Philadelphia firefighters union fights planned transfers

Leaders of the Philadelphia firefighters union are angry about a plan to move hundreds of veteran firefighters to new locations and say they may sue to stop it.

Firefighters Local 22 head Bill Gault said the change planned for January isn’t good for the city or for firefighters, because they’re familiar with communities they serve.

“It’s a complete safety hazard to civilians and firefighters,” Gault said in telephone interview. “These guys are established. You just can’t just learn our job in a couple of years. Right now they’re getting rid of all the institutional knowledge. It’s completely unsafe and not thought out.”

Mayor Michael Nutter’s spokesman Mark McDonald said the change is designed to give firefighters more experience in fighting different kinds of fires.

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“Firefighters, particularly young firefighters want the opportunity to work in different areas of the city, (and) gain the experience of dealing with different target hazards,” McDonald said.

McDonald said the plan poses no threat to firefighters or civilians. Gault said if the changes aren’t rescinded, the union considering the possibility of going to court to fight them.

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