Firefighters in Philadelphia have been without a contract since 2009, as the Nutter administration continues to challenge in court one awarded by an arbitrator.

Even before this contract is settled, negotiations will have to start soon on the next one.

Firefighters Union President Bill Gault says in the next few weeks they will officially go to the table to negotiate a contract to replace the one tied up in the legal fight.

"It's extremely frustrating, it's extremely hard to explain to the members and we've never been here before," said Gault. "We're on uncharted waters here, it's never been like this going in to negotiate a new contract before the first one is honored."

Mayor Michael Nutter says the city can't afford the disputed contract so he's fighting it until someone in power realizes it.

"You know, it's irony, it's the calendar, it's unfortunately at times the way things go," said Nutter. "We have to stay focused on the issue at hand, the financial integrity of this city our ability to pay, our desire to be respectful the firefighters in a contract, but ultimately the taxpayers of the city have to pay that bill."

Negotiations on the 2013 contract have to start before the end of the year.