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Firefighters stage protest at City Hall

December 15, 2008 9:34:10 AM PST
Some Philadelphia firefighters took to the streets late this morning to protest Mayor Michael Nutter's changes in the department. The changes are part of his proposed budget cuts.

A big crowd gathered at the northeast corner of City Hall. Hundreds came out to express their opinion on the mayor's plan - saying they think it's dangerous.

The mayor has maintained all along that the plan is well researched, it does not call for layoffs, and while it does cut five trucks and two ladders from the inventory it will not jeopardize public safety.

Union firefighters and supporters gathered at Local 22's Union Hall this morning, planning to march to City Hall. This is the latest effort by the union to attack the mayor's internally produced cost saving plan, that come January 5th will cut the number of fire engines on the street from 61 to 56, and ladders from 29 to 27.

Mayor Nutter says the move will save the taxpayers $10-million a year.

The union predicts it will cost lives, arguing contrary to the administration. Fewer units will lengthen response times, which is currently targeted at four minutes.

Brian McBride, President of Firefighters Local 22, tells us, "It's a four minute response time from the station to the scene of the incident - whether it's a heart attack victim or a fire. Four minutes is the absolute maximum amount of time that it should take for the fire company to arrive." McBride added, "The study that they have doesn't take into consideration critical factors like workload, traffic, detours - we don't feel any of these things were taken into consideration."

The union has demanded that there should be an independent scientific study of the situation. The city has responded in the past, saying the internal study is just fine. It is what will stand, and the plan will go into affect on January 5, 2009.

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