Letters: It’s not about fire safety; union fears losing the OT

Local 22 has been trying to tell the public that the city’s fire-station brownouts are new and unsafe. Don’t let the union fool you; this is about the fire union’s campaign to preserve overtime. Brownouts are not a safety issue. Brownouts have been used in Philadelphia since I have been a member of the Fire Department, and they are used all over the country for training and overtime-reduction purposes. Baltimore, Boston, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and countless others are all using brownouts. No fire department would engage in this practice if it were unsafe. If an emergency ever occurs in your home or neighborhood, the Fire Department will respond in the same manner it always has.

The battle that Local 22 is drumming up is simply a disagreement over reducing overtime pay. In the past, brownouts were used primarily for training. Now, brownouts are also used for routine vacancies that were previously paid for using overtime money.

I, along with my executive team and field staff, have been discussing the use of brownouts for two years as a way to save money and jobs. It was firefighters with years of operational knowledge and experience who made this decision, and not a group of people in suits who don’t understand the job. In doing so, we considered the size of a company’s coverage area, the number of daily runs made, workload by shift, proximity to other companies, response times by surrounding companies, and other pertinent issues.

The safety of Philadelphia remains paramount in every decision I make as fire commissioner. Our firefighters are dedicated to the public’s safety and work hard for their paychecks; that’s not in question. But, in these economic times, Local 22’s leadership will need to play a cooperative role in reducing our costs as well. I’m asking Local 22 president Bill Gault to stop engaging in misleading rhetoric and asking members not to show up for work, and instead to partner with me and the hardworking firefighters and paramedics to deal with these hard economic realities and continue to keep Philadelphia safe.

Lloyd Ayers
Fire commissioner
Philadelphia Fire Department



  1. Raptor says:

    Yeah, right, sure, uh-huh.

    Anyone who believed that letter, shoot me an email. I can give you a great price on the Walt Whitman Bridge.

  2. Rick says:

    Sounds like a political hack

  3. Old NFO says:

    Hack is right… politics WILL get someone(s) killed in the Fire/EMS arena…

  4. Dustoff says:

    Are you kidding me.

  5. Bob says:

    For one thing LA did not write this. Some lawyer in the city law office. LA is following the nutter cronies lead. He need to keep his job so his DROP comes in. My own opine only. nutter hates Local 22 because they did not back him for mayor. Their is money out there he is not looking hard enough. The DRPA could have given so of the 400mil to help out cash strap city of Philly, Chester & Camden, but no it went to cronies projects like ” culture centers”, football games, trips to “conference ” in other countries. Just like all politics they don’t can unless a event haspen that they can put a feather in their hats. This opine on all lukewarm politican, who think all PD, FF & medics sit around and do nothing and collect a check. No that what they do.

  6. Mike47 says:

    Captain, it seems to me that the letter has no credibility for the simple reason it only addresses one aspect of the total overall FD budget management issue: Brownouts. If you take other factors together, such as station closings, equipment down time, personnel cutbacks, etc. you have a different picture. Brownouts don’t solve the problem, they just move it around and replace surety of public safety with a gambling mentality. If the City gets lucky and nobody dies as a result of a brownout, there’s proof it works, right? Since when did the public approve legallized gambling in the public safety departments? As to overtime being the culprit for high cost, isn’t overtime a management tool to compensate for already inadequate resources? Plus-up the operations staff if they want to reduce overtime. Am I missing something obvious here, or how can the City get away with such B.S.?

  7. optolkipt says:

    Many thanks.

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