$22.5M grant allows Detroit to rehire over 100 firefighters - KMSP-TV

$22.5M grant allows Detroit to rehire over 100 firefighters

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Detroit Fire Commissioner Don Austin says he hopes retirements will also reduce the number of layoffs.  (Credit: WJBK | myFOXDetroit.com) Detroit Fire Commissioner Don Austin says he hopes retirements will also reduce the number of layoffs. (Credit: WJBK | myFOXDetroit.com)
DETROIT (WJBK) -

Vacant homes in Detroit, you add fires, take away firefighters, do the math and you end up with a long, hot summer, but thanks to a check, 108 out of 164 firefighters can be rehired.  Those were on the chopping block.

Congressman Hansen Clarke helped secure the $22.5-million from the feds, money to help fight the firing of firefighters.

"Congress understands they have a responsibility to return more money to Detroit to better protect Detroiters," said congressman said.

The fire commissioner said this still leaves about 50 firefighters out of work, but he's hoping retirements will help reduce that number even more.

"For every member that retires, and do to this uncertainty there are a lot of members who have the time that are retiring, that's one less firefighter that we have to lay off.  The number is somewhere around 52 or 53, I believe, that still will be laid off," said Commissioner Don Austin.

So even with those firefighters being hired back because of that cash infusion, there still are some problems.  Many of the companies and ladders within the firehouses are closing down.  That means empty buildings, and already that's meant burglaries in the last few days.

Engine 49 at Grand River and Schaefer is one of two firehouses that has been shutdown because of the city's financial crisis and a declining population.  Copper wiring, televisions and more were stolen from inside this week.

The commissioner realizes these cuts are hard, but necessary.  However, as services are cut, the commissioner promises technology will move into place.

"By the middle of August, we should have GPS capability on all of our fire apparatus and EMS apparatus so that we can see on a Google map, for instance, where that resource is located, which one is closest to the incident that's up next to be dispatched for," Austin said.

Does Clarke feel like there are some in congress who say how much are we going to give to that city?

"I've been able to work effectively with Republicans.  As you know, the House of Representatives is Republican controlled.  I've still be able to get that house to approve increases in funding to Homeland Security."

Clarke also told Fox 2 the leadership in Washington does understand the importance of keeping Detroit safe, so much so he thinks we may be in for another cash infusion come September.

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