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The Detroit Fire Department (DFD) provides fire protection and emergency medical services to the U.S. city of Detroit, Michigan.

Detroit Fire Department (DFD)
Operational area
Country United States
State Michigan
City Detroit [1]
Agency overview
Annual calls~165,000 (2,736 Fires in 2018)
Employees1000+ (821 firefighters)
CommissionerEric Jones
EMS levelALS, BLS, and MFR
IAFFLocal 344
Facilities and equipment
Airport crash2
IAFF Local 344
A DFD Captain overseeing a fire in 1978.
The quarters of Engine 17, Ladder 7, and Chief 5 at 6100 2nd St.
The former Fire Headquarters at 250 West Larned, in operation until 2013
Fireboat Curtis Randolph
DFD Ladder 19 and an American Red Cross Disaster Action Team van at the scene of a house fire in Detroit.

The DFD operates 46 fire companies out of 34 fire stations located throughout the city, with a total sworn personnel complement of 821 firefighters in all ranks. It is headquartered at the Detroit Public Safety Headquarters on Third Street, which also houses police, EMS, and additional services.

The DFD responds to approximately 165,000 emergency calls annually, with over 80% being medical emergencies and approximately 9,000 working structural fires. There were 4,741 structure fires in Detroit in 2014, compared with 2,736 in 2018, according to data. As a result, the city is now fighting an average of seven structure fires per day.[1]


Recent historyEdit

Department leadership in the 2010sEdit

From 2011 to December 31, 2013, the Detroit Fire Department was led by Fire Commissioner Donald R. Austin, a former member of the Los Angeles Fire Department and a Detroit native. Under Mayor Dave Bing, Austin had come to Detroit in May 2011 on the difficult mission to bring change to the DFD. He resigned in November 2013 due to changes in city administration.

The new mayor of Detroit, Mike Duggan, named Jonathan Jackson, a 25-year veteran of the department, and a Second Deputy Fire Commissioner under Austin, as the Interim Fire Commissioner on December 23, 2013. Craig Dougherty, a former member of Engine 50 on the city's East Side and Fire Chief under Austin, became a Second Deputy Commissioner under Jackson. The administration was rounded out by Deputy Commissioner Edsel Jenkins, C.P.A., Second Deputy Commissioner Sydney Zack, LL.M., and Second Deputy Commissioner Orlando Gregory.[2]

By the end of March 2014, Commissioner Jackson resigned due to a life-threatening neural disease. On April 8, 2014, Deputy Commissioner Edsel Jenkins was named as the new Executive Fire Commissioner. He resigned in October 2015,[3] and was succeeded in office by Eric Jones.[4][5]

Budget crisis of the 2010sEdit

As of January 2011, in an effort to reduce costs, the city of Detroit was considering privatizing the Fire Department's EMS Division.

Budget cuts led to the Chief of Department closing a total of 10 Engine Companies and 4 Ladder Companies, effective July 4, 2012. Additionally, 200 firefighters and officers were to be demoted and around 150 laid off initially, with more than 100 to be re-hired as funds were to become available.[6] In addition to the 14 permanently closed companies, a number of units were placed out of service ("browned out") on a daily basis. As a consequence, the standard response to a structural fire was reduced by one engine to 2 engines, 1 ladder, 1 squad and 1 chief.

At the beginning and into the first half of 2013, apparatus availability was at a low point[citation needed]. An estimated 40 units remained in service,[7] with all three aerial platform trucks damaged or defective, and up to eight engine Companies and seven ladder companies browned out.[7] At the end of January 2013, the entire fleet of aerial ladder trucks was found lacking certification for routine operations.[8][9]

The City of Detroit declared bankruptcy in July 2013.

By 2014, the established practice of using improvised tools like soda pop cans, doorbells, door hinges or pipes to alert firefighters of incoming alarm faxes made national news.[10] Merely 48 pieces of apparatus were available for service, down from 66 in the year 2010.[11] A number of ladder trucks continued to be pressed into service without working aerials.


