Firefighters report shows problems, possible solutions in Philadelphia

A new report finds major problems in the Philadelphia Fire Department.  It says with significant reforms, the city could afford to stop so-called “rolling brown outs.”

The report, funded by the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority or PICA, says racial tensions and labor-management distrust continue at the Philadelphia Fire Department.

Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Everett Gillison says residents are safe no matter what is happening.

“From the morale issue, one of the thing specifically about race,” said Gillison.  “I want to make sure that people understand these people are professionals, they bring who they are to work but I can tell you that they work together well both on the fireground and in EMS to produce the kind of things that they need to produce.”

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The report calls for various efficiencies, including training more firefighters as Paramedics.  Fire union head Bill Gault says he favors that.

“We just don’t fight fires anymore we do everything,” said Gault.  “Most of the time on a medical run it’s an engine or a ladder on the scene first.  All firemen are already EMT’s Emergency Medical Technicians.”

The report says with enough savings, Philadelphia could afford to stop “rolling brown outs” where some fire units are closed each day to save money without shuttering firehouses permanently.

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