Hobart residents question fire station closure, ambulance service

2013-04-11T22:45:00Z 2013-04-15T14:07:06Z Hobart residents question fire station closure, ambulance serviceDeborah Laverty deborah.laverty@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2223 nwitimes.com

HOBART | Nick Skomac moved to his house in Hillman Heights 14 years ago because it was near a fire station and he wanted to keep his son safe.

Skomac, one of about 75 residents who attended a community forum Thursday, pleaded with city officials to keep Fire House No. 2 open.

"The fire station in close proximity to my son's bedroom was a deciding factor in my moving to Hobart. Five-hundred thousand dollars becomes a pile of green paper if something happens to my son or someone else's child," Skomac said.

Staffing of Fire House No. 2 on Old Ridge Road was one of the many issues residents focused on at the forum hosted by Mayor Brian Snedecor and Police Chief Rick Zormier.

Residents also questioned the possible privatization of the ambulance services, the cost of issuing squad cars to police officers, why litter is so prevalent on certain streets and cleanup of abandoned houses on the west side of the city.

Snedecor told residents with questions about Fire House No. 2 that city officials presently are housing a staffed ambulance there from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

"We're trying the best we can to keep it open," Snedecor said.

Both Snedecor and Fire Chief Brian Taylor said the building, which is around 40 years old, is not in the best shape.

"To put good money after bad money is not a good idea," Taylor said.

Hobart Township Trustee Tom Silich suggested city officials look into determining whether the station could be salvaged or added onto.

"Let's look into obtaining a low interest bond," Silich said.

Snedecor said he felt a number of residents had issues with fire services particularly when it comes to maintaining city ambulance services.

In regard to that issue, Snedecor said he wanted to make it clear privatization of the ambulance services is something being discussed and is not a done deal.

"We're trying to find solutions. Personally I don't want to get rid of our ambulance services but we still have to research it. It is a sensitive issue," Snedecor said.

Resident Dave Mayer asked Snedecor if the city's ambulance services were carrying their own load money-wise.

"No," Snedecor said.

Snedecor said the cost to run the service is $1.2 million with a return of $600,000 to $700,000.

"It's a loss of $500,000," Snedecor said.

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