Budget Cuts Have Detroit Fire Official Offering New Ideas

Having been ordered to cut 15 percent from the 2012-13 budget, the head of the Detroit Fire Department is considering new ideas to accomplish this task, reports the Detroit Free Press (http://on.freep.com/HX538J).

Executive Fire Commissioner Donald Austin tells the newspaper that the departments biggest challenge is vacant homes, the origin of 40-60 percent of fires in Detroit. He plans to provide three different proposals to the mayor.

The Detroit Free Press details his suggestions as the following:

  • Allowing vacant homes that are more than 50 percent ablaze when firefighters arrive to burn to the ground, as long as no lives are in jeopardy. The approach isn’t feasible in high winds or other dangerous conditions, Austin said.
  • Asking the U.S. Navy’s construction division — the Seabees — to raze 10,000 vacant and dilapidated homes
  • Creating a demolition unit in the Fire Department. Detroit’s crew would use heavy equipment to raze the remnants of newly burned buildings.

    Austin said he wants to avoid having to cut jobs, though some positions will be lost through retirements and attrition. The Detroit Fire Fighters Association had voted in March to modify their union contracts with their own proposed cuts.

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