In December 2014, the City of Detroit emerged from bankruptcy protection. Funds for replacement and maintenance of parts of the aging fleet and facilities were included with the new budget. Mutual aid arrangements with fire departments in the two enclaves, the cities of Highland Park and Hamtramck, were formalized in October 2014.[12][13]

In 2015, with a first batch of ten new fire engines going in service. Previously browned out Engine Company 32 was also reopened. New vehicles bolstered the fleet available to EMS and for fire investigators.

Following 2012's reduction, the standard assignment to a structure fire was again increased to 3 Engines, 1 Truck, 1 Squad and 1 Chief. In 2016[citation needed], an expanded type of first alarm assignment called Commercial Box Alarm was introduced to better handle fires in structures bigger than a standard dwelling. Six new fire engines were placed in service in 2016, one of them replacing the Quint at Engine Company 48, plus reinstating Ladder Company 13 as a permanently staffed unit. So far, Engine Companies 1, 9, 17, 27, 30, 32, 33, 39, 40, 42, 48, 50, 53, 56, 58, and 59 have all been assigned new Smeal fire apparatus.

For the year 2017, six new HME/Ahrens-Fox Squad trucks, nine Smeal rearmount ladder trucks, two Ferrara platform ladder trucks, eight Ferrara fire engines, fourteen Braun Medic Units and a number of Light and Air units are scheduled to enter service.

Fire activity and investigationEdit

The city of Detroit has to cope with a large number of fires. The number of vacant buildings throughout the city, combined with a dire economic situation, resulted in numerous fires on a daily basis. About 85% of the fires that occur daily in Detroit occur in vacant homes and buildings. In 2011 alone, the DFD responded to over 9,000 working structural fires.

Numbers of fires per year declined subsequently, with 4,600 structure fires in 2014 and 3,700 in 2015. On average, Detroit firefighters attended to 11 to 16 fires per day in 2015.[5]

A large number of these fires are believed to be "incendiary" (or arson)[nb 1], far above the national average of about 7.8%.[15] In the early 2010s, there were no accurate statistics for determining the arson rate in Detroit due to the fact that only a fraction of the fires could be investigated by the limited resources of the DFD Arson Unit. Only fire scenes which have been investigated can be ruled as incendiary or arson fires. Those fires which have not been investigated must be classified as "undetermined" unless an investigation is completed.


The Detroit Fire Department is divided into 10 divisions of operations: Administration, Apparatus, Communications, Community Relations, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Firefighting/Fire Suppression, Fire Marshal, Medical, Research and Development, and Training Academy.[16]

Emergency Medical ServicesEdit

The DFD operates a separate Emergency Medical Services Division. In September 2013, AED devices were put in service on the fire apparatus as a first step into performing life support to citizens as first responders. As of 2015, Detroit firefighters are trained medical first responders and have the ability to handle patient care until Emergency Medical Services units arrive.

The Emergency Medical Services division operates with limited manpower. As a result, many calls are handled by the DFD until a unit is available. The availability of Emergency Medical Services units is often compromised due to the number of calls in a city which has a lot of violence, citizens calling 911 for non-emergencies, as well as the breaking down of the Emergency Medical Services rigs due to age, mileage, and lack of proper maintenance.

Thanks to Mayor Bing's collaboration with the business community, Roger Penske sponsored 23 new ambulances for the department, which were put into service in the summer of 2013. Many of these, however, soon developed defects.[17] More new ambulances were purchased throughout the following years.

Fire station locationsEdit

As of February 2019, there are a total of 38 fire stations in the city of Detroit, not including the Fire Headquarters. There are 27 Engine Companies, 13 Ladder Companies, 6 Tactical Mobile Squads, a Fireboat, and a Hazardous Material Response Unit[1] as well as 24 Medic Ambulances and several specialized units. These fire stations and companies are organized into 8 battalions, each headed by one Battalion Chief per shift.[18]

