April 13, 2012
City lays out fire protection plans for annexed areas
Contractors installing 145 new hydrants
By SCOTT SMITH
Tribune staff writer
— The city of Kokomo will install 145 new fire hydrants as part of a
plan to provide fire protection to newly-annexed areas of the city,
Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight announced Friday.
At a cost of around $250,000, the hydrants are a cheaper means of
getting service to outlying areas than the cost of the city
purchasing and manning a water tanker truck, Goodnight said.
Last year, city firefighters increased their training in “drafting”
— the method of drawing water out of a temporary pool to fight
That’s because the newly-annexed areas stretch two miles from
current city boundaries in places, and many of those areas didn’t
have fire hydrants.
Now, the plan is to run hydrants throughout the annexation areas. So
far, 16 hydrants have been installed, starting with the Ivy Hills
neighborhood. Eventually, the city will install 45 hydrants in the
West Side Annexation area, and 100 in the East Side Annexation area,
city director of operations Randy Morris said.
The other major capital project related to annexation will be
building a new fire station in the 3500 block of South Dixon Road.
Goodnight said the cost will not exceed $1.5 million.
“It won’t be as large as the new station on Center Road,” Goodnight
said. “It will have one engine housed there, not an engine and a
As contract negotiations move forward between the city and the
Kokomo Professional Firefighters Local 396, the big question right
now concerns staffing levels.
The city currently has several firefighters’ salaries covered by
federal grant money, and the original grants run out this summer.
The firefighters’ contract also expires this year.
“We don’t have any plans to add personnel,” Goodnight said Friday.
“Some of the staffing questions will be decided in this year’s
The average firefighter costs taxpayers $87,000 a year in salary and
benefits, and every new piece of equipment has to be manned by at
least one firefighter per shift.
That means the city would have been required to assign three
firefighters to a new water tanker.
Installing more hydrants “keeps our costs for fire protection down
in the long run,” Goodnight said.
City officials and Harrison Township officials also moved this week
to clarify the state of negotiations over fire protection in
Harrison Township is still collecting property taxes from the
newly-annexed residents this year, so the township volunteer fire
department will continue providing fire protection to those areas
through Dec. 31, Harrison Township Trustee Joyce Ancil said.
Last year, city and township officials met to discuss fire
protection, and came to an agreement, she said.
After this year, the Harrison Township Volunteer Fire Department
will continue to serve the areas west of 300 West and south of Ind.
26, she said.
At one point, prior to Ancil taking her current post last year, city
officials had discussed the city taking over fire protection for the
entire township, which stretches out to 600 West.
Those discussions have been over for some time.
Despite losing much of its tax base to annexation, the volunteer
department will continue to exist, operating out of the station at
Goodnight indicated mixed feelings about continuing to have two
departments in the township.
“It depends on which group you’re looking at — the city taxpayers,
or the taxpayers in Harrison Township outside the city limits,”
Goodnight said when asked if consolidation would have been a better
“We were serious about considering it, but only if it was good
mutually for all parties concerned.”
• Scott Smith is a Kokomo Tribune staff writer. He may be reached at
765-454-8569 or via email at