Detroit firefighters call for change following drunken engine crash

Sources say a party was happening at Engine 50

DETROIT – Members of the Detroit Fire Department have reached out to Local 4 Defenders with their concerns about the allegations of firefighters drinking while on the job.

READ: Whistleblower says Detroit Fire Department drunk driving incident is part of widespread problem

On Sunday night Trenisha Hawkins’ car was struck by a Detroit fire engine.

Hawkins’ sister was sick inside the home and when Detroit Fire Department Squad Six arrived at the scene, a 26-year-old firefighter behind the wheel of a $500,000 rescue vehicle struck Hawkins’ car.

READ: Detroit Fire Department: Drunken firefighter responding to emergency crashes engine

“It’s horrifying,” said Local 4 legal analyst Neil Rockind. “Those rigs are like tanks.”

Rockind said the entire fire crew has to be ready to save lives and the driver of the fire engine has to be sharp.

Detroit firefighters are constantly on the run, saving lives and property. Members of the firefighters union said this one incident doesn’t show that the department has an alcohol problem.

Other Detroit firefighters -- their identities confirmed by the Local 4 Defenders -- have claim otherwise.

“I am a firefighter for the city of Detroit. All of the information is completely correct,” said one Detroit firefighter. “We need a change as a department. Our guys are routinely drunk on calls.”

Another confirmed firefighter said not all fire crews are bad, “but they have a lot who party at work.”

The Detroit Fire Department chief Robert Shinske is heading up the investigation into the firefighter driving drunk, but members of his own department point out that Shinske was suspended from the department in 2017 after being caught on camera parking a Detroit fire vehicle outside a bar in Dearborn.

READ: Detroit deputy fire chief suspended for driving department SUV to Dearborn bar

Detroit’s fire commissioner has vowed to investigate Sunday’s party that led to the firefighter driving drunk and crashing a fire engine.

Rockind said the city is opening itself up to big legal trouble if it has known about on-duty drinking and hasn’t addressed the problem.

READ: More local crime coverage

About the Authors: