This is a story about the public's welfare - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

This is a story about the public's welfare

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Flooded basement of a Detroit Firehouse. Flooded basement of a Detroit Firehouse.
DETROIT (WJBK) -

Off the Chain Opinion

State health inspectors arrived in the city Friday morning to scrutinize the condition of the city's firehouses.

That's a good thing and a long time coming. Because what the inspectors will find is what you've already seen on FOX 2: feces gurgling up in basements, broken sewer pipes, cracked floors, leaking roofs and windows, battered gear, fire trucks with doors held shut with bungee cord.  It's a disgrace and a national shame.

The conditions are so bad for Detroit firefighters and paramedics, they gladly allowed our camera into their workplaces to show you the awful truth.

And what is that awful truth? Decades of neglect and mismanagement have put the public and their servants in great danger.

And still, you call 911, and Detroit firefighters are there within minutes.

What took the state so long to come in? What finally got its attention? Not the pictures of filth so much. But rather, a silly confrontation between Deputy Fire Commissioner Fred Wheeler and me.

After leaving messages that went unreturned, I went to fire headquarters to ask why the houses had degraded to such a state.

The deputy commissioner cursed and slapped the microphone from my hand.

That got the mayor's attention and the deputy commissioner was dismissed for bad behavior and that, unfortunately, has become the story.

It shouldn't be. The story should be the public's welfare. The story should be the mishandling of public money. The story should be about correcting mistakes.

The story should be about firefighter Walt Harris, who suffocated in 2008 when a roof collapsed on him but his colleagues could not find him in time because his trigger alarm did not work.

The story should be about Ivory Ivey, the three-year-old who died in a house fire last year after a fire truck showed up but couldn't pump water.

This isn't just a problem for citizens of Detroit. If you come from the suburbs for dinner or a hockey game or the opera, you're a Detroiter. If you pay state taxes or a water bill, you're a Detroiter.

We're all in this together and poor governance is not our birthright. Demand better.

   

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