Indy Fire Merger Raises Concerns

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Fire Department is facing questions about how it plans to maintain diversity while absorbing several surrounding departments. Franklin Township on Thursday became the fourth township to...


INDIANAPOLIS --

The Indianapolis Fire Department is facing questions about how it plans to maintain diversity while absorbing several surrounding departments.

Franklin Township on Thursday became the fourth township to merge with IFD since 2007, bringing 92 firefighters into the fold, 6News' Derrik Thomas reported.

But some have raised concerns about the lack of diversity in several of the townships set to join the city department.

In Franklin Township, 82 of the firefighters are white men, four are African-American men, one is a Hispanic man and four are white women.

"We're marching back in time, as opposed to pressing forward, which is not a good attribute for a so-called world-class city," said IFD Lt. Brian White, who is African-American and a 19-year veteran. "The city is not homogeneous with regards to race, therefore why shouldn't its police and fire department be represented across the board in a fair and equitable fashion?"

Current numbers show white men make up 79 percent of IFD, while African-American men make up 14.4 percent and white women make up 4.4 percent.

IFD spokeswoman Capt. Rita Burris said the department plans to aggressively recruit minorities going forward as the mergers continue.

"It's not an easy fix. We can't change the demographics on the individual townships," she said. "We welcome them into our department, but it's something we are addressing and looking forward to fixing."

Three or four more township departments are expected to merge with IFD.

The NAACP filed suit against the city last year questioning hiring and promotion practices of both the fire and police departments.

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