There was another horrible fire tragedy in Philly this morning. One child is dead and at least one more is fighting for his life. What these news outlets refuse to report once again is that the second in engine company, Engine 24 located at 20th & Federal St. was BROWNED OUT. Also Ladder 11 was permanently closed by the Nutter administration over a year ago. That left Ladder 19 from 24 & Wolf as the first in truck and Ladder 9 from Center City as the second in truck. While it appears the first in companies were available, both the second in companies were taken out of the equation. When lives are on the line seconds count as this video shows. The Nutter administrations disgraceful public safety policies may have contributed to yet another fire death in this city. There is no way Ladder 11 should have even been closed or that Engine 24 or ANY fire company should ever be browned out.
I have been pretty exhausted this week. In part because our cover up assignments are coming on every shift lately. As serious fires break out, usually on the night shift, companies are moved to try to cover the gaping holes in our coverage caused by the loss of so many line units. That means traveling to other, sometimes totally unfamiliar parts of the city to man another companies station until they become available. That leaves our local unprotected. It’s a Ponzi scheme played with the lives of our citizens.
That also is a recipe for disaster. If you look closely at the video, the fire engine pictured is 157 It is the first in engine being used presumably by Squad 47. That truck is a 1995 KME pumper. It’s fifteen years old, well past what is considered a serviceable lifespan in a major urban environment like Philly. Taking companies off the line with closings and brownouts and then using fifteen year old apparatus is just asking for problems. If 157 had a mechanical problem on scene, and Engine 24 is browned out it would have been way too late before the first hose line could have been brought to bear on the flames. This is good footage of the firemen attacking the fire right through the front door.
One other thing this video points out- how long it takes a ladder company to get on scene. Although the first in company makes a good knock down of the fire, there are no ladders in the video. That means the ladder company is still not on scene. You can see how much smoke has built up. It needs to be vented so the people can be found and brought out. Sadly the second due company was coming from Center City. With traffic at that time of the morning, getting there in time is a hopeless proposition.
Just like the Mayor’s safety strategy.