Fire Station Number 6 in North Memphis is no longer on the chopping block — at least for now. The Memphis City Council's public safety committee voted to delay its closure, which would have occurred August 1st as a result of citywide budget cuts, until September 1st.
Councilmen Joe Brown and Lee Harris plan to introduce a proposal in two weeks to provide the Memphis Fire Department with $1.1 million from the city's reserves to prevent the station's closing for at least one year.
Fire chief Alvin Benson told the council that Number 6 was selected for closure after the council passed budget cuts last month. He said the neighborhood serviced by Number 6 has three more stations located within 1.5 miles. But Benson did admit that closing the station would impact response times, even though they would still fall under the nationally recommended times for fire response.
Councilman Shea Flinn asked both Benson and Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong, who is facing precinct closures due to the council's budget cuts, if the cuts would actually lead to a reduction in service or if the cuts would simply force the departments to re-think how they're using resources.
"If it's just going to change the way we deliver public safety, that's not necessarily a bad thing," Flinn said.
Armstrong told the council that required staff cuts through attrition will make it "extremely difficult to adequately staff nine precincts with no additional officers walking in the door." He said, if the budget situation doesn't improve, that he'd have to close three precincts by next year. Those precincts would include Raines, Mt. Moriah, and Old Allen.