Warsaw fire station could be next in line for Safe Haven Baby Box

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Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory took a step toward installing a Safe Haven Baby Box.

The fire territory board earlier this week accepted a recommendation by Fire Chief Mike Wilson to install a baby box at fire station No. 2 on Center Street in Warsaw.

The boxes are intended as  a last resort option for mothers who are seeking to abandon their newborn and avoid criminal prosecution.

Wilson recommended the box be installed on the west wall of the station along Cleveland Street.

The fire station is close to two hospitals and the west side of the building offers easy access, Wilson said.

He added that the building’s metal walls will make for an easy installation.

The board accepted Wilson’s recommendation, but the issue is not fully resolved.

Mayor Joe Thallemer said he’d like to meet with representatives of Safe Haven Baby Box before a final decision is made.

The city board of works still needs to approve the plan.

Thallemer said he wants to know more about maintenance of the boxes, which are regularly tested after installation.

“I do think we need to have the group come back before it’s installed and go through what their expectation is of us and what our expectations are of them,” Thallemer said during a fire territory board meeting Monday.

In Indiana, the boxes have been installed at fire stations in Woodland – where Safe Haven Baby Box is headquartered – and near Michigan City and Indianapolis.

The growing interest in the boxes comes after legislation went into effect  July 1 expanding an existing law that had originally only permitted a face-to-face infant exchange with an emergency responder.

Turkey Creek Township Fire Department approved plans for one in Syracuse, and authorities are working out final plans.

Turkey Creek Township Fire Chief Mickey Scott said this morning he planned to meet with representatives Friday about the program.

They plan to install a box at the fire station on East McClintic Road, but Scott said he was unsure how soon that might happen.

The boxes are manufactured in Fort Wayne and cost about $10,000.

Monica Kelsey, founder of the organization, said last month that they are in touch with about 19 communities that are showing interest in the box.

On Thursday, Hicksville, Ohio, just east of Fort Wayne, became the first community in Ohio to install a Safe Haven Baby Box, according to a report at bryantimes.com.

The boxes are installed at fire stations because they offer a certain level of anonymity while being in  close proximity to trained medical staff.

A Lutheran EMS ambulance is one block away from Warsaw’s fire station No. 2 and fire crews working out of the station have advance life support training.

The Kosciusko County Firemen’s Association endorsed the use of Safe Haven Baby Boxes earlier this year.

The boxes have dual doors and are temperature-controlled.

Once the box is activated, emergency responders are notified. They are then expected to perform a medical examination, take the baby to the hospital and then turn the child over to the Department of Child Services.

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