By Kim Glovas

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — 6,000 firefighters from across the United States and Canada gathered at the National Constitution Center on Sunday night for the opening reception of their national convention.

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A fife and drum corps played to welcome the firefighters to the convention. But Bill Gault, President of Philadelphia Firefighters and Medics Union Local 22, says the local crews have other things on their minds right now.

On July 2, a three member arbitration panel awarded Local 22 a fair contract with raises of 0-3-3-and 3 percent which are retroactive. But Gault says the mayor is not interested.

“This contract will cost $16-million,” he says. “The fire department already gives back $15-million with the seven companies closing and the three brownouts daily. We haven’t hired a new class in five years. This is just bizarro world here. I’m dealing with a man’s ego.”

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The city of has until August 2 to honor the award or appeal to Common Pleas Court.

“Firefighters and medics should be treated a little better,  public safety is most important,” Gault says. “We have half a dozen murders and shootings each night. And guess who takes them to the hospital? Us. Guess who saves them? Us. This is just not right. ”

The firefighters last contract expired in 2009.

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