Investigations launched after incident on Detroit firefighters’ radio system: ‘He’s lying, Chief.’

Firefighters could face suspension

A civil rights investigation is underway regarding a Detroit firefighter's radio chatter.

DETROIT – A civil rights investigation is underway over a serious allegation about race that was made by one Detroit firefighter against another.

The way the firefighter brought his accusation is also now being investigated internally. The allegation was made over the radio.

The incident started after firefighters responded to an apartment fire on Dec. 5 in the area of I-96 and Peterboro Street in Detroit.

A veteran firefighter said he left the scene because he felt threatened during the situation. Another veteran firefighter got on the radio to call him a liar and said race was involved.

Ladder 20: “This is Ladder 20.”

Chief 1: “This is Chief, whatcha got over there, now?”

Ladder 20: “Turned out to be a careless cook, but while we were trying to make access to the office, couple of the residents got a little irate with us. I felt threatened, so I left the building.”

Engine 1: “He’s lying, Chief. This is Engine 1. He didn’t get threatened at all. There’s a lot of Black people here and I think he’s feeling threatened about that.”

Ladder 20: “That is not true.”

Chief 1: “This is Chief 1. Message received. I’m en route.”

Fire officials say the department is taking the incident seriously and has launched an internal investigation into the use of the radio and what was said that broke protocol. The city says the Civil Rights Division is looking into the situation because race was brought up.

Both firefighters are still working but could face suspensions in the future. The internal investigation could take up to 45 days and the city’s investigation could take up to six months.

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About the Authors:

Local 4 Defender Shawn Ley is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has been with Local 4 News for more than a decade.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.