Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr is cutting their wages another 10%. Mayor Dave Bing slashed a quarter of their budget last year, closing seven stations permanently and leaving firefighters without adequate equipment. And the people whom firefighters are paid to protect are pillaging fire trucks and stations.
So it was just another day Thursday when firefighters found their station – Ladder 19 on the east side – gutted by thieves. Gone was the entire kitchen that firefighters had remodeled with their own money for Christmas 2011. Thieves busted the walls and stole mattresses, radiators, TVs, food and belongings inside lockers and bedrooms.
And a homeless person was sleeping inside.
This was the second break-in since March, when thieves stole expensive radios, tools, a computer and other equipment.
If the past is any indication, the city won’t be quick to help firefighters rebuild. It’s common practice for firefighters to use their own money to pay for routine maintenance, sewer backups and other problems because of crushing budget cuts.
We are awaiting a response from Fire Commissioner Don Austin.
Life as a firefighter in Detroit is unimaginable. They’re so understaffed that firefighters often find no time for sleep because blazes are constant. Fire trucks and engines are regularly broken down. And hydrants are increasingly in disrepair.
Check back for updates.
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.