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Discipline handed down for Detroit firefighters who posed for photo in front of burning house

12 firefighters, 4 sergeants punished for photo

DETROIT – The Detroit Fire Department handed down punishment to a large group of firefighters who posed for a photo in front of a burning house.

City and DFD officials want to put the picture behind them.

A dozen firefighters and four sergeants were disciplined for taking part in the infamous smoldering selfie.

“There were some suspensions, and we’ll just go from there and we’ll get with the department and follow up and see where we go from here,” Chris Smith, of the Firefighters’ Association, said.

Part of the controversy was sparked by a dispute over whether the house was vacant. It wasn’t -- it was under renovation. Radio traffic from that night shows crews knew the house was occupied.

Everyone involved now admits the photo was poor judgement. It gives the impression that crews weren’t trying to put out the blaze.

That wasn’t the case, however. Investigation, as well as union-provided pictures, show firefighters battled the fire and even entered the burning home.

But it was so fully involved that the chief pulled crews out for safety reasons. They went into what’s called a “defensive posture,” making sure the fire didn’t spread any further.

They said they took the photo in that moment as a retirement farewell for a captain.

“These men and women shouldn’t be judged professionally or personally on this incident, and we understand the appearance and I’m sure these men and women do too,” Smith said. “We just want to remind everyone that these people serve and protect every day.”

Local 4 spoke with the family that owns the house. They didn’t want to comment on the discipline because they’re suing the city.

Neither the union nor the city are giving specifics of the penalties because it’s a personnel matter.

City officials said their investigation of the incident is complete.


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