Nutter: Fire union stirring 'hysteria'

"This is virtually akin to someone shouting, 'Fire!' in a crowded theater," Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter said of a firefighters union advertisement. (Alejandro A. Alvarez/Staff file photo)

Mayor Nutter denounced an ad campaign by the city's firefighters' union as "akin to someone shouting fire in a crowded theater."

Following a press conference on a new fund-raising effort to keep city pools open, Nutter addressed a campaign by Local 22 of the International Association of Firefighters that includes a dramatization of a woman calling 911 to report a fire only to learn that the nearest ladder company had been eliminated and she would have to wait for the next closest one.

"I think it is unfair that the union would engage in those kind of scare tactics," said Nutter, saying the fire issue was about overtime, not safety.
"This is virtually akin to someone shouting, 'Fire!' in a crowded theater," Nutter said, questioning whether the union was "Trying to create more public hysteria," with tough contract negotiations coming up.
Nutter also rejected any effect of a no-confidence vote the union against Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers.
"I get to appoint the Fire Commissioner. He is the fire commissioner, and he's going to stay the fire commissioner," Nutter said.
Brian McBride, Local 22's president, said Nutter could dispel much of the union's concern if he turned over raw data used in the city's decision to close five engine companies and two ladder companies. No fire houses were closed, though McBride pointed out that five firehouses without engines have no ability to put out fires. Nutter has said the city has provided all the information it has to give.
Regarding Nutter's theater comment, McBride shot back: "What he’s trying to do with this plan is the same as lighting a furnace in the back of the theater without checking to make sure it was safe. It’s absolutely dangerous."
"This isn’t scare tactics," McBride said. "We’re scared."
McBride said the campaign is not about negotiations, sand said "it’s only a matter of time before we lose a life."
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