“He wanted smiles, but he was taking credit for what was already needed for years,” explains a firefighter of Ladder 21 and Engine 9. The “he” in question was Mayor Nutter on Feb. 5, at the reopening ceremony for the Mt. Airy fire station. For the past eight months the station was closed for renovations that included a mold-infested basement and a constantly flooded garage. The project was originally planned to take only two months, starting on April 17, but it was already eight years too late according to the members of Platoon D.
During the interim Engine 9 was relocated to the Roxborough station. One firefighter of Platoon D explained, “Roxborough didn’t even have an engine. They wanted to make the neighborhood think they were safe. Some fires would have been much worse if we weren’t there.” Ladder 21 was temporarily stationed in Oak Lane, while the medical unit was relocated up the street at Chestnut Hill.
The damages accrued over the years were not only aesthetically displeasing, but hazardous to the firefighters and vehicles. “It was like [interstate] 95. The medic backed in a couple of times and had blown out tires,” explains a firefighter. Firefighters would injure their legs, but refrain from
reporting it. Often injury reports would be met with docked hours on their paychecks and never-ending paperwork.
Because of its disapproval of the city’s actions, Platoon D did not make an appearance at the reopening ceremony. “Anything can get you transferred or have hours taken away. Even if a button is not right on the uniform,” explains one member. Although the city promoted the event, it was up to the platoon to get chairs for the ceremony that included Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers and Eighth District Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller.
It may have taken too long for the improvements, but they have been met with approval. The firefighters are just happy to be home again after almost a year apart explains one firefighter, “We’re like a family here.”