Long-simmering dispute over Fire Department brownouts reignited

A City Council hearing Wednesday on the Philadelphia Fire Department budget reignited a long-simmering dispute – rolling brownouts.

The controversial policy of temporarily taking an engine or ladder company out of service on a rotating basis was implemented in 2010 due to budgetary cutbacks.

In a surprise revelation, Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said he’s in support of ending the practice.

“If the mayor gave me the money, I’d end the brownouts – of course, absolutely,” he said.

But that’s a big “if.”

City Budget Director Rebecca Rhynhart said it’s “the mayor’s position that the brownouts are occurring.”

Council members discussed introducing legislation that would allow them to directly appropriate to the Fire Department the $3.8 million needed each year to eliminate the brownouts.

“I would love to do that, to introduce legislation to give them the money to stop it,” Councilman Mark Squilla said, adding his constituents are concerned that as their taxes rise, the level of service they receive seems to be decreasing.

“But it sounds like, if you talk to the administration, even if you give them more money, they’re not going to eliminate it. So we’ve got to figure out why. What is the mindset, what is the point of the brownouts? We’re still having fire deaths. We’re still having people dying and we’re having firemen dying.”

One of those firefighters is Capt. Michael Goodwin of Ladder 27, who was killed earlier this month battling a blaze at a Queen Village fabric shop.

Firefighters Union Local 22 president Bill Gault said he believes station closures and brownouts were in part to blame.

Two nearby fire companies were shuttered in recent years and the engine company headquartered at Goodwin’s station was browned out that night.

“That neighborhood is so little, so crowded, you have to get resources there,” Gault said.

“Especially with the fireload there, the wires, that requires manpower and water quickly – quickly. We’re lucky – actually, we’re not lucky. We lost three people this year.”

Ayers said brownouts have never been shown to pose public safety hazards.

But Councilman Jim Kenney pointed out ladder companies whose corresponding engines are browned out don’t have access to water until an engine from a different station arrives on the scene.

“What happens when a ladder company gets there, has no water, people are trapped, what do they do until the engine arrives?” he asked.

Ayers said engines respond quickly, within 58 seconds, on average.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

Movies

Shia LaBeouf disorderly conduct case pushed to September

A judge on Thursday adjourned until September the disorderly conduct and harassment case against actor Shia LaBeouf, who was charged with disturbing a Broadway theater…

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

NBA

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.