FIRST ARRIVING NETWORK
First Arriving Network
Powered by the First Arriving Network,Reaching 1M+ First Responders Worldwide

UPDATE – Belgian firefighter says TV reporter wrong that they paid $2K each for Detroit FD ride-along/training. LeDuff rains on critically acclaimed ‘Burn’ local premiere.

Fox 2 News Headlines

Click here to follow STATter911.com on Facebook (hit “like”) 

Close call involving vacationing Belgian firefighter

Earlier coverage of Commissioner Austin’s pay to ride-along proposal

Other Detroit coverage of “Burn” here, here & here

Official website for “Burn” where you can support documentary

SATURDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE:

Belgian Firefighter Marc Opstal has been in touch with STATter911.com both in the comments section and by phone. Opstal says WJBK-TV’s Charlie LeDuff reported wrong information about the visit by the Belgian firefighters to Detroit and wished that LeDuff had contacted them for comment first. Here’s what Opstal wrote:

As one of the 10 firefighters from Belgium, I need to react on the report and comments. First of all we are guests of the Detroit Fire Department and did not pay a dime for this. The 2000 dollars refered to is the money we spent on airfaire, rental cars and hotels for the tourist trip we will be making next week, which will bring us to Toronto, DC, Philadelphia and New York. Secondly, this visit was planned more than a year ago, long before the “tourist thrill”. Finally, we have done similar trips to other US cities since 1996. Another group will be visiting Austin, TX next week. Oh, and by the way, we paid for our tickets to the “burn” premiere, and thus show our support.

EARLIER COVERAGE:

It’s buried near the end of WJBK-TV reporter Charlie LeDuff’s rant about the state of the Detroit fire department under the administration of Commissioner Donald Austin and Mayor Dave Bing. LeDuff, who broke the story of Austin’s proposal to charge those who want to ride-along and train with the Detroit Fire Department, says “10 guys from Belgium took him up on the offer, paying $2,000 each.” LeDuff adds, “For that they get to pull hose, sleep in a real-life firehouse, go to a Tigers game and stand on the red carpet of the Burn premiere.”

As the reporter mentions in the video above, for that money one of the Belgian firefighters experienced a close call first hand. As we showed you yesterday, the firefighter was on the roof of a burning vacant warehouse when the roof gave way underneath him (click here for the video and audio of that incident).

It’s interesting that in the WXYZ-TV story about the vacationing firemen where Commissioner Austin was interviewed there is mention the firefighters paid their own way and were on their own time, but no indication they paid the City of Detroit for this opportunity.

LeDuff’s story came as the critically acclaimed documentary “Burn” had its Detroit premiere. While the coverage of the movie elsewhere around town and the country has been very good, LeDuff does not appear to be much of a fan:

The Detroit premiere of the documentary “Burn” plays Friday night. With respect to the hard-working firefighters who lay it on the line every night, the movie doesn’t show anything that we don’t already know. The Detroit Fire Department is a disaster, made worse by the bonehead budget cuts by Out-To-Lunch Dave Bing.

Reporter Charlie LeDuff claims Belgian firefighters paid $2000 for the “tourist thrill ride”. This one got something the others didn’t, a close call as the roof of a warehouse gave way underneath him. Click here for more.

    
Why allow a movie camera on the rigs to make yet another negative story about Detroit? We’re told it is to show the world the struggles of our emergency responders. Well, the cameras have left and the city still struggles. You don’t get rid of a negative image by making movies. You get rid of a negative image by fixing the problems. I thought we learned our lesson with Aiyana Stanley Jones, the seven-year-old who was shot to death by a cop with a cable television camera in tow.
   
What has the fire commissioner done? He has issued an official department-wide bulletin telling the rank and file that the movie producers request they come to the premiere in their dress blues. The good tickets go for 50 bucks. Can somebody tell Dennis Leary they just got their pay cut by 10 percent?

WDIV-TV reports this Friday night fire is an example of the “let it burn” policy. Click here for video.

Another station, WDIV-TV. filed a report on the same night as “Burn” clearly illustrating “let it burn”, Commissioner Austin’s plan that combines firefighter safety with urban renewal. At least one resident interviewed supports the idea.

Do you want to sell a rig? Click HERE to find out how with SellFireTrucks.com.

Detroit firefighters hosing down the rig but not the fire building Friday night.

SHARE THIS

Comments - Add Yours

  • JustSayin’

    Always love Charlie’s point-of-view.!!!

    He continues to battle for the Brotherhood of FF’s in the D.

    Of course, we had a thread on STATter911 not too long ago
    where some of the Brotherhood were none too supportive.

    But at least Charlie is still in the fight, swinging punches.

    Go Charlie, GO.!!!

  • D Schaefer

    I agree with Just Sayin. when are these SOB’s from the city government going to wake up? What is it going to take FF’s losing their life I really hope not.

  • Waffle

    I believe the Belgian guys pay around $2,000 for flights, meals enroute, etc but the $$$ does not go directly to DFD. At least thats what they have done in other cities aroubd the US. If DFD took money I sure hope it goes to good use.

  • Marc Opstal

    As one of the 10 firefighters from Belgium, I need to react on the report and comments. First of all we are guests of the Detroit Fire Department and did not pay a dime for this. The 2000 dollars refered to is the money we spent on airfaire, rental cars and hotels for the tourist trip we will be making next week, which will bring us to Toronto, DC, Philadelphia and New York. Secondly, this visit was planned more than a year ago, long before the “tourist thrill”. Finally, we have done similar trips to other US cities since 1996. Another group will be visiting Austin, TX next week. Oh, and by the way, we paid for our tickets to the “burn” premiere, and thus show our support.

