Multiple Detroit Fire Department incidents involve drinking on duty – Car Accident
Four firefighters and two civilians are recovering from injuries after a Detroit Fire Department engine collided with an SUV last week.
Engine 50 was on its way to respond to a fire on Riad Street at around 8 a.m. June 8 when it collided with a passenger vehicle at Houston Whittier and Dickerson, said James Harris, chief of public relations for the Detroit Fire Department.
Two citizens were in “severe condition” following the accident and had to be rescued using the Jaws of Life, but they will recover, he said.
Following the crash, two of the firefighters experienced pain in their backs and lower extremities, while the other two were taken to Ascension St. John Hospital for observation, but have since been released, Harris said.
The cause of the incident is under investigation.
However, this is far from the first crash involving the Detroit Fire Department. In 2022 and 2021 alone, there have been multiple incidents involving Detroit fire engines crashing.
In February, two DFD personnel were suspended after alcohol was found in a fire engine operator’s urine when he was on duty.
A resident called 911 to report that Engine 48 was in the parking lot of a restaurant outside of the Detroit border. The department was alerted and the employees were ordered to return to the engine house and immediately take tests.
Last year, Detroit resident Trenisha Hawkins’ car was struck by an engine driven by a 26-year-old firefighter.
After the investigation of a “big party” being held that night at Engine 50, the driver was in fact under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash.
“We believe this incident to be isolated and something that is not a true representation of the men and women of the Detroit Fire Department,” Thomas Gehart, president of Fire Fighters Association Local 344, said at the time.
Nonetheless, critics claim that the drunken-driving incident is part of a wider problem.
The incident was one of two to occur in just over a week last year, causing city leaders to reflect on policies and resources for firefighters.
At the time, Mayor Mike Duggan announced a partnership with national firefighter leaders to help guide Detroit in finding a solution, including launching an independent environmental audit and a review of the department’s policies and employee assistance program.
“The men and women of the Detroit Fire Department are heroes. We depend on them every day to save our lives, and they’ve done a terrific job, but the people of the city of Detroit are entitled to know that the men and women they are counting on to come save them are free of the influence of alcohol or any other restricted substances,” Duggan said during a news conference. “We’re not here to focus on who’s to blame, we’re focusing on how we’re going to solve it.”
One of the factors contributing to these instances was the lack of on-site leadership during a time of heightened pressure, Duggan said.
The city then stated that they would take preventative steps including clarifying that working under the influence of any restricted substance is forbidden with zero tolerance on any department property, making command staff return to on-site work full time and partnering with the Detroit Fire Fighters Association and International Association of Fire Fighters to enhance the department’s employee assistance program.