80 Firefighters call in sick Saturday

(Memphis, Tenn.) – Eighty firefighters making the call, not an emergency call, but  a sick call saying they would not be at work Saturday.
The head of the fire union says it’s getting noticed.

“There is a spike. I don’t know if it is frustration. I’d like to think our people will continue to work,” says Thomas Malone, President of the Memphis Firefighters Union.

For the fire department it means fewer people to handle emergencies and equipment.  It’s why 4 ladder trucks like the one at the fire station on Mississippi in South Memphis will remain idle. It’s browned out, shut down from service.

It has some citizens worried.

“I don’t think they should let it go on this long because they are putting everybody’s life in jeopardy,” says Marsha Ewart of Downtown Memphis.

Firefighters say the brown-outs won’t leave areas without service.
There are 20 ladder trucks in the city. The four that have been pulled off the streets are all from different areas and there are still 16 in use.

Still, 80 firefighters off the streets have some wondering how long this can go on and what it’s going to take to solve the real issue at hand.

“I am surprised it’s gone this long,but I support our men and women who support our people. If it means a higher tax increase, I am in support of that,” says Kawika Chun of Downtown Memphis.

“You say you need money, start cutting that top brass salary first,” says Leonard Reed of South Memphis.

The Firefighters Union says the work action, which the union does not condone, makes it hard as they try to find a solution.

” We are telling folks if this is something you are doing on your own, you need to get back to work so we can get back to the table. It makes it hard to work at the table when there is a perceived job action out there,” says Malone.

Even though 80 firefighters called in sick Saturday, 24 of those were already out on extended leave.
All of this may come to a head on Tuesday, when the Memphis City Council meets and is expected to take up this issue.

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