How a fire department operates

August 14, 2013 Leave a comment

For the general public , news media and politicians who may not understand how a fire department operates and the key responsibilities of each piece of equipment.

Engine ” aka Pumper” carry’s water and hose to the fire , which is absolutely necessary for the extinguishment of the fire. The crews use a smaller hose to fight the fire ” aka attack line ” and a larger size hose to connect to the hydrant which supply’s the engine with more water and pressure for the attack lines and other equipment that may be in use , without the water you can not put out the fire.

Fire grows about every 30 seconds and the more it grows the harder it is to fight and the more dangerous it is for fire fighters. This is why it is imperative that an Engine arrive in about 5 minutes so they can start fighting the fire. If the Ladder arrives first they can not fight the fire and the risk to life and property doubles.

The other component to firefighting is the Ladder ” aka the truck ” Which carry’s a wide variety of tools , fans , saws and portable ladders which are all necessary in firefighting. The ladder company is responsible for search and rescue , ventilation , pulling walls and ceilings etc…they need to bust out windows to vent the hot air and gases that have built up during the fire and also to provide and emergency exit for fire fighters in case anything goes wrong.They also cut holes in the roof to vent the hot air and gases but also to extinguish the fire if it has gotten up into the roof area.

Each piece of equipment is a valuable tool in fighting fire and saving lives..without one or the other the job could not get done. This is why fire department cuts are the worst kind of cuts that can be made…

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The battle continues…

August 14, 2013 Leave a comment

In June of 2009 the contract for members of Local 22 the Philadelphia Fire Fighters and Medics union expired and negotiations would soon start to work on the contract for the term commencing July 1st 2009 to June 30th 2013.

As you may or may not know  public safety employees can not strike under Pennsylvania ACT 111 and a contract must be negotiated with a neutral arbitrator.  In October 2010 the arbitration panel awarded a 4 year contract  giving modest raises to the members and protecting them furloughs.  The city appealed the award saying it was to expensive  and goes to court and the judge sends it back to arbitration panel in November of 2011 , the panel issues the award again in July of 2012  and the city appealed again. Local 22 then sued the city in the Court of Common Pleas. In November of 2012 the Court of Common Pleas upheld the arbitrators award and the city appealed once again to Commonwealth Court , In August of 2013 the court sent the dispute back to the court of Common Pleas.

The contract expired on June 30th 2013 and the 2009 award is still being challenged by the city. In August of 2013 an emergency hearing was held on the ACT 111 award  Judge Fox ruled in favor of Local 22 once again and ordered the city to pay immediately into the Local 22 Health fund. The contract dispute is not the only battle between the city and it’s Firefighters union , In January 2009 Mayor Nutter closed 7 companies  ( 5 engines and 2 ladders )  and in August 2010 Mayor Nutter instituted the rolling brown out policy for the Philadelphia Fire Department .

What is a brownout you ask ?  A brownout temporarily closes pre selected Fire Stations all over the city to close for 12 hours  which is the length of the shift. (the PFD works 2 shifts  8a to 8p or 8p to 8a )  this policy has been going on for 3 years now and no end is in sight , apparently the Nutter administration thinks saving 3.8 million in overtime which  is more important then safety of  firefighters and residents and the OT  way was created by the city by not hiring or filling vacant positions  , since the start of the brownout policy  3 firefighters have died in the line of duty and several civilians have died as well including children. Injuries are up among firefighters  as well as civilians , because it’s taking firefighters longer to get to the fire.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog and maybe you will be inspired to do something.  Contact your council person and tell them to end the brownouts , put more medic units on the street , Improve the 911 system and honor the 4 year old contract award and stop wasting taxpayers money.





link to  Local 22 Award

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Engine 38….

December 22, 2012 Leave a comment

In July of 2009 Engine 38 which was located at 4960 Longshore ave in the Tacony section of Philadelphia was demolished to make way for a new on ramp for I-95 , during this time period Engine 38 was relocated to Engine 33’s station in Port Richmond.In August of 2010 the Nutter administration dealt another blow to the fire department and instituted the ” Rolling Brown Out” policy which would temporarily close  3 fire houses  per  shift and Engine 38 was disbanded until October of 2012.

Ground was finally broken on the fire house 2 years later in June of 2011, now here we are December 2012 and Engine 38 was returned to service but only during the day , where they were used as a cover company for a company that is browned out during  day from 8a-8pm.

In January of 2013 , 3 1/2 years after the station was demolished to make way for improvements to I-95 and  a year and 1/2 after ground was broken on the new station , Engine 38 has returned to full time service and moved into there new station and of course all the politicians were there grand standing and pretending they care about the fire department.  Members of Local 22 protested the ceremonies over the failure of the Nutter administration to  accept the terms of the new contract  , brownouts and other issues.

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Philadelphia EMS System is broken

June 9, 2012 2 comments


Your having chest pains and you reach for the Phone to call 911 , thinking  that help  is only minutes away because there is an ambulance down the street at the fire house …so you think…!!

Someone else called 911 in your neighborhood because they stubbed their toe and it hurts , so that paramedic unit that was down the street is now not available for your life or death medical emergency  because your fellow citizens have abused 911 … this happens almost every day in Philadelphia , people think they can call 911 for any kind of emergency which is true ..but stubbing your toe is not an emergency.

