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Struggling Detroit Firefighters Get National Charity Aid

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Firefighters stand in the smoke from a fire. FILE PHOTO (credit: Mike Campbell/WWJ)

Firefighters stand in the smoke from a fire. FILE PHOTO (credit: Mike Campbell/WWJ)

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By Christy Strawser, digital director
DETROIT (CBS Detroit) They ran out of toilet paper at one station house, used a stove for heat at another and were featured in a documentary about the 30 fires they face every day in the city that does sleep but doesn’t stop burning. Early this year, a firefighters’ union sued the city for negligence.

Now, people across the country are stepping in to help.

The National Firefighters Endowment, a charity focused on supporting fire departments that lack necessary resources, has mobilized a national effort to provide assistance to the Detroit Fire Department. Detroit Fire Mutual Aid is a nationwide call for individuals, fire departments, organizations and corporations to put life-saving equipment in the hands of Detroit firefighters.

To help remedy the situation in Detroit, which recently filed the largest municipal bankruptcy case in history and is struggling to make budget ends meet, the endowment is selling T-shirts that say “Detroit fire mutual aid.”

At a cost of $19.98, all the money from the T-shirts will go into purchasing equipment for Detroit firefighters.

Shane Parkins, president of the firefighters’ endowment, explained they’re hoping to raise $100,000 with the T-shirts, and are working with organizations to get equipment donations, and negotiating deals with vendors to stretch the dollars as much as they can.

The Detroit Public Safety Foundation will oversee compliance of all donated equipment with the safety standards and protocols of the city, as well as ensuring the tools get into the hands of the firefighters, Parkins said.

“The last thing we want to do is just dump a bunch of equipment on their doorstep,” he said.

The firefighters’ endowment, a collaboration between 200 members of fire departments across 34 states, according to Parkins, chose Detroit when they learned one crew in particular desperately needed help.

“We got an email from a friend of a friend that Ladder 22 (in Detroit) had a couple of saws stolen off their truck and the department wasn’t in a position to replace them,” Parkins explained. “We bought them two brand-new saws (about $5,500).

“Those saws have seen a lot of work, it’s important to have the right equipment for the safety of everyone on scene…We’ve built a relationship with a couple of firefighters since then, just hearing the story of how hard they’re working, what they’re working with…”

He added: Detroit firefighters respond to the highest number of structure fire calls in the nation, writing in a press release, “This is mainly due to the numerous vacant buildings throughout the city caused by Detroit’s economic crisis. The cause for most of these structural fires is arson.”

More than 1,700 T-shirts sold quickly, and the group is asking business owners and residents to go even further by sponsoring a crew or donating gear. Check out the options HERE at http://www.Detroitmutualaid.com.

“They call it a brotherhood, which of course includes sisters, as well, if a firefighter needs help, you do what you can to help,” said Parkins, a former volunteer firefighter in Sacramento.

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