Remember the Fire Department report that came out earlier this year, the one recommending that labor and management play nice if they want to solve their problems with the city?
Bill Gault, president of Local 22 of the International Association of Fire Firefighters, may now be trying to take that advice to heart. But only after he nearly got into another public dustup with City Hall.
In the aftermath of the tragic fire in Kensington on April 9 that killed Lt. Robert Neary and Firefighter Dan Sweeney, emotions were raw among members of the department, Gault said last week.
Gault and others got heated when they saw Everett Gillison, deputy mayor for public safety, don a baseball cap emblazoned with the logo of the Philadelphia Fire Department at a news conference.
Given the department's long-standing issues with the Nutter administration and Gillison - including the long-disputed contract for the rank-and-file, the permanent closure of some fire companies, and the ongoing temporary, rolling deactivations of others - Gault saw it as disingenuous for Gillison to show support of the department in a time of tragedy.
He quickly fired off an e-mail accusing Gillison of trying "to score cheap political and public image points." He also posted the missive on the members-only section of Local 22.
Frank Keel, recently hired as a spokesman for Local 22, brought the e-mail to The Inquirer's attention last week, citing it as another example of allegedly outrageous behavior by the administration.
Only problem was, the skirmish was over before it started. Gillison would not comment on this matter, but in a private exchange, Gault said, Gillison replied that he wore the cap as a show of support and out of respect. He also chided Gault for interpreting the gesture as a slam against Local 22.
Gault's response? He apologized. Emotions got the best of him, he said.
"I don't need to be angry with him about that," he told The Inquirer on Friday. Gault said he and Gillison would have a sit-down meeting soon to hash out their problems.
"I had to grow up," Gault said. "We have much bigger issues to discuss. Let's leave it at that."