Firehouse brownouts could be coming to an end in Philadelphia

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The Nutter administration may be ending a policy that Philadelphia firefighters have hated for years. 

Under a scenario known as a “brownout,” an engine or ladder company is taken out of service. While  sometimes done to give firefighters time to train, Philadelphia brownouts have been ordered for several years on a rotating basis to save money without shutting fire stations permanently.

The policy has been controversial and subject of many city council hearings, so many were surprised Tuesday to hear Public Safety Director Michael Resnick say the city is working to stop brownouts.

Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said ending the brownouts will have to wait until  next year because other changes must come first.

“We’ll implement our [Emergency Medical Services] buildout,  we’ll implement better service on that side to our citizens,” he said. “We’ll have an opportunity to decrease overtime use in the department, and then we will look at that. And,  as we have opportunity to take a brownout out or more, we will do that.”

Joe Schulle of the firefighters union was one of those surprised by the announcement.

“I think it’s a long time coming, and I hope the city holds to it and stops these brownouts,” he said.

The brownouts can delay fire trucks from arriving on scene when lives are on the line, since the closest station may not be staffed, Schulle said.

 

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