Tag Archives: PFD

Fire Death in Philadelphia:Smoke Detectors the only answer?


On February 24th, 2013 at around 11:30 PM  Firefighters from the city of Philadelphia responded to an alarm in the Southwest part of the city.  They were met with heavy fire showing on the first floor of a row home.  As always they acted quickly to douse the flames and save anyone inside.  Tragically one man on the second floor died in the fire and two escaped with injuries.  Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers took to the airwaves to tell the story and predictably he came up with the most obvious answer.

If there had been smoke detectors this man would be alive today.  Bravo Commissioner for stating the obvious.  But what about the cause of the fire.  Before you can claim that a working smoke detector could have saved a life there were so many other factors that led up to this tragedy.

The home had been divided up into five separate apartments, described in the news video from NBC 10 as a boarding house. Was this compartmentalization legally done? If there a record of this being an apartment building?  Remember that potentially five or more people could have roomed here. The owner of this building also let the heater, which according to the news reports was an oil heater, stop working.  Another negative to the situation.

As reported by the news the electrical box was “a mess”.  So what we may have here is an overloaded electrical service device bought on by the renters having to use portable electric heaters.  Just one heater requires a 15 Amp breaker.  If all five tenants had one heater we are talking 75% of the total load on a 100 Amp box.  Unless this home was upgraded to a larger box to accommodate the multiple tenants the die was cast long before  the failure to put smoke detectors in each unit.

To make matters worse the Smoke detector system (actually Fire Detection) in an apartment building is required to be integrated to alert all residence.  Individual smoke alarms would not be enough or legal.

The Fire Commissioner should be talking about ensuring proper living conditions for residents and quit blaming the lack of smoke detectors.  The problems of the poor in the city go way beyond the presence of a device.

Eight fire deaths this year already.  The city is on it’s way to 48.  That would be tragic as is each untimely fire death.

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A revealing story.


This morning I woke up to find this headline on the 6ABC news website.

2 city councilperson aides suspected of DUI

Now you would think that these incidents might have happened  of different days or at different times but would you be surprised to find out they stemmed from the same incident?  Read on as reported by channel 6

SPRING GARDEN – September 8, 2012 (WPVI) — Two city councilperson aides were arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence, after a crash in Spring Garden.

It happened around 3:00 Saturday morning near the intersection of North 13th and Hamilton streets.

Authorities say a female aide to a city councilperson, lost control of her city owned vehicle and struck a pole, then a wall. She told police she was trying to avoid a bicyclist.

The woman called police and a male friend, who also happened to be an aide for a city councilperson.

Police arrived and took the female aide into custody for suspicion of driving under the influence.

The second city councilperson aide arrived on the scene, also driving a city owned vehicle. The male aide was taken into police custody for DUI suspicions as well.

An investigation continues.

Isn’t that amazing!  Now I am going to take this in a different direction.  For years City Council members have had cars and even drivers.  I am not sure why they need a driver they must be important (or self-important).  But this story has left me wondering just how many vehicles are at city councils disposal and why aides to council people are using the cars for personal business, you know like drinking at clubs till all hours of the morning.  Don’t get me wrong I did my share of that but I would never take a company car for personal business unless my boss made it clear it was okay.  Which leads me to think that these folks bosses did make it okay.  DO you see all the questions that arise from this.

How much is the vehicle expenditure for Council?

How much do they spend in gas?

Who pays for the gas if they are doing personal errands?

How many people who work for council have cars?

Why do they need them?

All these and more while the members of the city Unions like AFSME, and IAFF Local 22 go without raises or contracts for the entire first term of Mayor Michael Nutter’s administration.

When will the citizens of Philadelphia wake up to the corruption running their city?  When will they stop voting in the same party that is decimating the city.  In his speech before the Democrat National Convention Mike Nutter said that we take care of our own.  Based on this story and they way he is treating the other city workers he is right.  They are taking care of their own.  To hell with everyone else.

Taking a line from the news story.  An investigation should begin!

