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.

3 Responses to “ New Report Says Philly Fire Department Sucks ”

  1. Joe says:

    This is super depressing. Schools, fire departments, everything sucks and no one has money for anything. What the hell, this isn’t Detroit. This city’s got jobs, schools, smart people, a solid working class. What the hell can we do?

  2. Bill Demski says:

    While Everett Gillison correctly states that Philadelphia has seen a decline in the number of fire deaths to the lowest levels recorded, he omits the facts that:
    1. Nationally, the trend has been lower fire deaths.
    2. Philadelphia has the highest rate of fire deaths among the nine US cities with more than a million citizens. The national average, according the the NFPA is 7.75 fire deaths per million. Philadelphia, with just over 1.5 million citizens had 32 fire deaths last year, alomost three times higher than the average.

    Philadelphia experiences fire deaths at the rate similar to municipalities with less than 2500 persons. These communities are typically served by volunteer fire departments and lack dedicated fire prevention resources.

    Additionally, the standards cited by Mr Gillison, recommend enhanced levels of service for high risk communities.


  3. johnsmith says:

    Lloyd Ayers is a notorious racist. The entire department knows that promotions and discipline are based on race whenever he can get away with it.

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