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Detroit stories: Report claims 21 minute response time to house fire. Also, fire inspections years behind.

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The website MotorCityMuckraker.com says  a woman watched her Detroit home near Southfield and 8 Mile burn for 21 minutes after 911 was called on Saturday night. The website reports the closest available companies were 18 miles away, Engine 33 and Ladder 13. It also cites last year’s closings of a large number of Detroit fire companies.

Here’s more from reporter Steve Neavling:

“The house was totally engulfed when we arrived, and it had started with a small fire in the basement,” firefighter Ted Copley said. “An old lady now has nothing. Epic fail by the city.”

Fires are burning longer and becoming more destructive because Mayor Dave Bing’s administration has closed 15 stations in the past 18 months, and nearly as many are closed each night as part of temporary closures called “brown outs,” said Dan McNamara, president of the Detroit Firefighters Association.

Copley said his crew passed “God knows how many closed or browned out firehouses” enroute to Saturday’s blaze.

Also, according to a  WXYZ-TV report last week (the video above), Detroit fire inspectors are years behind in their work. Five inspectors try to handle work that was once the responsibility of 32 inspectors. This report comes as a follow-up to the TV station’s recent broadcast about fire safety issues in the city’s firehouses (see video below).

Kimberly Craig, WXYZ-TV:

The Fire Marshal Division no longer has a night crew of fire inspectors to regularly check bars and casinos.

Years ago, (Detroit Fire Marshal Steven) Hurst says it took two years for inspectors to get to all the commercial buildings in Detroit. When Action News asked how long it’ll now take for inspectors to complete that same job, he replied “Years”.

And while fire fighters are trained to be able to spot fire hazards and other safety issues, their own firehouses where are supposed to be on the inspection list. But out of the dozens of firehouses around the city, only two were inspected in 2011.

In 2012? Fire Marshal Hurst said, “None”.

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