Philly fire equipment upkeep reviewed in City Council hearing

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A fire in a medic unit at a Old City firehouse highlighted possible maintenance issues within the department according to officials at a City Council hearing. 

The September fire at Fourth and Arch streets occurred in the engine compartment of an ambulance parked inside the station garage. It caused thousands of dollars in damages, closing the historic station indefinitely.

There have been several incidents where older firefighting apparatus has broken down causing delays and putting lives in danger, said Joe Schulle, head of the firefighters union, during the Wednesday hearing.

“The apparatus maintenance at the shop responsible for such maintenance is less than satisfactory,” he said. “Whether or not such maintenance should be outsourced is something that should be looked into.”

Schulle said the shop is “undermanned, overworked and parts in stock are always depleted.”

Officials are doing the best they can to maintain an aging fleet, testified Chris Cocci, who manages the Philadelphia fleet.

“Realizing the limits of our current funding structure, we are discussing funding strategies for fiscal year 2015, which will look at capitalizing larger apparatus to supplement our general fund acquisition budget,” he said.

Workers from the repair shop complain they haven’t had a pay raise and that it’s difficult to get parts for repairs. In some cases, that’s keeping equipment in the repair shop for a month or two.

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