SYRACUSE — Turkey Creek fire and township boards Monday, Oct. 8, gave the go-ahead to pursue installation of a baby box at Fire Station 2 on McClintic Road south of Syracuse.
Only three such boxes have been installed in the United States, all of them in Indiana. The climate-controlled boxes are designed to facilitate the safe transfer of infants up to 30 days old under the state’s safe haven law, which allows surrender of a newborn without fear of criminal prosecution.
Turkey Creek Fire Chief Mickey Scott endorsed the idea and noted the fortuitous timing with both fire stations undergoing imminent renovations.
The baby box would be structurally integrated into the building. When the outer door is opened, central dispatch, the fire station and Child Protective Services are immediately alerted. The outer door locks after the baby is deposited, allowing the infant to be retrieved from the indoor access port.
Scott said the average time an infant is in the box is three minutes.
Kimberly Cates, a volunteer liaison for the project, said, “it is great to have an alternative for desperate mothers. There is no judgment and the process is discreet. We prefer them to choose life.”
The estimated cost of installing the FDA-approved box is $10,000, much of which is expected to be raised through community donations and grants.
Scott presented his September report, in which he noted:
• The department responded to 20 fire calls and 80 EMS calls. An estimated $550,000 in potential property damage was saved “due to a fire that was quickly extinguished by our firefighters.”
• Department personnel completed 308 hours of fire and EMS training, including truck operations, hose testing, ladder throw and aggressive entry technique, engine placement and pumping operations, tornado search and rescue response, congestive heart failure assessment and management, tracheotomy care and spinal cord injuries.
• The department received the 3,500-gallon vacuum tanker ordered in 2017. The tanker will be housed at Station 1. “We are currently training our personnel on the operations of this new truck,” said Scott. The tanker replaces the 1998 vehicle currently in use.
• The truck committee has provided information to four manufacturers for replacement of the department’s 2002 fire engine.
The board passed its 2019 budget on second reading. Township Trustee Barb Griffith presented the figures for the township and fire territory funds, noting all proposed figures were approved by the state Department of Local Government Finance at a meeting last month.
Griffith said the 2019 township budget totaled $223,500 as follows:
• $106,000 for general operating fund expenditures, such as salaries, supplies and capital outlays
• $82,000 for poor relief
• $15,500 for recreation disbursements
• $20,000 for the rainy day fund
The fire territory budget included $1,800,092 for operations and $765,000 for the equipment fund.
Griffith reported the township disbursed poor relief in September of $1,416 for utilities, $20.09 for medical and dental expenses and $197.08 for food. She noted the utilities were down “by more than half” from the August expenditures. “People may be getting caught up on their utility bills,” she said.
The fire board will next meet at 6:45 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12, in Syracuse Town Hall. The township advisory board will follow at 7 p.m.