Many Detroit fire stations don’t have working fire alarms. Their quarters often lack locks and emergency generators, and sewage routinely rises from the basement.
Fed up, firefighters from Engine 20 and Squad 2 launched a complaint about their long-neglected quarters at 433 W. Alexanderine in the Cass Corridor, and the findings by the city’s Fire Marshal Division were troubling:
- Sprinkler system not inspected/serviced since 1998
- Fire alarm system not properly maintained – 2 trouble codes (smoke detectors) no current service tags or records available
- Emergency generator not maintained, no service records available
- CO detectors not installed where deemed appropriate
- Switch and outlet cover plates missing throughout(electrical).
- Egress lighting not working
- Handrails damaged or missing
- Electrical panels not protected
- Stairwell doors not closing fully and latching
- Numerous doors with damaged locksets/ will not positive latch
- Numerous doors missing door handles
- Ceiling integrity compromised in many locations
- Flexible vent pipe used on gas clothes dryer
- Doors with missing, or damaged door closers
- Apparatus doors with safety features disabled
- Medic’s plymovent cannot be attached to vehicle
Part of the problem is that Mayor Duggan banned donations to firefighters, who used the money to fix their quarters.
Firefighters from Ladder 20 and Squad 2 said their station has been a dangerous nightmare for years because the city has ignored festering problems. The city, for example, has failed to service the sprinklers, fire alarm system and emergency generator for up to two decades. The ceiling is beginning to collapse, and much of the electrical wiring is a fire hazard. The fire station has no carbon-monoxide detectors.
Fire Commissioner Edsel Jenkins said the department quickly fixed many of the problems and discovered there was nothing wrong with the sprinklers and fire alarm. The General Services Department (GSD), which handles building maintenance, is addressing the problem across the city, Jenkins said.
“GSD is updating its maintenance plan for all fire stations to provide a full proactive inspection once a month of each fire house,” Commissioner Jenkins said in an e-mail to us. “Battalion Chiefs also will conduct their own inspections twice a month. This is an effort to be more proactive and less reactive in addressing issues as they arise at our fire stations.”
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.