(Memphis, Tenn) – This Tuesday, 24 Memphis firefighters will retire from the Memphis Fire Department. Their retirements were planned, but their departure hints at another problem.
The revolving doors at the Memphis Fire Department may be a bit one-sided.
The Firefighters Union tells us with 24 firefighters set for quarterly retirement this week, that will bring the total number of retirees to 57 so far this year, out of a department of 15-hundred.
The union says only 33 retired all of last year.
The union admits you can’t read a lot into when someone retires, since it is based on the city’s Drop Program, but as other firefighters resign, including 5 paramedics in the last 2 weeks, it speaks volumes.
“Nobody has any hope of any future here. The past 5 years the employees haven’t had a raise. They took 4.6 percent from them for two years,” says Firefighters Union President Thomas Malone.
Now benefits are being cut. The union says many firefighters don’t see the need to stick around longer and they may be hard to replace, since benefits are the reason many recruits sign on to fight fires in Memphis in the first place.
“Our people only have their meager pensions and the insurance to leave to their families. When you start taking those intangible benefits away, what do you have here?” asks Malone.
He says firefighters are quitting and going elsewhere to work and considering those firefighters have three years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in training, the loss can add up.
“Our firefighters and paramedics are highly recruitable. They have a lot of experience. These firefighters are picking up our people. They are walking out the door and didn’t have to spend a nickle or dime for their training,” says Joe Norman with the Memphis Firefighters Association.
The last firefighter training class was held in June 2013.
There were 53 recruits and 10 paramedics in that class.