From the “you just can’t make this up file”: The Philadelphia Fire Department is (according to this memo) in the process of making a mutual aid agreement with the city of Camden. That’s Camden NEW JERSEY. Many of you may, understandably not see why this is a problem. That’s where I come in. Allow me to explain.

CAMDEN NEW JERSEY JUST LAID OFF ONE THIRD OF IT’S FIRE DEPARTMENT!!!!!!!! Not to mention half of its police force! It’s not safe to fight fires in Camden.

Folks this is absolutely INSANE.

The breakdown of our society has reached a new level. Philadelphia firefighters are hired and paid by the citizens of PHILADELPHIA to fight fires and respond to emergencies in PHILADELPHIA, NOT NEW JERSEY! If Camden didn’t do such a piss poor job of managing its own finances there would be no need to for Philly to send firefighters across the bridge. (Unless there was a serious, unforeseen emergency). They just laid off a third of their firefighters and now they expect us to jet over there a douse their flames? Who is supposed to pay the bridge tolls? Maybe they can get DRPA to install Easy Pass gizmos on all our fire trucks. Swell

Look, jokes aside this issue is just about as insane as it can be. There are so many problems with this I hardly know where to begin. For example Philly firefighters can’t LIVE in New Jersey, but we could DIE there. Think of that. Also we were NEVER informed this was going on. It was brought to light by some of our members who uncovered it on their own.

We are certified in Pennsylvania, not New Jersey. There are untold liability issues. What happens if one of our guys gets injured in Camden? Who picks up the tab? The tax payers of Philly shouldn’t be on the hook for it. We took an oath and that oath never said anything about crossing state lines because another city decided to lay off their firefighters.

If they can do this the what’s to say they don’t lay off trashmen next? Will we have mutual aid trash pickup? How about they just close their schools and bus their kids to Philly as well? Where does this end? Why doesn’t Philly just annex Camden? I’m sure Gov. Christie will give us a good deal on it. It’s total B.S.

Philly has decimated their own fire department with closings and cutbacks. The thought of sending tremendously scarce resources to Camden, depriving the taxpayers of Philly their due fire protection even further is freightening. Who covers the already depleted Philly neighborhoods when we send companies to Camden? Supposed there is a fire death in an unprotected local while we are fighting fires in another STATE??? Imagine the lawsuits!

I am quite certain Philadelphia City Council is unaware of this move as is the Pa. State Legislature. Any bi-state agreement should be carried out at the state level. The state pumps a lot of money into Philadelphia. I wonder how they feel about us covering for New Jerseys budget problems?

After all that is where this all stems from. Fiscal irresponsibility and budgetary mismanagement. Philadelphia firefighters and medics have their hands full responding to the nearly 300,000 calls we get every year RIGHT HERE IN OUR CITY. We are under constant assault from our own administration, an administration that has presided over the wholesale destruction of one of the finest emergency response agencies in this country. It is LUDICROUS to think we have the resources to bail out Camden due to their never ending budget crisis.

Imagine the firefighters from Camden who lost their jobs having to watch Philly firefighters come in and do their work. It’s disgusting. I put forth the notion that Philly should have hired some of those guys since we have so many openings. It could have cut down on our overtime and saved some jobs to boot but it got no traction. (heh) Now we are being turned into mercenary scabs. If Camden needs more fire protection then Chris Christie should do his job. It’s New Jerseys responsibility not Philly’s.

Furthermore the counties surrounding Camden should be stepping up long before Philly. I sense those taxpayers don’t want their fire protection stripped to bail out Camden either. Camden is just another failed Democrat city like Detroit or Baltimore. We are watching entire American cities implode, unable to carry out the basic functions of government.

This is not the fire department I joined.



  1. Old NFO says:

    This is not over, I’ll bet the State is going to get in the middle of it in a heartbeat!

  2. keebler says:

    My dad was in the army about to retire in late 80s and was stationed in Philly at the base right by Veteran’s Stadium. I have many fond memories of a summer spent there and certainly hope it is not going to hell in a handbasket like some other lib run cities. Hope this fire department stuff gets worked out. If it is a three alarm blaze in Camden then sure send Philly trucks & crew but not everyday protection.

  3. 6fthook says:

    In all reality, mutal aid agreements exist all over the state and a significant number exist across state lines. This type of agreement is not new. If not for these types of agreements many areas would have all most NO fire protection what so ever.

