Memphis brown outs suspended for 1 day because of 2 fire deaths — Will return Tuesday after director determines closed company not a factor

Action News 5 – Memphis, Tennessee

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If I am reading the WMC-TV story correctly the brown out program that closed four fire companies this weekend in Memphis, including a truck company due at a double fatal apartment fire, was suspended today. But it will return tomorrow after Memphis Fire Department Director Alvin Benson determined the closed company did not impact the fireground operations.

Benson has said publicly he does not like this rotating closure of companies but you have to wonder what to make of this move. So, what if the next fatal fire is impacted by a closed company? Then what?

It will eventually happen, so why even suspend the program for a day? Either the political leaders can take the fallout from their decision to save overtime money and should just go on with business as usual or the closings don't make sense and they should cease immediately. Waiting for the fire where there is a clear connection before abandoning the program is an insane policy. 

Kontji Anthony, 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.

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.

TN Memphis Benson

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.

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.