MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The Memphis Fire Director says a plan to take fire equipment off the streets this year won't affect your safety. Truth is firefighters are already having a hard time making it to fires on time.
According national standards, the first fire truck or engine is supposed to arrive at the scene of a fire within 5 minutes and 20 seconds 90 percent of the time.
Joe Norman with the Memphis Firefighters Association describes the time it's taking for Memphis fire to respond to calls "shocking."
He says, "According to these records it appears clear that the resources are not getting there in the required amount of time."
According to a breakdown of response times from the Memphis Fire Department, in only one of the last three months did firefighters meet the national standard of 5 minutes and 20 seconds. That was last month.
In February, almost 65 percent of the trucks and engines didn't make it to where they were going in time. March averaged 60 percent; in April it was more than half.
It's clear from the records the national standards are not being met, and it could get worse.
MFD bosses want to remove equipment from the streets to save the city $4.5 million. According to city hall, even with the cuts there will still be plenty of fire coverage across the city.
But Norman says it's obvious that "trying to cover more area with less fire equipment is going to create response delays."
Truth is the city's own records show Memphis Fire is not meeting the national average now, and union leaders say removing equipment will make a bad situation worse.
"Here's the kicker. We hope we're wrong because if we are then everything is ok, but if the fire director is wrong, that's when property is lost and lives are lost."
City council will vote on the proposed cuts next week. Of course we wanted to talk to the Memphis Fire Director, but he didn't want to comment - and that's the truth.