Detroit firefighters lose control of blaze because six closest fire hydrants malfunctioned

By Steve Neavling

As flames spread through a house on the city’s east side Tuesday night, Detroit firefighters arrived within minutes and were in position to knock down the blaze.

Only one problem: The closest fire hydrant didn’t work. Nor did the second or third or fourth.

Firefighters scrambled for blocks before getting lucky on the seventh hydrant.

It didn’t matter. Nearly 45 minutes had passed, and the house at 17446 Arlington was gone.

The struggle to find a working fire hydrant is nothing new. Detroit’s aging hydrants often malfunction, and it’s difficult to fix them.

Combine that with Tuesday’s extreme temperatures, and water can become unavailable for blocks.

It’s a problem that is expected to worsen until the city has money to fix its aging infrastructure.

In the meantime, Mayor Dave Bing is expected to cut more from the cash-starved department to avoid bankruptcy.

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.