(Memphis) Ninety-two Memphis firefighter positions are being cut through attrition over the next year.
The department's chief says the first phase of cuts is happening now with the closing of Station 6 on Thomas and the elimination of a truck at Station 48 in Raleigh-LaGrange. These first two cuts represent 30 positions.
The decision seemed to come out of nowhere.
“We can't believe they are actually closing the fire station,” said Susanne Brown, who lives in the North Memphis neighborhood.
For Brown, it means the loss of a fire station right across her street.
“It’s very beneficial to run across the street or wave on your porch ‘Help! Help!’” she said.
The station she's known her entire life and its firefighters, who saved four of her family members, will soon be just a memory.
“It’s going to take longer for someone to get to the house across the street. That's just a reality,” said fire Chief Alvin Benson.
Benson says he was forced to make the tough decision after the Memphis City budget passed.
“We have done a lot of analysis and we are going to do that in a way that makes the most sense,” said Benson.
First on the chopping block: Station 6 on Thomas, because three other fire stations are close by.
“Their fire protection level will not be significantly reduced or diminished," Benson said. "I can say that with confidence with this station.”
He can say that about Station 6, but it’s the other stations that could soon be closing that concerns him.
However, the chief is making one thing clear: “There will be no firings or layoffs on the Memphis Fire Department.”
All the cuts are coming from attrition, meaning that as firefighters retire, those positions will not be refilled. If he can’t make the target of cutting 92 positions, he says the savings will come from somewhere else
As for Brown, she just wants to save the fire station next door.
“We are going to try and do something," she said.
Brown and other people in the North Memphis community say they plan to take action to try and save the fire station, but the chief says out of all the stations that could be saved, Fire Station 6 is just likely not one of them.