Bearing pictures of Mayor Nutter with devil’s horns and the words “Burn Nutter Burn,” a crowd of angry firefighters and their supporters gathered at city hall yesterday to protest planned cutbacks of fire employees.
Chanting “The city plans a disaster,” “Don’t cut safety,” and “Find another way,” the group’s anger was brought on by Nutter’s proposal to eliminate battalion chief’s aide positions. The elimination of these aides will risk lives, say union representatives.
Nutter eliminated 150 Firefighter positions in January, making up 60 percent of the city employee positions eliminated last year, according to a letter signed by 46 of the 51 fire chiefs in the city.
Nutter’s 2010 budget plans to cut 30 more fire positions, making it a total of 180 fire department employees gone in only eight months. Add in retirement factors, and that makes a total of 252 firefighters no longer available to save your life.
“This reduction in staffing will adversely affect the safety of firefighters and the public we are sworn to serve and protect,” the letter to the Mayor states.
While the protest was going on Tuesday, Nutter was in Harrisburg trying to convince the legislature to allow the city to hike sales tax. Nutter says the revenue from increased sales tax will allow the city to keep some city positions on the chopping block.
It is unclear if the sales tax increase can save the fire chiefs’ aides positions.