Cover-up? Police, fire officials protect firefighter from drug operation, illegal DTE hookup

Listen to the audio above.

Update: Detroit Police said Monday that they are now investigating the cause of the fire, which would be unusual because the Fire Department’s arson division usually handles those probes. Stay tuned for more details. 

When Detroit firefighters arrived to a burning house on Detroit’s east side, they called for police after finding “an illegal drug operation” and “an illegal electrical hookup.”

Firefighters, one of whom was rushed to the hospital after sustaining injuries, found garden hoses snaking from the burning house at 2152 Concord to an adjacent lot where marijuana plants were found. It also appeared the fire started in the back of the house where firefighters said they found a crudely wired electrical hookup.

DTE confirmed the house was not receiving legal electrical services. The utility company said it’s investigating whether an illegal hookup caused the fire.

Despite what firefighters and neighbors said was clear evidence of wrongdoing on the night of July 29, fire officials and police were quick to defend one of the occupants – rookie Detroit firefighter Donnie Dickerson, whose step-father is a long-time member of the Fire Department, even as community members doled out more than $10,000 to the firefighter through two fundraisers.

The duplex has been owned by the firefighter’s family since the 1940s.

The fire damaged a neighbor’s house.

“The fire that occurred at the firefighter’s home last week was ruled accidental,” Executive Fire Commissioner Edsel Jenkins told Motor city Muckraker. “Electrical has been ruled out as a possible cause of the fire. It appears to have started on the sofa in the living room.”

2152 Concord fire james cox
James Cox contradicted claims by the Fire Department’s top brass about the origin of the fire. Photo by Steve Neavling.

But the lone occupant at the time of the fire, Dickerson’s cousin, James Cox, told us the fire couldn’t have started on the sofa – or anywhere near it – because he was sleeping on the couch when he was awoken by flames in the rear of the house, where the illegal electrical hookup was.

“No, the fire definitely didn’t start in the living room,” said Cox, who was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation. “There were a lot of flames in the back of the house.”

Cox’s memory of the fire also aligns with the original fire report, which contradicts the fire commissioner’s later claims that the blaze started far from any illegal hookup.

Soon after the fire, at least five local news agencies, including the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press and Fox 2, ran positive stories about the firefighter and provided links to the two fundraisers.

Fire Commissioner Edsel Jenkins
Fire Commissioner Edsel Jenkins

The reaction from the Fire Department’s top brass is baffling for another reason: When a firefighter blew the whistle on hazardous conditions at a firehouse in Midtown, he was immediately disciplined.

The city declined to disclose any records of the fire. Motor City Muckraker filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the records.

When police arrived on the scene that night, they uprooted the marijuana plants, stuffed them into bags and left. Neighbors, who complained to firefighters about the grow operation, said they were never interviewed by police.

“There isn’t anything that proves he (Dickerson) was the owner of the plants,” Police Sgt. Cassandra Lewis told Motor City Muckraker.

Related: Detroit sends dangerous defective engines, ladder trucks to fires

Many firefighters are angry and said the city has a responsibility to determine what really happened, especially because a firefighter was injured and because residents shelled out a lot of money. That’s not to mention damage to the neighbor’s house.

Mayor Mike Duggan’s office declined to comment and expressed no interest in hearing what we discovered.

Motor City Muckraker will provide more information when the city turns over the investigative records as required by law.

This is part of our yearlong investigation of the beleaguered Fire Department.

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.

  • AE interior

    Mayor Mike Duggan’s office declined to comment and expressed no interest in hearing what we discovered with thiet ke noi that cao capnoi that biet thunoi that chung cu

  • Donald E. Hodge

    sorry steve, one more thing Brother. I truly can not believe that Edsel makes $ 145.000 a year. that guys got a lot of balls. most firemen make what 30 maybe a little more? what a piece of S–t!

    • muckraker_steve

      Very good point. New firefighters start at $29,000, and they are forced to fight fires with defective equipment and trucks. It’s insane. And police are never there to protect them from troublemakers. There aren’t a lot of firefighters in this country who go to fires without police when there are gunshots fired. I have never met a better group of people. Detroit’s firefighters truly are the finest.

