Category Archives: Firefighters

Lloyd Ayers: The Philadelphia Fire Department Deception

I would like you to watch the worst testimony ever heard before a governing body.  The man you are about to watch is Lloyd Ayers he is reportedly the Commissioner of the Philadelphia Fire Department. I don’t think he is qualified to be a sewer cleaner.  No offense to the men and women in the city that actually do work in the city sewers.

Did you notice that he argued that familiarity with the run was not important?  The senior guy was unimportant.  The runs are preplanned.  But the learning curve for an entire fire local is not one year.  It may not even be two years.  But Lloyd being the bullshitter he is then says it is about familiarity with schools, businesses and  hospitals.  We  you don’t get familiar by moving people around.  One hospital is not the same as another but there are plenty of hospitals.  Who would you as a citizen want coming to your fire.  I guy who just got assigned with two other guys who might not be familiar with your home or office, or a team lead by a tenured firefighter who has been in the building numerous times and knows the layout like the back of their hand?

What Ayers is proposing is unprecedented in the fire service.  Transferring the most senior firefighters is a dangerous and frankly stupid thing to do.  Ayers looked like a fool in that video.   Now watch as a city council member just blows the commissioner out of the water.

Amazing isn’t it.  No former commissioner nor Fire Service leaders from other cities think this is a great idea.  If fact as the councilman is dumbfounded by the logic of this plan. Why you ask?  Because nothing in this plan is motivated to help the citizens of Philadelphia. Watch that first video again.  Listen as he chooses his words.  He is making it up as he goes along.  But what is really scary about Ayers and I guess his boss Michael Nutter (since Nutter keeps him in position) is they think they can drive fire from the city of Philadelphia.  No really they do.  Listen to Lloyd on the first video again,  Yes I know it is painful to watch the man talk but go back and listen to his logic about the partnership between citizen and the fire department.  He thinks he can drive the fire load to zero!  That line of thought alone give me reason to wonder about his ability to be a fire service administrator.

Fire is a random act.  A loose wire, a faulty switch or  a smoker who falls asleep.  You will never get the fire load to zero.  Lloyd KNOWS this but he pitches the lie that you can by education reduce the fire load to zero.  The reality is much of the really old housing stock in Philadelphia is burned out and since there are no new Highway projects (See the 1970’s and the second street corridor)  the fire load is down.  But to assume by moving firefighters around the city and doing more community outreach you can reduce the danger to the citizens is nothing short of foolhardy!

I once worked in the slowest section of Philadelphia when it came to fires.  Guess what area had the highest death rate?  Yep  the slow section of the city.

Lloyd Ayers is making up a false sense of fire safety by trying to tell you that he can reduce your chances of a fire to ZERO!  He is doing a head fake to get his way to punish the Firefighters for calling him on his poor leadership and absolute lack of knowledge.  Lloyd was not appointed because he was a great leader. He was appointed because he has influential friends and holds his position for the same SAD reason.



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Biden Bull

Last week the walking gaffe machine Joe Biden stood before the International Association of Firefighters and spoke of Jobs and community.  Here is how the Politico phrased Joe’s speech.

“I just tell you, it’s nice speaking to an audience where — with not only whom you agree, but with whom you feel totally comfortable, with a whole lot of folks out there I grew up with,” Biden began.

In a sober speech to first responders — still in the shadow of last week’s massacre in Colorado — Biden told the audience of 3,200 that Republicans have a “different value set” when it comes to public employees and other working people.

“They look at your ranks and they see an easy place to cut budgets to accommodate their priorities — not just you but cops, public workers generally,” Biden said. “They just have a fundamentally different view. They just have a different value set than we do. They act like you’re the community’s problem — as if you’re not part of the community.”

