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Philly residents complain about fire station closures

Residents of Philadelphia are showing little patience for the city’s policy of “rolling brownouts” that close fire stations throughout the day.

On Tuesday night, residents expressed their deep displeasure with City Council members saying the practice endangers too many lives.

The city closes an average of three fire stations a day.

The policy has been in effect since August and would help save Philadelphia almost $3.8 million in overtime costs, city officials argue. They say the “brownouts” program is similar to the city’s temporary deactivation policy which has been in place for years.

The Philadelphia Inquirer has reported the city’s fire commissioner as saying the temporary closures will have no impact on public safety.

Philadelphia’s Fire Fighters Union has been vocal in its opposition to the rolling brownouts. The union has placed the emails and telephone numbers of the mayor and city council members on the homepage of its website so residents can contact leaders about the policy.

IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger last week participated  in a Philadelphia rally where he condemned Mayor Michael A. Nutter for allowing the practice of brownouts.

“We know how it ends when mayors close fire stations. It ends in tragedy,” Schaitberger said in a speech to more than 200 union members. “The ending is the same each time. When you close fire stations to save money it will always cost lives. No one is safer when response times get longer.”

What do you think about Philadelphia’s policy? Are any other cities looking to adopt similar programs? What other things can cities do to help balance their budgets besides cutting from public safety programs?

Comments (4) -

  • Chad Zeller (Saint Bernard)

    10/23/2010 6:39:57 AM |

    This unplanned concept plagues the United States. There are other possible ways to cut bugets but closing stations increases response times and does not allow fire fighter to do the main requirement of the jobs "SAVE LIVES"


  • Ronald Rompala (Pittsburgh)

    10/27/2010 3:51:41 PM |

    With the recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court rulings against both Philadelphia and Scranton, the "rolling brownout" option is sure to become management's weapon of choice for saving money through out the state in all of our municipalities.  We also have noticed that Commonwealth Courts have not been very favorable towards labor as of late. It's anybody's guess on how to put together a strategy to fight this, but working closely with the State Association is a great first start, and if you have not attended the ALTS in a while, plan on the next one in February.

  • Kenneth Barton (Lancaster)

    10/28/2010 11:24:19 AM |

    Same old, same old. The fire department is the first to get hammered. In Lancaster, PA, the City wants to be able to bring in volunteer FF from outside the City to "supplement" us. No surprise...we have gone from 14 on duty to now as low as 9. And the City wants us to accept a 24/48, 3 platoon schedule. When was the last time any City asked a suburban police department to send in "volunteer cops". Or maybe a lower paid detective could come in from a  suburban dept. to do the City detectives job. What about Public Works? Can't the City advertise for volunteer grass cutters for City Parks? What about a volunteer Mayor??!! Brownouts in Phila are just plain dumb. Remember when Councilman Nutter praised Phila FF and blasted the Mayor for cutting them?? No?? Guess "Mayor" Nutter doesn't remember those days either. It would just be nice to be appreciated for our jobs instead of every budget season fighting for our lives.

  • James Tracy (Reading)

    11/17/2010 9:41:24 AM |

    What a concept. Do the "Rolling Emergencies" coincide with the "Rolling Brownouts". Oh the wizardry of politics. Yes you to can achieve your highest level of incompetence in the political arena. Mayor Nutter appears to be a perfect example.

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