By Steve Neavling
Motor City Muckraker
Delivering on a pledge to fix Detroit’s long-beleaguered Fire Department, first-year Commissioner Eric Jones announced a major shakeup Wednesday.
Jones ousted three top officials – Interim Deputy Commissioner John Berlin, Fire Marshal Robin Eagan and Chief of Training Stephen Johnson, all of whom have the option of reverting to their former rank.
The shakeup comes a little more than four months after Jones, a former police chief, was appointed by Mayor Mike Duggan. Jones replaced Commissioner Edsel Jenkins after Motor City Muckraker revealed major problems within his administration.
Jones brought in a nationally renowned expert on fire rigs, equipment and operations, Dave Fornell, to replace Berlin as interim deputy commissioner. Fornell is the author of the “Fire Stream Management Handbook” and is frequently featured in fire publications. Duggan is expected to approve Fornell as the permanent deputy commissioner as early as this week.
The rest of the new top brass came from within the department.
Jones appointed Chief of Arson Charles Sims to second deputy commissioner, the post formally held by Craig Dougherty, who was forced out in November because fire rigs were in serious disrepair and life-savings equipment was uncertified.
Sims will be replaced by fire investigator Patrick McNulty. The new fire marshal is Gregory Turner, one of the city’s top fire prevention experts. And Chief of Training Stephen Johnson will be replaced by Alfie Green, who has been training firefighters for the department.
Since Jones took office, aerial ladders and other equipment were certified; arson arrests have skyrocketed; and rigs have been repaired more quickly.
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.