By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Plans in the mayor’s new budget to hire more firefighters won’t bring an end to the controversial practice called ‘brownouts’ — temporary closures of fire stations. And the firefighters’ union is seeing red.
The brownouts were instituted by the Nutter Administration, ostensibly to reduce fire department overtime. But Nutter’s new budget includes funding for between 80 and 160 new firefighters, and that will reduce overtime costs by about $2 million.
But Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers says overtime will remain high even with the new hires, so the brownouts will continue:
“If we don’t do that, we’ll lose another $4 million. We’ll still have overtime from injuries, people who are sick, vacations.”
The firefighters’ union remains vocal in its stance that the brownouts affect public safety.
“The fact that he’s insisting on maintaining this brownout policy does not sit well with us. There’s a simple fact that brownouts endanger lives, and we are going to keep up the fight to end them,” says union spokesman Frank Keel.
The new hiring is expected to begin this summer.