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Philadelphia Councilman Wants Firefighter Retirement Deadlines Waived During Staffing Shortage

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - A Philadelphia city councilman says staffing shortages in the Philadelphia Fire Department could be readily solved if the mayor let dozens of firefighters who are due to retire stay an extra year.

The Nutter administration has been delayed in bringing in a new class of recruits at the Fire Academy because of a US Supreme Court ruling which forces changes in the admissions exams.

In the meantime, the mayor plans to boost fire department overtime to coverage staff shortages.

But Councilman Brian O'Neill says the mayor should simply allow some firefighters who are now enrolled in the DROP retirement program to stay on 12 more months.

"There are 70 firefighters who are in their last year (before retiring under) DROP who could stay another year," he said.  "No training required, it keeps them on the street, and it's vital to public safety that we do this."

O'Neill points out that Nutter waived DROP retirement deadlines for 50 police officer three years ago for exactly the same situation.

"This is an issue that we have already discussed with City Council leadership and that we are actively reviewing," notes Mark McDonald, the mayor's spokesman.

Reported by KYW City Hall Bureau chief Mike Dunn

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