Township Unanimously Approves Merger Plan

Lawrence Township Pushes To Consolidate Fire Operations With IFD

The Lawrence Township Fire Department took another step Tuesday toward a merger with the Indianapolis Fire Department, a move that the city contends will save money.

Lawrence would be the fifth township to consolidate operations with IFD. Washington, Perry, Warren and Franklin townships are already in the fold, 6News' Ericka Flye reported.

In a unanimous vote, the Lawrence Advisory Board passed a resolution to merge, a move that drew applause from the crowd. More than 100 firefighters would be affected if the measure received final approval.

"Very excited, long time coming," said Lawrence Township Fire Chief Michael Blackwell.

Under the consolidation plan, 18 of 127 firefighters would remain with the city of Lawrence with the rest rolling into IFD.

Lawrence Township firefighters were facing layoffs and took a 16 percent pay cut this year. Financial woes would go away if the merger goes through.

"They'll see a significant pay increase and a pension base increase," Blackwell said.

Supporters contend that consolidation saves taxpayers money by sharing services.

Trustee Russ Brown said there would be a slight cost increase the first year but that the decrease would be significant in the following years – about $150 on property tax bills.

IFD officials said consolidation brings enhanced fire safety and cuts duplication that already results in the two departments responding to the same runs.

"If we're on similar gear, with the same training, using the same equipment, operating off the same apparatus, off the same general orders, it's a much safer operation," said IFD Chief Brian Sanford.

The merger will take effect after it is approved by the City-County Council and Mayor Greg Ballard, both considered formalities.

If the proposal moves forward, the merger would take effect on Jan. 1, 2011.