Increase seen in Memphis firefighters calling in sick

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Fire Director Alvin Benson said 40 firefighters called in sick Wednesday, in addition to 25 who were already out.

He said he’s never seen that many firefighters out in a long time. It’s about five percent of the department.

The average is about 11 sick calls per day.

Benson said he was hesitant to say there is a pattern to the sick calls or that this is a work action similar to the Blue Flu for the Memphis Police Department.

“(Red Rash) is something I haven’t used,” he said. “I will say there was a spike in people calling out today.”

He added he’s concerned about it, and is keeping a close eye on the situation.

Benson said he doesn’t believe the public is in danger at this time, but did say response time can be affected.

“If we don’t have adequate staffing, we risk compromising response time and getting help to those who need it,” he said.

Benson said he does not support a work action, but does understand the concern of city employees.

“I understand how firefighters feel. I wish there had been, or could have been, a different decision,” he said. “There’s a lot of frustration, there’s a lot of anger, there’s a lot of confusion.”

He went on to say he applauds those who come to work everyday and continue to do so.

As for those calling out sick as part of the so-called Red Rash, Benson said, “Come to work and let’s work this through in a civil way, in a way that doesn’t compromise public safety or the safety of other firefighters.”

Benson said if sick calls increase, resources will be spread out and overtime used. Neighboring fire departments will also likely be asked to help.

He said he will continue to order brown outs, taking ladder trucks off the streets if there’s not enough manpower. Wendesday, there were 16 ladder trucks instead of 20.

If a firefighter is out more than two days, they are required to have a note from a doctor and are subject to home visits.

He also said Mayor A C Wharton is requiring them to call in two hours before their shift.

WREG put in a call to Shelby County Fire Department. They said MFD has not called them, but they will help out if needed.

18 comments

  • canadianwhiskeygirl

    well, sosIck, I hope u get better In tIme. If u or fIrefIghters need some bedbugs for that red rash goIng around, wIll get out In my backyard and see If can fInd u some cuz u know they saId subject to home vIsIts.

  • Old enough

    Why doesn’t the news media look at the council and city officers and see what their medical plan is and their retirement plan is and how are they are funded bet it’s different

    • canadianwhiskeygirl

      old enough i would sure like to know how toney armstrong is going to get such a huge lump sum + the fat monthly check he will be getting when he retires (next yr?). u can bet whartons is going to be twIce/3 tImes more. cIty councIl approved THAT?? I found an old artIcle last nIte about $1.3 mIl councIl dIdnt want so gave to wharton. one Idea was to help the chIldren. where dId all THAT $$ go?

  • Hank Jr.

    City Population Firefighters

    Memphis Fire Department 655,155 1,850
    Dallas Fire-Rescue Department 1,241,162 1823
    San Antonio Fire Department 1,400,000 1,600
    Atlanta Fire Rescue Department 988

    • stashamo

      Way to Google numbers and use the ones that look good to you. Now do some research into the departments and the services they provide, the area that they cover, call volume per citizen. Are you the same guy that provides the skewed numbers to council?

  • Hank Jr.

    Thanks stashamo for chiming in so lets do numbers
    Dallas Fire-Rescue Department covers about 385.8 square miles and handle over 101, 000 calls last year
    San Antonio Fire Department cover about 465.4 square miles and handle over 93,000 call last year
    Atlanta Fire Rescue Department covers about 132 square miles and handles about 97,000 calls on average
    Memphis Fire Department covers about 315.1 sq miile and handles about around 96,000 calls a year
    Now, give it these numbers are an estimates by multiple online sources and granted I’m a Memphis Firefighter and might know a little more then you think. Thanks

  • canadianwhiskeygirl

    on a lark, i put in my search eng, googled, whatever u wanna call it, ac wharton salary. theres a link dated april (11?) last yr, “top city admin got raises amid employee paycuts”. totally amazed and angers me!

  • canadianwhiskeygirl

    put in toney armstrong salary, several links on that. one of them states hIs salary Is $120,000 yr

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