Philadelphia firefighters were so incensed that Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter restored salaries for high-ranking City Hall officials — but halted pay increases for firefighters — that they took to the streets in protest.

This decision puts the mayor in the hot seat. There have been very vocal opponents of Nutter’s recent financial decisions, including the International Association of Fire Fighters, which represents city firefighters and in late July rallied against the mayor outside City Hall.

“This is a mayor who has no respect for the people who save lives for a living,” said Bill Gault, president of the Local 22 union. “The people who save your life deserve better.”

Nutter initially initiated the pay cuts in 2009 to lessen cutbacks to such city services as libraries and pools.

But quietly, Nutter restored the pay increases to 22 of his staffers in January, costing the city an additional $116,400.

The firefighters won raises through a contract recently awarded to them by an arbitration panel, which Nutter opposed. He believes the contract will be too much of a financial strain on the city.

The dispute is now in the hands of a state-appointed financial oversight board but could end up in court — if Nutter is still around.

A Nutter spokesman told Philly.com that the mayor decided his staff had given back sufficiently and that nine of his top staffers have yet to have their cuts restored, which has resulted in roughly $83,000 in savings. In addition, Nutter has returned more than $97,600 in salary to the city since the economic downturn, the spokesman said.

— terry shropshire