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Letter to Philadelphia


As a disclaimer, I will say ,I have no idea who wrote this.  I am certain the author is who he says he is.  But to point out one of the men and women as the author, even if I knew ,could lead to them getting fired due to the Commissioners unconstitutional muzzling of the members of the Philadelphia Fire Department.  Share this with everyone you know.  Make the call!
Dear Citizens of Philadelphia,
Let me start by thanking you for allowing me to serve and protect you.
I am a proud Philadelphia Firefighter. I love this job, this City and the people whom I serve. Philly is made up of a diverse mix of cultures, religions and orientations, an experience I enjoy immensely. I’m writing to you personally because the Philadelphia Firefighters need your help desperately!! Our Mayor, Michael Nutter is using our safety and yours, as a political pawn in a very dangerous game of Russian Roulette. The Mayor and his administration are trying to run the PFD as if it were a business. We all know public safety is NOT a business, in fact it’s more like an insurance policy. Hopefully you will never need it but it’s there when you do. He is placing thousands of you at risk every day and every night with his policy of “brown outs”. “Brown outs” mean certain fire trucks are closed for that day or night. Therefore when you go to bed at night you cannot be sure that your closest Fire truck is available. Which then means the next closest truck will be coming. That can add up to minutes that you are waiting for help. If you think it’s no big deal try this exercise: turn your oven on 500 degrees. Blindfold yourself and climb inside. See if 90 seconds makes a difference then. The Mayor is also placing Firefighters and Citizens in danger by having unqualified people at the head of the department simply because they are politically “connected”. Car 2 or second in command of the entire Fire Department has never been in charge of a Fire as a Battalion Chief or a Deputy Chief and has only very limited experience as a Lieutenant and Captain! Is this the guy you want making life or death decisions regarding you or your children? It’s obvious Mr. Nutter has no respect for public safety. He made that quite clear when he appointed Everette Gillison as director of Public Safety. Mr. Gillsison has ZERO experience in safety! In fact Mr. Gillison was a public defender (an attorney) it baffles me why Mayor Nutter would place an attorney in charge of Public Safety. The Fire Department has let many highly educated people with enormous amounts of experience retire and walk away, only to take their education and experience to other cities. Education and experience that you the tax payers paid for! Those are the people that should be in charge of your safety. Those are the people that should be running the Fire Department after all the Citizens of Philadelphia paid for their education and experience, it only makes sense to retain the best and brightest. The Mayor and his cronies are trying to demonize Philadelphia Firefighters, claiming we are only concerned with our lack of a contract and accusing us of being overtime mongers. The truth of the situation is we were awarded a modest contract by an independent arbitrator, that award was appealed by Mayor Nutter and again awarded, by an independent arbitrator. All of this doesn’t sit well with Mr. Nutter because the Firefighters union did not endorse him during either of his mayoral campaigns. This is political warfare at its lowest. Michael Nutter is placing his political agenda ahead of the safety of Philadelphia citizens and Firefighters. He and his cronies are trying to mislead you with conjured up figures and statistics. The cold hard truth is: this is a political game for Nutter. When Mr. Nutter was a City Councilman he himself was a huge advocate for the Fire Department and is on record many times criticizing former Mayor Street for attempting to close firehouses. I’m pleading with you to call the Mayors office and your city council members office and demand an end to brown outs and a new qualified leadership in the Fire Department. We all work for YOU. Including the Mayor and City Council. Please voice your demands and be an advocate for your safety and that of your loved ones.

CALL MAYOR NUTTER AND COUNCILMEMBERS TODAY!

Mayor Nutter 215-686-2181

Council At Large

Blondell Reynolds Brown 215-686-3438 blondell.reynolds.brown@phila.gov

William Greenlee 215-686-3446 william.greenlee@phila.gov

Wilson Goode Jr. 215-686-3414 wilson.goode@phila.gov

David Oh 215-686-3452 david.oh@phila.gov

James Kenny 215-686-3450 james.kenney@phila.gov

Bill Green 215-686-3420 bill.green@phila.gov

Dennis O’Brien 215-686-3440 dennis.o’brien@phila.gov

1st District Mark Squilla 215-686-3458 mark.squilla@phila.gov

2nd District Kenyatta Johnson 215-686-3412 kenyatta.johnson@phila.gov

3rd District Jannie Blackwell 215-686-3418 jannie.l.blackwell@phila.gov

4th District Curtis Jones, Jr 215-686-3416 curtis.jones@phila.gov

5th District Darrell Clarke 215-686-3442 darrell.clarke@phila.gov

6th District Bobby Henon 215-686-3444 bobby.hennon@phila.gov

7th District Maria Sanchez 215-686-3448 maria.q.sanchez@phila.gov

8th District Cindy Bass 215-686-3424 cindy.bass@phila.gov

9th District Marian Tasco 215-686-3454 marian.tasco@phila.gov

10th District Brian O’Neill 215-686-3422 brian.oneill@phila.gov

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Social Media takeover


Well the City of Philadelphia, Mayor Michael Nutter and Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers have really stepped in it this time.  Lloyd has issued a General Memo prohibiting members from many activities on social media.  To be sure other employers have Social Media policies but the extent to which Ayers goes to silence any dissension  via social media.  How far will Ayers and by extension Mayor Nutter go?  How about this jewel.

