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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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Comments - Add Yours

  • PPFD

    Really can’t feel sorry for the Detroit citizens.

    They get the government they vote for.

  • Aardvark

    Unfortunately there is plenty of money for welfare abuse in this Country. The working man gets the shaft again and again……

  • Commenter

    Detroit’s obviously a soup sandwich and in dire straits. 21 minute responses are unacceptable.

    Detroit FD should drop back and punt – and do what they need to do to reduce response times, especially given their propensity to “Dump the Monitor” upon arrival at these houses. Take the existing companies and personnel, and distribute them as 3 man engines, or as 4 man companies cross-staffing an engine and a special service. With 28 engines, 18 trucks, and 6 squads, they could have a company in each of 52 stations, which would restore 10 of the 15 stations closed in 2012.

    If they taught their truck bosses to be IC’s, they could cut 6 chiefs and put 2 more stations in service. If they were willing to go to 3 on the trucks and squads, they could put 8 more in service, completely reversing their 2012 closings and having 5 double houses (or opening other stations somewhere).

    3 man companies aren’t ideal. They aren’t as effective as 4 or 5 man companies. However, a 3 man company here now is better than a 5 man company in 18 minutes. A 3 man company can “dump the monitor” and reverse out to a plug, while the OIC does a 360. A 3 man company can “kill the flashover” and stretch a line to the front door, ready to make entry when the next company arrives. A 3 man company can raise a ladder to a window and rescue someone there, or perform VEIS. None of these make a 3 man company “dangerous”.

    1st E: 360, size up, Kill the Flashover/Blitz, then 3 man attack line with TIC
    2nd E: Water Supply to 1st; provide MPO and 2 man RIG
    3rd E: 3 man backup line or alternate water source and 2 man backup line
    Truck: IC and 2 man Vent team
    Squad: +RIG and/or 3 man TIC-based search team when indicated.

    Detroit could do this in a matter of weeks. Sometimes it’s better to improve staffing than improve response times. If 18 minute response times are occurring, they should work on improving response times, even at the expense of company staffing.

    • JustJimmy

      Commentor- How long before the city begins eliminating companies again. So you go from a sufficient number of three man companies to insufficient number of companies again. Once its lost or given up you never get it back! Keep the manpower together so the guys in Detroit can watch each other’s back. The city and the commisioner don’t care. Unless the people of Detroit demand better service it will never get better.

      • Commenter

        I hear you, but here’s the problem: they’re going to cut either way. There is no floor. At some point the ‘danger’ from responding to developed fires is greater than the ‘danger’ associated with 3 man companies.

        There is some safety associated with knowing that your company is too small to initiate an interior attack alone. Detroit is already pretty smart about knocking down the fire prior to entry. Three man companies can watch each other’s backs from the outside better than four man companies can from the inside. With 6 on scene you get a real, dedicated IC, MPO and 2 in / 2 out – once the second company arrives. With the right SOGs, 3 man companies gives more 3 man teams rather than 2 x 2 teams, or 3 man team and one more guy at a pump panel or turntable.

    • FireCapt

      You state “If they taught their truck bosses to be IC’s”.
      I hate to burst your bubble but all officers and senior firefighters are trained in incident command.

      One question. Have you ever been to Detroit and rode with the crews or are you just commenting on video clips with no actual knowledge through being there on scene?

  • Fire21

    How many millions were spent today for the useless re-enactment of the President’s inauguration? Why do we have such waste in this country when there are cities, especially Detroit, that could make great use of those funds? America has its priorities wrong. Stop taking care of the rich, and get some help out to the poor. And I’m not talking about free cell phones!

    • D.R.

      A lot of the inaugural expenses are paid for with private donations. Besides, the inauguration is a federal expense. Detroit’s woes are local.

  • Pingback: Video: House Fire in Detroit, Michigan | The Fire Critic()

  • Anonymous

    Dont think its just the democratic party screwing up thing. Its the republican aswell. The bigger picture is, they don’t care about us. Just as long as at the end of the day, they get there check. If Romney won, it would still be the same! Truth

    • BH

      Oh yeah, because when I think about Detroit, I think “Man, Republicans are screwing that place up.” Really?

  • FireCapt

    Slow response times? Nothing new here, been going on for years with no end in sight.