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Detroit City Services Still Crippled During a Rash of Arson

Two abandoned apartment buildings burn on Waverly(no E) Street in the declining Detroit neighbourhoo

An abandoned apartment building burning in Highland Park, Detroit as bystanders pay little attention.

A hollow and rotting shell of it’s former self, the once prolific Detriot is in the midst of a rampant arson outbreak. Some homes burn unattended as the withering state departments run out of options.

Up until the second World War, Detroit was an incredibly bustling city in the heart of the automotive industry. According to The Verge, Highland Park, an area of Detroit only two square miles in size, has a fire department that answers an average of 1,000 runs a year. Highland Park’s Fire Department once had 84 employed. Currently, there are 24. Instead of a firehouse, the firefighters found themselves in a 40,000 square foot warehouse in an industrial park 6 miles outside of the city. For the first three months after their move from their decrepit previous firehouse, the dedicated folks who comprised the HPFD lived in tents. It was practically urban camping. Reuters paints an unfortunate scene:

Scott Ziegler

They called for backup equipment that never came. Five blazes had broken out in 25 minutes, all suspected arsons… In the next two hours, at least 10 more suspicious fires broke out, leaving skeleton crews to battle the blazes.

Steve Neavling, Reuters, July 2013 

The Verge goes on to explain how one of the firefighters, Scott Ziegler, started recorded his impressive and downright nerve-wracking runs with a helmet-mounted camera. After he’d collected a year’s worth of video, he cut the clips together and posted a video on YouTube. It quickly went viral and he found himself thrust into the spotlight. Hesitant at first to avoid being a “showboat”, Scott sought to use his new prominence to show how important and difficult a job like his is.

Is there anything that we, the general internet-connected public, can do? One story that comes to mind is when users of the website Reddit donated more than $50,000 to help build a new wall for a orphanage in Kenya. Since crowdsourcing is so prevalent these days, perhaps there is a way to use videography similar to Ziegler’s first-hand accounts? Websites like IndieGoGo are great ways to pool the resources of a much larger audience than previously possible.

There are certainly some things to consider. For more information, take a look at the links below:









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