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Detroit’s new fire commissioner plans to reopen firehouses & do testing for promotions

Fox 2 News Headlines

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Randy Wimbley, WJBK-TV:

Jonathon Jackson says 2014 will be a big year for Detroit and he plans on re-tooling the department from top to bottom. "Business as usual in the Detroit fire department especially as it relates to equipment is just not going to cut it anymore."

Jackson is also pushing to re-open fire companies, hire more firefighters, and cross train those already on the job to handle EMS duties.

MI Detroit interim commissioner

There were more than 24,000 fire responses during a busy 2013. Many of those were arsons; few were ever solved.

But that could soon change as 8 new arson investigators may be coming to the city. Another possible change: firefighters may no longer be promoted based on seniority. The 100-year-tradition may soon change so that testing determines who's in charge and who's not.

That possible change in addition to 10 percent pay cuts across the board have many firefighters ready to jump ship.


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Comments - Add Yours

  • Midwest Medic

    In all seriousness, why would not promoting solely based on seniority be a change that makes people want to leave? Outside of the obvious disappointment for people in line for those promotions as it stands, that sounds like a positive change.

  • Fire21

    A 10% pay cut is distressing, especially for people who are already overworked.  I can understand their willingness to leave.

    But getting upset because testing will determine promotions?  God forbid the most qualified person direct fireground operations, rather than the jake who happens to have the most time onboard and perhaps the least fire dept-promoting education.

    When my dept was all volunteer, we did promotions by popularity vote.  Now with the combination system, promotions are done by testing and interviews.  I guarantee, it works better this way!  We know the person in charge has some knowledge AND experience behind them.  Yeah, we've hired some "out-of-towners", but by golly, they've worked out well for us!  It's not the most popular way of filling a slot, but it often works out for the better.  Give it a chance.

    • Mark too

      If I'm not mistaken, that's an additional 10% on top of prior wage cuts.  I'm sure that the change in promotional practices is not the primary factor for those considering "jumping ship".

  • VanMan

    Promotional testing seems reasonable. Promoting based on seniority would be valid if there weren't such a huge difference between 20 years of experience, and one year repeated twenty times… I'm NOT saying that is the case in Detroit, or anyplace else for that matter, but it is a valid concern if seniority is the only criterion.

  • cbj

    Hopefully some REAL changes will take place for department that has been truely kicked to the curb. Change is very hard to accept, even though the current system may suck. I totally understand that.10% pay cut for a group that hasn't seen an increase for years is hard to take. Yet when there is NO money to susbtantiate even status-quo it is the hrash reality. Promotions by seniority? INSANE!

  • ukfbbuff

    I wish interm Detroit Fire Commissioner Jonathon Jackson, the best of luck in his new assignement.

    While he has some good ideas (I'm certain former Commissioner Donald Austin did also) he can not accomplish much without;

    Funding and the support of his subordinates.


  • VanMan

    I believe the city, now in bankruptcy, is also trying to screw with the pensions for the cops and firefighters (as well as all the other city workers who aren't political appointees). The folks in Detroit — the workers AND the residents — are in a world of hurt. They deserve to catch a break. Reopening fire stations and promoting based on ability are first steps. Maybe the state should cut the payments to the bankruptcy administrator (or whatever his title is) and rescind the pay cut.

  • 19262007

    So let's see, sweeping changes AND an additional pay cut, that's always a morale booster.  How about instead of talking about all the change that's coming the new commissioner guy simply commits himself to STOPPING any decrease in pay FIRST. Not that he'll be able to do it, but at least the troops, the guys who DO the actual WORK, will see that someone is finally on their side.  Oh wait, that would possibly increase morale, wouldn't want that!  Sorry about the crazy talk, I gotta stop drinking when I get off work and getting on the keyboard.  Good luck mr. new commissioner dude.