they have the adequate supplies they need," said Lawrence Common Council President Linda Treat. "Some are going to put the community in a lot of danger."

The department no longer has overtime funds to keep stations open and fire trucks operational. In order to keep personnel on the job, the department is now offering firefighters days off as compensation. Fire officials admit the fiscal crisis looms into next year.

"It's going to be tight. I don't foresee it being as bad as we are right now, because we had a lot of bad things happen earlier in the year," said Lawrence Fire Chief Mark Delong.

Earlier in the year, the department cut its budget by 15 percent and laid off 24 EMTs. 

"I've contacted the attorney for the council, asking him to get an ordinance together that would get enough funds out of the rainy day fund, out of the bake sale fund, whatever we need to do," said Treat. "We need to put the money into protecting the public and our fire department."

Some members of the Lawrence Common Council have asked for a State Board of Accounts audit of spending decisions by Mayor Dean Jessup's administration.

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