FOLLOWING A subpoena issued by City Councilman Jim Kenney, Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers will testify at a hearing today on the Fire Department's retraction of promotions for 14 officers, a move that was contested by the firefighters union.

Mayor Nutter's administration had offered to send Public Safety Director Mike Resnick and Human Resources Director Albert D'Attilio to testify at the hearing. But in a letter to Ayers accompanying the subpoena yesterday, Kenney wrote that he wanted the commissioner, because "it was your discretion to demote these members."

"I believe that your testimony is paramount to fully investigate the decision-making of the department you oversee," Kenney wrote.

After Ayers received the subpoena, Nutter spokesman Mark McDonald said the commissioner would testify at the 10 a.m. hearing, but only briefly.

Ayers "is on a very tight schedule and must leave before 10:30 a.m. But any substantive departmental or broader policy questions that might come up can be fielded by Michael Resnick, the director of Public Safety, and Al D'Attilio, the human resources commissioner," McDonald said in a statement.

The dispute is about the department's decision to rescind the promotions of five captains and nine lieutenants after winning a Commonwealth Court decision earlier this year allowing it to do so. The administration, which says it has since promoted officers to those spots who tested higher on a more recent test, told the first group of employees that their promotions were subject to the court decision.

The firefighters union attempted to fight what it's describing as demotions in court. Now, Kenney and officials at the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 22 are criticizing the department for holding a ceremony celebrating their promotions if they knew they might be retracted.

"What we have here is a union supporting the low performers as opposed to the high performers, and apparently Councilman Kenney supports that concept, too," McDonald said.

On Twitter: @SeanWalshDN