By Bill Short
The Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen has adopted a resolution that authorizes the city to return Fire Station No. 4 to Shelby County.
Board members took the action during their July 13 regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Thomas McGhee and seconded by Alderman Bethany Huffman. The motion was passed by six affirmative votes, with Alderman Hank Hawkins absent.
The resolution states that, on Feb. 6, 2006, the board approved an agreement for the county to transfer its Fire Station No. 64 to the city.
In exchange for the Millington Fire Department operating the station, the agreement also included the transfer of equipment to the city, as well as county fire fees collected monthly in a “designated portion” of the Millington Reserve Annexation Area.
The board has determined that it is in Millington’s “best interest” to operate only the two fire stations located within the city limits and to “cease” the portion of the agreement regarding Station No. 4.
The county has agreed to “reassume title” to the station, to provide the same services and to continue automatic Mutual Aid with the Millington Fire Department.
The resolution states that the transfer will occur at a time “mutually agreeable” to the Shelby County Fire Department, and that it should be completed “no later than” Dec. 31.
Mayor Terry Jones is authorized to sign a quitclaim deed to the county for the station, as well as any other documents necessary to “effect the intent” of the resolution.
During discussion shortly before the vote, Huffman noted that Fire Chief Gary Graves was on vacation. So, for the audience’s “benefit,” she requested an explanation of why the resolution is in the city’s best interest.
While noting that the resolution was proposed by Graves, City Finance Director John Trusty said there will be “no changes” in the fire service provided to Millington’s residents. The county will continue to provide 911 Dispatch, and Station No. 4 will continue to respond to calls.
Trusty said the only difference will be that the station’s employees will have county fire uniforms, and the truck will display the county fire department’s logo.
The finance director acknowledged that the number of employees at Stations 1 and 2 will change.
He noted that those two stations together currently have a total of one battalion commander, two lieutenants and four firefighters on each shift. After the transfer, there will be five firefighters.
“So, we’re actually adding one firefighter between those two stations,” he said. “The objective of this overall change is to get the service area where we can handle it within the city’s means, while maintaining Mutual Aid with Shelby County.”
Trusty noted that, on July 1, the Millington Regional Jetport took over the service provided by the fire station there. So, along with the transfer of Station No. 4, he said that will reduce the total number of the city’s firefighters by 15.
“No employees are envisioned to be losing any jobs,” he emphasized. “This will significantly reduce the amount of overtime required on firefighters, which means they’re in better condition to respond.”
The finance director noted that The University of Tennessee’s Municipal Technical Advisory Service is currently conducting a study of the city’s salary levels. After the study is completed, he said, having fewer firefighters will make it “easier” for Millington to get those levels “where they should be” for all the city’s employees.
In response to a question by Alderman Mike Caruthers, Trusty said the city will retain all the firefighting equipment at Station No. 4. He also said the county will close its “temporary” fire station on Egypt Central Road and move its equipment from there.
Caruthers asked whether that will give Millington “a lot of excess equipment” that will have to be scrapped.
Millington Fire Battalion Cmdr. Derrick Hall said the department currently has several Reserve fire trucks.
“We would be able to look at getting rid of possibly two,” he concluded. “When you’ve got three, you typically want two Reserves.”