• Employees shall not identify themselves as a member of the Philadelphia Fire Department on any Social Media and Networking site without prior approval of the Fire Commissioner. The only exception will be a professional networking site (e.g. LinkedIn). Postings will only pertain to professional networking and development.

I wonder if a retired guy like me needs Lloyd’s permission to say I was a Philadelphia Fire Fighter.  Think of the Pride these men and women have even in the face of such tepid leadership they still want to say they work for the PFD.    Maybe they should change their job information to “I work for a leaderless department”.  I know of no employer who ever banned their employees from saying they worked at the company.
Here are two of the funnier ones.  This idiot (Lloyd)  is telling members they may not on their own time post anything that “HE” might consider racist or biased in any way.

• Employees are prohibited from posting on any Social Media site or electronically transmitting messages, images, comments, or cartoons displaying threatening or sexually-explicit material, epithets or slurs based on race, ethnic or national origin, gender, religious affiliation, disability, or sexual orientation, and harassing, offensive, discriminatory, or defamatory comments.
• Employees are prohibited from posting on any Social Media site or electronically transmitting messages, images, comments, or cartoons that foster or perpetuate discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, age, religion, gender, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, national origin, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation.

This was a guy who was offended at seeing a mans nipple in a photograph (I don’t mean to make light of Jack but it is a prime example of the hypocrisy of Ayers)  and he now has the power to determine if a shared photo in Facebook is racially offensive? This from a guy who thinks the only reason the rank and file hate him is because he is black.  Sorry Lloyd your just a poor excuse for a leader.  As noted by the very overreaching GM you just issued about Social Media.  Let’s get back to the potentially court challenges GM from our listless commissioner.  How about this one?

• Employees shall not post on any Social Media site or electronically transmit any information that is inconsistent with the duties, ethics and Oath of Office of a firefighter or paramedic, such as racist or sexist comments, inaccurate information, personal attacks, or rumors.

SO if a firefighter thinks that Commissioner Lloyd Ayers is the worst Commissioner ever in the history of the PFD and says so on Facebook (note you the reader:  He is)  Lloyd can discipline him?  Because he thinks he is the best?  Or are the sycophants surrounding him convincing him it is okay and he is the best.   Either way this is a bad policy.  Enough beating up of Lloyd (well not really) lets compare our policy to another.  Let’s use the City of Hampton Virginia as an example of what a Social Media Policy should look like.  This is the part about employees using social networking.  Note the tone and compare it to the Ayers (re: Nutter) hate filled GM.

ATTACHMENT C. Employee Guidance for Participating in Social Networking
The City of Hampton understands that social networking and Internet services have become a common form of
communication in the workplace and among stakeholders and citizens. Social networks are online
communities of people or organizations that share interests and/or activities and use a wide variety of Internet
technology to make the interaction a rich and robust experience. Employees that choose to participate in social
networks as a City employee should adhere to the following guidelines.
1. City policies, rules, regulations and standards of conduct apply to employees that engage in
social networking activities while conducting City business. Use of your City e-mail address
and communicating in your official capacity will constitute conducting City business.
2. City employees shall notify their supervisor and the IT department if they intend to create a
social networking site or service to conduct City business.
3. Departments have the option of allowing employees to participate in existing social networking
sites as part of their job duties. Department Heads may allow or disallow employee
participation in any social networking activities in their departments.
4. Protect your privacy, the privacy of citizens, and the information the City holds. Follow all
privacy protection laws , i.e., HIPPA, and protect sensitive and confidential City information.
5. Follow all copyright laws, public records laws, retention laws, fair use and financial disclosure
laws and any others laws that might apply to the City or your functional area.
6. Do not cite vendors, suppliers, clients, citizens, co-workers or other stakeholders without their
approval.
7. Make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of the City of Hampton. If
you publish content on any website outside of the City of Hampton and it has something to do
with the work you do or subjects associated with the City, use a disclaimer such as this: “The
postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent the City’s positions or
opinions.”
8. Do not use ethnic slurs, profanity, personal insults, or engage in any conduct that would not be
acceptable in the City’s workplace. Avoid comments or topics that may be considered
objectionable or inflammatory.
9. If you identify yourself as a City employee, ensure your profile and related content is consistent
with how you wish to present yourself to colleagues, citizens and other stakeholders.
10. Correct your mistakes, and don’t alter previous posts without indicating that you have done so.
Frame any comments or opposing views in a positive manner.
11. Add value to the City of Hampton through your interaction. Provide worthwhile information and
perspective.