Biden said the Republicans have a different value set when it comes to public employees!  Different from who many of the Philadelphia Firefighters I know asked. Biden said it was nice to talk to a group that he agrees with.  He must not have actually talked to any of the men and women who work in Philadelphia. Well you read what they wrote now it is my turn.
Just how out of reality is the Washington team with what is really happening in Philadelphia?  Biden spoke during his speech about the two firefighters killed earlier this year and chose to use those two good men to politicize the issue of Fire Department funding.  Obviously nobody clued Joe in on the real situation in Philadelphia.  Many recent Democrat Mayors have taken a pound of flesh out of the Police and Firefighters Unions.  Ed Rendell the ex-Governor of Pennsylvania and his hatchet man David Cohen (Now at Comcast Hmm…) took a pound of flesh from these two unions that were unable to strike.  Mayor Street was so insensitive he had a paramedic who was ill camped on his office doorstep for weeks and did not even acknowledge her.  The along comes Mike Nutter.  Mr smooth  he calls out Street when he wanted to close firehouses and said it was foolish.  Well he must be a fool because he closed multiple stations and has a “brown-out policy in which various firehouses in the city are deactivated for a shift.  The equipment is there just not enough firefighters to respond to an emergency.  The city will deny but people have died because of this policy.
These cuts and dangerous brownouts have been instituted by a Democrat Mayor in a pro-labor city yet the International up until last Thursday remained silent about all of this.  Why?  Because International President Harold Schaitberger has become nothing more than a tool of the Democrats and he wants his bed feathered with the money he is making.
Here is a little Economics 101 for you.  More jobs means more tax revenue.  Higher taxes means a shifting tax base (Like leaving the city or state for a place with lower taxes) Higher tax revenue means better conditions to keep up an effective public sector employment system.  A true unemployment rate of 14% for over 3 years does not bode well for any government. Yet that is exactly what the federal government has allowed to happen.
President Obama and his Jobs Committee have not met in over six months.  It seems the commander-in-chief is too busy campaigning to worry about how to produce more jobs. Which I think might be a good thing because the last time he tried to stimulate the economy the unemployment rate jumped to over 10%  and it is still not below 8.
For these reasons I am a Retired Philadelphia Firefighter for Romney 2012.  If your on Facebook check out the group.  But I would recommend  that if you have an opposing viewpoint you might not want to join the group.  Firefighters are known for saying what they think.  Here is a link to the page.
Join the Fight!

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To save a citizen

Here is the scenario.  You have a job that involves saving people’s lives.  It is early in the morning and you arrive at a scene of chaos.  There is a fire in a home and people are trapped.  What do you do?  One firefighter went the extra mile to save a life and did what most would call a heroic act.  He ran into the burning dwelling and up the steps to get the trapped victim.  Finding the victim panicky and in distress he took his self-contained breathing apparatus off and put it on the trapped victim and led her down and out of the house.

This woman had been in the burning dwelling and probably already had severe smoke inhalation.  The firefighter who was hurt only 2 months ago at a deadly fire was fresh off the truck and willing to do anything he had to save a citizen of the city in which he works.  He knew he was going to eat some smoke getting out of there but to save this persons life that was a risk he was willing to take.  The result of this incredibly heroic effort?  The victim and the firefighter wound up in the ER with smoke inhalation.  Both are Alive!

So far I have been pretty vague about this but I wanted you, the reader to get the drama involved here before I talked about the players by name. The firefighter I am talking about is a guy named Fran Cheney.  Fran is the son of a firefighter and is zealous about the Philadelphia Fire Department.  He worked hard to get on this job and has worked hard since he came into the department.  The fire that Fran was injured at in April was the Kensington 5 Alarm blaze that claimed two good mens lives.  Lt Neary and FF Sweeney perished and FF Nally was partially buried whan a section of  the burning building collapsed on the building they were in.  Cheney was injured but able to extricate himself and Nally but they could not find the other two firefighters.  Most people would be inconsolable but Fran knows the deal and he returned to work.  Fast forward to early morning July 4th and the scenario we discussed.  As Fran was in the hospital being checked out this morning Deputy Commissioner Ernest Hargett (You remember smiling Ernie from earlier posts) came to see him and told him that was a “stupid” thing to do.  What a stupid thing to say at that moment! Call the Fire Administration Building and tell Deputy Commissioner Hargett who the STUPID one is, 215-686-1302 is Hargett’s number and you should call his boss Lloyd Ayers at 215-686-1300  let’s tell him that bravery should be rewarded not punished.  Just in case he has any ideas of punishing Fran.

Great Work Fran.

