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‘When seconds count, we’re only minutes away’. TV reporter Charlie LeDuff gives a status update on the Detroit Fire Department.

Fox 2 News Headlines

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FireCritic.com with recent house fire from Detroit

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.

Here’s more from the TV station’s website:

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.

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Comments - Add Yours

  • Puzzled

    ” Because we don’t like your show ”

    Boy, am I glad I don’t work in the PR department in Detroit.

  • Fire21

    I gotta admire Charlie. He really does seem to try to get some answers, but people just keep hiding from him.

    The situation in Detroit is shameful. But, when the citizens keep electing shameful “leaders”, then this is what they get.

    Keep it up, Charlie, one of these days the message will get through.

  • OldSutterOne

    It is obvious that the DFD needs help. Permanate fix it type help and not a band-aid here and there. The problems are bigger than the City can deal with. I have three suggestions.
    1. A complete study that will include stations (what stays, gets rehabed, eliminated or built new, and their locations), staffing (per company, per shift), equipment (how many, how old, replacement, maintenance, and location) the FPB (investigations, inspections, plan checks, code development) SOG’s I could go on but you got the idea a whole new dept. Figure out how much it costs and fund it!
    2. Look to prominate people in the fire service and in Colleges with Fire Service type degrees, like Maryland and Oaklahoma. There has to be a think tank somewhere that can help figure this out for free or at a vey low cost.
    3. Then consider a Federal take over! It does happen. In CA a Fed judge oversees the prison system because CA did a bad job. A federal judge has ordered an administrator to supervise the Oakland PD because they are out of control. If that doesn’t work he can fire the Chief and take other steps.
    The people of Detroit deserve better than what they are getting. The Fftrs are doing a great job with what they have, God Bless Them!

  • CLT_FF

    How in the hell do the Political Leaders continue in that town? It’s a complete catastrophe.

    • BH

      They have the right letter after their name. No other qualifications necessary.

  • Johnny Awesome

    As so many have asked before, What can we do to help?

    PS, While reading this DFD Squad-5 was dispatched to a Structure Fire, the rig broke down in the station and couldn’t respond. I listen to the radio from time to time and hear radio traffic of scenes and incidents that are unheard of in any other american city. Our rigs brake down and we have fires, but not on the extreme magnitude that DFD has.

  • 7house

    I remember not so long ago there were many comments on this blog that called LeDuff a lot of names, how times have changed! Sadly this is not the only city that has complete morons running the show, look at Gary,IN. The mayor has hired only fellow sorority sisters to fill vacant positions and all at over $100k a year. Down to 4 or 5 engines & 1 truck per shift, unfortunately that doesn’t make the news. I’m not saying things in Detroit are good, but it could be worse! On the bright side, no Gary fire buff has driven his SUV into a house I guess.

  • practical fire

    Why is it that they won’t call for assistance from a neighboring community when they’re out of apparatus. The city is bordered by several fully staffed career FD’s that would gladly send an engine company if needed. Put away the egos and things can improve. No one can do it by themselves anymore.

    • FireCapt

      Practical Fire,

      Basically it comes down to the fact that many of the surrounding communities have cut fire services and most have refused to sign on to any new mutual aid agreements that are now expired.

      They feel and I believe rightfully so that if Detroit wants to keep cutting as deep as they have, they’re not going to send their 1 or 2 apparatus into the city and cut themselves short on their ability to respond to their own emergencies.

      This doesn’t even cover the fact the politics of Detroit is this. They don’t want any outside interference of any kind, period and the city council and other leaders state it without regret.