Detroit firefighters sue city over 'unsafe' crime scene cleanup rules

Firefighters say rules expose them to HIV, hepatitis, other diseases

DETROIT – Detroit firefighters are suing the city over crime scene cleanup rules they claim expose crews to HIV, hepatitis and much more.

A Wayne County courtroom was packed Wednesday as the Firefighters' Association asked a judge to stop procedures that make crews clean up blood and other bodily fluids at accidents and crime scenes.

City officials were on the defensive after the union for Detroit firefighters said enough is enough. They don't want firefighters to have to hose down bloody crime and accident scenes.

Detroit officials argue that firefighters have always sprayed away blood down into the sewer system.

"It happens all the time," Assistant Corporation Counsel June Adams said.

Union officials said last fall there was a homicide scene with blood, brains and bloody rags on private property and crews refused to hose it down, fearing hazardous materials could splash in their mouths.

In that case, a civilian emergency medical services boss tossed dirt on the blood and tissue.

Detroit fire Chief Robert Distelrath took the witness stand and was questioned by attorneys for the firefighters' union, saying crews aren't trained in biohazard removal.

You can watch Shawn Ley's full story in the video posted above.

About the Authors: