When Your Booster Tank Won't Hold Water Anymore…
CBS-TV's 60 Minutes visited a Detroit firehouse that has to run a dry tank to house fires:
Hat tip: Chris O.
* * * * * * *
CBS-TV's 60 Minutes visited a Detroit firehouse that has to run a dry tank to house fires:
Hat tip: Chris O.
* * * * * * *
A continuing cycle of dysfunction
For the third time in the past decade, Detroit EMS is at a crisis point with a worn-out fleet of ambulances. Only 10 of the budgeted 19 ambulances are on the street.
This latest crisis, as unfolded in the media:
When Commissioner Donald Austin arrived in July 2011 the headline read: “More Ambulances, More Training, Less Fear” New Detroit Fire Commissioner Donald Austin reaches out to medical community, says 22 new transport units will start arriving in January. Not writing up guys for minor uniform infractions
In a September 28, 2011 article, WJBK Fox 2 determined that the city had not ordered the ambulances: Detroit Hasn't Ordered Promised Ambulances The mayor's office responded with this statement:
"The city continues to work to obtain the necessary funds to secure the new rigs. The specifications for the vehicles are complete. The bidding process is complete. We have been in conversation with a number of lending institutions, who have expressed an interest in supporting this effort. However, none have yet made the final commitment to allow the purchase to move forward. We are optimistic that one of our lending institutions will soon step up to allow us to complete the deal and improve our EMS fleet."
When Charles LeDuff did a follow-up, one year after he highlighted the problems of Detroit EMS, he raised a question if the ambulances were ordered in this December 2011 article:
Last night WDIV/NBC4 reported that the city has been operating with as few as 10 ambulances in the past five days:
The ambulances have 175,000 to 200,000 miles. The Fire Commissioner is still looking for funding to purchase replacement units.
Bill "Firegeezer" Schumm did an August 24, 2010 post: "A Rotating Cycle of Hopeleness …" that provided a bleak picture of Detroit EMS.
At that time the city was staffing 22 units but only getting 14 to 16 on the street. Within the fleet of 45 ambulances, 31 were out-of-service for mechanical reasons. Little evidence any repair or maintenance work was being done.
What is different in 2013
City is contracting with private ambulance companies to handle the less urgent requests.
The warehouse has toilet paper and blankets from earlier high-profile events that generated citizen donations.
And a donated 1983 aerial tower that has been warehoused for over a year and never deployed.
Mike "Fossilmedic" Ward
Last night while you slept, squad 4 rescued 2 kids from a burning house and transported them with the fire truck to the ER doing CPR en route….because there were no EMS rigs available…no EMS rigs available.
This is a must see documentary
My tribe filled up a row in the back of the AMC LOEWS Georgetown 14 for the 8:30 pm showing on Friday. The theatre was about 3/4's full.
Spent a good part of today thinking about what we saw and what it means.
Adam O'Conner from "Real Detroit Weekly":
A brilliantly-filmed documentary with exquisite camera work and editing, including a very appropriate and well thought-out soundtrack, Burn shows exactly what trials and tribulations the firefighters of our once-great city face every single day on the job.
Extremely limited funding, a city that is crumbling upon itself – both literally and figuratively – and the obvious physical hazards that each worker faces on a daily basis are only a few of the depressing themes shown through this great work of cinematography.
Birds-eye views of the city, camera work that gives a literal perspective of fighting a fire from within a burning building and lots of personal interactions and dialogue spent at the firehouses with the crews all add an air of personal investment, though each stops just short of being entirely devastating and emotionally-draining for the viewer.
In response to a question posed by O'Conner in his review, a response from the directors/producers:
… the City of Detroit granted us access to the department with no creative control.
It was a months-long process of discussions about the scope of the film. We maintained that we would be honest and fair and they trusted us, bit by bit. It was a bold and courageous move for a beleaguered administration, but one we are grateful to them for.
