Huntington Township Outsources Fire Protection to Volunteer Departments

By Stephanie Parkinson - 21Alive

January 13, 2014 Updated Jan 13, 2014 at 6:21 PM EDT

HUNTINGTON, Ind. (21Alive) - Residents in Huntington Township will soon see a big change to their fire protection.

For at least 50 years the city fire department has responded to calls in Huntington Township, and the township has paid annually for the service. Now, volunteer departments will be responding to calls in the township instead.

"It's difficult to end something with that much good history," said Tim Guy, Huntington Township Trustee.

But the township did this to save taxpayers money.

"The city wants a fire territory. It would be to the city's advantage to have a fire territory," said Guy.

"It basically spreads the cost of the services that everybody in the township receives, through the city fire department, across the board equally to everybody who benefits from that service," said Mayor Brooks Fetters, (R) Huntington.

To avoid spending significantly more money, on Friday Huntington Township's Board of Trustees approved outsourcing fire protection to four area volunteer departments.

"The fundamental issue between what the city has to offer and what the township volunteer fire departments have to offer is the issue of response time. And so, the city's response times are really very outstanding and have been. And just because of the nature of what a volunteer department is, I think their response times are going to be somewhat strained," said Fetters.

The mayor may have a concern about response times, but the township trustee says, morally this was his only option.

"We are ideologically opposed to creating more government. More government would mean higher taxes for our constituents, and we just continue to stand by that," said Guy.

A fire territory would have come with an appointed board that would have set its own budget.

"With government finance it's very easy to spend the taxpayers money, very easy and very simple. It would have been very easy for us to bite the bullet and move on, but there's nobody at the table really watching out for the taxpayers," said Andy Zay, Huntington Township Board President.

"We're ending a really great relationship. We have valued the relationship with the city over the years, and really appreciate the city fireman. They've done a wonderful job by us," said Guy.

The city will continue to provide fire service until mid April. After that, the volunteer departments will take over.

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