DETROIT (WWJ) – There’s just some things you can’t do without.

WWJ Newsradio 950’s Rob Sanford reports Detroit firehouses are having problems with keeping supplies of toilet paper and other necessities.

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Detroit firefighters say they have a shortage of things like soap, hand towels and even toilet paper at their firehouses.

The reason? The department is moving to a new purchasing and inventory system to become more efficient in determining needs.

Fire Commissioner Donald Austin told the Detroit Free Press a temporary lag was caused by a change in purchasing in July. But some say the problem existed even before that time.

The problem is so bad in some places the firefighters have taken collections among themselves to buy some supplies.

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This is just the most recent salvo Austin has faced. The longtime Los Angeles fire commissioner, who came to Detroit about a year ago, was also booed roundly during a local screening of “Burn,” the documentary featuring a year in the life of Detroit firefighters.

City firefighters battle blazes in a community with nearly 80,000 abandoned buildings — including a half-dozen shuttered fire stations that scrappers have been looting for stainless steel and copper.

At the same time, the cash-poor city has cut pay and benefits for emergency personnel. Hundreds of firefighters took to the streets in July to protest cuts in pay and benefits after the newest contract stipulated a 10 percent across-the-board pay cut and a hike in medical co-pays.

The firefighters’ union started airing commercials in 2011 protesting cuts.

“Our membership doesn’t know what’s going on from day-to-day and they’re worried,” union president Dan McNamara said at the time. “We keep coming to work with less and less people and they’re worried they’re not going to have their jobs tomorrow. They don’t understand why somebody would make a decision to cut public safety.”

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