The Philadelphia Fire Department is plotting its strategy to protect the city while dealing with a slightly smaller budget.
Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers says his budget will be cut by about $900,000 but is continuing “brownouts” — closing stations for one day on a rotating basis. Ayers told a City Council budget hearing that brownouts allow him to save money while avoiding closing firehouses permanently.
“We’ve monitored that since it’s implementation and to date we are meeting the standards that we need to meet as projected and we don’t see a significant increase in the workload of the companies within the area,” said Ayers.
The firefighters union is a fierce critic of brownouts, saying they slow response times.
Councilman Curtis Jones says he wants to find money to eliminate them completely.
“This is one of those vital services that we have. I just want to say as we start to consider the final numbers on this, if this is a three million dollar issue we need to find three million dollars to put this to bed forever,” said Jones.
The department plans to hire 160 new firefighters over the summer to replace those who are retiring.