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Fire Truck Shuffle

Fire Department looking at where to locate trucks and ambulances.



When the historic Lowenstein building near Court Square caught on fire in 2006, it took a Memphis Fire Department ladder truck to extinguish the flames.

Currently, the South Main fire station houses downtown's only ladder truck, but the fire department is considering transferring that truck to a station in Frayser.

According to Chief Alvin Benson, the department currently is determining where its ladder trucks and ambulances should be located in order to be best utilized.

"We're evaluating risks and response times and placing resources accordingly," he said. "If you have an area where there's substantial overlap and you have an area of the city with no coverage at all, obviously it'd make sense to shift resources to accommodate that risk and community."

If the South Main truck is relocated, Benson said the department would make sure another ladder truck is close.

"Downtown has to have adequate coverage," Benson said. "If needed, a [ladder truck] can come from a different fire station. It might take another 30 seconds."

The fire department has 27 ladder trucks stationed across the city. The Front Street station at Union does not have one.

Though downtown has a concentration of tall buildings, Benson said fires in those buildings often can be extinguished using a regular engine truck.

"A lot of times we don't need the ladder trucks at all," Benson said. "Typically, when we raise a ladder, it's not for a high-rise building."

Instead, ladder trucks are often used for forced entry and rescue. After a fire, the ladder also may be raised to cut a hole in a roof or break a window to allow ventilation.

Benson said there's no set timeline as to when the department will make its decision.

"There are no emergencies here," Benson said. "We have time to look at placement."

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