It appears WJBK-TV reporter Charlie LeDuff has outlasted another Detroit fire commissioner. TV stations in Detroit are reporting this morning that Commissioner Donald Austin is expected to announce his departure as early as today.
Video from Blake Arnold ( midwestnews) of a vacant apartment building on fire in Detroit on Saturday. Here's some of what Blake wrote:
At 12:13 pm the call went out for a reported fire in a vacant apartment building on East Jefferson Ave and St. Aubin street on Detroit's east side. First arriving Firefighters found the building fully engulfed in flames but attempted to fight the fire from inside the building. Shortly after, the Chief arrived and decided to pull Firefighters out of the building because fire was below and above the men working creating an extremely dangerous situation.
Above is Scott Ziegler’s (HPZ1442) latest video from Highland Park, Michigan. It includes a house fire and a fire in a vacant apartment building. Below is more drone video from Harry Arnold (itvdetroit) of the apartment building fire. Here’s what Scott wrote about the fires. Note that Scott has a network news crew riding with him. Normally that would make all fires stop, but not this time:
We were called to a report of a fire on joslyn st around 9pm. Our chief arrived first and called in a four story vacant apartment building going through out, just as we pulled up to a fully involved dwelling fire one street over. We stretched on the dwelling and sent our ladder to the other fire. Our chief called DFD for a box alarm to the apartment building and we handled to dwelling fire with our 4 guys, plus 2 ride alongs who used to work here. We also had a camera crew from ABC nightline riding along with us filming but we have not seen there footage. We made an interior attack on this dwelling and ended up pulling off a great stop. The house next door was a few feet away and we did not want to chase this fire down the block. This was recorded with 2 separate helmet cams. Mine unfortunately had no card in it. Half way through one of the guys with a cam was sent to assist at the apartment building fire. DFD was very helpful. Fire was recorded with a fire cam 1080 from firevideo.net
Anyone who has seen the movie Burn will not forget Brendan “Doogie” Milewski’s story. He was paralyzed when a wall collapsed at a commerical building fire on August 13, 2010. Now, Brendan Milewski has another story to tell. This time it is to WJBK-TV reporter Charlie LeDuff and it’s about the impact of Detroit’s bankruptcy. Milewski tells LeDuff the city is canceling his health insurance:
“I got a letter saying that my healthcare, through the city of Detroit, was going to be terminated as of January 1, 2014, and that, if I don’t have another plan purchased by December 15th of this year, that I’ll have a gap in coverage. And they’re offering a $200 a month stipend to supplement the cost of purchasing my own health insurance.
“I definitely feel discarded. It’s disheartening that guys like me put ourselves on the line everyday. These Detroit firemen, they put their lives, their bodies, on the line every day.
The EMS crews would arrive 28 minutes after the original 911 call, and 19 minutes after firefighters.
“We are doing the best we can with limited resources,” said Detroit Fire Commissioner Donald Austin.
He says the overall problem is a lack of funding.
Austin says a city the size of Detroit needs 23 to 25 reliable ambulances, but only has about 17.
It is a situation that would be worse were it not for the help of donations from numerous people and businesses including Dan Gilbert, Roger Penske, Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors. They and others donated money that helped put ten new ambulances on the road. Another 13 are on order and expected to arrive sometime at the end of next month.
Austin warns that Detroit Ambulances cover a lot of miles, and a plan needs to be put into place to make sure money is available for more in the future. He says he hopes as the city’s bankruptcy proceedings continue, more money is made available to the fire department.
Thanks to firefighterdispatch for alerting us to the audio above from a fire yesterday in the 200 block of Hague Street in Detroit. It provides a dose of reality, showing what Detroit firefighters have been facing for a long time now.
Take a listen. It goes from having to verify that any ladder trucks responding have a working aerial ladder (SOP in Detroit), to no thermal imaging camera available on the fireground, to no EMS unit available, to a chief being told he can’t use a police car to transport the woman firefighters pulled from the home and are doing CPR on.
But despite the obstacles, the news story below indicates Detroit firefighters saved a life on Hague Street yesterday and a family is grateful.
