Firefighters' union sues city over promotions

Philadelphia firefighters battle a blaze last year at the Julia de Burgos school on Lehigh Avenue in North Philadelphia. (David Maialetti / Staff Photographer)

The firefighters' union filed a lawsuit Monday to compel the Nutter administration to fill a number of vacancies within the Fire Department and a Common Pleas Court judge ruled yesterday in their favor.

The issue first came up during City Council budget hearings in which members grilled the administration about its promotion policy.

Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said at the hearing that the department will be issuing a new test in which firefighters could apply for higher ranking positions. Those who scored well would be placed onto a list (from highest score to lowest) and the vacancies would subsequently be filled. There is currently a list of firefighters that passed the test nearly two years ago, but that list expires on May 24. 

Ayers said the current list is "stale" and it would better serve the department to promote firefighters from a new list.

"We've drawn off of the list to the point where we need a new list," Ayers said. "There will be a list created and they will be promoted."

Common Pleas Court Judge Dwight Pettigrew ordered the city to fill the vacant positions which include six captains and 11 lieutenants by May 25. Mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald said the administration will appeal the judge's order.