Detroit Fire Department personal information compromised after fire at former training school

DETROIT – Firefighters are upset over what they claim they found at a place where many of them learned their trade.

In this age of identity theft, no one wants to find their own personal information sitting out in the open, but that's what some of Detroit's bravest said turned up after a fire at the former Detroit Fire Department training school on West Warren Avenue. 

Some firefighters radioed their union chief to tell him documents containing their personal information were scattered throughout the abandoned building.

The city is responsible for the security of the documents. Officials from the city said it was assumed all information was secured when the training center closed in 2015. 

Personal information of firefighters was strewn across the floor at the old fire training academy days after a fire there and 3 1/2 years after it closed.

Video and pictures time-stamped Wednesday were obtained by Local 4 and show pages of payroll information.

"I can't tell you how pissed I am right now," said one firefighter. "And they won't be held accountable, and that's the sick part."

Mike Nevin, from the Detroit firefighters union, said high-ranking city officials went through the building and knew what was there.

"This is one glaring example of mismanagement and lack of concern," Nevin said.

On Thursday, officials started to remove papers, textbooks and anything else they could find. They said it's a simple cleanup, not a cover-up.

"In 2015, all sensitive info was removed," said Charles Simms. "However, if a few forms were left behind, that is a possibility."

Whatever was left behind was compromised, because the building has endured several break-ins since it closed.

"I'm appalled that my ID can be stolen and my credit ruined, and they would just stand there and say it's an accident and these things happen," one firefighter said.

Some of the arson investigators are questioning whether the documents showed up after the fact, due to how well-preserved they are. 

The union called that too absurd to even respond to but noted the dates in the corners of pages and asked why they would keep the records for 17 years just to plant them now.

About the Authors:

Jason anchors Local 4's 5:30 p.m. newscast. He joined WDIV in January 2015 as a general assignment reporter and has a Journalism degree from Michigan State University.