Four firetrucks taken off the street in 'brown out' - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Four firetrucks taken off the street in 'brown out'

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Four Memphis firetrucks were taken off the streets for 24 hours. Many Memphians worry about the potential impact on public safety. Four Memphis firetrucks were taken off the streets for 24 hours. Many Memphians worry about the potential impact on public safety.
On Friday enough firefighters called in sick to idle four trucks, which is the maximum. On Friday enough firefighters called in sick to idle four trucks, which is the maximum.

(WMC-TV) - Firetrucks were taken out of service Friday as part of a Memphis Fire Department brown out, which is an effort to cut down on overtime.

Four Memphis firetrucks were taken off the streets for 24 hours. Many Memphians worry about the potential impact on public safety.

"It might be we need those last four trucks. They done took off. We can't use them now because they are out because of a budget," said concerned resident Charles Swain.

MFD was forced into these brown outs beginning this fiscal year to fill a multimillion dollar budget gap.

Here is how it works: Fire trucks obviously need personnel to operate them, but if too many firefighters call in sick then the fire department has to pay overtime to keep the trucks on the street.

On Friday enough firefighters called in sick to idle four trucks, which is the maximum.

Fire Director Alvin Benson says the idled trucks are spread out around the city.

"I don't like it at all," he said. "It's nothing I prefer to do. As fire director, I don't want to do that. We want every truck in the city to be fully staffed every day, all day."

Benson says sometimes just one truck is idled and some days none. He says four idled trucks is unusual.

"Elected officials should always keep the safety of people above everything else. In doing that they are putting people at risk when they take that many trucks off the street," he said.

Benson said if some big emergency happened then he would get the trucks needed and pay the overtime.

Copyright 2014 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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