PHILADELPHIA

Firefighting needs

A study that will help determine how much of a fire department the city needs will be complete in mid-January, said Uri Monson, executive director of the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority.

The city asked PICA in October 2010 to fund an independent study to assess the Fire Department's management, operations, structure, system performance and service. Additionally, the study examines response times.

Jobless rate dips

Philadelphia's unemployment rate fell three-tenths of a percent to 10.6 percent from a year ago, but the city still ranks fifth highest among the 20 largest U.S. cities, City Controller Alan Butkovitz said in his monthly economic report.

In November 2010, Philadelphia's unemployment rate was 10.9 percent, putting it below the rates of Detroit, Los Angeles, San Jose and Jacksonville.

Food cupboard is bare

An emergency food cupboard that serves needy people in North Philadelphia is in jeopardy of closing due to lack of funds. For six months, community activist Ruth Birchett has been funding the cupboard's effort to give food to her needy neighbors.

When the cupboard was threatened with not having its food delivered, she used her credit card to buy a pickup truck from an auction. But the truck ran out of gas and the battery died as the food was being delivered to Berean Institute, 1901 W. Girard Ave., for distribution.

Funds are needed to repair the truck and for other crucial needs of the cupboard, which is a program of Heritage Grassroots Leadership Institute, founded by Ruth Birchett. She can be reached at 215-769-5899; 215-490-8604 and ruthbirchett@yahoo.com.

Woman hit by bus

A 67-year-old woman who was hit by a SEPTA bus in Olney last night was rushed to the Albert Einstein Medical Center, and police were investigating the cause of the accident.

A route K bus was turning left onto Godfrey Avenue from 5th Street around 7:30 p.m. when it struck the unidentified woman, police spokeswoman Officer Tanya Little said.

Chief Inspector Scott Small said that the woman was dragged about 20 feet before the bus stopped. Her right leg was crushed in the accident, and she was in critical condition.

No-smoking help

As part of its Get Healthy Philly initiative, the city Department of Public Health is offering 5,000 smokers a free, one-month supply of nicotine patches through the Pennsylvania Free Quitline at 800-QUIT-NOW.

For information go to www.smokefreephilly.org.

- Staff and wire reports