What was supposed to be a happy occasion turned into a session of cat calls, and police being asked to keep out union members from Local 22 who were present at the grand opening of a new firehouse in Philadelphia. The event, called a "housing" would have gone on without incident, had Mayor Michael Nutter honored the binding arbitration and not closed fire companies.
The mayor chose to be at the ceremony and about 150 union members were there to greet him. They were not happy. At one point, they marched into the firehouse through the bay doors. They held up signs. Most of them left as the speeches started. The union members stayed right out front, chanting and shouting.
City officials tried to close the bay doors numerous times and each time, someone made it go back up again. Finally, Civil Affairs Police were able to get the protesters away from the doors and close them. If the union's goal was to upset city officials, they succeeded. The sad fact is,the members of Engine 38 benefit from the union trying to force the city to accept the binding arbitration. It was also their brand new Firehouse.
As the ceremony got underway, and The Chief of Staff to the mayor, and Deputy Mayor , Everett Gillison was able to get through his introductions without too much distraction. Remarks were made by Captain Joe Healy. This was the first new firehouse the city has opened since 1997 . That was in South Philadelphia.
Engine 38's quarters is 12,000 square feet, has 14 work areas, and a 1000 square foot community training room. It has two floors. It is the first green firehouse in the city, which means it is environmentally proficient. For example, the roof is green solar roof.
16 firefighters including four officers are assigned to the firehouse. The building is huge. It has space for extra trucks. "We can put a ladder in there and we can house a medic unit in there", hinted Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers. "That's off in the future", the commissioner said.
There is a weight room with a state of the art treadmill and weights for firefighters to use. The bunk rooms are large. After the ceremony, the members spent about an hour cleaning up and changing into their work uniforms. At 1:00 p.m. the firehouse went into service. less than 1 hour later, they had their first run.
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