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Nutter Administration Stands Firm On Firehouse Brownouts

(Philadelphia fire commissioner Lloyd Ayers, right, testifies before City Council in April 2013.  Credit: Mike Dunn)

(Philadelphia fire commissioner Lloyd Ayers, right, testifies before City Council in April 2013. Credit: Mike Dunn)

Mike Dunn Mike Dunn
Mike Dunn is City Hall bureau chief for KYW Newsradio 1060. He covers...
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By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Nutter administration today said the controversial fire department policy of station “brownouts” will continue even if City Council appropriates extra money to eliminate them.

Fire commissioner Lloyd Ayers was asked about the brownouts when he came before City Council today during its budget review hearings.   He said he would need $3.8 million extra each year to eliminate the temporary station closures.

First District councilman Mark Squilla asked Ayers if the brownouts would end if Council appropriated the cash.

(Ayers:)  “If Council came up with 3.8 million dollars and I was allowed to eliminate the brownouts, of course.”

(Squilla:)  “If you were allowed to?  So somebody would tell you–“

(Ayers:)  “Management is handling the money in the general fund.  I don’t act like I have that authority.”

Management, of course, is the mayor.  And while Council can appropriate money, they cannot force the mayor to spend it.

After the hearing, Nutter’s budget director, Rebecca Rhynhart, said unequivocally that the brownouts will continue.

“At this point in time it’s the mayor’s position that the brownouts are occurring.  That’s the mayor’s position,” she told KYW Newsradio.

The administration says the brownouts are an effective means of reducing fire department overtime without impacting public safety (see related story).

The firefighters’ union says the temporary closures reduce safety by increasing response times (see related story).

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