This afternoon, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced that the city plans to lay off 164 firefighters by the end of July due to budget cuts. This represents 14 percent of the department's Fire Fighting Division of 1,141 personnel.
In a statement, the mayor said he has “every expectation” to receive a federal grant that will restore jobs to 108 of those laid off, though the grant has yet to be awarded. "Many, if not most, of the remaining 56 firefighters are expected to be recalled to the fire department through attrition," the statement said.
The mayor’s office released a list of ways the Detroit Fire Department will attempt to do more with less:
· Better deploying engines from adjacent sectors and using newly installed GPS systems in the engines and rigs to best dispatch fire department personnel;
· Conducting thorough risks/gain analysis of interior versus exterior fire suppression;
· Increase the use of CERT & Fire Corps to support our firefighters;
· And continuing our community fire prevention education.
Last night, Detroit firefighters worked to extinguish 16 blazes, mostly in vacant buildings, on the east side of the city.
Back in March, Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reported that the fire department was already stretched thin without sufficient staff to handle fires, like last night's, in vacant buildings. According to Detroit Fire Commissioner, Donald Austin, 30-60 percent of all department runs, depending on the shift, are in response to such fires.
-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom