PHILADELPHIA, PA – THE NUTTER administration’s planned transfer of 293 senior firefighters to various stations next year is a “dangerous” move, the firefighters union charged yesterday.
Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers last week announced that the department would begin an annual rotation next year involving 156 firefighters who have worked at stations for 10 years or more. The following year’s rotations would consist of those who have worked at stations for at least eight years.
“This is the dumbest idea they’ve ever had,” said Bill Gault, head of the Philadelphia Fire Fighters Local 22. “It’s dangerous. They’re going to have guys driving unfamiliar trucks in unfamiliar neighborhoods. This is a complete recipe for disaster.”
But the administration argued that the rotations would help broaden firefighters’ experience, especially for those looking to move up the ranks, by introducing them to various parts of the city, neighborhoods that have different types of emergency calls for service and levels of demand.
“It’s not a good thing to have public safety first-responders in the same spot year after year after year,” said Michael Resnick, director of public safety, adding that other cities, such as Chicago, have a similar system. “If you’re going to climb up the ranks this makes for a well-rounded [firefighter].”
Resnick said stations will not be void of senior firefighters, a concern raised by union leaders. Under the plan most firefighters will work for about five years at any given station. They were asked in the memo to submit their transfer preferences.