I think you all need to see their faces.  First Pic is a man who cares more about others than himself.

Photo via Fox 29

Now for a guy who cares about himself more than  others.  This is SMILIN Ernie

Yea thumbs up on sensitivity Ernie.  Telling a man who just saved a life he was being stupid?  What would you have done?  There are many in the PFD who would say NOTHING!

A fellow firefighter Ted Quedenfeld added a very interesting thought today  Here  is what Ted wrote to Fran.

After the tragedy at Jasper & York, I’m sure that Fran, like most survivors do in similar situations, asked himself “Why them and not me? Why was I spared?”

Fran…if you HAVE asked yourself that…..maybe last night was why. Get healthy soon Brother.

A great point Ted!


Filed under Firefighters, Philadelphia Fire Department, Uncategorized

Not Compromised!

Here is the testimony of Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers before City Council in Philadelphia on April  11, 2012  Don’t be alarmed by the length of the video, Ayers is the first speaker.

The first comment Ayers makes is that he will pass on the sentiment expressed by council on the bravery of the members of the PFD.  Specifically Ayers says he will pass it on to the families.  I wonder if Lt Neary’s wife or FF Sweeney’s parents have heard those words from Ayers mouth.  The last this author heard Ayers had not spoken to either family about the tragedy.  Please tell us that is not correct!

Ayers next statement is that the budget for Firefighting in the city will be reduced by 5.9 Million dollars.  This while he is closing 6 additional companies daily, on top of the 7 complete company closings one wonders how the department is meeting the standards they are supposed to meet.  Somehow Ayers comes up with a class of 160 Firefighters and an additional class in early 2013 that will bring the department up to full staffing.  How can a department that is closing 6 companies a day be fully staffed?  There is a war of attrition going on in the city and the people will be the ones who suffer.  Yet Ayers (and obviously Mayor Michael Nutter) feel that reducing services and staffing are the key to getting the job done. When the city implemented the DROP (Delayed Retirement Option Plan) the idea was to retain the most experienced members who could retire after a fixed amount of time.  So if you entered the DROP in 2006 you had to be gone 48 months later in 2010.  Part of the logic was to make it easier to compensate for retirements due to knowing the actual retirement numbers at a given time. Since 2008 there has been one firefighter class and over 280 retirements.  This does not include members dying and being promoted into the rank of Lieutenant.  In short the deaprtment is understaffed leading to the overtime Ayers and nutter cry about.

As has been stated before the city and specifically Lloyd Ayers and Michael Nutter are using a calculated formula to gut the fire department.  How do you continually close fire companies yet offer a budget that is 6 Million dollars less than last year?  All of this while claiming that the citizens are safe.  Let’s tell that to the family of the 2 children who died in a fire in the cities Olney section.  A fire that started in the middle of a the day.  The closest engine company to that home was browned out that day.  What was Ayers defense?  This from an ABC news report.

Commissioner Ayers says the first engine responded in less than five minutes.

“Engine 51, however, did respond and responded within our expectations, they were here a little less than five minutes as we expect,” Ayers said.

The difference between 2 minutes and 5 minutes can be striking. Don’t think so?  By all means go back and watch this video from an earlier post entitled FIRE: Seconds Count.  Notice how quickly the room fills with smoke.  In under 2 minutes it is dark save for the orange flames.  Imagine if you will what would happen in 5 minutes. We don’t need to, thanks to a citizen who filmed a fire on Orthodox street in Northeast Philadelphia.  Watch the growth of the fire in this video and the amount of smoke coming from the structure.

How do you defend this? Under questioning from Council Ayers talks about response times.  He states they are meeting the standard that they need to meet as projected.  This would imply that they set their own standard for times for the first in company to respond.  There are national standards for company response.  The average response time in the PICA (Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority) report for the city is 4:48.  If your average is that close to the number 5 there is no way you can be meeting the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) standard of under five minutes 90% of the time.  But fear not, as Ayers said during his testimony we factored that in and we are getting the results expected.

Yep..  Dead citizens and firefighters and higher injury rates.  Oh did I mention saving 5.9 Million dollars because you aren’t worth it  Good Luck residents of Philadelphia  you are going to need it.

All this from just his first six minutes.  More to come


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The Devils Own, Part II

This is a follow-up to an article that appeared on another blog a few weeks ago.  It was sent to me anonymously and I read it through a few times before sharing with all of you.  I will not say enjoy but I will say share this with everyone you know.  It drives home what we are talking about. M

You have to hand it to Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers; he’s no diplomat, and he’s certainly no politician. If he was, he would have never released a recent three-page diatribe ostensibly defending his indefensible record on matters of race and discipline as Commissioner of the Philadelphia Fire Department.

In case you don’t know, the PFD is still reeling from the recent inexplicable and tragic loss of two of their own. Veteran Lieutenant Robert Neary and Firefighter Daniel Sweeny were killed when a hulking, vacant Kensington warehouse collapsed on them while fighting a raging inferno there. The department is also still coming to grips with the very public suicides of Firefighters David Panella and Firefighter Jack Slivinski. Commissioner Ayers handled the Slivinski affair particularly badly, harshly disciplining a vulnerable young firefighter for what amounts to charitable outreach; something ordinarily celebrated in healthy societies.

At almost every turn, Ayers says or does the wrong thing. In this instance, while his obviously shaken department is still grieving their most recent loss, he decides to launch into a public missive about race relations; an area in which he has little credibility. Ayers does so in the form of an official departmental memorandum in response to a Philadelphia Magazine article.

Why Ayers felt he had to engage in a public battle with a reporter, especially now, is bizarre to say the least. As Fire Commissioner, he is clearly supposed to be above a reporter’s public criticisms; but Ayers is notoriously thin-skinned. Apparently the criticism dished out by the reporter (well-documented and dead on) hit home. Why he simply didn’t give the reporter a call to discuss the article privately is bewildering. After all, Ayers gave the reporter access and knew that the story was being written.

In his three-page rant, Ayers dismisses claims of racial problems in the PFD. He also claims that he is as pure as the driven snow on issues such as discipline. His chutzpah is surpassed only by his breathtaking and willful disregard of the truth. To believe Commissioner Ayers on issues involving race and discipline in the fire department, as Hillary Clinton once famously said, “requires a willful suspension of disbelief.” Ayers boldly proclaims he is concerned only with the facts, yet he ignores inconvenient facts.

Here are some facts that the Commissioner would rather not exist:

His department was sued successfully, and a settlement was paid out of taxpayer funds, because his Deputy Commissioner (allegedly) improperly attempted to influence a promotional board into favoring minorities. This is the same Deputy Commissioner who is widely despised within the rank and file, and achieved a RANDOM number 1 on multiple promotional exams. That number is supposed to be generated by a computer RANDOMLY, yet somehow, years apart on different exams, the computer assigns him a random number one ranking. The odds are astronomical. Such promotional and testing “irregularities” are commonplace and have destroyed what little credibility this department has on the issues of hiring and promotions.

This same Deputy Commissioner spent almost no time as a Battalion Chief and no time as a Deputy Chief, yet is somehow more qualified to hold his job and title than other senior officers, who have spent years honing their fire ground and emergency scene command skills. He is still employed by the department.

Ayers also promoted another wildly inexperienced and tactically challenged African-American Battalion Chief to Executive Chief; again skipping over other highly qualified Deputy Chiefs and a rank.

Ayers’s safety Chief is so widely despised that he cannot hold a field command. Ayers is reportedly considering elevating the safety Chief to Executive Chief as well, so he will have authority over the Deputy Chiefs who are hurting his feelings because of his poor management as the head of that critical office. This man has recommended disciplining firefighters who get burned fighting fires.

Ayers’s pick for head of the PFD Homeland Security office is unqualified, and the unit had to be placed under Fire Prevention so he could nominally remain in charge.

Ayers forgets about the African-American captain who improperly attempted to influence the fire department ENTRANCE TEST. Ayers PROMOTED him to Battalion Chief while describing him as “sharp,” yet he is widely regarded as incompetent. What message does that send?

Ayers forgets about the African-American captain who (allegedly) stalked and sexually harassed a female firefighter to the point where she cannot work in proximity to him. He, too, was PROMOTED to Battalion Chief.

