Memphis Fire Department Station No. 6, located on Thomas Street in North Memphis near St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, is closing Thursday, Aug. 1 as a result of city budget cuts.
At least 90 firefighters and staff are expected to be reassigned to other Memphis fire stations, but there will be close to 100 fire positions eliminated in the next year due to budget constraints.
Station No. 6 has been a staple in the Thomas Street community since 1960.
Fire Chief Alvin Benson says his department needs to cut $5-8 million over the next year, meaning more than 90 positions could be cut through attrition.
In addition to the more than 100 cuts that have been made over the past three years, Benson says closing Station No. 6 and taking a ladder out of rotation at Raleigh-LaGrange, could save $2 million over the next year.
"This station obviously has a lot of history here, a lot of historic value, a lot of emotion here," Fire Chief Benson said. "But the truth of the matter is when you are making a decision to reduce the size of the department you have to start looking at the area that creates the least amount of impact to the city."
Station No. 6 has a less than a four-minute response time to the customers they service. said Memphis Fire Fighters Association Local 1784 President Thomas Malone said Station No. 6 takes in around 100 calls a month. Closing the station will affect more than just those in the North Memphis neighborhood.
"Here's the deal: this is a domino effect," Malone said. "When they shut something down here and bring something in to cover this that has been shut down, then someone else is going to be without while that company is in this area.
"Stop and think about it. You start adding time to that, it's not Thomas Malone union president saying it. It's statistics that say people die," Malone added.
The fire department will also take a ladder truck out of service at Raleigh-LaGrange.
According to city officials the North Memphis neighborhood affected by the loss of Station No. 6 will be covered by neighboring fire stations on Jackson and Breedlove. There are three fire stations within 1.6 miles of Station No. 6 and about half of the calls out of No. 6 station are EMS calls.
"I'm not going to insult you and say there will be no effect," Fire Chief Benson said. "We know that the house across the street, it will take longer for someone to get to the house across the street. That's just the reality. But I will say that the first arriving company will respond at an acceptable response time."
Residents who live near Station No. 6 are against the firehouse closing and say the city shouldn't take that chance when it comes to human lives.
"I had a wreck up there on Third Street one year ago and they were there in a matter of seconds."
"What if somebody got sick up there on Thomas Street to the new houses they put in? They close that down and these cats here got to come all the way across town and you think that is going to save somebody's life?"
"Bad idea, bad idea. That fire station has been a help for a lot of people."
Fire Chief Benson said that he expects around 80 firefighters and staff from his department to retire over the next year and those positions will not be replaced. He also said their could be more fire stations considered for closure over the next 12 months.
FOX13 News reporters Scott Madaus and Marcus Hunter contributed to this report.
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