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

California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…

National

Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all…

By Stephanie NebehayGENEVA (Reuters) - Three million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries as of Friday, but many remain trapped by the advance…

International

North Korean leader's money manager defects in Russia:…

A senior North Korean banking official who managed money for leader Kim Jong Un has defected in Russia and was seeking asylum in a third country, a South Korean newspaper…

Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 29,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on August 29, 31 and 31. Several streets and avenues will be…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…