In one afternoon, Detroit firefighters struggle against residents, fires and budget cuts

You’re protecting the public from a fallen electrical wire when a man brandishes a gun. Or you’re checking the safety of fire hydrants when a vicious dog chases you. Or after losing your fire station to budget cuts, you are called back because the backyard breaks out in a fire. And while you’re there, you discover thieves have broken into a place you’d considered your second home before this summer’s budget cuts.

It all happened Thursday afternoon, along with two separate fires at the Packard Plant, a mammoth house blaze and a runaway grass fire sparked by a frail power line.

It wasn’t an unusual afternoon for the fire department. Just a typical day in a city where nothing is unusual anymore.

As the city nosedives toward bankruptcy – if the warnings are to be believed – life in the city is going to get a lot tougher. Big cuts to the fire and police departments, along with deep reductions in employee wages and benefits, are creating a dangerous new reality for a city already coping with an upsurge in arsons, murders and joblessness.

And now, as if life couldn’t get worse, Gov. Rick Snyder says he’s getting impatient with the city’s inability to cut more deeply, more quickly.

“No one cares about us,” said Mike Franklin, an unemployed laborer who lives in the only house left on his block on the east side. “People dump their garbage (along the road). They set the houses on fire. No one gives a damn. No one in Lansing worrying about me.”

Imagine how firefighters must have felt after discovering the city couldn’t protect their shuttered station, Ladder 16 at Miller and Concord, from thieves Thursday after two other stations were recently ransacked.

A spray-painted message inside the abandoned building read: “Let it burn.”

Under state pressure, Mayor Dave Bing cut firefighter wages by 10% and weakened their health care benefits.

“I continue to warn the leaders of Detroit that a catastrophe is in the making,” Dan McNamara, president of the Detroit Fire Fighters Association, wrote in an urgent letter to the mayor’s administration. “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.”

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.

  • Pingback: skype download()

  • Pingback: java updates()

  • Pingback: firefox free download()

  • Pingback: google chrome download free()

  • Pingback: Vanessa Smith()

  • Pingback: Karen J. Day()

  • Pingback: Suara Bakrie()

  • Pingback: lol boost()

  • Pingback: protein pandekager()

  • Pingback: Dr Kali Chaudhuri()

  • Pingback: Amy J. Aaron()

  • Gord

    I have such a HUGH level of respect for DFD the busiest, most underpaid, and worst equipped FD in the whole country. How much more of this shit can they be expected to take??? The only thing that keeps them going is their dedication to each other and the people of Detroit, and yet they recieve no support at all from any corner. No one gives a shit how many of them get hurt or how very difficult it must be just to show up for work each day under these horrendous conditions. People of Detroit grow some balls and stand up for your FFers!!!! This must stop!!!!

  • Fed Up

    The city contradict’s itself at every turn. City council , not just the current members, failed to see this day on the horizon. This has been in the making since 1980. Instead of making tough choices in the past, city leaders have been focused on taking care of themselves, and not those who elected them. Repeated bribery, deliberate mis- management, nepotism… You name it. Citizens, Police and firefighters are victims of poor leadership. I wouldn’t cough up another penny until I have some guarantees that it will be used properly either!! Don’t blame Snyder, remember he is not a true politician. He see’s this as running a business, which it is. It is the city leaders choosing to cut public safety.

  • Eric Weber

    The failure is the state is withholding revenue sharing or known as EVIP grant. This is crippling cities to force them to go to the workers to get concessions. Many cities have done better economic practices to get this money but the Capitol isn’t releasing it. When is it enough for Detroit!

  • Pingback: Detroit firefighters struggle « Detroit Fire()

  • Crashing Down

    Detroit seems to be failing itself at every turn. Shouldn’t they be happy to let the state help since they can’t help themselves?

    • Yeah well see thats the problem the state, is the entity pushing this agenda. The state is failing.