Gary Airport doubles amount it pays city for firefighters
By Michelle L. Quinn Post-Tribune correspondent October 22, 2012 4:38PM
Updated: October 22, 2012 8:34PM
The Gary/Chicago International Airport will start paying the city of Gary the amount the two entities originally agreed upon for emergency services.
The Airport Authority board voted 5-0, with president Nathaniel Williams and member Roosevelt Allen absent, to amend the interlocal agreement to pay the city $370,000 per year for around-the-clock coverage with two firefighters per shift. The airport previously paid $185,000 per year for the same coverage.
Gary Fire Chief Teresa Everett told the board the Fire Department has been absorbing the cost of the number of firefighters and emergency staff at the airport station but can no longer afford to do so. In order to maintain a two-person, three-shift pattern, six firefighters are needed per day, she said.
Board member Cornell Collins asked Everett how many firefighters are needed at the airport. She said the Federal Aviation Administration requires only one firefighter per emergency vehicle within a 3-minute response time, but because the vehicles at Gary require two people, she won’t consider reducing the number even though the Fire Department is still absorbing a good share of the cost.
A total of 18 firefighters and emergency personnel are trained for emergencies at the airport. Two must be on the airport premises at all times while the others may respond to calls outside the airport, corporate counsel Niquelle Allen said.
Also at the meeting, marketing liaison James Ward III told the board there are 32 seats still available for the Nov. 8-11 Allegiant Air flight to Orlando, Fla. Now billed as “A Flight with the Mayor” since Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson will be going, people are being encouraged to take the trip.
“The airport is now very close to having 10,000 passengers flown out of Gary on Allegiant, and this trip allows us to solidify our commitment to that with Allegiant,” the mayor said, adding that the 10,000-passengers threshold will make the airport eligible for more federal dollars.
A second low-cost promotion with Allegiant is in the works, Ward said, but declined specifics as negotiations are ongoing.
In other business, Interim Airport Director Steve Landry told the board the $1 million Federal Transit Administration grant the airport and Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District received in 2006 has been allocated and won’t lapse until October 2013. Those funds will be used for improving connectivity between the airport and South Shore stations.