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Detroit Fire Fighters Want City Leaders to Sing New Tune

Public safety continues to be at risk in Detroit as long as leaders continue to avoid finding long-term solutions to the city’s mounting problems.

“Detroit fire fighters face tremendous challenges each day and keep on providing the best protection as possible. We are handicapped when our leaders ignore the realities that we see every day on the streets of Detroit. Public Safety cannot be ignored or compromised,” says Dan McNamara, president of the Detroit Fire Fighters Association, in an editorial published on the Motor City Muckracker’s web site.

“It cannot be measured by income levels or political pull. Public Safety is about everyone in our community receiving equal protection. When leaders compromise the residents they are to protect and represent the whole system fails.”

Detroit has more fires than any other city in America. Fire fighters battle at least 30 fires a day.

McNamara says
fire fighters are seeing increased response times and a higher number of casualties and injuries after the city’s fire department shut down 15 fire companies due to public safety cuts last year.

“The city of Detroit has been fighting the union in court. We’re saying that the city is obligated to provide proper fire response and fire services, and they are negligent in meeting the charter obligations,” he said.

In the documentary Burn, film makers capture the thankless task of serving a city that many have written off. Fire Fighters are using run down equipment and there aren’t enough trucks in the city and the ones in use are falling apart.

In recent months, fire fighters have worked through a myriad of difficulties while continuing to put public safety first

Some fire fighters worked 24-hour shifts at a cold firehouse after a furnace failed. A stove heated the firehouse for several days before heat was restored. In another firehouse, fire fighters chipped in together to rent a portable toilet when their station experienced a plumbing problem.

Late in 2012, the city made headlines when fire fighters were forced to buy their own cleaning supplies (including toilet paper) after city officials said a snafu occurred with a change in the purchasing system and missed payments to a vendor resulted in a delay of items getting to stations.

Has your city faced similar economic constraints like Detroit? How did you manage? Tell us how you influenced decision makers about public safety in your community on the Frontline Blog.

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