You'll notice in the film we don't discuss the history of Detroit or the "how we got here" — we presume any American with a basic education has an understanding of that. We also don't point fingers, because that's not compelling storytelling.
Our goal at the outset was to make an apolitical film that focuses on who these guys are and the work they do. The best war films aren't about war, but about the guys who fight the fight. They get into your heart and they stay there.
Again, thanks so much for the great review!
Tom Putnam & Brenna Sanchez
Tom Santilli interviewed Putnam and Sanchez for examiner.com. I found this part of the interview helpful in considering my reactions to Fire Commissioner Donald Austin:
Of all of the people in the movie, Fire Commissioner Donald Austin seemed to be the most fascinating. A native Detroit-er, he comes over from California with high hopes and ends up seeming in the film like his spirit gets sucked dry. Is he in an impossible situation, or did he strike you as simply the wrong man for the job?
Brenna: It's an impossible position, an impossible job. Because the city doesn't have any money. Dollar resources are strapped. Human resources are strapped. I think he's doing the best he can. He's smart, he's honest, he works so hard. He came in with an idea that he was going to re-structure a contemporary, urban fire department.
Tom: And instead, he was given an ax. A hatchet. To make cuts.
Santilli, Tom. (2012 December 05) Movie review: 'Burn' a documentary profiling the Detroit Fire Department. examiner.com
Though it’s a well-made and eye-opening film, as a Detroit-er, I also found myself feeling slightly agitated and frustrated while watching Burn. Another movie about how bad things are in Detroit?
While Burn exposes some real problems facing our city, it’s yet another black eye for a city whose image has already been beat down and demolished.
When a film sheds light on problems facing Detroit and yet fails to provide us with any real answers, rays of hope or even possible suggested paths to salvation, it is difficult for me to understand the point.
Enough is enough with showing the ugliness of Detroit, there should be a real sense of responsibility to enlighten the masses on what should be done, if anything. Or like a bunch of pyromaniacs, are we supposed to derive pleasure as we sit back and watch a city burn?
Perhaps that’s an unfair, biased take. But being born and raised in Detroit, I couldn’t help but feel slightly burned by Burn.
Funding for film release/distribution remains an issue
Go HERE to make a direct donation.
You can pay $15 to download an additional 90 minutes of Detroit ($20 for DVD). Go HERE.
Or you can pay $250 to have FEO Dave Parnell (retired Engine 50) make you dinner. Go HERE.
Go HERE to request a viewing in your town.
No official information on when a DVD of Burn would be available.
Mike "FossilMedic" Ward
AMC Lowes Georgetown
Will post a review this weekend.
If you are going tonight, please share your reactions in the comments section.
Mike "FossilMedic" Ward
There is an interesting Facebook page titled Detroit Firehouse. The anonymous administrator has been posting it for a couple of years now and is obviously a uniformed member or someone close to a Detroit firefighter. He posts things that are of interest about the DFD and its personnel, etc. It's timely and exposing, but not one of those hate-spewing pages that serve no good purpose. Late last night he posted the following message:
This is by no means a political page, but it's worth informing the audience that the administration of the DFD did not send anyone to the funeral today. This was an active firefighter who passed away, and no one from downtown showed up. Maybe it's a small sign of their disdain for the men and women who actually do the job…
He is referring to Sgt. Dennis McGarry who was assigned to Ladder 21 and died at a tragically young age of 45 last week. I don't know what the cause was, but it's not necessary to know that now. But what is important is DF's comment, a small sign of their disdain… And that is what it is…. disdain. So typical of what is going on not only in the fire department, but the entire corrupt and incompetent city government. What a shame. Not just shameful, but disgraceful as well.
My own department tries to always have an "official presence" at the funerals of not only active members, but retirees as well whenever the funeral takes place within about 50 miles or so of the county. This is usually two people in full Class A's in a department vehicle, and I believe that they still will provide a pumper for the funeral cortege if requested by the family. It has been my observaton that the presence of these representatives is impressive and postive for not only the family, but the entire attendance at the funeral. That is the definition of respect and appreciation for their own firefighters.
What is your department's policy on funeral presence?
Time to get the equipment checked out now, so let's get started while I head for the Bunn-O-Matic and run another pot through. See you back in the digital day room in a little while.
* * * * * * *
From Amazon ….
CLICK HERE to view the selection and order by November 5!
* * * * * * *
The Unlucky FY13
Most municipal governments begin their budget year July 01, so this week starts Fiscal Year (FY) 2013.
Past Predictions Are Not Guaranteed
In July 2008, in "It's The New Fiscal Year" I wrote:
FY09 starts in a recession, just as FY02 (March to November 2001) and FY 82/83 (July 1981 to November 1982).
This recession may last more than a year, with indicators that fire department budgets will shrink during FY09 and FY10.
THAT was quite inaccurate!
The budget continued to crash, by December 2008 I wrote:
The carbon-based life form known as a career firefighter is facing unprecedented pressure. By now, every unfilled firefighter position has been eliminated in the current (FY09) budget.
Hundreds of firefighter jobs have evaporated in the past nine months. That may not be enough when Fiscal Year 2010 starts.
Jurisdictions are looking at $87 of cash to cover $100 of expenses … AFTER all of the cuts were made in 2oo8.
The gap erodes to $74 of cash on hand if state and federal government payments to local government are reduced or eliminated.
The budget derecho
There is a continuing crisis as three primary sources of local government funding:
… continue to perform below expectations. The United States Census says that these three sources represent two-thirds of total revenues collected by local government.
In the past, the other third was made up of state and federal payments to local government. Federal funding supports 33 to 42 percent of state budgets. Local governments rely on large chunks of state budget to operate.
Revenue reduction runs downhill. This will be the fifth year of reduced state payments to local government. Localities are forced to take over programs that were originally fully funded by state revenue.
Spend less, tax more, restructure retirement and employee health benefits
Please read Zach Patton's interview with David Walker in the July issue of Governing Magazine. The former head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is looking at state and local fiscal sustainability
Ultimately the government will need to spend less than projected and tax more than it historically has. That means that, over time, it will do less than people are expecting and tax more than people are accustomed to. In my view, our fiscal challenge is primarily a spending problem and needs to be addressed accordingly.
… (about retirement)
The unfunded obligations are so huge that it’s going to require changes to plans for new employees and current employees, as well as existing retirees. In the case of current employees, steps need to be taken to eliminate what would be perceived as abuses by a large percentage of the American public — like the ability to count overtime, sick time and possibly even vacation time in calculating a pension, or the ability to draw more than one pension from the same or a related employer.
With regard to retirees, states need to consider having limitations on how much a retiree can receive as a pension in relation to the salary of persons who held the job from which they retired. In addition, there have to be tougher eligibility requirements and reasonable limitations on taxpayer burdens relating to retiree health commitments.
The truth is, many governments have promised pension and especially retiree health programs that don’t pass the straight-face test with the American public. There needs to be more transparency and accountability with these programs, and the related unfunded obligations need to be brought onto the balance sheet.
Brutal start of FY 13:
Almost 20% of Detroit firefighters laid off, 15 companies deactivated. Patrick "FireHat" Mahoney wonders of this is part of the let-it-burn approach to vacant buildings. Is This What It Has Come to in Detroit?
The voters of Colorado Springs rejected a property tax increase, resulting in an 8% reduction in police (50) and firefighters (39). The Waldo Creek fire included increased theft and vandalism to evacuated homes and needed 180 National Guard troops. Read Amanda J. Crawford's July 3 article from Bloomberg News: Wildfire Tests Police in Colorado Tax Movement’s Home.
At the time, the move seemed cheaper than giving pay raises s ought by unions, officials involved in the decision said. When other Stockton employees demanded the same healthcare deal in following years, the city agreed.
(City Manager Bob) Deis, who signed Stockton's bankruptcy filing last Thursday, slammed the decision to provide free healthcare to retirees as a "Ponzi scheme" that eventually left the city with a whopping $417 million liability.