    • Dustoff says:

      True. My city does it with our neighbors, but if you don’t have the man power. Everyone loses.

      How many rigs/ems can you lose and still provide protection for your own?

    • steve scott says:

      Fundamentally, mutual aid is not a problem here. The problem comes from the fact that as a department, we are already working more with less and our upper echelon is trying to heap more on top. Not to mention the fact that Camden just laid off 1/3 of their FD. If both cities were fully staffed and an emergency broke out in Camden where they legitimately needed mutual aid from Philly, every one of our guys would go over in a heartbeat without giving it a second thought. Its the fact that we are basically being used as union-busting scabs because Camden government can’t balance their checkbooks that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

  4. joe potts says:

    our union must file law suits, but must wait until it happens talk is nothing as well as you all know around the kitchen table

    • Concerned says:

      Yeah, lawsuits are always the answer, you dope. When people need help, we help them. Remember 9-11?

      • The only thing worse that expressing a stupid opinion is expressing an UNINFORMED opinion. Congress just passed a MASSIVE bill to compensate the workers who responded to NYC during the events of 9-11. They now have some major health issues. So obviously the government has acknowledged the need to protect them because of their service. Philly firefighters have a legitimate right to know how or IF we will be protected if God forbid injured or killed while operating IN ANOTHER STATE! Not only did the department fail to TELL US about this agreement they have provided NO DETAILS ABOUT THE MULTITUDE OF ISSUES WE COULD ENCOUNTER.

        The City has a history of screwing our guys who get hurt. So unfortunately we often have to resort to lawsuits in order to protect ourselves. The city doesn’t care because they have dramatic influence with the courts and have very little fear of losing. The union only has so much money to fight and the city has unlimited money for lawyers.

        Imagine if your boss came in tomorrow and did something like this to you. (it is tough because few jobs involve this kind of risk). I guess you would just jump for joy.

  5. Dustoff says:

    Jezz CAPT. Kind of hard to help when they don’t have the man power.

    Please tell me this is a bad dream and I’ll going to wake up now.

  6. Mike boone says:

    The reason y the surronding town r starting to refuse to go into Camden is people r throwing rocks an other objects at there trucks an if I was the fire chief of that town my trucks would not go back into the city the fire deptmarnents spend to much money on there equipment to have people destroy it

    • Icallbullshit says:

      This is absolutely not true. The reason some surrounding volunteer towns aren’t sending equipment is solidarity. The surrounding paid departments are sending apparatus. There hasn’t been one report of a mutual aide company being assaulted or having objects thrown at them. Let’s keep the facts straight from the fantasies.

      • So now the surrounding counties / cities get to pay for CAMDENS FIRE PROTECTION as well as their own? Wow that’s a bargain. I wonder how much their taxes will go up to provide Camden with this service? Why not pay their mortgages as well?

  7. Dean says:

    This is a scenario that happens all over the world. I agree 100% that Philly PAID FF shouldn’t do the work of another city that couldn’t manage their own budget! EVERY FD is short handed. I am on a call dept here in NH and when we go mutual aid to a neighboring town our own town in sacrificed! I feel for Camden and the FF who lost their jobs and I bet that they would disagree with this option 100% Good luck Boys Stay Safe. Cause the bottom line is OUR OWN safety first.

  8. Notacop says:

    Captain….if you don’t want to do the job asked of you, get another one…the line will be around the block to replace you.

    • There is always one asshole in the group. Looks like a vote for incompetent government. You are probably the first one to bitch when your taxes go up too.

      My job description doesn’t say anything about Camden either.

      I just hope it’s your family who has the emergency when the PFD is off covering up for Camdens incompetence.

    • Concerned says:

      I agree 100% with Notacop!

      • Funny, you don’t seemed too concerned. I hope as well it is YOUR family that needs the services of the PFD when we are:
        A- Closed down
        B- Browned out
        C- Sent to another section of the city to cover up because we don’t have enough companies on the street.
        D- Sent to ANOTHER STATE for routine fire protection because the city in question has spent themselves into bankrupcy and can’t afford to provide the basic services of a functioning government, leaving the Philadelphia tax payers unprotected.

        This isn’t 9-11 and if you aren’t bright enough to make the distinction you probably aren’t smart enough for this blog. Sorry.

