MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Is the Memphis Fire Director doing a flip-flop when it comes to keeping you safe? Chief Alvin Benson wants to eliminate five ladder trucks and reduce staffing by 100 people, but says it won't seriously impact response time.
When there is a fire, minutes are crucial. Chief Benson says a plan to reduce the number of fire trucks is not a big deal, and that the department will still meet national standards for getting to calls in a reasonable time.
Truth is just two years ago, he was singing a different tune.
"I don't know what is going through the director's mind in coming up with this proposal," said Memphis City Councilwoman Janis Fullilove.
Two years ago, Benson said in a 2011 budget proposal that laying off 102 firefighters would compromise the safety of firefighters and civilians, increase response time and could increase fire loss.
Now the story has changed. Benson says there is overlapping coverage; removing the trucks and reducing the number of firefighters on the streets is simply an adjustment.
Fullilove noted, "There's a song, 'what a difference a day makes,' what a difference a year makes."
Joe Norman with the Memphis Firefighters Association sees Benson's new plan as a flip-flop, and says bottom line, eliminating trucks is a safety issue.
Truth is if the truck elimination proposal goes through, the downtown business district will have zero ladder trucks.
"They're robbing Peter to pay Paul," Norman said, "you're going to have delayed response time no matter how you shuffle the deck."
No surprise here, no one from the fire department is doing an interview. Truth be told, firefighters had expected there would be proposed cuts this year, but didn't think they would jeopardize your safety.