‘Out Of Service’ Engine Co. Assists In Baptism

Questions are being asked after a South Philadelphia fire engine company was ordered out of service to be part of a baptismal service Sunday morning.

According to a memorandum obtained by the Eyewitness News I-Team, the deputy fire commissioner ordered Engine Company 24 out of service from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., when the baptism was completed, to spray water over the heads of the baptismal candidates.

When asked what it meant in terms of the firefighters being able to go to a fire or attend a medical call, Bill Gault, President of Local 22, the firefighters’ union said: “They’re not available for anything for that hour and a half.”

Gault said at the same time Engine 24 was providing a charged hose line at the baptismal service, another South Philadelphia fire unit, Engine 3, was “browned out” due to the city’s budget crisis. And Engine 1, which would have covered in the past, was placed out of service back in 2009.


Since the Nutter administration has embarked on a policy of wholesale decimation of the Philadelphia Fire Department, we have suffered the permanent loss of seven fire companies taken off the line. In addition to that we are also temporarily losing two companies a shift to “Rolling Brownouts” a practice where randomly selected companies are arbitrarily closed on a rotating basin. It’s a policy not entirely unlike the game of Russian Roulette where one bullet is placed into the chamber of a revolver. Every time you pull the trigger with the barrel against your temple you hope the bullet isn’t in there. In truth your odds are one in six depending on the gun used. One in six. In the fire service, every time an alarm comes in we worry if the first in company is browned out or not.

Those odds weren’t good enough for the twelve-year-old boy killed last week in a house fire when Engine 57, a block away was browned out. Ironically Engine 68, the company who raced to the scene from a dozen blocks away was browned out one shift this week. Can you imagine if there was a fire death in Engine 68’s local and Engine 57 ended up first in? That’s the fundamental insanity of this policy. We can’t do more with less, we can only do less.

That being said the fire department, ever the trooper, never adjusts its policies to face reality. Even though we have lost so many companies, they still try to continue with business as usual. That means in this case accommodating every service request no matter how inappropriate. This week firefighters from Engine 24 in South Philly were forced to attend and assist a religious ceremony, a Baptism, while on duty, at a time when there were other companies browned out and previous closures already impacted the area. More Russian Roulette. One in six.

Forget for a second the firefighting side of this story (although incredibly significant). Imagine being forced to participate in a religious ceremony while you are at work. Imagine GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES being FORCED to engage in this kind of behavior. In my opinion this CLEARLY crosses the line with government ENDORSING AN ESTABLISHMENT OF RELIGION.

The inappropriate use of government / fire department resources at such a critical point is unbelievable. It says a lot about our leadership and I’ll let you draw your own conclusions there. I have tremendous anxiety about this coming winter a few short months away. The true impact of these cuts combined with our leadership has yet to be felt. The boy who was killed may just be the tip of the iceberg. Say a prayer that it isn’t so.

PS: If anyone can find the code to make this video work in WordPress and can send it to me I would appreciate it. Thanks, C/A



  1. Go ahead Randall- the floor is yours:

  2. Randal Graves says:

    How is the floor mine? Are you retarded? I mean seriously, are you retarded? I think it’s a stupid, fucking policy as would anyone with a hint of common sense. Sorry, but I’m not the political lemming that you appear to be. I don’t agree with a policy just because it’s Democratic or liberal.

    Why do you think I ran the hell out of the city the second I could 14 years ago? I made the conscious decision to save myself and my family from the disgusting politics of the city.

    The leadership of the city has been a nightmare for at least 40 years. Anyone who decided to stay in the city over the past 40 years knows that.

    • Which policy exactly do you find stupid? The liberal government endorsed policy of using a government agency (the fire department) for a religious event, OR the liberal governments policy of taking even more fire protection off line and risking further catastrophe?

      BECAUSE BOTH OF THESE POLICIES ARE IDENTICAL TO YOUR BOY OBAMA’S POLICIES AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL. Obama is John Street on Steroids. Gut our military for more useless social programs and Object to a Christian Cross in the middle of the desert but fast track a Mosque at Ground Zero.

      PS: “RETARDED” is an extremely insensitive term these days. The more politically correct choice would be “Challenged”. That I am…
      Hope / Change, Yes we can!

      • Randal Graves says:

        Both policies are retarded. That’s why I moved out of the city long ago. My fire station is 1.12 miles away from my home and I’ll take a volunteer FD station anytime over a potential browned out station; well, that and a home sprinkler system.

        I must have missed the news story/article/audio clip where Obama objects to the cross. Would you please show me actually states his objection to the cross? “In court filings, attorneys for the Obama administration had argued that Buono should not have had the right to challenge the cross because, among other reasons, he is a Christian and presumably is not injured or offended by the sight of the cross.” hmmm.

        And how does Obama have ANYTHING to do with the mosque NOT at Ground Zero, but NEAR Ground Zero? It is a New York CITY issue, not a Federal one. Obama has NOTHING to do with it. Stop sensationalizing everything; you look/sound silly.

  3. Dustoff says:

    WOW… Is Randal having a bad day.

  4. Ingineer66 says:

    I not as worried about the religious implication as I am the stupidity of taking a front line engine out of service for something so trivial. I mean if the budget was flush with money and they wanted to send a reserve engine that would be one thing, but in this crunch of not having enough equipment as it is, this is just insanity.

  5. Randal Graves says:


  6. Ingineer66 says:

    So what if one of the firemen was Muslim. I say to him toughen up. If somebody says Merry Christmas to a Jew, they don’t freak out and call the ADL. People need to not get offended so freaking easily.

    • Ingineer- you are mis-reading this. The company was put out of service (unavailable to fight fires) while on duty so they could participate in a religious ceremony. These are Government employees, on the tax payers dime, furthering a specific religion. In a country where liberals took prayer out of school suddenly this is OK?
      The problem is what if you are a San Francisco firefighter forced to participate in a gay pride parade? (Really happened). The firefighters were subjected to all sorts of verbal harassment. Remember Tailhook? The hughe scandal that was? Today we may have male and female firefighters of all religious backgrounds. City employees are not supposed to be put into this position while on the clock. It may even be illegal. We are here to fight fires and save lives not Baptise people.

  7. Henry T.Jacobs,Lt.PFD Ret. says:

    I really can’t see why a big deal is made of this. E-1 or E-24 has been doing this for in my time 50 yrs,. All that ‘s done is a length of line w/tip attached to a hydrant. The Bishop squirts down his followers and they go back to thier church. If Co.gets a run they go,come back later and retrieve gear. Most guys who have worked in S.Philly have known about this yearly event. Station closures are a differant ballgame. Political in nature and furthured by the nitwits at 3rd.& Spr.Gdn.Sts. Stay safe Brothers & Sisters,Jake

    • Very simple Henry- We are government workers and should not be involved in ANY religious activities like this while on duty. Remember- seperation of church and state?

      Also there are an average of TEN companies off the street now with all the closings. We simply can’t afford to act as if it’s business as usual anymore. They were using the booster line and they were OUT OF SERVICE. That’s a very big deal.

      • Henry T.Jacobs,Lt.PFD Ret. says:

        Absolutly,bad call to go OOS , old way was to hook up a length of 2 1/2 or 1 1/2 and a tip. Let the Bishop wash em down and go home. Never OOS , did that call come from the “incompetant ones”?

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