Thursday, March 27, 2014

Priorities: Apartments or Public Safety

I have often said that Public Safety is "Job #1" for any government, most especially local government.  And yet, the Town of Fishers is borrowing tens of millions of dollars to "redevelop" the downtown space, ignoring prior public input to preserve the character of the area.  These millions are going to developers who cannot build these projects on their own, and who in some cases, are contributors to a certain candidate or group who run the current town administration.

But this post is mostly NOT about that.  It is about the fact that Fishers' current government has its priorities wrong.

Large sections of Fishers do not have fire hydrants.  Most areas do. Some of the areas without hydrants are unincorporated areas in both Delaware and Fall Creek Townships where the Fishers Fire Department, by paid contract with the townships, has responsibility for fire protection.  You may have seen small red signs on the roadside with a red "1" or "2", which tells firefighters how far away the nearest hydrant is, in miles.  If a fire happens in that area, the FFD has to truck it in, or find another source for water, or pump it a long distance.

Given that current methods of residential construction can lead to a fire spreading VERY quickly, this can be a problem, hydrants or no. The August 2013 Sandstone fire (I am on the Sandstone HOA board) is an example of how fast a fire can spread, with 3 homes destroyed, and several others damaged, and around a million dollars of property damage. Not long ago, in an area of Delaware Township without hydrants, a fire got pretty serious.

Instead of corporate giveaways to friendly developers and contractors, I propose that Fishers invest in expanding the fire hydrant system.  This will give the fine men and women of the Fire Department one of the most important tools they need to effectively fight a fire, quick access to a water supply.  As we continue to expand east, this will become even more vitally important.  And we need to fill in the holes in our current territory where there are no hydrants.

In addition, I think we should study adding a new fire station ASAP in the northeast quadrant of Fall Creek Township.  No current fire station exists in this area, despite growth, especially in the Cyntheanne Road area. There is an ambulance with fire fighters in one of the hospitals, but no fire engine or crew for that area.  Any fire call would require FFD to respond from a distance, or require assistance from another department.

This is one of the most important things we can do as a community.  Public Safety IS Job #1.  Let's have that discussion now, and decide if our priorities lie with building apartments and shops downtown, or with Public Safety.