      • Donald E. Hodge

        Steve most curtain Federal laws have been Broken. Why is the the federal prosucutor not doing his or hers job! Is there a federal rule that states 15 Detroiters have to die before a case is opened?

    • javierjuanmanuel

      he is lying. He makes more. Also he got the job because of who he is related to, and he is black. Same with his father.

      I know a half dozen white boys who scored top 98 99% on the tests and cannot get hired.

      You can wait years for a call back.

      Also if you are a black female you could walk right into a job next week.

      • Donald E. Hodge

        He makes more? That is the last thing I needed to hear JJ.

        • javierjuanmanuel

          Of course he does, every fireman makes more than that, hell you get a 20k health insurance package, and do not forget paid days off, and a pension is just deferred income.

          Every fireman retires with basically a 600k healthcare package and a multimillion dollar pension, often 3 million bucks or more. He just got paid 1/20 of 3 million bucks in his pension. That comes out to easy 150k that went into his pension for that one year of labor.

          I respect firemen, but get sick of the working for peanuts bullshit, and am about to lose my mind with the suburban guys who go years with out fighting a fire, and make 100k per year, working 2 days per week. Some in their entire career only stand on 20 lawns and shoot lazy water at a burning house. Then they retire at 40 something, and get 100k for the rest of their life.

          Roofers are bigger heros, painters, high rise window washers, chimney sweeps, window installers, masons, basically anyone on a ladder risks their life more than a nice town suburban fireman.

          No one thinks window glaziers, or pest control, are heros.

          • notasdumbasulook

            I’m retired… I have NO health insurance.

        • Donald E. Hodge

          All right you guys knock off this white/ Black Bull shit. Stay the course! This story and our conversation is about The Detroit Fire Department! And the sad state it is in.not Race! For Chirst sake! We need to look out for each other.It doesn’t matter what color you are.

      • Klann Killa

        Sounds like your “white boys” aren’t physically fit enough to do “this” job. You can’t throw a book at the fire and expect it to go out, stamina, endurance, and physical fitness coupled with passing the written exam complete the package son.

        • Donald E. Hodge

          you are right about that! Nobody fights fire like Detroit. Nobody.

          • javierjuanmanuel

            thats not what he said at all. He said essentially white boys cannot be fit.

            Even though that had nothing to do with not getting hired.

            Also it would not in any way make him upset that any female, in particular a black female can show up at police or fire academy and basically get a pass for he body parts and skin color.

            The reason that does not bother him, is he is a hardened racist.

        • javierjuanmanuel

          Top 98 % does not get you in if you are white, any black female they will make room for.

          Black cops too, you must be a black dude, they let felons be cops in atlanta because otherwise there would be virtually no black cops.

          Sounds made up, its not, so many blacks require cops also be black, only men want to do it, and a tremendous amount of black men are felons, the result ? ONLY if you are black, you can be a felon. Everyone else has to be squeeky clean.

          It was nothing about physical fitness either ya racist. Its about handing out jobs to black dudes because they are black.

          Its about racist black people who would rather be pulled dead out of a building by a black guy, then possibly saved by a white guy.

      • notasdumbasulook

        edsels father passed away. his dad wasn’t a city employee.

    • Squirtle

      They start at 30k, but and top out over 50k a year (not including overtime and holiday pay or bonuses).

      • javierjuanmanuel

        Show me where tbe top at 50k. There are cops on the detroit drug task force making 110k.

        Tons of firemen in nearby burbs making 100-110k.

        Thats what every old guy makes, retires in his 40s, and get 90 something percent of the 100-115k for the rest of his life.

  • Donald E. Hodge

    Steve, once again thank you for looking out for our better interests in disclosing all this information about Detroit fire and our wonderful city government. at this point what can we do as people that love and care about Detroit do to help? I don`t want this to be just a rip on DFD story and I don`t think you do either. what are our choices? who will help us? A ton of laws are broken every day in that department and it doesn`t seem to matter. The men and women of the fire department are with us in this mess. they want new trucks, coats,k-12 saws axes, hoses and so on. why is nobody saying anything or talking about this story?

