Teising to terminate Wabash Township's paid firefighters

Wabash Township's three paid firefighters will be terminated June 29, the township's deputy fire chief, Jim Lewis, confirmed Monday.

Posted: Jun 14, 2021 1:10 PM
Updated: Jun 15, 2021 3:58 PM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — Wabash Township Trustee Jennifer Teising will terminate the township's three paid firefighters by June 29, the township's deputy fire chief, Jim Lewis, confirmed Monday.

Teising informed the firefighters Monday in an email that was shared anonymously with News 18.

"The last pay cycle runs from 6/16-6/29. Therefore the last day of paid employment will be the 29th and paid on 7/2," Teising wrote in the email.

"Please call or text me with questions before Wed this week," she continues. "I want to be sure you have all the information you need during the transition ... Any questions after that time could be harder to answer. Thank you for your service and I wish you all the best in your future endeavors!"

As News 18 previously reported, Teising informed the firefighters last week their health insurance benefits would end in June due to budget constraints.

Lewis and township board member Angel Valentín told News 18 last week they feared her next step would be to eliminate the positions.

Lewis said last week the move would increase response times by five minutes and put the safety of township residents in jeopardy. 

"Her willful refusal to work with us and continue down the path of terminating the employment of 3 firefighters with families is disgusting and shameful," members of the Wabash Township Fire Association said in a statement. "Over the past 6 months she has done everything she can to demoralize the firefighters, attempt to harm the fire and EMS protection of the township, and ruin the relationships we have with our neighboring departments."

Teising secured a $400,000 emergency fire loan last year to offer benefits. Lewis and Valentín say there's enough money in budgeted in 2021 to keep the firefighters on the books this year.

They also argue more funding options exist to keep the firefighters on board for the next three to four years.

Township officials say firefighters were in discussions with Teising to agree on a contract that would maintain fire services. The contract was sent to Teising last week but no action was taken, sources tell News 18. 

Teising is already facing scrutiny for allegations she didn't live in the township for several months beginning last year, as well her firing of the township's fire chief, Ed Ward, in December. 

Ward said in a statement the firing of the township's three paid firefighters "is a grave mistake and one that will only be truly seen when something truly catastrophic occurs to a member of WTFD or a member of the community."

Teising was indicted this year by a grand jury on 20 counts of theft related to the investigation into her residency. Prosecutors say she broke the law when she collected a township paycheck while living outside its boundaries.

News 18 reached out to Teising but hasn't heard back. 

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