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Detroit fire commissioner sees money in firefighter tourists. Memo suggests charging for ride-along training program that would put the visitors to work.

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Want to learn to fight fires the Detroit way? Interested in riding-along and being put to work in a department that has lost firefighters due to layoffs? Willing to pay money for this privilege?

WJBK-TV reporter Charlie LeDuff says such a plan was outlined in an internal memo from Detroit Executive Fire Commissioner Don Austin. The commissioner’s idea gets the full LeDuff treatment with Austin telling the reporter he will call him back with a comment, but doesn’t. Instead the mayor’s office called the reporter claiming there was nothing to discuss publicly about the internal memo.


Since Mayor Bing gutted the fire service, the department has been forced to close down rigs and layoff men.  What to do?  Here’s a firecracker of an idea.  Because Detroit for years has been a magnet for firefighter tourists riding along on the rigs, Commissioner Don Austin, according to his “ride-along training program” memo, is thinking, hey, why not put them to work and charge them for the privilege.

“What about when the roof falls on the guy that’s out helping.  Who’s going to take care of his liability part?” one firefighter said.“That’s not the answer, no.  We need firefighters, our laid off guys back.  That’s what we need,” said Darnell McLaurin with DFAA Local 344.How does one of the laid off guys feel about being replaced by tourists?“Tourists?  Wow.  Do they know what to do?” said Sam Shack.

In the video above LeDuff refers to a story he did on Tuesday where firefighters couldn’t get police to stop by the firehouse to pick up a confessed murderer. Click here to watch that story:

Seeing as the police precincts were closed, the self confessed murderer came to Engine 40 to turn himself in.  He begged them to call police, which they did.

“He shot four people and killed two,” said a Detroit firefighter.  “No cop ever came here, and this is supposed to be a priority call when you call Central and say, okay, we need a scout car at the fire station.” After three or four hours, firefighters say they put him in a cab where he went to a police precinct and turned himself in. 

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