Refreshing in the light of how the Fire Administration handled it’s policy don’t you think.  You can read the entire Hampton Va policy here as it is a really good example of a forward thinking city who are using Social Media to promote city government.  Note their policy not only promotes use of the internet it only suggests to its employees to be careful.

Hey Lloyd I guess when you are losing the battle the best course is to silence the opposition.  Hae you read Alinsky’s rules for liberal?  Maybe somebody who pulls your strings did huh?

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Filed under Philadelphia Fire Department

It isn’t adding up!


Today for the second time the Nutter Administration appealed the “binding” arbitration award that is mandated under Act 111.  This act banned police and firefighters from striking and has been in place for a long time.  But a few years back under the Goode Administration the finances of the city got so bad the State formed an agency called the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Agency (PICA).  PICA was given broad powers over city finances and taxation and approval of all budgets.  Now here is the catch.  The legislation also said the Arbitration panel had to consider the cities ability to pay.  But what is supposed to happen is that the city is by rule supposed to submit a 5 year plan.  This plan should include all expenses and revenues for the city.  Basically a five-year budget.

Now the city or Union has a right to appeal once any award.  This little tidbit is key.  The arbitrator gave an almost identical award to the firefighters as was given in 2010.  It was Nutter who appealed the 2010 award.  As Bill Gault the Local 22 Union President pointed out in a letter detailing the reasons the union filed a preemptive lawsuit to block any appeal.

Currently, the City is in breach of the PICA statute. Under the PICA law, the City is allowed only one “appeal” of the decision of an arbitration panel in the matter of Fire Fighter, Medic or Police contracts. (Because Fire Fighters and Medics, like Police Officers, are not allowed to strike to obtain a contract, PA Act 111 calls for binding arbitration with a neutral arbitrator to decide contract terms.)

The law allows for one appeal and that process was completed by a judge ordering both sides to the table again.  The result was an almost identical award. This current appeal is both illegal and immoral.  Now the city is once again using the PICA board as a tool to hammer the city unions.  Here is what Philly.com wrote while making a quote of a city administrator.

The city’s Budget Director Rebecca Rhynhart said the decision was based on the cost of the award –$200 million over the course of the plan. The city will file the appeal next week.

“We’re appealing because it doesn’t meet the standard of the PICA Act,” she said.

It does not meet the standards of the PICA act!  What does that mean?  Remember the 5 year plan?  Well the city was hoping to not have to honor the award and left it out of its last few 5 year plans.  So with that in mind it would not fit the plan submitted to PICA.  But the PICA board has never seen a proposed budget that included the costs of the award.  Why would that be?  The city admitted they sent the plan hoping to win a victory in the contract arbitration.  Here again from philly.com.

The city’s five-year financial plan which was submitted to the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA), the city’s fiscal watchdog today, assumes the city will be successful in its appeal, said the city’s Finance Director Rob Dubow.

“We anticipated the likelihood that it would not include the arbitration award,” said PICA Board Chairman Sam Katz, adding that “the absence of recognition of two sets of arbitration awards …is a cause for concern.”

It sure is Sam.  Why would the city falsely assume they would win the day and base their entire submission to the PICA Board and then use that false assumption to say that the award does not fit the plan.  You getting this?  Nutter set the award up to fail on purpose.  Any good budget takes a worst case scenario into account.  The men and women who work for the city are being dumped on by the Mayor and his Administration.

One more interesting fact, the IAFF Convention was in town this week, isn’t it convenient that Mike Nutter was in New Orleans and the march on city hall was pretty much a dog and pony show because the target left town. And the day after the march and the convention leaving town the city makes the announcement of the illegal appeal.  We have cowards in City Hall folks.

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PFD Racism!


Today, Philadelphia Magazine posted an article which will be published in the April edition, it was entitled “Inside the Philadelphia Fire Department: Did Racial Tension Contribute to One Fireman’s Suicide?”.  It is a great story about a great guy from a wonderful family.  Firefighter Jack Slivinski Jr. committed suicide a few months back.  Jack was the son of a firefighter and a caring human being.  The story in the Philadelphia Magazine can be read here.   I believe the article only touches on the issue at hand.  I also know that Jack Slivinski Jr was not the first firefighter to give black firefighters the credit for the job they do. In stations that people want to work, many of the firefighters white and black are there for a reason.  It is a badge of honor.  Here are a few moments in time from my early career.

