Philly Firefighters Turn Up the Heat on Nutter

Philadelphia Firefighters protest Mayor Nutter's plan to rotate veteran firefighters to new posts.

In what seems to be the latest round of the battle between Philadelphia firefighters and Mayor Michael Nutter, about 200 of the city's bravest packed City Hall Thursday morning protesting the mayor's plan to transfer veteran firefighters to new posts.

They're angry over Nutter's decision to move the most experienced firefighters to what they say is new and unfamiliar sections of the city, beginning in January.

The International Association of Firefighters local 22, is calling the move dangerous. They say it will result in increased fire response times and jeopardize the safety of residents.

"This is the dumbest idea they've ever had," said Bill Gault, head of the Philadelphia Fire Fighters Local 22. "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.

"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.

Resnick also assured stations that they will not be without senior firefighters.

Under the plan, most firefighters will work for about five years at any given station.

Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers announced last week 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 latest fight comes on the heels of an ongoing battle between the firefighters union and the city. Last summer, the union was awarded an arbitration contract, giving firefighters a three percent raise over three years, but those raises will not go into effect until there is a final ruling on the contract.

The city appealed and is still trying to overturn the decision.

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