FRANKLIN, TN (WSMV) - Middle Tennessee firefighters are being called to help fight fires in Memphis, but it may not be for the reason you think.

Freezing temperatures last week caused hundreds of water main breaks in Memphis and now the Memphis Fire Department said they need help.

To send a tanker filled with 2,000 gallons of water to a fire in rural Williamson County - where hydrants aren’t in abundance - is common, according to Jay Bonson, Williamson County Fire and Rescue Services coordinator.

However, it is uncommon to send a Williamson County tanker 200 miles west.

“Late last night we got a phone call that asked for one to go early this morning,” said Bonson.

Williamson County sent one of its tankers and two firefighters to Memphis Monday morning.

Memphis’ recent low water pressure from sub-zero temperatures makes using hydrants challenging. That’s where the tankers come in. Tennessee’s mutual aid system requested nine tankers from West Tennessee and one from Middle Tennessee – Williamson County.

Raymond Chiozza, a photographer in Memphis, has captured images of Memphis firefighters at work since 1974. He said this past weekend was historic. Two tankers from outside fire departments were called to a Memphis fire on Saturday. Chiozza said that’s a rare sight.

“We knew that day that this was history being made, that this never occurred in Memphis before,” said Chiozza.

The 2,000 to 3,000-gallon tankers help extinguish fires in Memphis because hydrants couldn’t be used due to the water pressure. The tankers are also equipped with a pool to maintain a constant water supply.

“When it gets really cold, you know something is going to happen more than likely, and you hate for it to, but you want to be able to try and capture it for history’s sake,” said Chiozza.


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