These homes, occupied or abandoned, burn like highway safety flares. We showed street after street, hydrant after ice caked hydrant, not working. It did not register. We embarrassed the water department for its utter lack of regard for residents.
We even went to inspect the fire hydrants in front of City official’s homes. The hydrant in front of the then fire commissioner’s home carried no yellow collar, the one in front of the Manoogian Mansion when Kwame Kilpatrick was mayor was working perfectly. The hydrant in front of then water department Chief Victor Mercado’s home was in perfect working order as well. It was in West Bloomfield! Yet, few seemed to care. In 2007 we again revisited the problem, found the same appalling conditions, found people trying to sue the city for allowing the problem to persist, nothing! It was as if Detroit did not care. We stopped doing the story.
So, Monday, I had the displeasure of revisiting this issue, sad to see very little has changed. Detroit’s firefighters are nothing short of heroes. They are left to attack fires as if one armed wall paper hangers.
Their equipment is old, outmoded, rickety, dangerously held together with the proverbial spit and bailing wire.
From what I can tell, they are doing the impossible for a beleaguered city. The water department does not seem to carry the same heft.
It is a revenue generating department and does not seem it lacks the equipment to do the job the fire department does. This is where the system seems to break down. And still, it does not appear the city and its residents are particularly concerned.
It stands to reason that there are probably more serious, immediate threats like violent crime and joblessness grabbing everyone’s attention. I can’t help but think part of “public safety” includes working fire hydrants.
It’s an exceptionally sad testament to how far Detroit has fallen. It is also confounding! Here is why.
The other story I covered today was the highly emotionally charged hearing about whether the State, [which runs a first class state park network] should take over the horribly run down Belle Isle and run it .
Some people were so angry, so enraged they had to be escorted from the hearing by police. I sat there and wondered why that issue literally has people up in arm when there are frozen fire hydrants for miles across town posing an infinitely more existential threat.
The how and why of frozen hydrants and that lack of concern all remain a mystery to me.
Still, the city of Detroit plods on painfully another sad day.