        See todays post.

      • Howie says:

        Do you even understand what he is saying? The Philly FD is hired, trained, paid, etc. by the citizens of Philly. Not Camden. And to do this without the consent of the PFD, is irresponsible and unjust.

        He is not talking about a 9/11 type disater, he is talking about routine fire runs that should be covered by the city of Philly. A few things to ponder:

        1. Philly has already closed several FD and now they will be going to Camden. What if a fire breaks out in Philly?

        2. Philly FD must live in the city, but they now have to die in Camden.

        3. Why didn’t anyone talk to the PFD and the Union?

        4. Why does Camden have money for the PFD, but not their own.

        5. The line for being a dumb ass is very long. Take your place at the back and wait for your number.

  9. NJChief says:

    I have to completely agree with you. You should not have to be tasked with handling the incompitance of politicians. It does raise some interesting issues. 1) The Burlington County Fire Chiefs Association has been battling with the Division of Fire Safety for some time now over DFS banning Bucks County units from responding into Burlington City (and vice versa). Even though some units in Bristol and Croydon are closer then some of the County’s own units. 2) IAFF does not allow a paid firefighter, who volunteers in another town, to respond into a town with a paid department with their own state. How are they going to feel about you coming in? Absolutely ridiculous!

  10. Years ago the PFD DID go to Camden to help out. But that was on Mischief night and it was a serious emergency.

    This is different. Camden is in disarray financially and they refuse to fix their problems. Therefore they had to dump their fire protection and police protection.

    Now they expect everyone else to provide them the services their government refuses to provide.

  11. John Euker says:

    Yo.Capt. Mischief night, Oct.30.1991 “A”plt.The now O.O.S. E-14 was one of the 6 Engines & 2 Ladders that made up the 2 TF’s that visited beautiful downtown Camden.Your right,it was needed then (130 arsons in 2 nites)but now,this is ludicrous to ask Philly to bail them out after all the lay-offs.

    • John: you are correct sir. The PFD did what was needed when there were EMERGENCY circumstances. THIS IS CLEARLY A DIFFERENT SITUATION. Some who commented here just aren’t capable of understanding that and just want to stir the pot. NJChief obviously gets it as do the others.

      This is about fiscal mismanagement, corruption, incompetence, bad government, and the erosion of our services because of those factors as well as the general direction America is heading today.

      Major American cities are failing. Government at all levels is collapsing. If you think that is OK then I can’t help you. But we owe it to our kids to leave things better than we found them not worse. Today things are WAY worse.

      Now if you are not ok with the current state of affairs then you need to take what insiders like me and other bloggers are telling you to heart. Things are NOT OK. It doesn’t matter if you think you can fill my job with somoen else. That person will be confronted with the same issues I am. They will not do a better job most likely worse. The operating departments in a city like Philly are held together by a dedicated core of professionals like me. We are the core that doesn’t give up. But we are powerless to effect the changes or maintain the service the way we know they need to be because we are at the mercy of incompetent, greedy politicians THE CITIZENS keep re-electing.

      Camden will now RAISE TAXES 23% to cover the cost of re-hiring some of the laid off cops and firefighters. That tells me they knew all along they couldn’t go for long with those cuts. So they played politics with the lives of those who were laid off in order to justify a massive tax increase. It is disgusting. So instead of getting mad at the politicians who caused this mess some would attack me. Whatever.

      Case in point- Nutter will most likely face NO opposition to his re-election. So you tell me is that the society you want? Because thats the one you have.

  12. Ingineer66 says:

    I find this entire situation interesting to watch. The city I live in has about 10,000 fewer people than Camden, so almost the same size. But even after the layoffs of almost half their police force, Camden still has about 50% more cops than we do. Now I know we have fewer than we should here, but they still had a lot of cops per capita there. I wonder why the big discrepancy in numbers?

    • Poverty = crime. Pretty simple. Camden is one of the poorest cities in the nation and coincidentially one of the most violent. Lots of factors influence crime like location (next to Philly and a straight run to A.C. or NYC). Maybe ask Wyatt for some more input.

      • Ingineer66 says:

        Like I said interesting to watch. From the best I can tell their fire department is similar to ours. Same number of stations but they have a little bit more equipment staffed due to more tall buildings. I couldn’t imagine there being 3 times as many cops running around town. They would need more donuts shops. Ba-dump bump. We could definitely use about 50 more though.

