Wharton honored at same fire station where controversial photos were posted

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Memphis Mayor A C Wharton was honored Tuesday at the same fire station where his photo was recently posted alongside Adolph Hitler and Osama Bin Laden.

At Memphis Fire Station 16, firefighters unveiled Wharton's name on one of the station's main fire trucks.

"They were so excited about the opportunity to have your name on an engine like this," Memphis Fire Department Director Alvin Benson told Wharton.

The Mayor's wife and son were there to watch the unveiling of his name on Engine 16.  Later, Wharton joked the station is so close to his home, his family used to hear roll call from their kitchen.

"I guess that's why you changed it, because now I can't hear who's not showing up," he said.

About 100 yards from where the mayor stood was the board where his photo was once posted next to photos of Bin Laden and Hitler.  Still, the mayor commended the entire fire department.

"As mayor, I might think I have a tough job, but I do not wake up every morning knowing that a part of my job is for me to go out and place myself deliberately in harm's way," he said.

People in the fire fighting community said a firefighter put the photo spread up after the city ordered all fire stations post the mayor's picture amid budget cuts and no raises.

"It wasn't so much the incident itself," Wharton said. "It was that it gave the impression I'm going around demanding honor, and you know that's not me."

Wharton does not get involved in disciplinary proceedings, but the photo layout fiasco ended with Lieutenant Samuel Locastro demoted to driver, a three-day suspension for Battalion Chief Michael Till, and a written reprimand for Lieutenant Russell Davis.  Those three firefighters were not in attendance.

Benson said the naming of Engine 16 was planned before the controversy.

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