But, recently Mayor Nutter agreed not to keep fighting their pay raises which were ordered by an arbitrator. Many hoped the hatchet could be buried, but hotspots have flared up again.
This week Mayor Nutter demoted 14 firefighters who were promoted to captain and lieutenant last spring under a court order because this month a higher state court ruled that the city had the right to rescind those promotions. Now, that is what the mayor has done.
The unions and their allies are outraged, claiming the mayor is simply being vindictive.
"What they intend to do is to use this as a way to punish people, again," said Jim Kenney (D) of the Philadelphia City Council. " I don't know to what end they want to continue to punish people because I know the fact that these demoted people, if they have to go into a burning building to save the mayor and fire comissioner, they would do it."
"Without these demotions, there are currently 39 openings for leuitenant, and 21 openings for captains," said Joseph Schulle of Firefighters Union Local 22. "Why would the city demote with all these openings. The city's position is: 'Because we can.'"
Mayor Nutter's top aides deny there's any revenge factor. They've simply chosen to promote from an updated eligibility list.
"Now there's a new list in effect, and so people will be promoted off the new list," said Philadelphia Solicitor Shelly Smith.
"This is not an anti-firefighter issue," said Everett Gillison, Philadelphia's deputy mayor. "This is only about maintaining management rights, which, I believe, we are supposed to have in order to do this job the way we need to do it."