The Detroit Fire Department is pulling the plug on lights and sirens on some of its runs and that has the local firefighter’s union hot under the collar.
“This protocol of taking you time to get to fires is ridiculous,” said Mike Nevin of the Detroit Fire Fighters Association.
The new policy groups runs into two categories: Code or priority one for urgent or life-threatening emergiences-firefighters are to respond to those calls their lights and sirens on. And then there’s code or priorty two runs for non-life threatening calls-no lights and sirens are to be used for those.
“It is unreasonable to respond to all calls, lights and sirens in emergency mode,” said DFD Commissioner Eric Jones.
Jones says that was the conclusion of a study done by FEMA and the International Association of Firefighters. He says the new policy could save lives by lessening the likelihood of car crashes as fire engines respond to 911 calls and it would not take an excessive toll on response time.
“The research has shown and there are case study upon case study, data upon data, that shows that responding emergency only saves between 40 and 60 seconds,” he said.
Nevin blasted that line of reasoning during a city council committee meeting, saying those seconds are crucial and non-life threatening calls can become emergencies in a heartbeat.
“Firefighters and the medics in the field know that there’s no crystal ball at central office and something that may sound non-emergent on the phone could be very emergent,” he said.
A firefighter’s post on social media could be a perfect example. “Strokes are code 2 no lights or sirens now. We went from 39s all the way to 8 Mile and Burt Rd. Non emergent. Got there and she was having classic stroke symptoms. Family was trying to drag her to their car as we pulled up.”
“We had a woman threatening to jump off an overpass. Priority 2 take your time. We had primary lines on 8 Mile. I’m not talking about 220s I’m talking about big guys all across 8 Mile. Take your time. Took them 11 minutes to get there,” Nevin said.
“Whenever there’s a new policy implemented, despite the training, despite the constant reminders, mistakes will be made. But, we’re not going to make the mistake, I’m won’t be the leader standing before you after a family is killed from a fire engine leaving the fire station to do a washdown and become involved in a fatal accident,” Jones said.
Mayor Mike Duggan plans on meeting with both Jones and fire fighters union to address some of the concerns about this new policy.