The guy I am talking to is Bob Horton.  Bob and I have history.  The guy sitting on the apparatus is Charlie (Doc) Palmer.  I watched Doc extinguish three dwelling fires in one night during the time we worked together, I was driving the engine that night.  These guys wanted to fight fires and what color they were never mattered to me or them.  Now some like Lloyd Ayers would want you to think that this was as far as it goes.  Yea Bob, Doc and I worked together and spent time in the same firehouse for over three years.  But our bond went beyond that.  Here is the second picture.  If one of you comment on the tuxedo I swear I will get even.

That was my wedding day and there is Bob right next to me. He was not a groomsman, he was my best man!  I chose the man I crawled the halls with over my real brothers.  Why?  Because we had a bond NOBODY else had.  We depended on each other and knew we would be there for each other. Black or white we were brothers.

With this in mind I look at the Phillymag article and the comments of Eric (correction  I said Stukes)  Flemming.  I still know Eric and watched him go through the Philadelphia Fire Academy.  I challenge Eric to say I was prejudices or in any way hateful of black firefighters and I am no young guy!  I was there when he was a KID and we talked many times.  For Eric to say the old guys are racist is a load of crap.  He is playing games and playing the politics of the Valiants!  I await your reply Eric.

Is there racial tension in the PFD?  You bet.  Is is amplified because white firefighters  don’t want black firefighters around?  Hell no.  One example of the bias of the Valiants is the part of the article that talks about a white firefighter spitting in Lloyd Ayers hat.  How exactly does Ayers know it was a white firefighter? If Ayers hat got spat upon it could have been anyone black or white who did not like his attitude about race.  An attitude that continues today.  Lloyd’s tenure as Commissioner has been marked with many aggressive attacks on both whites and non-Valiant blacks, a pattern that continues.  But at least he got smart enough to start keeping a log.

One wonders if the officer in charge of the engine that failed to yield at the stop sign and sent a police officer and a civilian on a bicycle to the hospital or Rob Wilkins who was arrested and failed to report his arrest,  as was stated in the article in Phillymag is a direct violation of policy, if leniency was given because of membership in a CLUB..  Both are members of the Valiants!  The top spots in the PFD are currently filled, save for Deputy Commissioner of Technical services a position held by one very smart guy, by members of Club Valiant.  That unto itself would be fine if not for the uneven application of the rules that Lloyd justifies by saying he evaluates the circumstances.  In light of the accident that sent a cop and civilian to the hospital and NOBODY was disciplined,  in fact the officer got promoted within 8 months of the accident, we can only surmise that Ayers et al are playing politics with the members of the CLUB!

Racist?  You bet but rampant hate does not exist in the rank and file.  Distrust due to the actions of the leadership?  You bet!

I knew Jack Slivinski Sr and Jr.  both are good men who care about the people and other firefighters.  It was not their race we saw but their dedication. Sadly Lloyd Ayers, Ernie Hargett and many others in the upper level of the PFD see only one color, VALIANT!

Jack Sr and Gerry,  You raised a great guy one who cared about his fellow-man and judged by character not the  color of their face. Thanks Jack for being a great firefighter and Dad and Gerry thanks for showing your son how to care.  God Bless Jack Slivinski Jr. who cared so much for a fellow firefighter that he took his own life because he felt it was his fault another human being died.  That is the mark of a caring human being.  If only Lloyd and his group understood that LOVE!

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Fair?


Here is a small taste of the issues at hand.  Directive 25 of the Philadelphia Fire Department (a directive is a policy statement to the rest of the world) states the following.  In reference to members of the department and what is appropriate behavior.

1:11 Lending his/her name or using his  photograph in connection with any written or printed article or advertisement, without first obtaining the written approval of the Commissioner.

So we present this little gem

If the men and women of the PFD can’t do it why can the Commissioner?

This is just a small example of the double standard of the leadership and specifically Lloyd Ayers.

 

Oh here is some icing on the cake.   The photo below was clipped from the video. Directive 19 Uniforms states the following

4.8.11  Special Insignias

Listed Department Awards may be worn:

a.  25 year service pin – on the left lapel when worn on the blouse coat and on the
left breast (centered over badge) when worn on the Class B uniform

b.  Heroism Award – left breast (centered over badge, above Merit Award)

c.  Merit Award – left breast (centered over badge, above Hero Scholarship Fund
Award)

d.  Hero Scholarship Fund Award –  left breast (centered over badge)

e.  Ben Franklin Award – left breast (centered under badge)

Best I can tell that button is not on the approved list.

You bet he is not fair!

 

 

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