Jim Christie (2012 July 4) Stockton Bankruptcy The Result Of 15-Year Spending Binge. Reuters
Gosia Wozniacka, writing for the Associated Press, details the bankruptcy impact to employees and retireees:
As of July 1, the bankruptcy plan approved by the City Council reduces contributions to current employee and retiree health benefits and eliminates benefits for employees with less than 10 years of city service. And as of July 2013, it completely eliminates city-funded medical benefits for retirees.
(2012 July 02) Stockton bankruptcy is hard hit for city retirees. SFGate
The SAFER impact:
Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants awarded $69 million this budget cycle. The largest grant in SAFER history, $22 million, went to Detroit last week. That still leaves 60 Detroit firefighters without a job. IAFF: FEMA Awards $69 Million in SAFER Awards.
Some departments have not pursued a four year SAFER grant because of uncertainty in meeting local funding obligations. From the Congressional Research Service June 8, 2012 report on SAFER.
According to the statute, the federal share shall not exceed 90% in the first year of the grant, 80% in the second year, 50% in the third year, and 30% in the fourth year. The grantee must commit to retaining the firefighter or firefighters hired with the SAFER grant for at least one additional year after the federal money expires.
Mike "FossilMedic" Ward
Passerby Hero Saves One Passenger
AN AUTOMOBILE CARRYING THREE PEOPLE ran a red light at speed Sunday afternoon around 3 pm, clipped another car and then careened out of control into a house. As the car crashed through a front bedroom, it tore off a gas meter which led to an immediate ignition and the fire moved into the house within seconds.
All the residents were fortunate to be at the rear of the building during the crash, but less fortunate because they lost everything they owned as the interior of the house was gutted.
WXYZ-TV has this video report that includes some fire footage:
Other people already out in the neighborhood rushed to the car to help the occupants. They were able to cut the seat belt and pull the front-seat passenger to safety, but were unable to free the driver and had to go through the ordeal of watching him burn to death. The third passenger bolted and ran away.
WJBK-TV has a good interview with the man who saved the passenger's life:
WDIV-TV has more details and additional video HERE.
* * * * * * *
A 2-ALARM FIRE BROKE OUT IN THE Detroit Dept. of Transportation's westside bus yard this morning (Wednesday) at 4:30 am. The fire was noticed in its early stage when a mechanic saw the smoke and then alerted the other employees that were there.
When the fire units arrived they found six buses on fire inside a "holding" building. Early reports say that it appears to have been a mechanical malfunction that triggered the fire in the undercarriage of one of the buses and it spread to the others. The buses were all new or almost-new and worth $350,000 each. Some reports are saying that as many as eight buses have been destroyed.
Detroit Free Press
The fire eventually caused a partial roof collapse of the building and possibly included some diesel fuel and hydraulic oils (unconfirmed). A haz-mat level 2 response was added to the dispatch.
Problems with water service were hindering efforts to put out the blaze, Detroit Fire Department Senior Chief Michael Herron said. The sprinkler system inside the building did not work properly, and there are few fire hydrants on or near the facility, he said. McNulty said investigators will be reviewing workers' claims that the sprinkler system did not go on until the fire began to rage through the building.
WXYZ-TV filed this early video report while the fire was still burning:
The fire was reported to be knocked down by 7 am, but it is still a working incident and no other information is available yet.
Google Street View of part of the complex.
The property extends back several hundred yards, but has no
yard hydrants or any other water source for fire protection.
* * * * * * *
A Great Deal on Hitchcock Films!
Alfred Hitchcock – The Masterpiece Collection – 52% off
14 Classic hits digitally remastered for this special DVD set.
With 14 films, each supplemented with numerous documentaries, commentaries, and other bonus materials, Alfred Hitchcock – The Masterpiece Collection will be the cornerstone for any serious DVD library. Packaged in a beautiful, conversation-starting velvet box, the individual discs inside come four to a case, decorated with original poster art. No doubt opinionated fans will argue about what should fall under the rubric of "masterpiece" in Hitchcock's body of work, but with the bona fide classics Vertigo, Psycho, and The Man Who Knew Too Much, there's plenty of timeless movie magic here. Eye-popping transfers and gorgeous sound make this set one of the must-have releases of the year.
