Fire departments brown outs curtailed

Alex Lloyd Gross- A rally to protest brown outs held in center city December 2008

By Alex Lloyd Gross

In late 2008 City of Philadelphia  firefighters were ordered to close stations for specific tours of duty, to save money. This practice , according to  firefighters and public safety officials put lives in jeopardy and increased response times.   Then Mayor of Philadelphia Michael Nutter said it did not and the fire department  operated handcuffed for eight years. For almost a decade, residents of the city had not clue if their firehouse would be staffed or left vacant. That practice officially ended today, February 11, 2016.

Alex Lloyd Gross- Fire crews operate at a four alarm fire last year, under brown out conditions

Now that the Philadelphia Fire Department can operate on all cylinders.  Current Mayor James Kenney formally ended the practice today, with an official announcement at city hall.  The city has enough money and the closing of firehouses is not needed.   What most people do not know is that the brown outs were supposed to be a temporary solution.  Almost a full year ago,  city council asked for this program to stop and to staff all firehouses.  In spite of that, the brownouts continued for almost one full year, after council asked for it to stop.

When a firehouse is closed,  lives are in jeopardy and anyone that says anything different should be committed to the nearest mental hospital.  Apparatus has to travel farther. That means , 100,000 pound firetrucks are racing an extra distance to a job,putting the lives of other motorists and the fire crew at risk.  quite often, those trucks were racing to an incident where they were not needed.   During the brown out period, many trucks were involved in accidents that  would not have happened, if the original truck was there. factor in property damage and lawsuits and the brown out program actually cost the city millions over those eight years.

Both Acting Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer and the Fire Department Union , Local 22 were happy this program is ended.  Tonight, every firehouse in the city will be properly staffed and all apparatus in those firehouses will be able to respond to emergencies.