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Firefighter Union Official Questions ‘Brownout’ Role In Fatal Olney Fire

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Two children were killed in a fire in the city’s Olney section Tuesday, and now an official from the firefighters’ union is questioning if Philadelphia’s cost-cutting “brownouts” of fire companies played a role.

A 7-year-old and a 9-year-old were pulled from the row home on the 100 block of Sparks Street once firefighters were able to knock down the flames.

The engine that would have been first on the scene, Engine 61, was browned-out, or closed for the day, as part of the city’s cost-cutting measures.

Fire Department Lt. Mike Grant said, “Engine 51 took over for them, they got here in good order.”

On the other hand, Mike Kane, with Philadelphia Firefighters Union Local 22, says Engine 61 could have been on the scene in half the time.

“Whether that Engine 61, being browned out, if that company was in service, they would have made a difference? Nobody can answer that, because we don’t have a crystal ball. What we can say is, maybe if they were there, they would have had a shot. Maybe them kids would have had a shot,” Kane said.

In addition to the two children who died, four other children were injured, along with four adults.

The cause of the blaze remains under investigation. Fire officials say there were no working smoke detectors in the home.

Reported by Jim Melwert, KYW Newsradio

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  • phillysmart

    Municipal unions are destroying our local and states government like they did with many of our iconic industries…they are gredy and self serving…its not the teachers or fire crew or police …but their union leaders keep paying off democrats to give them more money and the tax payers can’t afford it….they are overpaid and causing the city and states to go broke…or moron democrats to cut basic services to pay….we need to reorganize …government employees should not be holding the tax payers hostage …its not private industry

  • dejordy

    So we need a firehouse on every corner–then we would be safe.

  • Brian

    Since when are our teachers, firefighters, EMTs, and police officers the public enemy? Stand fast Walker? I agree that unions must change and recognize the new economic landscape, but they did not cause the financial crisis.

    When will people realize that this is class warfare? My wife is a teacher and does not make enough to support a family. I am sure it is the same for most public servants. I wish we could pay them more – their jobs are very difficult! Where the “change” is needed is in making sure a great big union does not exist simply to protect a few workers who are not performing. I think this is where the public is frustrated with unions. But, unions do play an important role in society.

    Who will counterweight the powerful and wealthy money flowing through government? Think about this: government wants to cut discretionary spending and has targeted unions to do so, but the Army’s sponsorship of NASCAR is not even considered for cuts?

    Start thinking for yourself… what Governor Walker is trying to do is a lot deeper than simply balancing a budget. Dig into his campaign supporters and you will find where is loyalties lie! These governors/politicians are being “hired” with corporate money to create an economy based on corporate capitalism. Do you think a corporation cares if two kids die in Philadelphia? Do you think they care if you have a good paying job? They have no allegiance to any nation state, or democracy!

    I urge you to sit down and really think about the events that led us to our current affairs. Focus on the primary reasons we are in dire straits, and work towards the solutions. There is no “blame” just problems that need fixed. Unions can be changed, just like at GM. If we do not allow workers to organize for their rights, then we are handing all the power over to corporations instead of community!

  • nik

    where is the greed at? we have closed 8 fire companies in the last 2 years. We have now a rolling brown out policy. This was supposed to balance the budget. We have an out of control abused ems system which runs out of medic units every single day. We are short staffed by hundreds with no new class in sight and also in the new contact which was appealed with the mayor it has less holidays, no pay raises for 4 years, more to health care and more to pension…what else should be give back? we firefighters tried notifing the public of the closures and rallied when at the closed stations but it fell on deaf ears…so don’t blame the help, we can only do less with less. Don’t depend on us, deoend on your smoke detector

  • nik

    i believe, yes, everything, must be cut across the table evenly. Philadelphia police and firefighters have to work way over 20 years. 55 is the cutoff date so many firefighters have to do 35 yrs and also since the city doesn’t fund the pension anyways like they are supposed to whats the point. Also many depts. are giving furoulgh days (probably spelled that wrong) . Phila fire dept has closed 8 fire companies in the last 2 years which has make things more dangerous for everyone, this was supposed to help balance the budget but it wasn’t enough. Now we have roliing brown outs, short staffed by hundreds and an out of contol abused ems system. The city each and everyday runs out of medic units. This is all to help the budget. So where does it end in short of workning for free?