CLICK HERE to read the details, full listing, and to order yours!
* * * * * * *
Urban Renewal Continues in Detroit
A 2-STORY VACANT APARTMENT BUILDING THAT was a full city block long burned down Friday night in Detroit, Michigan. The blaze brought a 2-alarm response to the blaze that was just one block away from the nearest fire station.
The fire broke out just before 7 pm Friday night and kept the crews busy for several hours as they worked to contain the fire. The entire building was a total loss.
WJBK-TV filed this video report from the scene:
Neighbors say that the building has been heavily targeted recently by scrap-thieves stripping metal and fixtures from the complex. The fire marshal says that the fire could have been started by a blow torch, but he hasn't discounted arson for the cause.
Veteran Detroit-watchers will not be surprised to learn that the nearest fire hydrant was inoperable and one of the engines broke down on the way to the call.
WDIV-TV has a good raw video of the fire and a photo gallery HERE.
* * * * * * *
First Time Ever That They Went "Outside"
DETROIT, MICHIGAN, MAYOR DAVID BING will announce on Monday that he has hired Donald Austin to be the city's next Fire Commissioner.
Donald Austin (Free Press photo)
Austin, 57, was born and raised in Detroit, moving out to Los Angeles after graduating from high school. After serving two years as an Internal Revenue Service agent, he joined the Los Angeles Fire Department in 1981. There he rose through the ranks over the next 30 years retiring this February as an Assistant Chief with a sterling resume of accomplishments.
Detroit's media expert on the local fire and EMS department, Charlie LeDuff had an interview with Chief Austin yesterday and filed this video report from WJBK-TV:
The Detroit Free Press has a good article about the oncoming fire commissioner that includes his qualifications and achievements in Los Angeles HERE.
* * * * * * *
Does Nothing Work There Anymore?
THE DETROIT (Michigan) FIRE DEPARTMENT IS ON THE SCENE of a fully-involved warehouse fire that was first reported around 4:30 am this morning (Saturday).
The fire department has the warehouse mostly surrounded, save the rear that has railroad tracks and no access along it. The business recycles and processes plastics and is filled with a variety of volatile chemicals. Firefighters report that there have been multiple explosions occurring during the incident and due to that and the extent of the fire, they have made no attempt at entry.
Complicating their extinguishment efforts is an abnormally low water supply in the hydrant mains. The water pressure is so low that only a minimal amount of fire flow is available. Senior Fire Chief Keith Miner told WXYZ-TV News that low-water pressure created problems. “I’m trying to work with the water board which is on scene, trying to get us good water pressure, (but) they’re having a problem with it. Until I get good water pressure from them, I really can’t put anymore water on it than I am right now.”
Since there is nothing more that the FD can do with it, Chief Miner has kept only the first-alarm assignment on the scene as they work to protect the exposures. At the time of this posting the fire is still burning and no information is available as to the cause of the fire. No injuries have been reported.
WXYZ-TV has filed this early video report:
The Detroit Free Press has MORE.
Mayor Bing’s “Solution” Remains a Problem
WHEN DETROIT MAYOR BING DISMISSED Fire Commissioner James Mack back in January, he appointed Deputy Chief Fred Wheeler to serve as acting-commissioner until a permanent appointee could be chosen. (See Firegeezer report HERE.) City watchers were even more surprised at the selection of Wheeler to head the fire and EMS department because he had been such a failure as head of the EMS division recently with more than half the ambulance fleet out of service due to maintenance problems on any given day (Firegeezer story HERE).
