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?