Union leader: Mayor’s Office playing “deadly experiment” with cuts to Fire Department

Arsons are sweeping across Detroit at an alarming rate.

But fighting those fires is becoming an increasingly difficult task because of recent budget cuts that have trimmed personnel, rigs and new equipment.

Firefighters, who also are facing pay cuts and demotions, are angry and worried that soon the cuts will cost lives.

Perhaps the timing, then, is perfect for “Burn,” an intimate documentary about the hazards facing Detroit firefighters and city residents. Our friends at DeadlineDetroit.com take us deeper inside the struggles and the documentary’s timing.

Below is a letter to Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis from Dan McNamara, president of the Detroit Fire Fighters Association.

Good Morning Mr. Lewis:

My question is a very simple one. When is this deadly experiment with the members of the Detroit Fire Fighters Association going to end? The leaders of this city certainly are aware of what is really happening on the streets and to us but choosing to ignore the escalating challenges and threats.

Evidence is mounting, property destruction is escalating and civilian safety is compromised as seen in the fatalities realized by the DFD’s callous closings of fire companies. Besides the destruction going on I am sure that the city of Detroit is aware of the incredible possible insurance rate increases to residents, businesses and property owners of Detroit caused by mistaken and purposeful actions that ignore national standards like NFPA 1710.

Mr. Lewis this has to cease immediately before anything else happens. Hockeytown was saved from the DFD’s disastrous decision making by the great work of Detroit Fire Fighters. FIres seem to be escalating throughout the city.

I continue to warn the leaders of Detroit that a catastrophe is in the making. Our members have, through their dedication and professionalism, stopped some potential catastrophes already but the leaders of Detroit cannot continue to expect this level of service as our ranks continue to thin and more of us are getting seriously hurt.

I ask that the city of Detroit’s leaders protect its residents and fire fighters proactively. I do not wish to see “Nero fiddle while Rome burns” any longer. Our history should be seen as a city that protects its residents and fire fighters, not ignore them and face the usual “crisis management” style which permeates Detroit government.

I look forward to your answer but I must also say that any excuse about the budget does not work. This city must have public safety and the budget must be adjusted to do so. So far, we have received silence on our challenges.

Our membership bent over backwards to assist the city and keep out and Emergency Manager. All parties freely signed and agreed to the Tentative Agreement that, as devastating as it is to our membership, provided the dollars requested from us, preserved a modicum of safety with minimal company closings and no lay offs.

We deserve more than this and so do the residents we protect. Detroit Fire Fighters are not a grand experiment nor are we to be ignored.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • TOXIC TRAIN SAFETY – A First Responders Petition caused The Chlorine Institute to conduct a five-month study comparing the safety of secondary containment to the chlorine “C”-Kit for chlorine tank cars. The study proved secondary containment to be, by far, the safest technology for containing and preventing releases of chlorine gas. To see secondary containment – search “CHLORTANKER.”

  • Rudy Caparros

    HazMat Experts and Firefighters petition Dow Chemical and Union Pacific for safe rail tank cars transporting gas chlorine. Secondary containment is a necessary improvement that must be implemented. See–PETITION C KIT for First Responders Comments.

    • Steve Neavling

      Thank you for tip. We are interested in any issue facing our brave firefighters.

  • Eric

    The whole premise is B.S. Maybe if police and fire for once would stop and think that if they weren’t carrying nonessential city departments like purchasing, accounting, etc., they wouldn’t have to cut police and fire employees.

  • DFD17

    Did you just say “and maybe a few firemen might die?” Are you F*ing crazy? Who made this comment, DFD Commissioner Don Austin? Clearly you are one of the few (Austin included) who could care less about the first responders that would put their life on the line to save your sorry ass. Try having 40% less fire houses, which means the fires burn longer before you can get to them. Also twice as long driving through a city that could care less that you have lights and sirens on. On top of having one less fire rig aloud to respond to fires. Oh and the rigs that do show up are also now responding with three firemen, not 4. I pray every night that current state of affairs the DFD is in, doesn’t kill some one. Oh we also took a 10% pay cut, 10th year with out a raise, and now pay 20% more of our health care. So there are no hidden agendas, we have nothing else to give.

  • He makes some good points. Is this an issue where the union won’t bend at all and the City has no other option? There must be some hidden agendas here, some secret power plays at work. it just seems too odd. The real shame is that it leaves residents as the ones who will suffer and maybe a few fire fighters die in the line of duty. .All the city needs now is a big statue of Nero fiddling while Detroit burns.