Acting-Commissioner Wheeler caught leaving his
Ann Arbor home and getting into his city owned
and fueled auto to begin his 90-mile round-trip
commute to work. (WJBK-TV image)
Acting Commissioner Wheeler is back in the news today thanks to WJBK-TV’s investigative reporter Charlie LeDuff. You may recall that LeDuff has been relentless in his expose’s of the failures in the Detroit Fire Department caused by the incompetent and, in some cases, illegal activities of the appointed officials. Yesterday (Wednesday) he ran another story, this time on Wheeler’s apparent illegal residency and perjury. The city charter specifically states that all appointed officials must live in the city limits. LeDuff has exposed Wheeler as a resident of Ann Arbor, more than 40 miles away, and has a copy of a sworn affidavit by Wheeler saying that he lives in Detroit.
Watch WJBK-TV’s blockbuster report from last night:
Firegeezer believes that there is not much sympathy for Wheeler in the first place, and certainly not after this disclosure. Wheeler has openly admitted that he would like to be considered for the permanent Commissioner’s job, but would Mayor Bing want to put up with a department head that is constantly ducking the press?
* * * * * * *
While this is just one side of a story ….
Andrea Isom, reporting for WJBK Fox2, reports on the outcome of an internal investigation by the Detroit Fire Department after a December 18th incident where it took 25 minutes for the ambulance to arrive:
“I waited, I guess, five minutes or so, and I said, ‘They should be here now,’” said Jacquese Hall, a friend of the deceased. “I called again because I’m frantic to see this happening right before my eyes.”
She called again. She got no ambulance, but she got this peach from the dispatcher.
“She said, ‘Get a teaspoon of sugar and put it under his tongue,’” Hall said.
December 23: Detroit Paramedics Punished: Is It the Wrong Move?
So what did the fire department do in this case? They put the paramedics on desk duty at reduced pay while they investigate.
FOX 2′s Charlie LeDuff talked to one of the disciplined paramedics — Michael O’Neill.
January 26: Two Detroit EMS Workers Terminated
“I started doing compressions. My partner went to the head, to drop down to her knees, went to put the ET tube in and that’s when we found all of the crystallized sugar in his mouth. I took out of there with a suction machine an inch and a half, almost two,” he added.
Now, he said it was a 911 operator who told an elderly woman that was at the home with the patient to put orange juice and sugar inside of his mouth to help with what she thought were complications with his diabetes.
“That changed the ballgame for us, for everything, because now we’ve got to stop, get that sugar out before we can put any kind of breathing tube down that man’s throat,” said O’Neill.
A source with the city said O’Neill and his partner were not fired because of any media attention or for going to City Council to complain about their EMS concerns. We were told they were terminated because there’s evidence that they were not doing their jobs the way they should.
We do not have all of the information.
I am guessing that the sugar was administered 10 to 15 minutes before the ambulance arrived. Isom reports that O’Neill is getting a lawyer and looking for another job.
… it appears the wrong guys are getting punished.
Mike “FossilMedic” Ward
Burning Since 4:30 am Wednesday
A 2-ALARM (ENHANCED) FIRE IS BURNING this morning in an industrial occupancy in Detroit, Michigan. The fire is located in the Ideal Inc. Safety and Industrial Supplies business on the city’s east side.
Detroit Free Press
The fire has reportedly breached an interior firewall and spread into a second occupancy. About 40 firefighters are on the scene and concentrating on containment to protect another business in the same building. There are also some propane tanks mounted close to the walls. A chief officer on the scene says that they will be there “for quite a while.”
One early “word of mouth” reports says that it might have been caused by a wood-burning stove that was used to help heat the business (unconfirmed).
WXYZ-TV has filed this early report from the scene:
* * * * * * *
A DETROIT, MICHIGAN, LADDER TRUCK WAS INVOLVED in a collision at a controlled intersection Thursday night. The collision left the driver of a car with minor injuries and major damage to his car.
The driver said that he was stopped at a traffic light and when it changed, he started into the intersection, not hearing any siren. The aerial was entering the intersection at the same time with its emergency lights and siren operating and struck the car.
