Chesterton Tribune



Burns Harbor eyes expanding fire station to make room for ambulance crew

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The Burns Harbor Town Council heard an update at its meeting last night on a building project that Fire Chief Bill Arney hopes will entice Porter Regional Hospital to provide ambulance service to the Town.

At last month’s Town Council meeting, Arney reported that he and Town Attorney Clay Patton were going to reach out to Porter Regional to see if they’d be agreeable to forming an ambulance service contract similar to the one the Town had in the past with Superior Ambulance Service.

The contract with Superior became too costly to renew earlier this summer when Superior gave Arney and the Town short notice to mull a proposed monthly fee of $25,000 along with exclusive rights to the first $150,000 in revenue from calls. Superior proposed this change in the contract when they were previously compensated in-kind--Burns Harbor provided the ambulance and fuel and lodging for workers--and given the right to all call revenue. That contract ended July 16 when the Town opted not to accept the proposed rate hike.

Residents and Town officials had qualms about contracting with Porter Regional through the County due to long response times, but Arney is not looking to join the County’s contract. Instead, he received approval last month to begin an addition to the Fire Department for sleeping quarters for EMS personnel. The project will include needed improvements, but will also add what Porter Regional deems adequate gender separation in the sleeping quarters. Porter Regional would require the changes if their workers were going to be based out of Burns Harbor, according to Arney.

Arney hopes that Porter EMS personnel will be based in Town and use the ambulance the Town owns like Superior did to keep response times low. No contract is in place yet, as Arney said he contacted Porter Regional’s CEO directly to confirm.

“We’re no closer than we were last month,” Arney said of a contract. He added that some residents have called him to express their concern about the lack of direct service. “I explained to them that we’re doing what we can for the time being.” In the meantime, nearby departments are ready to assist and Porter Regional is temporarily providing service as part of its contract with the County.

The Redevelopment Commission put a project on hold last month to provide $150,000 to fund the new sleeping quarters and $50,000 to fix the roof of the existing Fire Station. Arney said the best bid came from FBi Buildings Inc., out of Remington, Ind., for $67,000 to do the outer shell and roof of the new building. One tree will need to be removed and a NIPSCO line relocated in the course of the work. Arney is working on securing an easement to have the NIPSCO line moved and plans to hire Justin’s Tree Service for the tree.

In other Fire Department business, the BHFD responded to 31 calls in July for a total of 20 hours and 45 minutes spent on scene. 45 firefighters completed 76 training hours in three training nights.


Posted 8/9/2018




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