    • AeroJack7

      Very well written, even with the typos.

  • hargen64

    I’m questioning whether it was union greed and excess that caused two children to die If they would have negotiated pay like the rest of Philly’s citizens there would have been more fireman to respond to this incident.

  • AeroJack7

    Blame the deaths on the unions and the politicians that enabled them to destroy city/county/state budgets. Go Wisconsin! Governor Walker has to stand fast.

  • m

    Any time something tragic happens you can always trust a union leader or politician to use it to their advantage. You can also trust the media to publish their demands for more. Will the public buy in again?

  • David B

    This is how dems roll. They see cuts to govt on the near the horizon and they cut teachers, cops, firefighters. But not school board members or bureaucrats. Then the dems pray for a fire. All to maintain their sick power status quo. Dems order of importance Party, Power, Special Interest, Country? Family? God? Conservative order of importance God, Family, Country. For lib/dem/socialist/anarchists The Party is God. The Party is your family. And the County sucks.

  • Jane

    this is crazy that some people on here turn the death of two babies into politics these kids died as a direct result of the fire house closing. don, marcus,and the rest of the misinformed kids get scared hide under beds and in closets! the smoke alarm is not gonna carry them out or put out the fire! firemen do that! you cowards couldn’t hold a firemen jock strap all you care is about the crooked politicians and fire administration. this isn’t about unions. by the way don’t they deserve a good health insurance since they have a health risk job?

    • m

      Glad to see you didn’t turn this political Jane!!!

    • Dan

      Jane: They are firefighters not firemen, a fireman is someone who runs a boiler!

      These kids died because there were NO SMOKE DETECTORS… Smoke detectors and carbon Monoxide Detectors along with teaching kids to get out will save more than any firefighter!! They do this in every school in America yet parents fail to follow these same principals at the home where kids spend most of there time!!

      • Re Re

        Exactly! Every year there’s a campaign in the city where they give out free smoke detectors to the “lower” class citizens. Funny, but these same citizens who get the freebies never seem to understand that you have to change the batteries every once in a while. From the report, there seems to have been an awful lot of people living in that house, but the media won’t address that. Instead, they’ll blame it on the fact that there were no fire stations on every corner in the city.

  • wialter

    While tragic, this is the shape of things to come. Public unions want more money and benefits for their members than federal and state governments can supply. Unions are going to have to either accept reduced salaries and benefits, or have their members do more with less people. Taxpayers are simply going to have to get used to the fact that services they’ve had in the past will not be as prevalent.

    • Joe

      My fire station has no Union.
      Some fire fighters aren’t union members.
      Did you even notice?

  • longun45

    The blame rests not with the city but with the two families, and the over use of space heaters and extension cords. With that many people in a very small house why did they not grab the kids on their way out. I can bet they did not wait for the fire department inside the house. When will the people start taking care of themselves and each other. I hope. God has those kids safely in his hand. When will they learn that Unions only look out for unions, not people. Union officials only want their cut, and like any good liberal will dance in the blood of others to advance their cause. Even the blood of children. They know no shame.

    • Nik

      Smoke alarms save lives, smoke alarms confine and put out fires, smoke alarms carry people and children out to safety through smoke filled hallways. Once your alarmed from a smoke detector that there’s a fire in your house, you are very naive if you think it’s easy to crawl down a smoke filled room to exit the building, that’s where an early response from firefighters kick in to save people. The union didnt close the firehouse down, the corrupt politicians did. They put money over lives. And if we in the unions are so money hungry why are city firefighters with families once again so very close to being able to qualify for welfare.

