But many critics are skeptical. The local firefighters' union, for instance, has been lobbying Council members for weeks to reject the cuts. The union also has led protests.
Thomas O'Drain, president of the city firefighters' union, Local 22 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, criticized the administration Friday and questioned the analysis Hairston used to formulate his plan.
O'Drain took exception to how Hairston came up with the time it would take firefighters to respond to emergencies under the new plan.
"When you start actually traveling from one place to another, you have turns you have to make, so those mileage figures are off. They're not accurate," O'Drain said. "They should bring in a third party to come in here and do an independent impact study."
Hairston said he and his two deputy commissioners, John McGrath and Lloyd Ayers, conducted the study.
Hairston, a 40-year veteran of the department, said he was confident in the planning, which was in part based on response-time information from the city Planning Commission.
After the meeting, Goldsmith talked about plans to replace Hairston, who was first appointed in 1992 by Mayor Ed Rendell.
"The mayor and I are discussing it. We will make that known when we're ready to announce it," Goldsmith said, adding that it would be before Hairston leaves.
Street has at least a month to name a replacement. When John F. Timoney left as police commissioner in 2001, Street waited months before finally selecting Sylvester M. Johnson to replace him.
Some fire commanders believe there are three main contenders to replace Hairston, the department's first African American commissioner. Leading the pack is Ayers, 52, a 30-year veteran who serves as deputy commissioner of operations and is a former president of the Valiants, a black firefighters' organization.
Ayers is considered a "people-oriented guy," said one fire official, and once served as a battalion chief, one of the most respected jobs in the department.
Two other contenders are Deputy Chiefs Matthew McCrory and Thomas Garrity, who head firefighting operations in different sections of the city.
McCrory is a former deputy fire commissioner who voluntarily stepped back several years ago to deputy chief. Garrity has extensive experience in fire prevention and is credited with helping drastically reduce the number of fire deaths in the city.