Future Of St. Joe Township Fire Department Still Cloudy

By Maureen Mespell

December 23, 2011 Updated Dec 23, 2011 at 7:41 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) -- Who will rush to the rescue when the fire call goes out January first?

Eight days to a deadline, and still no answers about who will take responsibility for fire runs in parts of St. Joe Township.

A Township Board Meeting Thursday night did not clear things up.

We still don't know if a long standing volunteer department will stay in business, or step aside for the city of Fort Wayne to take over.

The St. Joe Township Fire Department has been a symbol of excellence for decades.

But because of annexations, the department's coverage territory has been shrinking, leading the Township Trustee to explore cheaper alternatives.

Thursday night, the three member Township Board voted to turn over the responsibility for ambulance runs to the Three River Ambulance Authority.

A Proposal to hand off fire service to the City of Fort Wayne did not come to a vote, because a motion to eliminate the volunteer department did not get a second.

The department currently serves about 5,000 residents.

Richard Uhrick (R), St. Joe Township Trustee says, "The sad thing is that the people in the unincorporated area are paying taxes to fund a 40,000 people fire department. It's not fair."

Barry Kunkle (R,) St. Joe Township Board says, "The overwhelming responses they've given is they are in favor of maintaining the service as it is now."

Resident Dave Herrick says, "It's been around since I've been a little kid, grew up here in Fort Wayne, so I hate to see it go. If it doesn't make money sense, I mean, sometimes you have to bite the bullet.”
The answer about fire service has to come by midnight on December 31st.

A meeting and vote will likely be held next week.

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