Union: Philadelphia Firefighters Being Punished For Getting Injured On The Job

By Walt Hunter, Steve Beck

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia firefighters claim they are being punished by the department for being injured on the job.

Representatives with the Philadelphia Firefighters’ Union say a member of Ladder Company 15 is being punished under a new department policy.

The firefighter saved two lives during a fire, but union officials say he is now facing disciplinary action.

The controversy stems from a house fire in Frankford in November of last year. The firefighter and his co-workers pulled a couple to safety from a third-floor window. The firefighter suffered burns during the rescue.

Shortly after the fire, the firefighter received a department memo that cited him for failing to properly wear his protective gear. The firefighter was then ordered out of Ladder Company 15 to another station, miles away. The union referred to the action as a “disciplinary transfer.”

Fire Union President Bill Gault says blaming the firefighter, and five others recently transferred, for the injuries they suffered as they risked their lives is flat out wrong.

Gault pointed out that even the hoods and coats that the firefighters rely on carry disclaimers that, in flames that can reach 2,000 degrees, they can’t guarantee protection.

“They’re disciplining members for getting wounded,” Gault said.

Gault believes disciplining the firefighters is an attempt to frighten other firefighters from reporting their injuries, thus cutting the number of injury claims and saving the city money.

When asked if the city was trying to save money, Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said “it actually sounds ridiculous when I hear it.”

Ayers said it’s not about saving money or discipline. He said it’s about keeping firefighters protected.

“It’s about safety.”

The union is in the process of filing grievances for the disciplined firefighters.

In the meantime, fire department officials said there are no plans to change the policy.

  • Sean

    Jon, you must be such an a$$. Do you actually think a ff would purposely get burned? I have seen burns and skin grafts and they are horribly painful. I have never heard a ff getting 3 years off for a burn. How dare you! Get your facts before you open your mouth!

    • Bill

      I work for Detroit, have any of you non firefighters ever looked at the back of a firefighters neck or seen them with their shirts off? Check their ears? you will see scars and healed burn marks. It’s not like the movies, embers get into the smallest cracks. Most guys I know don’t wear the hoods because they get you to go in to far, and then it’s to late, or they get wet and you get a really nice steam burn. 2 of my worst burns came while wearing a hood. regardless if you wear one or not this article didn’t say anything about equipment or lack of being worn. stay safe and don’t let the Admin stop you from what you do best.

  • Jared

    I am a firefighter, have been for 16 years. The facial burns this firefighters received can easily happen at the mask/hood seam. It is very easy for the nomex hood to work it’s way off of the mask when moving around; say during a house fire when you are trying to rescue two trapped citizens… I am all for safety but there are many times when working in the uncontrolled atmosphere of the fire service that situation like this can happen. This is why we call these “emergencies” and during emergencies things may not go quite as planned. This is why the fire service service cannot be compared to your electrician example or any other normal blue collar career because seconds count in the fire service.. Just ask the survivors of this fire….

  • Frank N Stine

    Who are these dumbazzes calling ff’ers whiners? These men and women are doing an extremely dangerous job, and sometimes all the precautions in the world won’t stop injuries from happening. Why do you think soldiers are given medals when they are wounded in battle? In Killadelphia, we punish those who have risked life and limb to save others. This city is being run into the ground by the political hacks put in positions of power. God bless the ff’ers out there who still do the job with these knuckleheads leading them.

  • Cloud1974

    as I’d say to a fellow electrician that gets shocked for not turning off the circuit as well as not following tag out, lock out procedures. I’d say to a burned brave firefighter for not wearing his PPE. dumb-ass, as his story did not dispute the departments allegations of no PPE it is hard to tell. my father a lifer FF in MD agrees with me. .no PPE= dumb-ass

    • Simba

      Who said he wasn’t wearing his gear? It looks to me he had his mask on and the rubber from it melted that his how his face was burned.

    • Karen Wenghofer McShea

      Where in this story does it actually say that the FF was NOT wearing his gear? You are making assumptions that PFD administration is telling the truth. Better think again….

  • MBlair63

    Just imagine, if you can, how hot the fire is that firefighters are being burned. And imagine, that those brave heroes are being burned while making rescues of trapped little children.
    The Fire Department is going to discipline Philly’s Bravest because they got burned while saving kids?

  • amazed

    you people calling these guys whiners or not wearing their gear properly are idiots. If you think any one of them wants to get burned try sticking your hand over a lighter and see how long you can take it. They are the ones running into to save you and your property when everyone else is running away. They do their best with the equipment they are provided. If this was any other profession people would walk off the job. These men and women continue to do their jobs while the city, the department and the citizens seem to be all against them. Maybe it is a better idea to let the whole city burn. Everybody is crying and the news covers celebrities deaths like their something to look up to. We should herald all of our police, firefighters and soldiers who do their best to protect us all.

  • philygirl

    Maybe we should send those disciplining the firefighters into a burning building, and let them risk their lives, so they can show them how to do it right!

    • Hater

      Excellent post! You go, philygirl.

  • Jon

    It makes sense when you think about it. If you get injured but weren’t wearing your safety gear, whose fault is it really? What’s to stop someone from taking off their gloves and getting “burned” so they can spend 3 years on disability?

    That’s not to say most firefighters would do such a thing, but there are definitely some who would defraud the system. So I think it makes sense that someone would be punished for not following policy in this case.

    • philygirl

      WHAT? This makes no sense at all! Who would take off any safety gear in a fire and risk getting burned to get time off ?!?

  • Taxpayer

    Stupid, stupid, stupid. Wear your damn gear — that’s why we buy it for you.

    • Karen Wenghofer McShea

      Unfortunately, even when wearing the protective hood it states on right on it:

      “This hood will NOT protect you from all burns, injuries, diseases, conditions or hazards. If this hood is exposed to heat you may be BURNED with NO warning and NO sign of damage to the hood.”

      This is a direct quote taken from the inside label of the hood. Soooo, your comment is ridiculous….

    • Your A Idiot

      Just how do you know he wasn’t wearing all his gear?

      • Simba

        They are taxpayers as well, moron

    • William

      Maybe you should have a clue what you are talking about before you open you mouth and show people how ignorant you are. Just so you know i’m going write word for word the label on the Fire-Dex protective hood.
      -Fire fighting is an ULTRAHAZARDOUS, UNAVOIDABLY DANGEROUS activity. This hood will NOT protect you from all burns, injuries, diseases, conditions or hazards.
      -If this hood is exposed to heat, you may be BURNED with NO warning and no sign of damage to the hood.

    • Scott

      Fires can reach temperatures exceeding 2000 degrees. Our turn outs will fail at 1100 degrees and at 1700 degrees they last approximately 15 seconds before you are burned alive. This is why we move fast to get things done as quick as we can, and sometimes during that time, we get hurt. This is the nature of the job. Nothing is full proof in our profession and that is the risk we acccept. We just hope that our departments back us when we get hurt. Unfortunately, fire departments are run by politicians.

  • John Q. Public

    Heroes, yet still whiners.

    • Your A Idiot

      John, what did a fireman sleep with your wife or something? lol. You are a coward for sitting behind your computer making statements like that while firefighters all around the country are risking there lives, and sometimes loosing them to save lives.

    • Scott

      Whiners that are constantly busting ours to save yours. But it’s okay, we’ll still come when you call. Even though your a d.bag.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Taz Goes Big!
Download Now!

Listen Live