Cooper-Young concerned about possible fire department cuts

By Leah Roen

Midtown is being reviewed by the Memphis Fire Department for a potential removal of the ladder truck from the Union Station, according to a letter sent by Director of Fire Services Alvin Benson to City Council members. This is of concern for our area since we rely on the truck for rescue, vehicle extraction, elevator rescue and fire entry into homes and businesses.

Budget cuts reducing fire department personnel and six ladder trucks were approved in May. Trucks already have been removed in the Whitehaven and Hickory Hill areas. Benson told City Council that the planned cuts would not affect fire engine or ambulance response times. The MFD is trying to assure everyone that this is a case of overlapping services.

But should the need arise for the ladder truck, one from another territory would have to be called and arrival time would by design be slower, simply because of the increased distance traveled.

If the adjoining territories’ ladder truck is out of service, meaning they are at school, on another run or in the shop, yet another ladder truck from still further away would be necessary. In the event of a fire at a business, two trucks are always summoned, again slowing response times.

The MFD says there is an overlap of services. There has always been and always will be an overlap of services as this is what is required to manage our needs for fire and rescue calls. Without overlap, ladder trucks would stay in their own territory and therefore not be available when there is need for them.

In 1981, the MFD took a pumper truck out of service on Elvis Presley Blvd. Across the street from the fire house, a young child died after there was a delay in getting another vehicle there.

Additionally, ladder trucks carry necessary equipment such as a portable generator necessary to keep medical equipment up and running; elevator rescue equipment; atmosphere monitors; salvage covers that protect things during a fire; a Stokes basket for rescue; high-rise gear for rescue; rescue saw; PPV fan for use during fires to clear smoke, Holmatro tool to cut victims from cars; rams, spreaders, reels and Ajax tool for rescue; chock block; defibrillator; smoke ejector; portable lights; ladders of several sizes for rescue and to fight fires and much more.

This fire house has always had a ladder truck and so far, there doesn’t seem to be a good reason to compromise the health and safety of Cooper-Young or the rest of Midtown. The ladder truck is necessary here to protect the lives of our citizens and our historic properties as well as the businesses in Cooper-Young.

Councilman Kemp Conrad graciously agreed to a town hall meeting in Cooper-Young on this matter from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31 at Peabody School.

Author: LampLighter

The voice of Cooper-Young, a vibrant, diverse neighborhood to live, work and play, in the heart of Midtown Memphis, Tennessee.

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  1. Kemp Conrad agreed to a town hall meeting? Kemp Conrad is an idiot who knows NOTHING about the placement of fire apparatus and/or the needs of the different areas of Memphis. I spent 29 years in the Memphis Fire Department, many of which were dispatching various types of fire apparatus to different calls. I also spent years studying the placement of ladder trucks, rescue squads, and ambulances. The technical name for the apparatus they are talking about here is Truck Company 4 at Fire Station 11, 1826 Union Avenue. Any person who says that this is overlapping service is a fool. There are hundreds of commercial buildings, schools, hospitals, and other important occupancies in this ladder truck’s territory. Removing Truck 4 could be disastrous for area residents. For example. If a fire broke out at the Gilmore high-rise apartments at 6 S. McLean, without Truck 4, the nearest ladder truck is Truck 7 at Park and Lamar. Now, just think about far it is from Madison and McLean to Park and Lamar. The second ladder truck would have to come from Jefferson and Pauline and the next would come from McLemore near College. And, all of this is assuming that these trucks are in quarters, available for a call. Anyone who makes the recommendation for removing Truck 4 has not exercised due diligence in streamlining the Memphis Fire Department. Before I cut out ONE front-line emergency vehicle, I would have to take a serious look at all the brass in the support bureaus and in the upper echelon. I would also look at the dozens of city vehicles that FD personnel drive home on a daily basis. That amounts to a lot of wasted gasoline and wear on vehicles. If the department is in such financial dire straits, cut out some of those administrative aides at headquarters, like the Public Information Officer. The Battalion or Division Chief in command of any major incident should be able to give a competent statement to the press. If not, he/she should not be in the position to begin with. Bottom line is, the Director is proposing cuts that will not affect HIS family’s safety, just the safety of others. And, in the case of Truck Company 4, we is WRONG.

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    • Removing fire apparatus is ridiculous. Need I remind the city of October 6, 2006 @ 204 North Street? The First United Methodist Chirch fire, and the Court Square Annex??? I urge the brass to pull a few run tickets, and see the engine and truck numbers that were on scene that night. Dep Director Benson was there, or has he forgotten?

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  2. Bill for Union President. Just sayin.

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  3. There is a sign out in front of the Union Ave station, enumerating the number of days without a fire death. It goes up and down. I like it when the number is high. Some years ago, when I lived on the wrong side of the tracks in Saratoga Springs, NY, I was awakened at six in the morning by shouts. I looked out the window to see a fire in the building behind mine. A man was inneffectually trying to use a garden hose to put out a two alarm fire. Between the time I grabbed the hose and took it as near as I could to the flames, and when the fire trucks got there, two pre-K children and two adults died. You want that here?

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