Fire trucks parked outside Switchyard Park pavillion.
Map of fire station and hydrant locations.
Bloomington fire chief Jason Moore.
Bloomington mayor John Hamilton (left) and city council president Jim Sims.
On Friday morning, just outside the pavilion at Switchyard Park, Bloomington mayor John Hamilton and city council president Jim Sims undraped a new logo on the fire department’s Engine 5.
The new design features the numeral “1” and the phrase “ISO Class,” to highlight the Bloomington fire department’s recent score of 1, awarded by Insurance Service Office, Inc. (ISO).
That’s the top score on a 10-point scale, which is based on: the fire department’s equipment, staffing, training, and geographic distribution of stations (50%); water supply (40%); and emergency communications (10%).
Fire chief Jason Moore noted that the truck used for the unveiling is the oldest in the department’s fleet. But it’s not that old—it was purchased in 2016 and delivered in 2017.
Replacement of fire apparatus has been one of the investments made with revenue from the public safety local income tax, which was authorized in 2016.
Eleven new Bloomington firefighters sworn in on July 23, 2021.
James Brown III takes oath administered by city clerk Nicole Bolden.
Robert Morgan, Jr. takes oath administered by city clerk Nicole Bolden.
Deon Walton, takes oath administered by city clerk Nicole Bolden.
View of the temporary downtown Bloomington fire station looking west from College Avenue.
A view from the north on 4th Street of the temporary location for Station 1 of the Bloomington fire department.
Map of Bloomington fire station locations.
On Friday afternoon at the bottom of the grassy landscaped tiers in front Bloomington’s city hall, Devin Owens tore open an envelope and read aloud the contents: “Probationary firefighter Owens. I am assigned to Black Shift Station 1.”
The announcement earned a round of applause from a gathering of about 60 people.
The ritual reading aloud of station assignments by Owens and 10 other new firefighters came after they were sworn in by city clerk Nicole Bolden.
Fire chief Jason Moore, deputy chief Jayme Washel, battalion chief for training Tania Daffron, and a couple of dozen other firefighters attended the ceremony, as did Bloomington mayor John Hamilton, deputy mayor Don Griffin and several other city staff.
At 11 members, it’s the largest and most diverse recruiting class ever, Moore told The B Square.
A temporary location at 4th Street and College Avenue could be serving as Bloomington’s downtown fire station for another year and a half.
That’s based on a “right of access” agreement for the property, which was approved by the Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC), at its regular meeting on Monday. The fire department’s right of access to the RDC’s property runs through the end of 2022.
The heavy rains that night filled the fire station’s basement with eight feet of water, drowning the building’s telecommunications center. Station 1 also served as the department’s administrative headquarters.
The temporary site—in the former Bunger & Robertson building at College Square—is four blocks east of Station 1.
It has been housing the department’s administrative functions since the flood hit. On Monday, Bloomington fire chief Jason Moore told The B Square that the department also has operational crews stationed there from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
When the firetrucks are not at the temporary site, they are distributed to other stations in a way to optimize fire protection coverage from those four sites.
Providing fire protection around the clock from the temporary downtown location will be made possible by the RDC’s approval at its Monday meeting. The right of access includes permission to establish a temporary fire truck bay in the parking lot, which will allow the trucks to be secured overnight.
From left: Bloomington public works director Adam Wason; Bloomington fire chief Jason Moore. People’s Park gathering on June 21, 2021
Firefighters at intersection of Grant Street and Kirkwood Avenue. Early morning of June 19, 2021.
Bloomington’s fire station at Fourth and Lincoln streets in downtown will be closed, “for an unknown period of time,” according to a press release issued by the city early Wednesday afternoon.
The closing is due to damage sustained to the station during last weekend’s flooding, when 5 to 7 inches of rain fell on Bloomington from late Friday night into Saturday morning.
According to the press release, the equipment and personnel for the downtown station will be redeployed at one of the city’s other four stations.
According to the press release, the time for firefighters to respond to calls will not be compromised due to the closure: “Based on a careful reallocation of equipment and personnel, no significant delays in emergency response times are anticipated.”
[Updated at 3:58 p.m. on June 23, 2021: In a press release issued late Wednesday afternoon, the city of Bloomington announced that the police station, on 3rd Street, a block south of the closed fire station, is able to continue normal operations despite flood damage. According to the release, the losses included “significant damage to electronic and computer equipment.”
On Tuesday morning, Bloomington’s police and fire chiefs, along with the director of community and family resources department, delivered the city’s state of public safety report.
The presentation of such a report has been made an annual event by Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton. It is slotted ahead of the mayor’s state of the city address, which is scheduled this year for Thursday, Feb. 25.
Bloomington’s year in public safety for 2020 showed the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For a firefighter first class, the agreement calls for a 1-percent raise in 2021 to $54,625 in base pay. A 2-percent raise each year after that, through 2024, brings a firefighter’s base pay to $57,969.
According to a memo from the city’s corporation counsel, Philippa Guthrie, the city will be compensating firefighters by a total of about $2 million more, over the four-year term of the contract.
At the city council’s public safety committee review of the contract on Dec. 9, one concern raised by councilmember Jim Sims was about the diversity of the fire department. Fire chief Jason Moore reported a current department profile of about 5 percent women, and between 3 to 4 percent Black and or people of color.
Moore said that the department is working to recruit a more diverse pool of applicants, in part by supporting the Hoosier Hills Career Center in the Monroe County Community School Corporation and the Ivy Tech fire science program.
Bloomington city councilmember Jim Sims at Aug. 20, 2019 departmental budget hearings. (Dave Askins/Beacon)
Bloomington Fire Chief Jason Moore at Aug. 20, 2019 departmental budget hearings. (Dave Askins/Beacon)
The 10-year capital plan for Bloomington’s fire department includes two additional fire stations—one in the southwest and one in the southeast part of town. It also includes the replacement of two existing stations, and a relocation of the station that serves the Indiana University campus.
Those five stations together have an estimated cost of $28 million, and the three additional fire engines they’ll house will add another $1.8 million.
But those costs aren’t pegged to any particular year in the 10-year plan. So they’re not a part of the proposed $13.25 million budget for 2020, which Bloomington’s fire chief, Jason Moore, presented to the city council on Tuesday night.
Responding to a councilmember question about the timeframe for building new stations, Moore said, “To start making decisions when everything is so fluid, I feel would be rushed and ill-advised. So we will be making recommendations when it’s appropriate and when the entire big picture of public safety can be really painted crystal clear for everyone.”