By Paul Kurtz

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A fire-damaged firehouse in Old City Philadelphia may not reopen until next winter.

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The fire last September, which started in the engine of an ambulance parked in one of the bays, left the Ben Franklin firehouse heavily charred and boarded up (see related stories).

And it appears that repair work won’t get started until late spring at the earliest — a scenario that annoys the Philadelphia Firefighters Union.

“The city is contending that it’s treating it as an emergency repair. But the reality is they’re not — they’re sending it out to the bidding process,” says Local 22 president Joe Schulle.

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The bidding process and design work for repairs won’t begin until April.  Schulle contends there isn’t signficant enough damage to justify keeping the firehouse closed for a year or more.

“The majority of the damage is on the apparatus floor so the doors need to be replaced, the windows need to be replaced, some of the ceiling tiles and some electrical work I’m sure needs to be replaced,” Schulle tells KYW Newsradio.  “I don’t see anything in the station that indicates it would take more than a few weeks to repair the station well enough to get our members back in there.”

The displaced firefighters and paramedics remain temporarily housed at various locations.

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