Indianapolis public safety officials have ordered an investigation into claims that Fire Department crews falsely reported early arrival times at two fire scenes while still en route.
The probe, sparked by information gathered by a City-County Council member from a neighboring Northeastside fire unit, is in its early stages. The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s Internal Affairs office is conducting the investigation, Fire Chief Brian Sanford confirmed to The Indianapolis Star.
While Sanford and other officials voiced skepticism and even doubt about the claims, firefighting experts said they are right to treat the issue seriously by starting an investigation.
“There are instances where public safety could be compromised if a unit marks on scene and it’s not in the right place,” said Willis Lamm, who is retired after a 28-year career as a firefighter in Contra Costa County, Calif., including as a district shift commander.
The potential consequences, he said, include muddying response time data that is a vital measure of the department’s performance; confusing an incident commander who is assigning firefighters tasks at a developing fire scene; or even endangering lives.
Those risks are why council member Christine Scales says she has pressed the issue in recent months. Officials opened the internal investigation July 12.
The department’s system-wide figures show that average response times fall within national standards for fires. The allegations about early marking of arrival times concern only two incidents in May and June.
Scales plans to meet with the internal affairs investigator this week to turn over more information about the claims.
So far, Scales has leveled allegations that she says are based on conversations with at least two firefighters at Station 21, 2508 E. 71st St. Their allegations are against two nearby stations . . .