Another African-American captain who was FIRED for his racist views was subsequently re-hired (under the Hairston administration) and promoted to Battalion Chief. This man has enjoyed the favor of Ayers and his Valiant associates.

As past president of the Valiants (an association exclusively for African-American firefighters) Ayers proudly boasts of his ties to that organization, while persecuting those who oppose his racial agenda. Ironically, the one high-ranking officer he did fire was involved in a personal, off-duty domestic dispute with his wife. His real infraction was being touted as Ayers’s replacement.

There are a slew of other cases like this where the Commissioner has ignored charges or meted out anemic discipline to minority firefighters, while slamming white firefighters and officers for infractions. Lying, theft, gun charges, and vehicle accidents are all swept under the rug; oftentimes the culprits promoted, even though civil service regulations forbid the practice. It is no secret why.

More inconvenient facts come out in the most recent internal PFD survey that overwhelmingly indicates there are significant racial issues dividing the department. Ayers is content to ignore them as well. These findings were backed up by the PICA-funded Berkshire Report. It’s all there in “black and white” for anyone who wants to find the real facts which Ayers wishes didn’t exist.

Ayers’s blatant racial agenda is the most important aspect of his administration to him and his cadre. He is as much as admitted it. Incredibly, he points out the case of Captains Michael Bresnan who is white and Jeff Thompson who is African-American as an example of his colorblind justice. If it wasn’t so pathetic an example it would be funny. BOTH men were demoted on the flimsiest of charges. Sadly, Thompson was widely acknowledged as a sacrificial lamb due to the controversy Bresnan’s demotion caused.

As head of CAFFA (the Concerned American Fire Fighters Association) and current board member of Local 22 IAFF, Bresnan was disciplined clearly for his outspoken opposition to the administration’s race-based conduct and policies. Thompson was demoted for nothing more than a firehouse prank… and poor timing.

Local 22 has files and records of the incredible disparity that passes for discipline in the PFD today. Astonishingly, while Ayers laments a low percentage of minority officers, he claims minorities account for a disproportionate amount of DISCIPLINE. He is so far out of touch that his own arguments make no sense. The rank and file are not the only people disturbed by his lack of leadership. Apparently, City Council has also had enough. If last week’s budget hearings are any indication, he is wearing out everyone’s patience.

Finally, we have the last nail in the coffin. It is the notorious YouTube video where Ayers, unflinchingly, in full uniform and with a big grin on his face gives an on-camera endorsement of the African-centered bookstore “Black & Nobel.” This very same bookstore sells adult material and delivers to prisons. Ironic that Ayers persecuted Jack Slivinski for “selling sex,” while at the same time he is giving “shout outs” and endorsing stores that do it for profit. While he claims he was caught off-guard by the interview, the “I Heart Black & Nobel” sticker festooned on his sweater indicates otherwise. Ayers’s lies do as much damage as his policies.

If Lloyd Ayers’s objective was to divide and destroy this department, he has succeeded wildly; along with this Mayor. If it was to improve and unite it, he has failed miserably. His incompetence and the incompetence of those with whom he has surrounded himself is doing irreversible damage and needlessly putting lives at risk. His resignation is long overdue.


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The story is not getting out!

The tragic death of two Philadelphia Firefighters has created a fire storm of its own.  One that should consume the career of Commissioner Lloyd Ayers and his Deputy Commissioners.  Today the Firefighters and Paramedics Union (Local 22) called a press conference to level charges against Ayers, Ernest Hargett and John Devlin.   There is one problem with this whole scenario.  The media either refuses to tell the story or is incompetent.  Here are just a few examples this from KYW3 and CBSPhilly.

Follow this link  Then scroll to the middle of the page and look for this link.

Did you hear the reporter (Walt Hunter) say the entire fire is under Grand Jury investigation?  Now let’s switch to what amounts to the radio arm of KYW  and reporter Steve Tawa’s posting, here is a link to that report   Here is an excerpt from that report.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is still underway (see related story).  A Philadelphia grand jury is also investigating to determine if criminal charges are warranted against the building owners, who had been previously cited for violations by the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections.