Witnesses confirm that the (very loud) siren was operating at the time. WXYZ-TV filed this video report from the crash scene:
None of the firefighters were reporting any injuries.
Updated. Additional information, links and more videos added. Scroll down.
AT LEAST SIX DETROIT, MICHIGAN, FIREFIGHTERS have been taken to hospitals a few minutes ago with serious injuries after the roof collapsed onto them and caused a wall to fall onto them on the sidewalk at a strip mall. The entire shopping complex is on fire, but is contained.
The fire was reported around 6 am and witnesses say that they heard two loud “explosions” before the flame broke out of the building.
Detroit News photo
The collapse occurred shortly after 8 am Eastern. At first there were reported to be 8 FF’s injured, but it has been revised to the current number of six casualties.
WJBK-TV Ch. 2 has this early video report from the scene:
Update: The injured firefighters were on the sidewalk next to the fire building when the roof collapse caused the wall to tumble onto them.
WDIV-TV is reporting: Detroit Fire Commissioner James Mack said three were in critical condition and three were in fair condition, with one firefighter having been paralyzed from the waist down and another needing to be intubated.
Names, Condition of Injured:
Brandon Milewski — 11 years service — critical condition
Eric Jurmo — 11 years service — critical condition
Brian Baluch — 9 years service — critical condition
Jeron Whitehorn — 8 years service — treated and released
Shayne Raxter — 9 years service — fair condition
Gerald Rutowski — 23 years service — fair condition
Mack said when the building crumbled, bricks fell onto the firefighters — which resulted in broken bones for many of the firefighters.
A full report and the latest updates can be found on FirefighterNation.com HERE.
WXYZ-TV has a good comprehensive video report posted:
The Detroit News has a good background report HERE.
One of the critically-injured men is Lieutenant Gerald Rutkowski. WJBK-TV Ch. 2 has this video report on how it was Rutkowski’s brother, a firefighter who was also on the scene, who dug him out from under the bricks and masonry:
DETROIT, MICHIGAN, FIRE UNITS ARE STILL on the scene of an explosion that destroyed most of a strip mall around 3 am Tuesday morning on E. Seven Mile Rd.
The explosion was apparently centered in a hardware store and brought the roof down, collapsing the entire store into the basement. The shopping strip housed five businesses including a dollar store, and an auto parts store. The incident was elevated to two alarms and was fought with exterior master streams due to the instability of the entire shopping center.
WXYZ-TV has some early video that shows up following the weather report:
Arson investigators are on the scene now along with the haz-mat team. No other information has been released yet.
The Dollar Store Conspiracy Club grudgingly commends the arsonist for his deceptive practice of destroying the dollar store by blowing up the neighboring business, thus deflecting any investigation efforts away from the true motive.
THE CLUELESS MAYOR OF DETROIT, MICHIGAN, wants lop off even more EMS workers and reduce the already-understocked ambulance fleet on July 1. The union that represents the Detroit Fire Department’s EMS workers held a rally outside city hall on Friday protesting the reductions. The Detroit News reported:
Wisam Zeineh, president of the Detroit Emergency Medical Services Association, said Detroit should have 35-45 ambulances in operation at any time. Today, there are about 17 or 18, not including disabled ambulances. With the layoffs, he expects 13 to 15 will be ready at any time for the city’s 900,000 residents. Police officers have been told to get ready to start transporting injured residents from crime scenes to hospitals, EMS workers said.
Mayor Dave Bing blames the Detroit City Council, saying drastic cuts are necessary if a deal over the budget stalemate isn’t reached.
In addition to the EMS job losses, there will be 100 police layoffs, the closure of 77 parks and two neighborhood city halls, along with the reduction of services such as childhood immunizations.
But city union officials say that the blame rightfully lies with Bing. “He just wants to get the citizens outraged at City Council … and to scare the senior citizens,” said Catherine Phillips, lead negotiator with American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 25, which represents about 3,200 city workers. “City Council is not to blame for this. It’s about an administration that doesn’t know how to administrate.”
