Union Blames Fire Truck Crash on Nutter

The city says that's "ridiculous"

No need to wait on the "official" word on why those two fire trucks crashed in Center City on Thursday.

The union knows exactly what led to the accident:

Nutter's cutbacks.

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"It's absolutely a direct result of those cuts," said Local 22 President Brian McBride.

If the city had not deactived seven fire trucks back in January, the two trucks involved in Thursday's crash would never have been racing to get a call at 22nd and Wharton, says McBride.

"Engine 43 would have been in their own station protecting their own neighborhood. And the same for Ladder 9," said McBride.

The union says the cutbacks have left them with fewer trucks to cover the same volume of 911 calls and more distance.

"Because of the domino effect, no one in the city is exempt from the problem. We see the lack of coverage every day," said McBride.

From the union point of view, it really boils down to one simple problem and one simple solution:

Problem: What you're asking us to do can't be done well (a.k.a. Unrealistic Expectations).
Philadelphia firefighters are "running increased distances, there are a lot more intersections and they're in unfamiliar territory," said McBride. "The plan doesn't work, but firefighters are trying to make it work and they're being stretched beyond reasonable expectations."

Solution: Re-open those seven fire companies.
Put safety first. That's the union mantra. "We knew this was gonna happen. We've been saying it all along. This is another tragic result of the cuts and thankfully all the firefighters are expected to recover. But at what cost?"

From the city's point of view, pointing the finger at Nutter or cutbacks is preposterous:

"Mr. McBride's comments are completely ridiculous. To suggest that a traffic accident was caused by a budget decision is a little far-fetched. Brian McBride knows full well that there are any number of reasons as to why a particular company would respond to a particular incident. The seriousness of the City's financial difficulties does not allow for playing games and political posturing," said Mayor Nutter's spokesman, Doug Oliver.

Last month, Nutter accused the union of stoking hysteria among citizens with its ad campaign and the mayor said the real issue was not safety, but money -- less overtime for firefighters.

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