Detroit firefighters are using candles and lights from their cell phones to navigate their southwest station because power has been out since Friday, leaving them without warm water or refrigerated food.
Engine 48 at 2300 South Fort is one of the most important lines of defense against a fire at the massive Marathon refinery, and it provides protection to tens of thousands of homes in southwest Detroit.
But if the problem isn’t resolved soon, firefighters will have to relocate to Lawndale, which is about 7 minutes away, across an area riddled with busy railroad crossings.
City officials blamed the power outage on a storm last week, but firefighters are baffled that the city wouldn’t address the problem sooner.
Engine 48 also lost power for several days in late March.
The outage is just the latest blow to fire protection and firefighters, who have taken 10% pay cuts, are fighting more fires and are using engines and trucks that should have been retired years ago. Fire administrators are even squandering a grant to hire 100 firefighters because of mismanagement.
The increasing problems have prompted recent calls for Fire Commissioner Don Austin to resign.
Check out our ongoing coverage of the fire crisis by clicking here.
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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.