Detroit firefighters are the best! I see them everywhere while riding across this vast city. I’ve spotted them dousing burning cars and have seen them putting out grass fires in open fields. I have watched in awe as one of them climbed a ladder truck’s ladder forty or fifty feet into the air to spray water into a burning building. I’ve seen them in 90-degree weather strap on gas masks, oxygen tanks and slip into heavy fireproof clothing, and walk blindly into the smoking fringes of the long abandoned Packard Plant on Detroit’s Eastside…a place, I’m quite sure, where they’ve battled many fires that seem to pop-up regularly. They are a remarkable bunch!
Unfortunately, Detroit has an abundance of vacant homes, factories and other abandoned structures. Because of them, there is no shortage of fires. While bicycling throughout the city it’s not uncommon to spot black smoke in the distance filling a cloudless sky or to hear the distinct sound of a fire truck’s siren and deep-toned blast from its air horn as it makes its way to a fire. If I’m reasonably close, I’ll usually pedal over there to check it out.
I once followed bellowing smoke to a two-story abandoned home that was being swallowed up by flames and arrived just as the fire trucks rolled up. I watched in amazement as firefighters effortlessly rolled out their high-pressure water hoses, connected them from their pump truck to a fire hydrant and started blasting water at the fire. At the same time, other fighters were making final adjustments to their gear and equipment before cautiously entering the smoke-filled, burning building to tackle the fire head-on. They never missed a step. It was calm precision at its finest.
Having poked around a few trash-strewn abandoned buildings (some with rickety stairways and questionable flooring) I couldn’t image going into them with flames and smoke coming from every direction. Each step must feel like eternity, especially at night or in the middle of winter when the water being sprayed turns to ice.
These guys are good!
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