    • muckraker_steve

      I asked firefighters those same questions: Why doesn’t anyone care? They said it’s because no one in the media or government cares. I believe that is the case. And it’s tragic.

      • Donald E. Hodge

        Sitting at this very moment watching the movie ” Burn “. I can’t believe the same Capt. Craig Doughery is the second in command in charge of the fleet. I would love to talk to him Steve. Get a fund raiser going to buy new trucks. I mean anything to help! But I don’t think he can. Edsel would fire him fot sure. Sad.

        • javierjuanmanuel

          They have always had the money for both cops and fire in detroit, going back decades.

          We spend 1.5 times as much per cop and fireman as many much better run towns like atlanta, dallas, etc.

          The money is there, its stolen or wasted.

          We do not need a fund raiser, besides, it would need to be a 100 million dollar bake sale which is insane.

          We just need leaders who are fine making 170k, with two pensions, and crazy benefits that do not need to steal more on the side.

          • Donald E. Hodge

            your right about a 100 million dollar bake sale. my point was no one again is doing a god damn thing in city government to help the people of Detroit. the next thief just steps to the front of the line, gets elected and the stealing begins and there nothing we can do about it but sit back and suck on it. Duggans nothing more than window dressing. Edsel, look at him. he looks like a pimp. He does not even have the respect to dress in a chiefs uniform. that is ok because he sure as hell has no idea of what the job intails.

          • notasdumbasulook

            You may not like the way Edsel dresses… But FYI, he was a very good firefighter. Commissioner’s do not wear uniforms.

          • Donald E. Hodge

            You must be his wife.

          • Donald E. Hodge

            Your computer name suggests that the people you communicate with are not that intelligent. so what does that say
            about you. I will just state the facts. the truth is as follows. the list of commissioners and their cities
            commish Nigro New York
            commish Hoff Chicago
            commish Derrick Sawyer Philly ( Great Man)
            Commish Calvin Cochran Atlanta.
            All these commissioners wear and use the proper uniform stating their titles.
            Commish Nigro in NYC even goes into the field and commands his troops accordingly. wow what a concept right.
            don`t preach to me, this story is not about me.its about how once again the people of our city are being lied to.

          • notasdumbasulook

            To attack someone’s character who jokingly picks a certain username says a lot about your character! You must be one of those serious know it alls.
            Detroit fire commissioner has never worn a uniform… Ever. Besides that, Edsel has fought more fires then all of those commissioners combined and that’s a fact.

          • Donald E. Hodge

            Really? where did you get your information. from him? like I said hes your Father or your his girlfriend or someone who works in his office.there is no way possible you would know how many fires all of those great men have fought any more than I would. I just stick to what I know. tell your Dad he has a whole set of new problems showing up in the weeks ahead when ” Front line ” and 60 Minutes shows up in town to do their stories. I don`t claim to know a lot, but one thing I do know is you can not lie to those folks.

          • notasdumbasulook

            I fought fires with Edsel for nearly 27 years. For the life of me, I can’t imagine Edsel would cover up for anything. He is just reiterating what was reported to him. He had the Staples at engine 18 for years, he wouldn’t steal five dollars from the guys(Probably one of the most honest guys on the job). I am not saying that those other commissioners aren’t great men, just take a ride around Mount Elliot and Gratiot and you can see what Edsel was up against for years. I spent many a night with Edsel going from fire to fire(No rehab). So if the media wants to run this commissioner out of town… Go for it! I am confident that Edsel will leave with a clear conscience.

