In a piece of non-election news that is still relevant to Tuesday's primary, the state authority that oversees Philadelphia's finances approved a comprehensive study of the city's firefighting needs.
The study, commissioned by the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA), is meant to provide data-driven answers to questions that have poisoned relations between the Nutter administration and the Philadelphia Fire Fighters union, who have argued bitterly over the last two and a half years about the wisdom of cutting fire services during the recession.
The issue has become one of the rallying cries of candidates in the primary. Nutter's opponent, T. Milton Street, said he would end the temporary deactivation of fire companies that Nutter ordered last summer, the closings coming on an alternating basis and referred to as "rolling brownouts." Street, who got out of prison last year on federal tax charges, was even endorsed by Local 22 of the International Firefighters Association.
The union has blamed injuries and even deaths on the brownouts in fires where the nearest fire company was not working. Union officials have also questioned what type of analysis went into the decision to deactivate seven fire companies in 2009, and the continuing brownout of four companies daily that began last summer.