Concerns Raised Over Manpower at Fire House

By Stephanie Parkinson

January 4, 2013 Updated Jan 4, 2013 at 6:55 PM EDT

Allen County, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) - Saint Joseph Township has new people on the job to protect them when it comes to public safety. On New Year's Day a new fire chief took over and a new department was formed.

But leaders within Allen County are concerned the new department might not have enough people to make their runs.

“It's a big question mark right now on what the staffing looks like,” said Chief Mike Feely, President, Allen County Fire Chief's Association.

“I am concerned right now,” said Barry Kunkle, St. Joseph Township Board Member. “The residents have come to me and I've been approached at the church, I've been approached at the grocery store and the gas station wondering what's going on.”

Despite being a member of the townships advisory board Barry Kunkle can't get all of his own questions answered. The trustee, Richard Urhick, did recently tell him they have ten qualified people on the new force, but that isn't enough to ease Barry's mind.

“I would be much more comfortable if I had some specific details about the number of people, who the people are, how many are firefighters, how many are EMTs,” said Kunkle.

While the status of their manpower remains unclear The Allen County Chief's Association assures the community they will respond to Saint Joseph Township if they're called upon.

“They have 4 minutes to get a truck in route and if they do not get a truck in route then they will tone out the next closest station,” said Chief Feely.

Still Chief Feely wishes the line of communication was more open.

“We want to be able to support each other, and if we don't know how many people they have, or what resources they can fill, it does make it a little challenging,” said Chief Feely.

Other questions, still without clear answers, are why was the previous department dissolved, why has a paid chief been added and why was more than $20,000 added to the fire budget for 2013.

“If the issue is money, I'm not sure how that I see that we're saving money by going in this direction,” said Kunkle. “I think we just need to get people involved and have more, of the word transparency applied to what's going on.”

INC reached out to the new Saint Joseph Township fire chief, Tim Jones. He wouldn't confirm how many trained firefighters he had on staff but assured us he did have more than enough.

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