Council Committee passes bill to arbitrate any Philly fire station closings

 Councilman Jim Kenney (Nathaniel Hamilton/NewsWorks Photo, file)

Councilman Jim Kenney (Nathaniel Hamilton/NewsWorks Photo, file)

Philadelphia City Council is trying to make it much harder to close down a fire station. 

The proposed restrictions would demand public hearings and even arbitration before a fire station could be shuttered.

Philadelphia Public Safety Director Michael Resnick says there are no plans to close any fire companies at this point and if there were any it would be after careful consideration. But he opposes demanding an arbitrator, saying that would remove experts from the process.

“Council and the administration would both be stuck waiting for an arbitration panel to rule on high stakes questions where it lacks expertise and we would all be bound by a panel’s decision no matter how unacceptable,” Resnick said. 

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Resnick is calling for more discussion but Councilman Jim Kenney says he and his colleagues are never included in major decisions regarding emergency services.

“The fire department decided to do brownouts even though council opposed it,” Kenney said.  “They decided to do mass transfers even though council opposed it, they decided to demote 14 individuals last fall over council’s objections, so why would continuing interactions with council give any of us any belief that some substantive interaction and chance would happen since it hasn’t happened to date.”

The proposal is moving forward in council but has not received final approval.

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