Looking Back: A Time to Build
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Looking Back: A Time To Build

In 1950, the Indianapolis Fire Department took a hard look at the status of its 27 stations and came up with the following information:

The average age of a station was 40 years.
18 of the stations had been built for horse-drawn apparatus.
The newest station, the 17’s was almost 10 years old.
Three Engine Companies were doubled-up in other stations. The 6’s were at the 13’s, the 10’s were at the 17’s and the 20’s were housed at the 12’s. And there was not an Engine 31 as it had been disbanded in 1935.
The City was really starting to grow fast on the East, Northeast and Northwest sides.

It was time to do some building.

By early 1951, a plan had been developed to build five new stations. Specifications were based on an updated plan of the last couple of stations built, with the apparatus room in the center and the living quarters on each side. Locations were researched and selected, and the announcement was made that the new stations should be in service by the end of 1951.

Then the bids were received.

The cost was higher than anyone had anticipated, and the only real option was cutting back on the number of new stations. It would be early 1952 before actual construction began, and the new stations opened later that fall.

Engine 6 moved into their new station at 993 West Washington Street in August. On September 18th, new station 20 was opened at 1452 north Emerson Avenue. Last but not least, newly reorganized Engine 31 occupied the new station at 1201 East 46th Street.

So what were the stations that were cut from the original plan? The goal was to build stations for the companies quartered at other houses, the 6’s, 10’s, and 20’s, Engine 31, and a new Engine company for the Northwest side.

Engine 10 was supposed to be located in a new station at 3400 North Sherman Drive. However, it would be six more years before it was actually built. In what seemed a strange move, Engine 10 was disbanded so that Engine 31 could be reorganized. One possible explanation for this move is that all of the specifications, bids, and contracts for these stations listed the addresses and station number. It was probably easier to make Engine 10, Engine 31 than change the paper work.

The last of the originally planned stations was Station 33 at 16th Street and Alton. This would have been the first new Engine Company to be organized in almost 30 years. However, when the station was cut, so was Engine 33. It would be 1964 before they went in service, and by then this location did not look as attractive.

Although this plan produced only three stations, it was the first step in a large-scale replacement and relocation program that really got rolling in 1958 and lasted until 1967.