The minimum requirements are a High School diploma or GED. Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) License is preferred.
All candidates will have to pass a written examination, provide a valid State of Michigan Drivers License, and provide proof of successful completion of the Candidate Physical Abilities Test (CPAT).
The hiring process consists of the following components in this order:
1. Completion of online application 2. Written examination 3. Oral interview (Must have completed your CPAT examination by your interview date) 4. Background investigation 5. List of eligible candidates will be established
In what is being described by Deputy Fire Commissioner Jonathan Jackson as a “freak accident”. a Detroit firefighter fell through an attic floor at a house fire and ended up being impaled by the business end of a six-foot pike pole.
Jackson said 33-year-old Adam Mlinarich was crawling through the attic of a home on the 4000 block of McGraw, near Livernois and Warren, checking for hot spots when the floor gave way. It was just before 6 p.m., and firefighters were nearly finished putting out a fire at the house.
Another firefighter was standing on the floor below with a pike pole, a fiberglass tool that is a little larger in diameter than a broomstick and topped a metal hook and sharp point.
Jackson said as Mlinarich fell, his face struck the top of the 6-foot pole.
“It went through his left cheek and impacted his jaw,” Jackson said, with the top three or four inches going through his cheek. No one else was injured at the scene.
Jackson said Mlinarich was taken to Henry Ford Hospital and is in stable condition. He said he was hopeful that he would be able to go home Friday morning.
Adam Mlinarich fell face first onto an instrument called a pike pole, which is a long metal-topped pole with a hooked end. It’s used to search for fires behind walls and ceilings, and a fellow firefighter was using the instrument on the floor beneath Mlinarich.
The pike pole pierced Mlinarich’s cheek, broke his jaw and knocked out several of his teeth. Mlinarich’s jaw will likely have to be wired shut for a couple months.
Mlinarich underwent surgery at Henry Ford Hospital Friday afternoon.
Mlinarich’s father, Mike, a retired battalion chief, says he’s relieved the pole didn’t strike his son’s eye or temple. He also had a conversation with his son who told him they respond to fires just like this two or three times a day, and that something was bound to happen.
Pre-arrival video by Warren Anderson and Matt Costello (with assistance from John Hanley) of a fire at a Detroit hardware store on August 29. At about the 10:00 mark you will see the collapse of the building from two diffent angles.
As the home owner stood across the street watching his house burn, Detroit Fire Department crews were unable to do much more than occasionally spray water on the fire because of the power lines on the ground. DTE Energy was called to the scene however all their crews were already tied up on other incidents, it took almost an hour for a crew to arrive to disconnect power to the area.
Thanks to Warren Anderson of Conneaut, Ohio for making sure we got his video from this Detroit fire that occurred last Friday. Warren, and many of the closest companies, were around the corner at a fire in a commercial building when this fire was reported at 5321 Vancouver Street.
According to Warren, this went to a second-alarm. The initial companies were E-17, 29, L-8,Sq-2 & 5.
Video above from Blake Arnold (midwestnews, International Broadcast Services) who arrived on the scene last night as neighbors were just discovering a house fire that spread to adjoining homes. Here’s a brief description Blake sent me:
The fire was on Senator near Beard street on Detroit’s southwest side. We ended up calling it in and were first on scene. Because it was very busy last night it took dfd approx 8 mins to arrive and almost 20 minutes to get water on the fire because of a broken hydrant.
Below are two parts of radio traffic via wildfirevideosWNY as Detroit firefighters handled a dozen fires during the busy night.
WTTG-TV/ Fox 5 reporter Paul Wagner still can’t get DC Fire & EMS Department Chief Kenneth Ellerbe, Deputy Mayor Paul Quander or anyone from Mayor Vince Gray’s office to sit down for a chat about all of the recent problems facing the department. But Wagner’s report last night prompted yet another statement from the chief acknowledging another serious problem uncovered by the reporter and IAFF Local 36.
