Philadelphia Fire “brownouts” spark grievance

    The Fire Commissioner says closing up to three stations each day won’t affect readiness. He says five are out of service already for training.

    Rolling brownouts of Philadelphia fire stations will begin on Monday. The union representing firefighters plans to file a grievance to stop the move to close down two or three fire stations on a rotating basis.

    The city’s goal is to save $3.8 million a year in firefighter overtime while not permanently shutting any fire station. Firefighters union head William Gault says he’s worried about saving lives of firefighters and those they serve.

    “Brownouts are unsafe for us they are unsafe for the citizens, it ain’t about money, it’s ain’t about jobs it’s about lives. In our job, it’s about getting there quickly, it’s about response time fires grow exponentially, a heart attack you have four minutes, strokes everything we do now is timely and now it’s going to be a mystery about whether you have a fire truck or a ladder in your neighborhood.”

    Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers says five companies currently are out of service for training each day. The department will cut that to two to offset the brownouts.

    “We are going to look to use some methods to push the training out into the divisions and the battalions as well as web based training.”

    The firefighters union is calling on residents to complain to their council members about the changes.

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