The Philadelphia Fire Department was called into action after a firehouse in the city’s historic district caught fire when a medic unit exploded.
On Friday morning, two emergency medical technicians who were parked near Independence Hall reported a fire in their truck.
The fire quickly spread to the Engine 8, Ladder 2 firehouse. The building is commonly called the "Benjamin Franklin firehouse" because of its historic location and a large plaque of the Founding Father on its front wall. Due to budget cutbacks, the firehouse is only equipped to handle search-and-rescue missions and incapable of responding to fires in the neighborhood.
Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said other firehouses in Center City responded to the fire. "Everyone is safe," he said. "Both medics got out." Ayers said the PFD rarely has to battle a blaze in one of its own firehouses. "It's not something you see often," he said.
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Joseph Schulle, president of Local 22 of the Philadelphia Fire Fighters' Union, said that Friday’s events illuminate the dangerous effects of the city’s cost-cutting measures, Philly.com reported.
Had there been a properly-equipped engine at the firehouse, "I'm sure we would've rapidly extinguished the fire," Schulle said. As it was, the firehouse "didn't have the equipment to fight the fire."
The medic truck where the fire started was destroyed and the firehouse sustained heavy damage.