Director: Out-of-service MFD truck did not impact response to fa - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Director: Out-of-service MFD truck did not impact response to fatal fire

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The investigation resulted in the suspension of what the department calls brown outs. The investigation resulted in the suspension of what the department calls brown outs.
Memphis fire union president Thomas Malone says it is hard to say if the truck would have had better response, if it was already up and running. Memphis fire union president Thomas Malone says it is hard to say if the truck would have had better response, if it was already up and running.
MFD Director Alvin Benson said the brown out had nothing to do with that case. MFD Director Alvin Benson said the brown out had nothing to do with that case.

(WMC-TV) - The Memphis Fire Department is investigating if taking a truck out of service to save money resulted in the deaths of two people. The investigation resulted in the suspension of what the department calls brown outs.

A brown out happens if more than 28 fire fighters call in sick. Then the fire department puts one truck out of service for 24 hours.

That was the case with Truck 21 Saturday, which was originally on brown out status when a nearby apartment went up in flames.

Action News 5 obtained smartphone video of Saturday's Parkway Village fire, where two men did not make it out alive.

MFD Director Alvin Benson said the brown out had nothing to do with that case. Benson says an internal investigation Monday revealed Truck 21's brownout status did not impact the fire department's response to the fatal fire.

But Memphis fire union president Thomas Malone says it is hard to say if the truck would have had better response, if it was already up and running.

"Any time you make cuts in this fire service, you're taking a chance. This could be the reason that happened," said Malone.

Malone says brownouts gamble with people's lives.

"You're cutting equipment and personnel and then you're having a brownout behind it because of the budget?" he said.

Benson says three engines and two ladder trucks responded Saturday. The first truck that was originally supposed to respond was on another fire.

"We have redundancy built in so the second closest or third closest engines respond," said Benson.

Benson says the first truck arrived in just more than eight minutes.

"Ladder Truck 21 would not have responded to that fire ordinarily. It was the fourth truck that could have responded," he said.

Amid a battle over pension reform, the city is considering more cuts to fire.

"I've been clear all along. I prefer this department not be cut," said Benson.

The fire department says brownouts will resume Tuesday, since they do not blame the brownout for the two deaths. The director says he does not like brownouts, but he prefers them over cutting trucks from service altogether.

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