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Yesterday, we relayed the news report of a 21-minute response time to a house fire over the weekend in Detroit (here’s an update on that story), along with a look at the dismal state of fire inspections. Last night, WJBK-TV’s Charlie LeDuff gave his own update on the state of the Detroit Fire Department in the manner we’ve come to expect from the reporter.
It isn’t a pretty picture and once again LeDuff found himself running after a fire commissioner to try to get an interview. Commissioner Don Austin said he was attempting to get permission from Mayor Dave Bing’s office to talk. LeDuff called Mayor Bing’s spokesman wondering why no one would talk to him and was given a very blunt and straight forward answer: “Because we don’t like your show”.
Of course that did nothing to stop LeDuff’s report. The report focused on the impact of last year’s firehouse closings and recent rising insurance rates.
LeDuff with Commissioner Don Austin’s arm. Watch the story for an explanation.
In the end, LeDuff did get a mayor to talk. He ambushed the former officer holder, the one who is again on trial on corruption charges, Kwame Kilpatrick. LeDuff wanted to know what Kilpatrick did with all the money that never made it to the department for capital improvements and equipment. Kilpatrick says the fire department got everything it needed under his administration.
There was a time not that long ago when there was a fire in Detroit, you knew firefighters would be there in a hurry. But that was before the budget cuts.
Since those cutbacks, firefighters are spread dangerously thin and it’s you who may get burned.
“We have a new saying shamefully because the fire department and the city put us in this position that when seconds count, we’re only minutes away,” said Dan McNamara with the Detroit Fire Fighters Association.
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This is what’s left of the house on Saturday where there was a 21-minute response time. Commissioner Austin told WXYZ-TV there were three other fires going at the time. Here’s more.