      • JOE

        I am a fire fighter, I hate the financial rules we play in, but the politicians ( who in my locality treat us like the red-headed step children) while I feel they are stupid, are not acting with any malice. Public dollars pay for my station and my fire house. I do wish they would give us what we need to do the job better, but the only place there is any money is the schools. and when they want money they get it. (oh an I am on the east coast, not the department in the article)

  • WilsonBGoode

    Are people willing to claim that before the brownouts, NOBODY perished in a house fire? Here’s an idea: put down the crack pipe, get a job, and some batteries for the FREE smoke detectors that are given out.

  • Joe Peep

    The kids should have evacuated the building before the FD arrived. The blame is with the adults who didn’t have smoke detectors working in the home. The liberal left media is quick to blame cost cutting rather than expose who is really responsible.

  • RHB

    My brother was in Rescue in the Syracuse Fire department. The arrived at the scene, entered the structure before any water was put on the fire. If the story is true, shame on the PFD!

  • Kevin

    The teachers need to be paid. Nothing else matters in this feminized, nanny-state nation….

    • Jekyll Isle

      So paying teachers to take care of our children is not a nanny state action?

      Competition needs to be put in place to insure that there are decent options available for education, paying a teacher is not the answer

    • Joe

      Kevin is right, schools get more money, they must be more important.

  • mel

    So the real important part and what the headline should read… No working smoke/fire detectors working kills 2 kids. Is it really to much to change the batteries once a year and test it every few months. Do what I do and whenever changing the filter in the central air system, test your detectors. Then change the batteries at the start of heating season even if they still work. Find something to remind you, most people have cellphones add a reminder to your calendar and have it repeat. But for godsake stop blaiming other people for the truly responsible peoples faults.

    • Nik

      So Mel, I guess your right, like I said smoke detectors are a great aid just like a gun. Idk, I wonder why the 288 children under 5 last year died in residential house fires with working smoke detectors, I guess they bought the wrong ones too.

      • Mel

        Working and proper amount/placement are not the same. Also can you link to the source of your statistic? Did they also provide a statistic for how many died in house fires with non-working smoke detectors? What is the significance of the age of 5? What area is the statistic for? etc. Lots of unknowns, that statistic does nothing like most statistics. Numbers can be skewed to look how you want them to look. That number also does not prove brown outs caused all of the deaths or any for that matter of those 288.

    • Nik

      Also Mel, with all due respect, you are wrong. Smoke detectors and an escape plan are great aids, however, firefighters are the ones that crawl down the hallways to make rescues and confine a fire. A smoke detector will awake you in the middle of the night, but will do nothing for your life when you open up that bedroom door and see nothing but black smoke.

      • Mel

        What detectors are you using? I have a normal sized two story home. I have 1 detector on the stairwell from the basement to the first floor. One in the kitchen, another one on the main level (for a total of two on the first floor) One at the top of the stiarwell of the second floor. The one in the kitchen goes off if I fry something and hardly create much smoke. If your alarms require a room to be filled then I’d buy new ones. And thanks for the reminder my oldest is now 4 and I need to put on in her room now the one outside her door at the top of the stairs is not sufficient now that she’s old enought to close her door. Probably go ahead and stick one in the two year olds room too just to get it out of the way. Anyway invest in some new smoke/fire/carbon detectors I’d say you must have a bad one or two.

      • mel

        Also, I have a cc permit and carry because I don’t expect a cop to be able to defend/save my family in time if someone tries to break into my home. Somewhat similar situation. I’m sure if the article was about a robber killing someone and taking money they would blame polticians for defunding a police station. Police and Fire are good, but they should not be your first line of defense.

      • Jekyll Isle

        So smoke detectors & alarms are only a good option if a firefighter is not living in the house?

        So when there is smoke and possibly a fire even though the alarm goes off we should wait for the firefighter to “crawl down the hallways” before leaving the building?

        I get it now Nik you are idiot

      • cluelessinky

        Most smoke alarms detect smoke and give the occupant sufficient time to take proper actions. As for hallways with black smoke – this is where preparation comes into play. Knowing what to do whent he alarm sounds, having more than one exit , and meeting at a predetermined place is what preparation and self-relaince is all about. Citizens waiting to be rescued is what katrina was all about!

