Changes in Memphis Prevent a Station from Closing

Aug. 3, 2013
Memphis Fire Director Alvin Benson said the engine at Station 6 will be replaced with a ladder and another ladder company will be closed down.

Aug. 02--Memphis Fire Station No. 6 will not close Sept. 1, but its fire engine will be replaced with a ladder truck.

Memphis Fire Director Alvin Benson said Friday night the North Memphis station near on Thomas near Chelsea will remain open and continue to provide emergency services and medical care for at least a year.

However, to address the City Council's budget concerns, the station's only fire engine, which uses water to fight fires, will be replaced by a ladder truck, which holds equipment that assists engines in extinguishing fires.

Firemen at station No. 6 "will still respond to assist putting out fires," Benson said. "But, it will be the only fire station in Memphis without a fire engine to accompany at the same station."

In another budget-cutting measure, ladder truck No. 22, which is at station No. 48 at Raleigh-Lagrange and Covington Pike, will also be taken off the street, Benson said.

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. said keeping the station open while still finding ways to budget was smart.

"This was much more strategic," Wharton said. "The community will see that we're not just plucking off a building here and there. Changes will have to occur."

Among those changes, the department will add a new cost-saving practice to its ranks: fire station "brownouts".

Benson said the practice, which allows a station to close for 24 hours and redistribute its company members to another station to make up for staffers on sick leave, is common among fire departments across the country. He said this will be the first time since he became a fireman 26 years ago that the MFD will "brownout" stations.

"We will only brownout four stations, one in each quarter of the city, at a time," Benson said. "We have a responsibility to the community to provide an adequate amount of coverage to the city."

Benson said station "brownouts" will be limited to times when up to 28 people are out sick and the department has exceeded its daily overtime budget. When that number is exceeded, Benson said, more firemen will get called in for overtime, something that costs the department $100,000 per person a year.

Copyright 2013 - The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn.

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