Fire Department Fighting For Money To Train New Recruits

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(Memohis) What level of safety services do you want this city to have? That's the question the Fire Services Director of Memphis led with Tuesday's budget meeting.

The operating budget was passed, but other questions were raised about how the department is being run.

Alvin Benson is the Director of Fire Services in Memphis.

He summed it up by saying, "We are in tough times here in this city. There has to be some hard choices and I think we have a menu of bad options."

It's a game of numbers. Seventeen-hundred firefighters, 21 trucks and $160 million to pay for it all.

That's the same amount of money the department asked for last year, but Benson says it's not enough to last.

"Today we are down 74 firefighters. Next year we are going to be down 136 fire fighters."

That drop in staff means when too many people call out sick, rather than paying overtime, the city pulls a truck off the street for the day. They call it a brown out.

It's a risky gamble, and so far it happened 170 times this year.

Some councilors argue a massive jump in sick days within the department are causing the problems.

Others think this is a game of back door politics.

Councilman Harold Collins claims the mayor's office wants all budgets to pass to push the city into a corner and force a tax hike.

Councilor Harold Collins said, "If the mayor and administration wants a tax increase they ought to tell the pieople they want one to get things done. not do it, in my opinion, by slight of hand."

It's been two years since there was a new class of firefighter recruits here in Memphis, so the department is asking for another $1.2 million to pay to have them trained and fill some of those vacancies on the force.

That money has yet to be approved.


  • fredda jones

    Just my Opinion…instead of training New Recruits…Rehire the ones who resigned for not meeting paramedic requirement[a rule that is relaxed for some classes and implemented w. others].All that money to train fire fighters gone down the drain…they want to fight fires, but are not paramedics, this is why we have Doctors[paramedics] and Nurses [emt’s] I have spoken with so many Retired FF’s who say all paramedics do not make Good FF’s and the same for all FF’s do not make Good paramedics. But, what do I know, I’m just a woman…

  • Josh

    That’s not the problem. The problem is they are leaving as fast as they can most medics are fireman that’s what they want to do. I couldn’t tell you of one medic that doesn’t like to fight fire better than ride the over run ambulances. By the way there is only 34 units that run over 100,000 calls a year. If u look at statistics Chicago yes it’s a bigger city but averages the same amount of calls has 71 units. But it all boils Down to the retirement and benefits. Can’t keep taking when other cities are here to gobble up trained personnel

  • D.Slayer

    You let Whoreton change the retirement to a 401k that they can pickup and take with them at any point and these folks that are tired of the dirty politics and mismanagement will be leaving in mass for greener fields!

  • Bill

    Let’s take a look at just who fights the Fires, ok, we keep them and get rid of the Batallion Cheifs and the waste. Create a 2 level pay scale, one for downtime and one for actual Fire fights.

  • Gordon shumway

    Bill need you to clock out when you go to the bathroom, look at a non work related website, answer a phone call or text. Actually let’s just pay you by keystrokes on your keyboard. You think if something like that flew here it wouldn’t trickle right on over to your office?

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