      • Nik

        Hey check this out, with all due respect This idiot was crawling down a burning houses hallway last night in Fairmount. Smoke alarms will let you know there is a fire, yes! Then, yes, you have to put your pre-plan into action to escape, however, its a fact and in my experience, most injuries and deaths occur while being overcome by smoke. People panick, open the bedroom door and try to hall butt out to an exit but almost everytime are onecome by the smoke. So yes, in alot of cases, which I do daily, you keep your door closed so smoke and fire don’t enter, open a window and wait for rescue. But you know this already

  • Mslu

    How ’bout the city politians giving up 10% or more of their salaries or bonuses- or reducing city council people instead of firemen or teachers.

  • Joey

    So the Fire Fighters Union is saying that if you don’t restore more Union Jobs in Union Fire Houses…..your house may burn down? Sounds like the next line is…..wait for it…..Bada Bada Bing!

    • Jekyll Isle

      So Nik which union do you work for?

      If we pay taxes our government is contractually obligated to protect us. One of those ways is for firefighters.

      If the government chooses to blow the money on something else then that is not our fault, but theirs.

      Stop with your nonsense about paying more for firefighters it’s childish

    • Nik

      What at you talking about dude? You answered your own question, we pay taxes, when some of us, so we should get the protection we deserve or at least be notified when our local firehouse is closed for the night. Why do blue collared tax payees have to suffer over political mismanagement? I’m a fireman and work in one of oldest fire dept in the country which has also been decimated by corrupt politicians and I’m a US Marine with multiple tours overseas

    • Nik

      So jekyll, you call me names on an open forum for voicing my opinion, which I think I earned being a war veteran and all, what’s you deal? How do you work for? You probly never crawled down a hallway or fought in a battle though thats for sure

    • Joe

      The difference is Fire fighters don’t start the fires. We just risk our lives putting them out. We get paid, some good some bad. We risk a lot.

  • Josh

    Why don’t we then have a combo fire/medical/police station at every street corner? We could save even more people.

  • Sam Vaughn

    Instead of laying off policeman and fireman, which the pols use to hold us hostage. How about laying of administrators first? or better yet cut their bloated salaries and take care of those that actually do something useful, like fireman and policeman…..

  • cluelessinky

    How do you explain the loss of life due to a fire and the fire house is right next to the involved building?
    Since the introduciton of private residency fire/smoke detectors the loss of life due to fires has been reduced significantly. Fire prevention and escape drills also contribute to this reduction. Waiting for a fire engine to save you is too risky: plan, prepare and when fire strikes evacuate.

  • Nik

    It’s over a few million dollars. It’s simple, there are no brown outs in the mayors local or commishs local, mostly only in poor sections of the city where people really don’t have money. Here’s a small example, keep open firehouses or have a 2 million dollar jazz fest every year. But really nobody cares, until your house is competely guted.

    • Don

      What is your proof that there is more coverage for the mayors area? I will bet you that he has a working fire alarm, the real reason for the sad deaths. I am sick of the corrupt union thugs not accepting responsibility to understand the country is broke from all the unions support for people like Obama and the rest of the democrats who stole social security funds and support the union thugs.

      • Nik

        Hey don, with all due respect, the mayors firehouse and commishs firehouse has never been closed, walk into any firehouse in the city and ask for a schedule of the monthly firehouse closings. Also I choose to be a fireman, it’s not about money, it’s about saving lives.

      • Nik

        Hey also don, with all due respect once again, I’m not in this argument politically but if you think the union is corrupt and not almost all present and former politicians than you are way off.

  • Marcus

    Can aybody answer me this, how much does the city save from brownouts. And r people willing to pay more taxes to open up. If so, start bringing money down to city hall or shut up.

  • Nik

    I love how fire officials twist the facts about smoke detectors and these brownouts. I’m sure a smoke detector will pull me out a smoke filled room. What a joke, the people aren’t that naive commish! When will the mayor stand up for his heroes?

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