          • Donald E. Hodge

            Ok,well that is wonderful. You and your clear conscience can go out and stand at the podium with the citys charter on it and explainto us how many new fire trucks, hoses,k-12 saws ,axes , ladders,fans,generators,helmets,coats,boots,gloves,new fire companies and so on! Because Pierce Apparatus in wisconson doesn’t use conscience to build new trucks,they need money. All downtown has to do is be “Honest” why Is that is hard ( Hey look ,when we were handed this Department it was beyond fucked up) I’m not slamin anybody that doesn’t set their selves up for it. But none of you is going to be honest. At this point you have already told to many falsehoods.

          • notasdumbasulook

            Grammar much?..and you called me dumb! SMH

          • Donald E. Hodge

            No, I never called you Dumb. It is called having a cheap cell phone. It does not always respond as I wound like. As I said before I don’t feel to hide behind a pussy ass computer name as yourself

          • notasdumbasulook

            I guess I’ll add pussy to my resume. I was an officer on the Detroit fire department for many many years. I would never use my real name because of too many clowns like you.

          • Donald E. Hodge

            out of all these facts of how poor the department has been run all these years chief, you don`t seem to want to let anyone know how all your Buddies are going to put the department back together. your idea is to attack me, as if I ran the department for the last 40 years. out of total honesty, if I won the lotto in the near future I would give ever last penny to the fire department so you guys could do what you need to do. and that`s a fact. things really are that bad.

        • Klann Killa

          Doughery is a turncoat POS, he’s one of the ones responsible for “CRAMMING” this EMT bullshit down our throats. The good part about it is, he’s got one foot out the door, can’t wait until they throw him out in the streets, along with a few other “downtown clowns”,and only then will this Department truly begin to move forward.

          • Donald E. Hodge

            wow KK That`s heavy. I suppose at this point only a firemen would know that about the Chief Doughery. what about other officers and command? Is their anyone that looks out for you guys? also it is tough about the EMT program. I an a former medic so I loved the job, but if it is not your thing the department should not force people into the training. you have got to want to deal with folks at their worst and care for them. it is monumental job without transport. I wish there was something I could do to help you guys but anything short of winning the Lotto just won`t cut it.

          • Klann Killa

            My hat goes off to you guys, God bless you all, that’s just not MY thing, the whole blood borne pathogen thing, love a good fire tho. ?? ✌?️

          • Donald E. Hodge

            That’s just it aces in places. A good Firemen is worth their weight in Gold. That sounds like you KK! by the way, are you a officer? Or are you too smart for that. lol.

          • javierjuanmanuel

            That not the way most jobs work. They make people use computers who never used them, they make people do sales who are phobic, one of the big telecoms, the linesmen went on strike. You know what they did. They trained desk people do go do the labor.

            They did not pay the people on strike, and pay the desk people to sit around for 2 months.

            They make soft, college educated, old people get up on ladders and in buckets and do labor.

            Same thing with cross training. If the city pays for the training, you can get cop, fire, ems, or go get a new job.

            We are not paying people to sit around and wait.

      • Donald E. Hodge

        I just want all the firemen and women to know that people, real dissent people love and care about you guys, please hang in there at this point all we have is each other…….and it looks like its all were going to have. when a company or Department puts a gag order on their employees to not tell the truth,there is only a matter of time before the floor gives. good luck on that one Mayor Duggan and colostomy bag Edsel.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      because it looks horrible, people love fireman and hate cops.

      No one wants to believe fireman are soooo on the take, so into coverups, if the cops have a blue code, this is the red code.

      Dude was squatting on a lot he did not own to grow weed, and stealing his electricity.

      He should be in jail for the theft for YEARS!

      Then in jail for the weed for years, even though I am pro legalization, and his dad and no doubt a half dozen higher ups should be in jail for conspiracy to cover this up.

  • Curtis Golson

    The entire Fire administration needs to GO!!!!! They are by far the most incompetent group of individuals I’ve seen yet…Many others have been fired for far less….One scandal after another….

  • Bruce Channell

    What a tangled web we weave,when we practice to deceive!

    • Donald E. Hodge

      Thank you Bruce.

  • bebow

    Did the DPD sell the crop in the unpoliced neighborhoods after uprooting it from the ground? Who got a cut?