Nutter administration hitting back hard on fire safety claims

The Nutter administration has been considerably more pugnacious of late, pushing back against news stories it dislikes and hitting back more forcefully against critics. Here's a prime example of the latter: a tersely worded memo to the press countering the claims of the city's fire fighter union that budget cuts have compromised public safety.

To: Media
From: Doug Oliver, Press Secretary
Date: February 6, 2009
Re: Fire safety facts

Local 22 has made a variety of statements in its new ad and to the press that are not supported by the facts.

Claim: "Already we have seen the devastating and dangerous impact of these cuts….Fire deaths and injuries have shot through the roof. So far this winter, over a dozen people have been killed in fires. That was 10 times more than last year. Civilian injuries have doubled, and firefighter injuries have risen about 50%." -- Union President Brian McBride quoted today by WPVI

• Since the seven fire ladders and engines were decommissioned on January 5, there have been NO fire deaths in areas serviced by the decommissioned companies.
• Fire deaths have NOT increased 10 times. In 2006, there were 52 fire deaths. In 2007, there were 47 and in 2008, there were 39. This represents a 25% decrease in fire fatalities.
• Fire injuries have not risen by 50%. In 2006, there were 344 (total injuries), in 2007, there were 330 and in 2008 there were 274. This represents a 21% decrease in total firefighter injuries.

This has never been about the preservation of safety. Instead, it is about the preservation of overtime payments and positioning for arbitration proceedings.

Local 22 is purposely misleading the public and using the tragic loss of life to advance their own political agenda. It is irresponsible and we call for them to stop immediately.

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