Reporting Walt Hunter
By Walt Hunter
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Back in July, the Mayor, Fire Commissioner and other city officials gathered at the Fire Academy to celebrate the promotion of 14 Philadelphia firefighters to the rank of Captain and Lieutenant.
Today, those 14 were back in City Hall, this time in a courtroom, to battle to hold onto their hard-won new ranks after the city told them they would be demoted.
Firefighters Local 22 went to court seeking to keep the 14 from losing their new ranks. Among those taking the witness stand, Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers.
City officials maintain they were required to make the promotions, pursuant to a court order. They claim they advised all 14 that, if the order were overturned by a higher court, the promotions could be rescinded and, they say, that is exactly what happened.
The 14 firefighters maintain they were misled and now have the right to hold onto their new ranks.
Both sides agreed that the 14 firefighters had exemplary records and deserved the promotions they received.
The judge has now stayed the demotions for at least 24 hours while he considers new arguments by attorneys for the city and the union. A ruling on the demotions is expected by the end of the week.