Engine Company Ladder (Platform) Company Medic unit Specialized Unit Chief Unit Battalion Location
Engine 01 1 111 Montcalm
Engine 09 Ladder 06 (Platform) Medic 21 1 3737 E Lafayette
Engine 16
(Curtis Randolph (fireboat))
40 24th St
Engine 17 Ladder 07 (Platform) Chief 05 5 6100 Second Blvd
Engine 27 Ladder 08 Medic 9, Medic 19 Chief 07 7 4700 Fort St
Engine 29 7 7600 W Jefferson Ave
Engine 30 Medic 03 4 16543 Meyers Rd
Engine 32 Medic 23 Chief 06 6 11740 E Jefferson
Engine 33 Ladder 13 7 1041 Lawndale
Engine 34 2 6535 Livernois
Engine 35 Medic 20 5 111 Kenilworth St
Engine 39 Medic 01 5 8700 14th St
Engine 40 Ladder 17 (Platform) Medic 10 8 13939 Dexter
Engine 41 Medic 14 6 5000 Rohns
Engine 42 Ladder 21 Medic 02 2 6324 W Chicago
Engine 44 Ladder 18 Chief 08 8 35 W 7 Mile
Engine 46 9 10101 Knodell
Engine 48 Medic 11 7 2300 S Fort St
Engine 50 Ladder 23 Medic 15 Chief 09 9 12985 Houston-
Engine 52 Ladder 31 6 5029 Manistique St
Engine 53 Ladder 25 Medic 17 4 15127 Greenfield
Engine 54 Ladder 26 Medic 04 4 16825 Trinity
Engine 55 Ladder 27 Medic 05 Chief 02 2 18140 Joy Rd
Engine 56 Medic 16 8 18601 Ryan Rd
Engine 57 2 13960 Burt Rd
Engine 58 Medic 24 9 10801 Whittier
Engine 59 Medic 22 Squad 01 Chief 04 4 17800 Curtis
Engine 60 9 19701 Hoover
Ladder 20 Medic 06 Squad 02 1 433 W Alexandrine
Squad 03 6 1818 E Grand Blvd
Medic 07 Squad 04 5 1697 W Grand Blvd
Medic 18 Squad 05 8 18236 Livernois
Medic 12 6 2200 Crane
Medic 13 Squad 06 9 10700 Shoemaker
Ladder 22 2 6830 McGraw
Medic 08 Haz-Mat. 1, Decon. 1 Chief 01 1 3080 Russell St. @ Wilkins St.


Division/Rank structureEdit

Below is the division and rank structure of the Detroit Fire Department, including car/radio callsign designations.[19]

Firefighting Division (100 administration, 200 firefighting callsigns)

  • Executive Fire Commissioner (EFC) (100)
  • First Deputy Commissioner (FDC) (101)
  • Second Deputy Commissioner (SDC) (102, 103, 104)
  • Chief of Department (200)
  • Deputy Chief (DC) (201, 202)
  • Senior Battalion Chief (SBC) (203)
  • Battalion Chief (BC)
  • Captain (Capt.)
  • Senior Lieutenant (Lt.)
  • Lieutenant (Lt.)
  • Sergeant (Sgt.)
  • Fire Engine Operator (FEO.)
  • Firefighter Driver (FFD.)
  • Senior Firefighter (SFF.)
  • Firefighter (FF.)
  • Trial Firefighter (TFF.)


  • Fire Boat Operator
  • Fire Boat Deckhand
  • Fire Boat Mechanic

Medical Division (300 callsigns)

  • Medical director (300)

Communications Division (400 callsigns)

  • Supervising Fire Dispatcher (Chief of Communications, 400)
  • Assistant Supervising Fire Dispatcher (Assistant Chief of Communications, 401)
  • Senior Fire Dispatcher (Captain, 402)
  • Fire Dispatcher (Lieutenant, 403-406)
  • Senior Assistant Fire Dispatcher (Sergeant, 407-410)
  • Assistant Fire Dispatcher (AFD, 410-432)
  • Probationary Assistant Fire Dispatcher (PAFD)

Apparatus Division (500 callsigns)

  • Senior Supervisor (500)
  • Repairman (501-505)

Emergency Medical Services Division (1100 callsigns)

  • Chief of EMS (Superintendent, 1100)
  • Asst Chief of EMS (Asst Superintendent, 1101)
  • Captain (Capt., 1103)
  • Lieutenant (Lt., 1104-1107)
  • Advanced Emergency Mobile Medical Technician (AEMMT - Paramedic licensure)
  • Emergency Mobile Medical Technician (EMMT)
  • Probationary Emergency Mobile Medical Technician (PEMMT)


