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The city of Greensburg and Honda Manufacturing of Indiana entered into a partnership to help promote public safety both in the community and at the new Honda plant during a special meeting of the Board of Works earlier this week.

The agreement specifically outlined an effort to allow the city to hire six additional firefighters in order to fully staff the new Honda plant.

“We’ve worked closely with Honda to create a valuable relationship,” Mayor Gary Herbert said. “This plan will allow us to meet Honda’s needs while at the same time maintaining the excellent level of service our citizens have come to expect from the Greensburg Fire Department.”

Fire Chief Scott Chasteen and the city were approached by Honda, where the corporation introduced the concept of a contract between the city and the manufacturer.

“The concept we’re using is from the Honda plant in Alabama,” Chasteen said.

The parties involved liked how that system worked there, and liked the professionalism. Seeing how well it worked in Alabama, the powers that be at Honda decided to use the same concept.

Chasteen was even asked to travel to the plant in Alabama, to see how the program worked and to get ideas for the plan in Greensburg.

“With the contract signed, the Alabama plant will be sending people up to help us,” he added.

Chasteen was glad the program had been developed somewhere before coming to the city.

“We don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” he said.

Before the contract was accepted, Herbert and Chasteen wanted to make sure the city was protected on all fronts. The different between this contract and the other contracts Honda has been entering into is that, instead of supplying parts or things, the contract would be providing a service.

“We had to go back and forth until we got it right,” Chasteen noted, referencing the team effort it took to get the contract off the ground.

“Honda was very willing to deal with whatever situation came up,” Herbert added. “They’ve been very good to deal with.”

The city has never put personnel in a facility the way they will be with Honda.

“Nothing like this has ever been done in Greensburg,” Herbert said. “And there will be no cost to the city at all. They pay every dime for the firemen.”

The city will provide uniforms and equipment, firefighter gear and radios. Honda will provide additional radios for on-site use, office space and 24-hour living quarters, equipment for response, a hazardous materials response cart and a mini-pump fire truck.

When the six firefighters are assigned to the plant, at least one of them will be there at all times, every day of the year. According to Chasteen, Honda wanted firemen to know the plant well before it officially started mass producing cars in the fall.

“It’s a lot like working at the fire department,” Chasteen said.

The contract signed is for a five-year term, with quarterly discussions taking place between the city management and Honda management in case of problems. Herbert added that, with the addition of new firefighters to the city, the project also helps in maintaining and improving city services without utilizing taxes.

Herbert and Chasteen believe the contract was the start of a good relationship with Honda. The mayor believes that, after investigating Honda’s relationship with other cities, the project will be mutually beneficial.

As the south side of the city grows with flourishing residential areas, and with a potential increase in railroad traffic as a result of the increasing needs of Honda, Chasteen has been looking at another fire station on the southern part of the city.

“Before Honda, this was in the back of the fire department’s mind,” he stated.

As the residential areas expand south, more people will be living there, sleeping and making meals with no alarms that could lead to fires. Chasteen’s concern was safety.

“Honda is not the issue,” he said.

However, Chasteen did point out that, as the local economy expands and the city grows, he also grows concerned about safety.

“We want to cover as much of the population as possible,” Herbert interjected.

With several issues facing the city, Herbert and Chasteen remain optimistic.

“We have a lot of good problems,” Herbert said, believing that the issues are growing pains of a great city.

The two men look forward to seeing Honda grow with Greensburg.

“It’s a good fit for us,” Chasteen said.

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