Now because that ambulance is not available , the fire communications center  must dispatch another medic unit which could be coming from across the city , In the meantime they will dispatch the engine or ladder who covers that area with fire fighters who are trained as Emergency Medical Technicians ( which means they can only provide BLS  care ” Basic Life Support”  and they can not take you to the hospital ) but wait a minute the fire house down the street is browned out , so there are no fire fighters to answer your call  , so the next engine or ladder will respond but now it is going to take them longer because they are coming from further away….

The city frequently runs out of medic units , which means no one is available to transport you to the hospital , this leaves fire fighters to answer your medical emergencies  which in turn takes them away from handling fire calls. The 911 system is being abused  and inundated with calls  that are not actual emergency’s .

In a recent report from the City Controller’s office it was found that they city is owed almost $50  million in back fees.

The following is exert from the October 2011 City Controllers Report :

As indicated in the Controller’s 2007 performance audit of the Philadelphia Fire Department’s EMS system, it is a widely accepted standard for EMS units to arrive at the scene of an emergency in less than nine minutes at 90 percent of the time.  Four years ago, EMS units were achieving this standard only 60 percent of the time.

Since the Controller released his 2007 audit, there has been some improvement in arriving within in the less than nine minute standard.  However, the response time is still below the 90 percent industry bench mark and still below the 77.5 percent response time in 2002.

“The City is putting lives at risk by failing to do all that it can to have EMS units arrive on time,” said Butkovitz.  “The response time is still well below the 90 percent industry benchmark.”

Butkovitz continued, “A major factor contributing to the EMS’s inability to arrive on time is the overwhelming demand on the EMS system along with an inadequate number of paramedics.”

Link to the report      2007 Report 

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Here are the facts..

May 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Today Local 22 asserted the numerous tactical and strategical errors of the Kensington blaze that killed Lt. Neary and FF Sweeney. We have looked into a majority of aspects of this job, spoken with a number of people who were on scene and grabbed every photo we could find of the fire. We have tremendous information from all who responded to our requests to carry this forward for a great deal of time. We cite gross negligence on the heirarchy of this department and we have the facts to back it up!

What we need now is everyone with “truthful information” to come forward either here on the forum or in person to protect your identity and give us everything else we need to dispel their “spin”! This administration screwed up royally!

FACT: Since the closings there has been NO tactical or strategic training for our members.

FACT: For over 7 years there has been no officer development training.

FACT: Since January 1, 2008 over 280 firefighters have retired.

FACT: Since that time 24 ACTIVE firefighters have died, 16 have been terminated and 77 have been promoted to lieutenant.

FACT: ONE class has come through since February of 2008; which leaves us with over 350 firefighter reductions in the last 4 years.

FACT: We have had over 17 “close calls” where members were severely injured since 2009 and the company closings .

FACT: In the areas of closings and brownouts we have documented over 12 deaths directly related to delayed response times due to brownouts.

FACT: Over 800 Active members of this department have less than 8 years on the job.

FACT: Since the closings the Philadelphia Fire Department averages close to 1 injury per day on duty.

FACT: Since the closings and brownouts there was created single ladder companies, yet NOT a single bit of paperwork or training has told them how to operate as a “first in” ladder with no engine.

Today we sit as a dysfunctional department because of the administration who are our purported “leaders”. The Commissioner is directly responsible for the safety of his membership and is to report to the Mayor the needed essentials of his department which he has failed to do. He is a puppet of a dysfuntional Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Safety. He kowtows to their wishes and ignores the basic functions of a modern day fire department. The decisions that this Commissioner has made have directly affected the decline of this department. And his Deputy Commissioners, who refuse to speak against or are ignorant of the implications of his decisions, are equally, if NOT MORE responsible! We have sat back and listened to their rhetoric long enough! Now is the time for every member of Local 22 to come forward and truthfully give your opinions of this department.

Info from Tim McShea , Vice President Local 22

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Engine 38..still missing in action..

May 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Engine 38 was located at 4960 Longshore Ave in the Tacony section of Philadelphia , until it was demolished  in July of 2009 to make way for a new on ramp onto I-95 , Tacony has been without a fire company for almost 3 years. The city finally broke ground on the fire house June 20th 2011At the Intersection of Magee Avenue and Keystone Street , 2 years after it had been demolished , all the politicians showed up and pretended they actually care about the community.

The new station is expected to open later this year , but i think it’s a bit strange that it would take a year and 1/2 to build a new fire house ?

More to come later….

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Deputy Fire Commissioner takes a nap

May 10, 2012 2 comments

Deputy Fire Commissioner  Ernest F. Hargett, Jr

Last week during fire department budget hearings ,  the Deputy Fire Commissioner was overwhelmed with concern for the people in his charge and the citizens that he swore to protect he decided it would be ok to take a nap. Yes we know budget hearings are not the most exciting thing in the world , but really taking a nap while on duty in front of city council..we know its hard pushing paper all day but really ?

I’m sure if he walked into a station and the crew was asleep at a time in which they are not supposed to be , they would have been written up and shanghaied ( transferred)  to an undesirable station ( most fire fighters want to be in the busy stations)..but I’m sure this got swept under the carpet , just like Lloyd Ayers not paying his property taxes…

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