Detroit firefighters say new 'no lights, no sirens' policy puts lives in danger

New policy says firefighters can only use lights, sirens for Code 1 emergency


DETROIT – Detroit firefighters said a policy decision surrounding a change in how fire and emergency calls are dispatched will have deadly consequences.

As part of the new policy, a Code 1 emergency is issued when the Fire Department knows for sure that lives are in immediate danger. Firefighters and emergency medical technicians head to those scenes with lights on and sirens blaring.

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A Code 2 emergency is issued when the situation is not life-threatening and, under the new response policy, lights and sirens are not to be used. Firefighters said this classification is putting lives in danger.

Detroit resident Sandra Bailey was visibly shaken after her house went up in flames last week.

"It's just hurt," Bailey said. "I just hurt on the inside. I lost stuff from when I lost my husband six years ago. I can't get that back. I'll never get that back."

She blames the Detroit Fire Department's new policy because her house fire was considered a Code 2, so crews didn't rush to the scene using lights or sirens.

"For them to have to stop at every light to get here, that's unacceptable," Bailey said.

The president of the Detroit Fire Firefighters Association, Mike Nevin, is also crying foul.

"This is a human issue," Nevin said.

He's going after Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Fire Commissioner Eric Jones for the new policy.

"I am not, as a 32-year veteran, going to allow manipulation of data, lies and (expletive) to flow into the public," Nevin said.

Jones defended the policy and said it's about public safety.

"We're doing this because it's reasonable and it's proven, and we want to make sure we're doing everything we can to protect the residents of Detroit," Jones said.

He acknowledged that the system isn't perfect.

"I am concerned when we make mistakes, and that's why we're going to continue our process to examine these runs so we can get better," Jones said.

Bailey believes the policy needs to be examined and thrown out.

"They really need to rethink this before somebody loses their life," Bailey said.

Though the policy is controversial, there are no plans to get rid of it in the near future.

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