According to Wagner’s story and Chief Ellerbe’s press release, DC’s aerial ladders are in need of inspection. A union official says records indicate the last time annual inspections were done was in 2009. Chief Ellerbe’s statement only confirms they weren’t done last year. The reason, according to Ellerbe: “Ladder trucks were not tested last year due to a lack of reserve trucks.”
So, how many reserves are there to back up the 16 front line ladder truck’s protecting the Nation’s Capital? That still isn’t clear. There is no press statement yet from Chief Ellerbe on that topic, but the union told Wagner last night that so far they can only account for one reserve. This much is known, one of the 16 trucks in DC was shut down this week because there were no reserves available.
Now the question is what will the DC Fire & EMS Department do about untested aerial ladders? In Detroit earlier this year, they faced a very similar problem. When it was discovered that the Detroit Fire Department had not kept up with NFPA inspection standards firefighters were ordered to stay off aerial ladders unless there was an imminent life safety issue. No indication yet that the DC Fire & EMS Department will go that route.
As you will see in the story above from Wagner (and can read here), DC’s inspector general was already looking at fleet issues last year but has not issued a report. Wagner also pointed out more potential security problems with all of the apparatus parked on the street near the shop (a practice that goes back decades).
DISTRICT FIRE AND EMS CHIEF ELLERBE RESPONDS TO QUESTIONS REGARDING LADDER TRUCK TESTING AND ACQUISITIONS
F&EMS ladder trucks are currently beingtested, with the most recent test taking place this week, on Monday, March 11,2013. Ladder trucks were not tested last year due to a lack of reservetrucks.
With regard to the procurement issue, the processwas complicated by the fact that a winning bidder refused to grant theDepartment a five-year warranty. When the bidding process was reopened,the vendor filed a protest, further delaying the order. The new processis almost now complete and we expect a new vendor will soon be awarded thecontract. New ladder trucks are being built to the specifications developed incollaboration with members of the firefighters’ union.
As we previously have indicated, since 2011, theDepartment has made purchases of apparatus. These deliveries include:
After taking a swipe at Charlie LeDuff’s last report, I am happy to say he seems to be back on track with a story last night on new developments in the sorry state of affairs that is Detroit EMS. According to LeDuff, both the FBI and the Michigan attorney general are looking into issues involving the delivery of emergency medical care in the troubled city. LeDuff didn’t provide much in the way of detail other than talking about a connection to Medicaid, but he does provide an interesting look at just how bad things are on the EMS side in Detroit. Take a look.
Above is the memo from Detroit Fire Chief Craig Dougherty we first showed you on Saturday that orders firefighters to stay off aerial ladders unless there is an immediate threat to life. The problem is that the Detroit Fire Department’s fleet of 19 ladder trucks does not meet NFPA’s standards on annual and five year testing. Yesterday, local news coverage caught up with the release of the memo.
Video from detroitfire3916 of a house fire on Wednesday in Detroit. Here’s the description with the video:
E-46 stretching on a dwelling, we had another one going 1 block over & called for a seperate box alarm. This dwelling was going through out & required 2- 1 1/2″ handlines, first line made entry on the first floor & second line was taken thru the dormer window.
Capt. Dale Bradley said the 911 call for the fire came in at 6:59 a.m. and Squad 4 arrived five minutes later. However, it wasn’t until a second 911 call came in at 7:12 a.m. that the Fire Department was notified the upstairs was occupied. EMS was dispatched at 7:13 a.m., but Squad 4 made the decision to transport the boys themselves at 7:15 a.m.
“When it came in, it came in as a house fire,” Bradley said. “And EMS isn’t normally dispatched to a dwelling fire unless the caller indicates people are trapped inside.”
Fire officials say Medic 5, stationed road 6.2 miles away near the intersection of Joy and Southfield, was called to the fire. Two other ambulances were stationed closer to the scene, but one was responding to a caller with back pain and the other was broken down at the time.
Rescue crews were unable to save 6-year-old Michael Chavez after pulling him from the burning home.
His 4-year-old brother, Julio Chavez, is said to be in “extremely critical” condition.
Firefighters have expressed their sadness and outrage on Facebook – upset that no medic came to the house to help the boys. A source with Detroit EMS is also furious over the decisions made Tuesday morning. The source tells Local 4 that medics from a station at Joy and Southfield were called to the fire, when two other ambulances are stationed closer to the house. One of those ambulances was out on a what’s being called a “minor” run when the fire broke out, the next closest ambulance, Local 4 was told is broken down.
Both firefighters and medics are blaming Detroit’s city council and Mayor Dave Bing for allowing the city’s ambulance fleet to fall into such bad shape that ambulances’ are taken out of service and not repaired.
The boys were home alone asleep in an upstairs bedroom.
In a rare news conference, Executive Fire Commissioner Don Austin defended his team.
“First of all, when you have a cardiac arrest, you respond to the nearest, appropriate medical facility,” he said. “I don’t know the victim’s status. Most people die from a fire not from burns, but from smoke inhalation.”
“Squad Four immediately started CPR, loaded them into their squad vehicle,” Austin added.
“We’re the only city in the state that does not respond an EMS rig to every single fire,” said retired EMS worker Mike O’Neill.
With more than 130,000 calls a year and ten to twelve working units at any given time, it’s no secret the resources are limited. Commissioner Austin says Detroiters are getting the best coverage available, but sometimes the best just isn’t good enough.
It isn’t a pretty picture and once again LeDuff found himself running after a fire commissioner to try to get an interview. Commissioner Don Austin said he was attempting to get permission from Mayor Dave Bing’s office to talk. LeDuff called Mayor Bing’s spokesman wondering why no one would talk to him and was given a very blunt and straight forward answer: “Because we don’t like your show”.
Of course that did nothing to stop LeDuff’s report. The report focused on the impact of last year’s firehouse closings and recent rising insurance rates.
LeDuff with Commissioner Don Austin’s arm. Watch the story for an explanation.
In the end, LeDuff did get a mayor to talk. He ambushed the former officer holder, the one who is again on trial on corruption charges, Kwame Kilpatrick. LeDuff wanted to know what Kilpatrick did with all the money that never made it to the department for capital improvements and equipment. Kilpatrick says the fire department got everything it needed under his administration.
There was a time not that long ago when there was a fire in Detroit, you knew firefighters would be there in a hurry. But that was before the budget cuts.
Since those cutbacks, firefighters are spread dangerously thin and it’s you who may get burned.
“We have a new saying shamefully because the fire department and the city put us in this position that when seconds count, we’re only minutes away,” said Dan McNamara with the Detroit Fire Fighters Association.
The website MotorCityMuckraker.com says a woman watched her Detroit home near Southfield and 8 Mile burn for 21 minutes after 911 was called on Saturday night. The website reports the closest available companies were 18 miles away, Engine 33 and Ladder 13. It also cites last year’s closings of a large number of Detroit fire companies.
“The house was totally engulfed when we arrived, and it had started with a small fire in the basement,” firefighter Ted Copley said. “An old lady now has nothing. Epic fail by the city.”
Fires are burning longer and becoming more destructive because Mayor Dave Bing’s administration has closed 15 stations in the past 18 months, and nearly as many are closed each night as part of temporary closures called “brown outs,” said Dan McNamara, president of the Detroit Firefighters Association.
Copley said his crew passed “God knows how many closed or browned out firehouses” enroute to Saturday’s blaze.
Also, according to a WXYZ-TV report last week (the video above), Detroit fire inspectors are years behind in their work. Five inspectors try to handle work that was once the responsibility of 32 inspectors. This report comes as a follow-up to the TV station’s recent broadcast about fire safety issues in the city’s firehouses (see video below).
The Fire Marshal Division no longer has a night crew of fire inspectors to regularly check bars and casinos.
Years ago, (Detroit Fire Marshal Steven) Hurst says it took two years for inspectors to get to all the commercial buildings in Detroit. When Action News asked how long it’ll now take for inspectors to complete that same job, he replied “Years”.
And while fire fighters are trained to be able to spot fire hazards and other safety issues, their own firehouses where are supposed to be on the inspection list. But out of the dozens of firehouses around the city, only two were inspected in 2011.