New Report Says Philly Fire Department Sucks
An independent report released by the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority does not put the Philadelphia Fire Department in the brightest light, and it’s being contested by some within the agency.
PICA, which was established in 1991 to provide Philadelphia with financial and oversight functions adding up to financial assistance and is currently headed by Sam Katz, says the PFD lacks in response time, suffers from racial strife and poor communication between labor and management. PICA also offers a plan to re-organize the department for the future.
First off, response time: Getting to a fire in five minutes is generally accepted—in fire circles—as a standard response. In Philadelphia, according to this report, our firefighters make it to the burning buildings in five minutes 45 percent of the time. The national average? Ninety percent of the time.
“Those standards are for the entire nation. We put our times up against anyone else,” Mayor Nutter’s Chief of Staff Everett Gillison told ABC News of the report. “Over the past three years, we’ve had the lowest number of deaths in the city’s history.” The Dept. also cites the city’s aging infrastructure as a reason for the slow responses.
Second, some broad allegations of racial hate in the department, which is also denied. “Racial strife, I don’t agree with. We don’t experience that. I don’t think we are resistant to change. I think that we know we are going to go through some changes and we’ll do it together, collaboratively,” Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers told ABC. PICA recommends more cuts, a 10 percent reduction in staffing, which the Dept. also disagrees with. The fire department’s budget has been cut in recent years, and the city’s fire fighter union, IAFF 22, still does not have a contract. On Tuesday, the union posted a photo of a burnt out building to its Facebook page, and wrote, “Don’t listen to the Commissioner or his Cronies in the media. Closings and Brown-Outs cost people their lives.” Rolling brownouts of fire departments have been in effect since summer 2010.