Detroit firefighters make plea for safety as fires become more dangerous than ever

Firefighters union president says cuts cause Detroit firefighters response time to increase, size of fires to increase before they arrive


The blast was instant as Detroit firefighters tried to put out a house fire Thursday night on Lamont Street.

Three firefighters went inside. They had no idea there was a gas leak. The minute oxygen hit the blaze ... boom. The house exploded, the walls collapsed and the men were trapped inside.

Those three firefighter were rushed to hospital and are OK. They were home recovering on Friday.

The question now is would that explosion have been as bad if there were more firefighters on the street. The answer is unclear.

"I'm not gonna say that anything would have been different but the odds are much greater it would have been different," said Dan McNamara, Detroit firefighters union president.

Firefighters called Local 4 Thursday night furious about the injuries and angry that four trucks were not on Lamont Street to deal with the fire when it was first reported. The trucks were not there is because dispatch did not send them. The ones that went were traveling a greater distance.

"It's taking us so long and we're so far away that little fires are growing in size, exponentially," said McNamara.

After Thursday's explosion, McNamara sent a letter to Mayor Dave Bing's chief of staff, Kirk Lewis, referring to the situation as a "deadly experiment."

The mayor's office told Local 4 that Lewis has yet to receive the letter. Bing has made public safety a priority but Detroit's code red financial status means nothing, not even public safety, is immune from cuts.

Detroit fire houses have always been busy but they are more so now. Why is that? McNamara says it isn't that there are more fires -- they estimate the average is 35 each day -- but that the fires are bigger and more dangerous when firefighters finally get to the scene.

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