Philadelphia Fire Fighters Union President, City At Odds Over Fire Department Staffing – CBS Philly


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Staffing shortages and upheaval from the pandemic continue to plague a number of industries. The Philadelphia firefighters union says it’s no different and is sounding the alarm. The city, meanwhile, is not in agreement with the union’s claims.

The union says it’s short more than 700 firefighters, while the city says the union is attempting to engender fear.

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In moments where time matters the most, Philadelphia Fire Fighters’ & Paramedics Local 22 Union President Mike Bresnan says the department is short-staffed.

“Not only minutes count but seconds count,” Bresnan said. “Public safety is definitely being affected, and we feel it’s getting worse.”

Eyewitness News reached out to the city and a spokesperson for Mayor Jim Kenney’s office says, “it is simply untrue to say the city is massively short firefighters and lives are at risk. The city budgets for 3,348 personnel and those positions are filled through our current deployment firefighters, and those working overtime shifts.”

Local 22 says otherwise and they gave CBS3 different numbers, which they say back up its claim and show more than 700 vacancies for 3,448 budgeted positions.

Bresnan says these empty spots can simply be fixed with funding.

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“We are just calling on the City Council, the mayor to properly fund the fire department,” Bresnan said.

The city says, “Mayor Kenney has made unprecedented investments in the Philadelphia Fire Department, reversing massive cuts made by previous administrations,” adding the funding for the fire department has gone from $236 million to $361 million in the last five years.

Bresnan says the department is mostly struggling with response times and members are working overtime.

“We can’t respond to your emergency via Zoom,” he said. “We have to show up and if we don’t have the personnel to show up, we can’t take care of the emergency.”

He says the men and women in the department will continue to step up regardless.

“Unfortunately, they are getting overstretched. They’re working multiple shifts in a row now and they don’t get no rest factor,” Bresnan said.

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The union says it wants to start fixing this now. They say they are concerned for the future if the vacancy rate continues.

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