Philadelphia city firefighters union president at odds over fire department staffing – CBS Philly

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Staffing shortages and pandemic-related upheaval continue to plague a number of industries. The Philadelphia Fire Union says it’s no different and is sounding the alarm. The city, meanwhile, disagrees with the union’s demands.

The union says more than 700 firefighters are short, while the city says the union is trying to spread fear.

READ MORE: Black History Month: East Fairmount Park Hosts Second Annual Philadelphia Leaders and Legends Expo

In times when time matters most, Philadelphia Fire and Paramedics Local 22 President Mike Bresnan said the department is understaffed.

“Not only do minutes matter, but seconds matter,” Bresnan said. “Public safety is definitely affected, and we believe the situation is getting worse.”

Eyewitness News contacted the city and a spokesperson for Mayor Jim Kenney’s office said, “To say the city is massively short of firefighters and lives are at risk is simply not true. The city budgets for 3,348 people and these positions are filled by our current deployment firefighters and those working overtime.

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

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

READ MORE: Family and friends hold a candlelight vigil for Bridgeton man Jonathan Morris Jr.

“We’re just asking the city council, the mayor to properly fund the fire department,” Bresnan said.

City says, “Mayor Kenney has made unprecedented investments in the Philadelphia Fire Department, reversing massive cuts made by previous administrations,” adding that funding for the Fire Department has increased from $236 million to $361 million over the past five years.

Bresnan says the department mostly struggles with response times and members working overtime.

“We cannot respond to your emergency via Zoom,” he said. “We have to show up and if we don’t have the staff to show up, we can’t deal with the emergency.”

He says that the men and women of the department will continue to mobilize despite everything.

“Unfortunately, they’re overworked. They work multiple shifts in a row and they don’t get any rest factor,” Bresnan said.

NO MORE NEWS: Police are investigating the suspicious death of a man and dog found at the Evesham Township apartment complex

The union says it wants to start fixing this problem now. They say they are worried about the future if the vacancy rate is maintained.