So Walt Hunter says the Grand Jury is investigating the entire fire and Steve Tawa says they will look only at the building’s owner.  Here is Seth Williams saying more than he is supposed to about the coming investigation.  You will note Williams does not mention the actual result only the cause and the culpability of the owner during this news conference.

Let’s move on to Fox 29 and the difference between their two reports, here is a link to the page and the videos are located right below the picture. Take a look at these two screen captures from the reports.

The anchor on the story who showed this very wrong picture called what Local 22 said today was “BOLD” accusations.  But wait in a separate story a reporter from the same station pulled this John Madden graphic out of his hat.

Based on the picture of the wall that Local 22 had the picture with the red markings would be spot on.  So who gave Fox the bad info in the first place?

We can not count on the media to get it right. We can request the audio of that night and find out for ourselves  you see, many of the accusations leveled by Local 22 can be verified very simply.  Listen to the recordings from that fateful night.  The fact that Ayers did not respond until after the two firefighters were killed and two others were injured will be on there. It  can be proven that the second highest officer in the fire department arrived on the fire ground and never took command.  Instead passing command to the number three man, Deputy Commissioner Devlin.  The allegation of lack of equipment can even be proven just by listening to the tapes.

One more very important point.  Why is it imperative for Battalion Chief Henry Costo to investigate the smallest burn injury to a firefighter but to date no one can find the beginning of internal investigation into the deaths of two firefighters.  A few posts back I mentioned Lieutenant Derrick Harvey.  Derrick died going back into a building to make sure his men were safe.  I also mentioned that I was privy to the investigation.  I can tell you the Safety office at the time did considerable work on both a timeline and interviews with all the firefighters involved.  I can still see the walls of the driver training classroom lined with statements, and times. Maybe it is time to visit the Safety Office to see how far their investigation has progressed.  Maybe two dead firefighters are not as important as a low injury rate. Time will tell.

Last thought.  Don’t you think a thorough internal investigation might actually help a grand jury?  Rise up citizens and call for a full investigation.

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Ayers sets it straight?

It is beyond me how the author of a Philadelphia magazine piece got the story so wrong that Lloyd Ayers felt compelled to release an official department memo defending his tenure as commissioner.  From what I have been told the author interviewed Lloyd extensively and even in the article there was mention of a log Ayers kept.  If you knew an article was going to be written that shed a bad light on your leadership would you hold back any information?  IN the article this was mentioned.

TODAY, LLOYD AYERS SPEAKS OF MAKING CHANGES. There is a “consistency log,” kept by his office, in which punishments and infractions are recorded, to ensure similar penalties. “We’re moving toward releasing­ that in some way,” he says, as a means of combating the perception of racism within the fire department.

“Consistency Log”?  Really when did this log begin?  Why then in his memo to the members does Ayers talk about the research into the content and talk about how painstaking it was.  Didn’t he have it right there on his desk?

To make matters worse Ayers brings in the memory of jack Slivinski.  A young man who followed his father into the department.  In fact young jack got his fathers slot at the prestigious Rescue 1. Jack kept himself in good shape (you might want to do that if you need to do vertical rescues) and that cost him his sanity.  Let’s not forget that the whole basis of the Philadelphia Magazine article was to talk about what happened to jack and why.

Jack responded to a fire with a good man a good Lieutenant named Derrick Harvey.  I knew Derrick and had some great conversations with him.  At the fire Jack was inside and things went bad.  Harvey not seeing his man outside the building went in to get him.  The floor collapsed and Derrick died by fire.  Not to be too graphic but I saw the entire investigation that was conducted by the safety office and even saw Derricks bunker gear.  Jack carried that guilt with him for many years,

Did Ayers think for one minute while writing this memo that his ridiculous reaction to a charity calender shoot of a well chiseled young firefighter would tip the scale in a bad way?  No, instead Ayers talks about the more broad topic of Firefighter and Paramedic suicide.  Which in Philadelphia is becoming a huge problem. Could Jack have continued his career had he not been punished for doing a good thing>  We will never know but what we do know is that it was not until AFTER Ayers transferred him from his company that Jack began to decline rapidly.

When will Lloyd face that fact.  Certainly not soon!  This week Memo to the members shows that.

There is more I am waiting to get some infromation.

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