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.