  13. The key phrase in this scenario is the term “mutual” as in mutual aid.

    What is Philadelphia getting out of the deal? Does Camden have the resources to assist Philly when needed? Is the ratio of Philly helping Camden far greater than Camden assisting Philly?

    As long as it is a mutually beneficial agreement, it should not be an issue. When one party is gaining far more out of it than the other, it then becomes subsidization and the agreement needs to be modified or abandoned. The citizens of one community should not subsidize the fire protection of another.

    I can’t help but wonder how much of this uproar is over cultural and socio-economic differences rather than fire protection.

    Regardless, decisions need to be based on data, not emotion.

  14. Mike says:

    Get off your Union high horse. This is about a city FD providing mutual aid to another city FD. FDNY has had mutual aid agreements with Jersey City FD for years and they often “cross the bridge”. The only stipulation should be that Camden FD should reciprocate and provide aid to Philly. The bottom line is you want the City of Camden to rehire its FF’s it laid off and it has nothing to do with Philly operating in Jersey. Try thinking of your brothers in Camden that are still on the job and the risks they now face without the additional manpower. You are helping THEM not the City of Camden. All these union leaders care about is themselves. Your a fireman, you should welcome the opportunity to respond on more alarms and get more “work”. Thats supposed to be the reason you signed up, not to collect a paycheck.

    • Hey Mike- It is people like you who give government at every level a pass on the waste, fraud and abuse that is currently destroying our society. Keep voting democrat my friend.

      This is about CAMDEN, not PHILLY. You don’t have a clue. CAMDEN has LAID OFF FIREFIGHTERS and now expects PHILLY firefighters to fight their fires at the expense to Philly taxpayers. Thats BULLSHIT especially when we just closed 10 companies and are completely understaffed now. WE CAN’T SPARE THE MANPOWER!

      Philly firefighters can’t live in New Jersey by law, yet we are allowed to go fight fires in New Jersey? Horseshit.

      I don’t NEED MORE work than I have now thank you very much. Philly FD responds to 300,000 calls a year and we don’t have enough resources or staffing for that amount of work.

      Our ambulances were just given a mandate that they must be out of the hospital 20 MINUTES after they drop off a patient so they can take the next call. At that rate our people are looking at 18 -20 run SHIFTS! You have to be insane to think we need to go anywhere else to find work. This is a big city. THIS is where the work is. Camden CAN’T SPARE ANY RESOURCES TO SEND US, so where is the MUTUAL AID come from? We have to CALL IN Firefighters from home now when we get to the 5th alarm. We used to be able to field 10 alarms. Not any more.

      Mutual Aid is for UNFORSEEN emergencies not routine work because you are too incompetent to manage your budget and have to lay off all your people. In any event that is NEW JERSEYS PROBLEM TO FIX!

      It is appalling that you could be so dim that you don’t get the gist of this problem. But that explains how Obama and politicians like him get elected.

  15. […] The insanity continues. Funny how Action News calls this an exclusive. Readers of FIRST IN already knew about this issue since I posted this: LINK  […]

  16. Mike Kane says:

    On Feb. 9th Mike says,

    “Get off your union high horse” and

    “All the union leaders care about is themselves”

    I’m an Executive Board member of Local 22 in Philly coming up on 33 years on the job.
    I will go anywhere to help anyone but the fact remains, as long as 65 Brother firefighters are laid off in Camden, when Philly guys cross the river to put out fires in Camden, we become SCABS.

    When we crossed the bridge in the past, Camden was fully staffed and needed our help. No problem, let’s rock and roll. But that ain’t the case now. How would you like it if you were laid off and your boss brought someone in to do your job when he got into a pinch? How do you think the Camden guys will feel when they see Philly fire trucks rolling over the bridge while they’re standing in the unemployment line?

    Don’t make it about unions. Don’t make it about dedication. Make it about a disfunctional city and a state governor that cut off the money flow. Make it about politicans who don’t have their priorities in order. But don’t make it about firefighters that are caught between a rock and a hard place.

    Mike Kane

    • 100% right Chief. If Camden didn’t lay off so many guys they would only need us in a true emergency. In a true emergency we would be there ASAP.

      This is a political emergency. There is an enormous difference.

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