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Mayor Nutter, Union Squabble Over Cause Of Spike In 2010 Fire Deaths

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(Members of the firefighters' union outside Philadelphia City Hall)

(Members of the firefighters’ union outside Philadelphia City Hall)

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Fire deaths in Philadelphia rose slightly last year, however the Nutter administration and the firefighters union are squabbling over the cause of the increase.

33 people were killed in fires in 2010, compared with a record low 30 the year before. And the number of fire related injuries last year dipped from 237 to 201. Speaking on KYW’s “Ask The Mayor” Wedensday morning, Michael Nutter attributed the slight increase to smoke detectors.

“You will find in the overwhelming majority of fire deaths and most likely the injuries as well, comes as a result of either lack of smoke detectors at all, lack of working smoke detectors.”

The Mayor’s assessment drew an angry rebuttal from Philadelphia Firefighters Union Local 22 President Bill Gault.

“Smoke detectors are just an aid, they don’t save lives. The professional fire department saves lives. We’ve been saying all along that the brownouts and closures are dangerous. They did it without a study, fire deaths went up.”

Fire-related injuries went down in 2010 from 237 to 201. Gault says morale among firefighters is at an all-time low because of the extra workload created by the rolling brownouts. Nutter says the policy will be reevaluated when the fiscal year ends.

Reported by Paul Kurtz, KYW Newsradio

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