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Angry Firefighters Confront Mayor Nutter at Opening of New Firehouse

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter today cut the ribbon on the city's first new fire station in fifteen years.  But the ceremony was disrupted by members of the firefighters' union, who say they are launching an effort to boot Nutter from office.

Mayor Nutter helped cut the ribbon for the new Engine Company 38, in the city's Tacony section.  The $6.7-million station replaces one that was shuttered a few years ago because of the expansion of Interstate 95.

Officials say the new firehouse has state-of-the-art equipment and uses "green" technology and design to make it energy-efficient.

But about two hundred firefighters angry over the union's long-running contract dispute with the mayor (see related stories) shouted catcalls and curses at the mayor:

(Firefighter:)  "Why don't you honor the firefighters' contract?  Respect, respect!"

photo union in
(Philadelphia firefighters, some holding signs, disrupt ceremonies to open a new firehouse in Tacony. Credit: Mike Dunn)


Local 22 spokesman Frank Keel says the union is launching a recall petition to have Nutter removed from office.

"It requires 45,000 signatures (and) there's a finite period of time with which to gather these signatures," he tells KYW Newsradio.  "But they're serious about it, and the effort is going to begin today."

Nutter's response: it's a free country.

"I'm excited to be here," he said.  "This is a spectacular achievement by the city.  And if other people want to do other things, that's their right as Americans.  But I think the community (of Tacony) was pretty excited (by the station opening), and that makes me pretty happy."

Moreover, a 1971 Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision ruled that the Philadelphia Home rule charter's recall provision is unconstitutional.

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