By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Nutter administration officials were called before City Council to explain how a 12-year-old autistic boy died in a West Philadelphia fire last August.  The mayor’s cuts in fire department funding were at issue.

A fast-moving rowhouse fire at 55th street on August 7th consumed five homes and claimed the life of 12-year-old Frank Marasco.  Among those testifying at the city council hearing was ward leader Greg Spearman, who blamed the mayor’s policy of rolling closures of fire stations. He said that day’s closures increased response times:

“They say to us, like we’re idiots, that that time didn’t matter.  That’s ridiculous; I don’t know who they think they’re talking to.”

Deputy mayor for Public Safety Everett Gillison insisted temporary closures are not really new. What is new is the effort to cut 8.5 million dollars in fire department overtime:

“We have removed the opportunity at making overtime.  That’s it, there’s nothing else that is different.  Public Safety has not been immune from this budget crisis.”

Council members vowed to revisit the controversy.

Reported by Mike Dunn, KYW Newsradio

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