  • JustSayin’

    Maybe they are over here to learn what NOT to do and why NOT to do it.!!!

    Might just be re-enforcing their safer methods.

    Just hope they do not get injured, maimed or dead while learning.

  • Conky

    Maybe the story was changed by the higher ups that the $2,000 price tag shouldn’t be mentioned and maybe a little arm twisting. It will be interesting to see if any policy changes are made after this.

  • ukfbbuff

    My 2 cents from California.

    1st. Right On! Charlie Le Duff. “Cosmetic’s” will not change the hard reality of what continues in Detroit. And I too see where Commissioner Austin has become in-effective.

    2nd. It’s good to see that “Burn” has finally made its premiere. In the past (about two years ago) I contributed money to its production, but in a way since;

    “constance york”
    uploaded her University of Michigan (Dearborn) final exam video;

    “Detroit on Fire” a documentary, on
    You Tube on October 24,2011, this is kind of anti-climatic.

    Still another version of what is happening in Detroit and DFD
    is encouraging. The information is getting out and I’m certain
    it would be with or with out the “Leary Foundations assistance”.

    3rd. But as has happened recently in Charlie Le Duff’s Fire Station Expose, you get back to asking;

    Why does the Fire and Police Deartments need to be in a $60 Million Dollar “Taj Mahal”, when line personnel from both Departments are being laid off, bad plumbing in 50-75 year old fire stations and Ambulances that don’t work are still the “Priority” issues.

    This is like the old “Putting a New Lipstick on the same old Pig”.

    In the end you could probably use discareded “Katrina” FEMA Trailers to use for the Headquarters Offices and still get the same ineffective results, only cheapier.

    4th. For Belgian FF Marc Opstal, hope your and your co-workers have a nice time while in the U.S.. Had you had the chance to attend the IAFF Fallen FF’s Memorial Services in Colorado, Springs, Co., two weeks ago, I’m certain you would have been impressed by the participation from so many
    fire departments from the U.S. and Canada at such a solemn occasion.

    • Constance York

      Nice to see my humble, no-budget documentary getting some press. Thank you!!! Detroit on fire 2 coming soon. I haven’t left Detroit. I’m still here capturing history in the making.
      Connie

  • Former Chief

    I don’t completely agree with Charlie on this one. I always appreciate his candor and the fact that he keeps taking the City of Detroit to task on their shortcomings. But, beyond Detroit and the fire service, many people don’t know of the problems the DFD is facing. “Burn” is intended to bring those problems to the public everywhere, and while I’ve haven’t seen the entire film yet, I believe it will do that. And, if the people of Detroit really know the problem, then they need to march on City Hall enmass to support their Police and Fire Departments, not steal equipment from fire trucks and threaten firefighters.

    • dave statter

      You aren’t alone in that feeling Former Chief. Reading the comments section with the original LeDuff article the feeling is almost universal that Charlie blew this one. Much of the criticism is coming from people identifying themselves as fans.

      Statter

  • http://towniesphotos.smugmug.com Paul B

    I follow Detroit, Statter and Charlie. I have been documenting these guys for 10 years. Some photojournalist have been covering them for 40 years. I didn’t like Charlie’s tone on this one. All the Detroit Guys I talked to were more than happy to have the public see what they do. This is a classic example of taking a positive and making it a negative. Charlie is usually spot on. This time I didn’t buy what he was saying. Not all of it anyway. Detroit and it citizens should be proud of its Fire Department. Firefighters want to come to Detroit because whats happening to Detroit is not the norm. Yes, everyone is struggling. But, Detroit is dying. If it wasn’t for the Fireman and Cops. It would be lawless. And by the way, Detroit is about as lawless as it gets in a major City. I hate to blame the politicians, but in my 10 years of going to Detroit. I have never been bothered by any citizen in Detroit. You see the respect they have for the Fireman. Its always the ones hiding that you have to worry about. Like the Politicians behind there doors. I implore every American to go to Detroit. Go see the gorgeous waterfront (its better than most cities) and the Downtown area is gorgeous. But mostly vacant. Go outside those area’s and there are swaths of vacant land from burned out neighborhoods long ago. Detroit has more vacant buildings than most cities have actual buildings. The Fire and Police Departments didn’t do this. The really question is how does a City get this way and who is responsible? Sorry Charlie, C+ on this report, Statter as usual straight A’s!!!!

  • AbsoluteReality

    GOOD GRIEF.!!!

    You egomaniacal bloviating twits are picking apart Charlie cause he
    did not stroke your little ego-inflating flick.!!!

    WHO ELSE in the media is going to bat for the DFD.????.!!!
    WHO ELSE is attempting to get ANSWERS and IMPROVEMENTS.???.!!!

    CHARLIE gets in the FACE of a twisted, broken and probably criminal city government
    with the desire to make things better for the FF’s and people of Detroit.!!!

    Watch his report again… 99% of it is attempting to MAKE THINGS BETTER.!!!

    But NOOOOOOOO.!!! He didn’t say enough about our precious self-esteem.!!!

    Thus, CHARLIE BAD.!!! CHARLIE’s off the Mark.!!!

    Well, maybe ya need him in your corner, DFD FF’s an DFD “Supporters”.

    Cause I don’t see YOU on TV, time after time, RANTING, PLEADING, SCREAMING
    for positive, appropriate, professional CHANGE.!!!

    I Say, THANK YOU CHARLIE, you non-FF you,
    for sticking out your neck/career for the FFs and People of Detroit.!!!

    KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.!!!