Response guidelinesEdit

Alarm Type Alarm Level Companies Assigned
Still Alarm 1st Alarm Assignment 1 Engine, or 1 Engine and 1 Ladder
Box Alarm 1st Alarm Assignment 3 Engines, 1 Ladder, 1 Squad, 1 Chief
Commercial Box Alarm 1st Alarm Assignment 4 Engines, 2 Ladders, 2 Squads, 2 Chiefs
2nd Alarm Fire 2nd Alarm Assignment 3 Engines, 2 Ladders (with 1 Platform), 1 Squad, 1 Chief, Car 203 (Senior Chief), 1 Medic Unit, 1 Medic Supervisor
3rd Alarm Fire 3rd Alarm Assignment 3 Engines, 1 Ladder, 1 Squad, 1 Chief, 1 Deputy Chief (Car 201 or Car 202), Mobile Command Unit
Motor Vehicle Accident/Elevator Rescue Special Assignment 1 Engine, 1 Squad, 1 Medic Unit
Confined-Space Rescue Special Assignment 1 Engine, 1 Squad, 1 Chief, 1 Medic Unit
Bomb Threat Special Assignment 4 Engines, 1 Ladder, 1 Squad, 1 Chief, Haz-Mat. Unit, 1 Medic Unit
Police Assist/Access Special Assignment 1 Ladder or 1 Squad, 1 Chief

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ An "Incendiary Fire" is a technical definition for "a fire that is deliberately set with the intent to cause a fire to occur in an area where the fire should not be". "Arson" is and a statutory definition for a criminal offense. There are occasions where a fire may be "incendiary", but not meet the threshold of "arson".[14]


  1. ^ a b c
  2. ^ "Mayor-elect Mike Duggan announces 3 new top administrators | Detroit Free Press |". 2014-01-05. Archived from the original on 2014-01-05. Retrieved 2017-02-20.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  3. ^ "Detroit Fire Commissioner Edsel Jenkins to Retire". Firehouse. Retrieved 2017-02-20.
  4. ^ Cwiek, Sarah. "New Detroit fire commissioner promises to fix "basic processes"". Retrieved 2017-02-20.
  5. ^ a b "New chief putting mark on Detroit fire dept". Detroit News. Retrieved 2017-02-20.
  6. ^ Statter, Dave (2012-07-03). "Detroit sends out order closing 15 fire companies. 200 firefighters to be demoted". Statter911. Retrieved 2017-02-20.
  7. ^ a b "Detroit, MI Fire Department". Retrieved 2017-02-20.
  8. ^ "Detroit Fire Department not saying when aerial ladders might be cleared for firefighting". Retrieved 2017-02-20.
  9. ^ Statter, Dave (2013-02-05). "Charlie LeDuff blew this one. But can his message about another Detroit Fire Department outrage still be right when his facts are wrong?". Statter911. Retrieved 2017-02-20.
  10. ^ Baldas, Tresa. "Detroit fire department has alert system made of pop cans, doorbells" (Archive). Detroit Free Press. September 6, 2014. Retrieved on October 25, 2015.
  11. ^ "Detroit routinely sends dangerously defective rigs to fires". Motor City Muckraker. 2015-07-30. Retrieved 2017-02-20.
  12. ^ "Fire Dept. expands its mutual aid | Hamtramck Review". Retrieved 2017-02-20.
  13. ^ "A new model in firefighting | Hamtramck Review". Retrieved 2017-02-20.
  14. ^ NFPA 921: Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations (2014 ed.).
  15. ^ Source: NFPA Fire Analysis and Research Statistical Reports, June 2014
  16. ^ "About the Fire Department | City of Detroit Departments |". Archived from the original on 2013-12-27. Retrieved 2013-12-27.
  17. ^ Drew, Karen (2014-02-21). "Defenders: New Detroit EMS rigs not getting job done". WDIV. Retrieved 2017-02-20.
  18. ^ "Firehouse list" (PDF).
  19. ^ "FAQs | Fire Department | City of Detroit Departments". Archived from the original on 2014-07-06. Retrieved 2014-06-29.

External linksEdit