Changes coming to Memphis Fire Dept. could impact response times

(Source: MGN Photo)
(Source: MGN Photo)

(WMC-TV) - A realignment plan has some Memphis firefighters concerned that some of the changes could threaten your safety and theirs.

The firefighters union is not happy with what's coming down the pipe but the fire department says it is only trying to enhance the city's fire services.

Four ladders will be decommissioned, a rescue truck will be relocated and downgraded to part-time, and the equipment still in service will be forced to cover more space.

According to Memphis Firefighters Association President Larry Anthony, they are changes that could be a matter of life or death.

"Is it going to affect response time? Yeah, it's going to affect it. It's going to affect it tremendously," said Anthony. "When you affect response times to a scene, you're going to get people hurt."

Memphis Fire Director Alvin Benson said it is part of the fire department's evolution.

"We adapt and overcome. That's what we do. Change is certainly difficult," he said.

Anthony contends they found a new way to do things that will not compromise safety, "There could potentially be a slower response time in some instances, but what I have maintained and currently still maintain is that the national standard of eight minute travel or nine minute, 20 seconds response time will be met every case."

"Every piece of equipment, every engine, every truck has a specific job to do," said Anthony. "And you take that away from any fire and you multiply your problems."

Both may be right but to what degree remains to be seen.

Benson said realigning equipment is about becoming more efficient. Anthony said fewer people have to do more work with less equipment.

The changes will be made July 1.

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