The president of the EMS union also lambasts the fire chief saying that he lied when he told the public that the job reductions would come from administration. At the last minute, he shifted the rif’s from admin. to the field. Zeineh unloads on the fire commissioner in this video report from WXYZ-TV:
If you haven’t cruised by STATter911 since yesterday afternoon, you should check in this morning after the Lineup. Dave has posted the just-released video taken from the Amtrak locomotive that powdered the Detroit ladder truck at the beginning of this month. CLICK HERE to view it. I am still bewildered over why anybody would park anything on a railroad track in the first place. It wasn’t just the truck … there were not one, but TWO police cruisers sitting on them, too. ( They were moved just seconds before the train arrived.) There was a huge gap in the thinking process going on here.
Adding to the futility of the operation is the fact that there was no emegency there in the first place. The truck had been sent for a washdown at a traffic accident scene. That’s it…. a bloomin’ washdown. That also causes me to wonder, why does a department (there are others that do it, too) send a ¾-million-dollar truck to wash some debris off the roadway? Adding wear and tear to your most expensive piece of equipment and thus accelerating the replacement date for it, makes no economic sense whatsoever. The group-brainlock appears to extend all the way up the organization chart.
I used to have a standard in-station drill that I’d drag out once a year on “size-up.” That’s a topic that is a part of any officer training and is usually given at the academy or at regional weekend training sessions, and most of you have been exposed to the basics of size-up somewhere along the way. You know, the usual time-of-day, weather, life-hazard, exposures, etc. And a good officer knows that size-up begins before the call and continues incessantly until you get back to quarters. My in-station shift drill though, was focused on teaching the crew that incident size-up is a function for everybody who is on the call. Not just the officer, but the driver and every firefighter on the rig. Then we would go through the usual checklist of the many things that need to be considered, but I’d put it in the context that each FF has to be aware of these factors, even if he is in no position to make a decision about operations. There’s not much size-up going on when an entire truck company thinks nothing of parking their truck on a mainline railroad.
Our workplace is different than most businesses. We are thrust into bizarre situations of every imaginable sort within an environment that is constantly changing. And everybody who is there needs to be aware of not only what’s going on, but of what might go on as well. As you can see from this event in Detroit, it’s not just active fires that need to be treated this way. Sacrificing a $600,000 vehicle for a washdown is bad enough, but what if the collision had knocked the truck around in such a way that 3 or 4 people had been killed? For a washdown. It’s time to get back to basics, folks.
And it’s also time to get this equipment checked out for today. I’ll go get the coffee started, then we’ll meet back in the day room.
Updated: Another video and photo added. Scroll down.
A DETROIT, MICHIGAN, LADDER TRUCK was parked on a railroad mainline Monday shortly before noon, while the fire company was washing down a gasoline spill from an auto wreck, when an AMTRAK passenger train plowed into it, demolishing the truck. Ladder 13 had been dispatched for the washdown and had been positioned on the tracks. When they realized that there was a train approaching, the driver tried to move the truck, but was not in time.
Detroit Free Press / Jackson photo
The train was traveling from Pontiac, Michigan, to Chicago and carrying just over 70 passengers with a crew of 4. There were no injuries on the train, but one firefighter suffered a gash on his head and required treatment at a hospital.
A visibly angered Fire Commissioner James Mack said, “I’m very upset. It was a $600,000 truck, we’re trained professionals. We should always be thinking. I don’t think the citizens of Detroit are pleased that he parked on the tracks. This was a disservice to the citizens. It’s their fire truck, they paid for it.”
There were also two police cruisers that had been thoughtlessly left on the tracks, but they were able to get them out of the way.
This photo by Daniel Jasina shows L-13′s 2003 Pierce Dash
waiting to be offloaded at DFD’s apparatus shops.
This video report from WJBK-TV Ch. 2 interviews some of the eyewitnesses: