Burn, Baby, Burn: Detroit Fire Chief Proposes To Let Vacant Properties Burn Down To Save Money

Faced with additional cuts in its budget, Executive Fire Commissioner Donald Austin has proposed an easy way to save money: let buildings burn down. Austin would like to allow such drastic action if the building is over 50 percent ablaze and does not endanger surrounding dwellings. In the meantime, Baltimore is looking into advertisements on the side of fire trucks. They are the latest examples of the insanity that has taken hold of this country as we burn hundreds of billions in Afghanistan and Iraq because our leaders have lacked the courage to withdraw forces from those countries. Instead, we will allow buildings to burn down while building facilities for Iraq with one of the world’s largest oil reserves.

Previously, Detroit led the nation in securing the right to bulldoze whole blocks of vacant buildings. Currently flying over Detroit is like looking at pictures from Berlin after the bombing in World War II. The city is also looking at bulldozing an additional 10,000 buildings. Indeed, the fire department is advocating the creation of a demolition unit that will simply tear down rather than save a burning building. The fire department would change its historic role in saving buildings into a department committed to the destruction of unwanted buildings. Fires then become a welcomed opportunity for urban renewal. It may come a surprise to neighbors when the fire department arrives and promptly seeks to destroy the endangered building.

It is also unclear how this decision would be made at the scene. I have serious legal reservations about a fire captain making the determination of both the extent of the damage and the status of the building as an unworthy or vacant structure. All of this would have to be done at the scene as the building burns.

As for Baltimore, it is not clear what products would want the ad space on a truck that is generally seen in the midst of a tragedy in the making. Chili’s and Red Hots come to mind, though insurance companies may be drawn to the captive audience of fire victims.

As we have seen, it is not just Detroit that is burning down. Cities and states across the country are slashing core programs and selling off parks and government buildings to cover their budgets as Congress and the White House continue to write checks for these wars abroad — while discussing the possibility of a war with Iran on behalf of Israel. It is unclear when the American people will say enough, but it is a testament to the strangle hold of the two parties on this country that we are discussing letting buildings burn rather than deal with billions gushing abroad in disastrous wars.

Source: Detroit Free Press

21 thoughts on “Burn, Baby, Burn: Detroit Fire Chief Proposes To Let Vacant Properties Burn Down To Save Money

  1. They are the latest examples of the insanity that has taken hold of this country as we burn hundreds of billions in Afghanistan and Iraq because our leaders have lacked the courage to withdraw forces from those countries.”

    Well said.

    May I add that these buildings would burn as the government fiddles a new tune called spying on Americans, as they build a spy center in Utah 5 times the size of the nation’s capitol.

  2. I think I read that in the surrounding areas of Detroit that they are making a case by case condemned housing that the municipality owns through tax foreclosure to take these houses and do controlled burns….. Apparently firePEOPLE training……

  3. “Instead, we will allow buildings to burn down while building facilities for Iraq with one of the world’s largest oil reserves.”


    In the words of Charley Brown: “GAAKKK!” The insanity of our foreign policy, compared to the stinginess of our infrastructure maintenance, has led me to conclude for awhile now that the powers that be want to reduce most of our citizenry to the status of medieval serfs.

  4. Yeah, the city would save a lot of money by just standing there watching the building burn down. Especially when faced with firefighters who were just sitting around a firestation before the alarm was toned out. I didn’t realize they went on the clock only when a call was dispatched. Plus, what a big savings in hooking in to an unmetered fire plug and pulling something truly rare on the earth like water. I guess the twenty or so gallons of diesel might be the expensive part. Time to siphon some off the street sweepers.

    I agree with things being very much out of whack cost wise as mentioned in the article. It’s not just local government it is in many areas needing address as well. Like when my dad went to hospital for chest pains. He was there two days, because you know doctors cannot be disturbed on weekends, made him stay there waiting and then stuck his insurance for the bill. It took all but 1/2 hour to put a stent into his heart. $70,000.00 for that weekend in paradise. One would have thought you would have got the doctor at bedside 24 -7 for that price.

  5. What’s that smell?

    Why . . . it smells just like a huge increase in fire insurance claims from absentee and (some not so) distressed landlords!

    Who’d have thunk it.

  6. Detroit used to be a thriving, beautiful city. Very sad but not unexpected.

    I wonder why they dont sell the properties to people in public housing for a dollar and see if they can set up a public/private charity to help fix up the properties. Have the new owners put in some sweat equity in the process so they will have ownership.

    Why let them burn when they could be a resource?

    And putting advertising on public infrastructure is a good idea to offset some of the costs. Naming rights for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge could be millions of dollars per year. And a corporation getting its name on a major airport? How much is that worth? Or naming a beltway in a major city?

    If government started thinking about how to generate necessary funding through existing assets, maybe we could all have better and cheaper government. Maybe they should sell land and have lotteries open to the public for oil leases, you $2 bucks for a chance at an oil lease and you can sell it or develop it.

  7. “If you want to appreciate what Barack Obama is up against in 2012, forget about the front man who is his nominal opponent and look instead at the Republican billionaires buying the ammunition for the battles ahead. A representative example is Harold Simmons, an 80-year-old Texan who dumped some $15 million into the campaign before primary season had ended. Reminiscing about 2008, when he bankrolled an ad blitz to tar the Democrats with the former radical Bill Ayers, Simmons told The Wall Street Journal, “If we had run more ads, we could have killed Obama.” It is not a mistake he intends to make a second time. The $15 million Simmons had spent by late February dwarfs the $2.8 million he allotted to the Ayers takedown and the $3 million he contributed to the Swift Boat Veterans demolition of John Kerry four years before that. Imagine the cash that will flow now that the GOP sideshows are over and the president is firmly in Simmons’s crosshairs.

    The First Donors to Give $1 Million or More
    Letter From a 1907 Sugar Daddy
    Making Sense of a Nonsensical System

    His use of the verb killed was meant in jest, of course, much as Foster Friess ($1.8 million in known contributions, and counting) was joking when he suggested that “gals” could practice birth control by putting Bayer aspirin between their knees. America’s billionaires are such cards! And we had better get used to their foibles and funny bones. Whatever else happens in 2012, it will go down as the Year of the Sugar Daddy. Inflamed by Obama-hatred, awash in self-pity, and empowered by myriad indulgent court and Federal Election Commission rulings, an outsize posse of superrich white men will spend whatever it takes to have its way with the body politic and, if victorious, with the country itself. Given the advanced age of most of this cohort, 2012 may be seen as the election in which the geezer empire struck back.

    This isn’t quite what was supposed to happen. When the Supreme Court handed down its five-to-four Citizens United decision in 2010, pre-vetting Mitt Romney’s credo that “corporations are people,” apocalyptic Democrats, including Obama, predicted that the election would become a wholly owned subsidiary of the likes of Chevron and General Electric. But publicly traded, risk-averse corporations still care more about profits than partisanship. They tend to cover their bets by giving to both parties. And they are fearful of alienating customers and investors. Witness, most recently, the advertisers who fled Rush Limbaugh, or the far bigger brands (­McDonald’s and Wendy’s, Coke and Pepsi) that severed ties with the conservative lobbying mill responsible for pushing state “stand your ground” laws like the one used to justify the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida. While corporations and unions remain serious players in the campaign of 2012, their dollars don’t match those of the sugar daddies, who can and do give as much as they want to the newfangled super-PACs.” Frank Rich, The New Yorker, “Sugar Daddies”, The old,white,rich men who are buying this election.

  8. Fires. Good old firemen. They have kerosene in their tanks now.
    Anybody remember Fahrenheit 451?
    Coming soon. Near you.
    Rick Santorum campaigning against higher.education.
    Tennessee votes against “kissing info” in schools.
    Ban sex info. Cripple EPA, Mute the press. Murdering candidates are worth it..
    Books are dangerous. Internet too.
    Good luck all.

  9. Bron 1, April 23, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Detroit used to be a thriving, beautiful city. Very sad but not unexpected.
    It was the queen city of cartopia.

    But it would not heed the warnings (the Japanese are coming, the Japanese are coming!) … because at the time of the warnings the threat to them was poo pooed, a lack of vision.

    Now reality is here and they say burn baby burn.

    It is a microcosm for the burning Earth reality, which is rapidly advancing.

  10. WASHINGTON — Reducing government deficits Mitt Romney’s way would mean less money for health care for the poor and disabled and big cuts to nuts-and-bolts functions such as food inspection, border security and education.

    Romney also promises budget increases for the Pentagon, above those sought by some GOP defense hawks, meaning that the rest of the government would have to shrink even more. Nonmilitary programs would incur still larger cuts than those called for in the tightfisted GOP budget that the House passed last month.

    Differences over the government’s budget and spiraling deficits are among the starkest that separate Republican Romney and Democratic President Barack Obama. Obama’s budget generally avoids risk, with minimal cuts to rapidly growing health care programs such as Medicare and Medicaid while socking wealthier people with tax increases. It’s all part of an effort to close trillion-dollar-plus deficits.

    Romney, by contrast, proposes broad cuts in government spending, possibly overpromising on reductions that even a Congress stuffed with conservatives might find hard to deliver. Huffington Post

  11. You beat me to the Fahrenheit 451 reference, idealist. But with Republican Rick Snyder as Governor of Michigan, we should soon see The Arson Department setting fire to libraries, public schools, and Planned Parenthood clinics.

  12. SwM
    Thanks for the Frank Rich.
    Between you and Michael Murry’s view of future thanks to Rick Snyder, I’m about to start duct taping the windows and doors.

  13. Mike Spindell, you hit the nail on its head. In fact, the mass imprisonment, the economic forces that require most people to live hand-to-mouth (so they cannot risk disfavor for five or more days) and the destruction of the health care “community” systems are designed for exactly that result. There might have been a time when I wanted to live a long life; now I think a decent (how the hell do I know?) towel-throw might be far superior to hanging around to witness the inexorable approach of [dahn da-dahnnnnnnnnn……]

  14. I agree with most of your post but not this:
    Instead, we will allow buildings to burn down while building facilities for Iraq with one of the world’s largest oil reserves.

    What do you think we are building for Irak? The largest base in the world was supposed to be for our military to protect our oil supply line since god unfortunately put it under them and not us.

    We should have to rebuild their electric and water and sewer infrastructure because the “Shock and Awe” campaign based on the Big Lie destroyed it all.

    We saw the future during the Gulf Oil spill when BP directed our government, the Coast Guard became private security guards and behaved as if reporters and citizens were violating private air space and private property.
    Usually the plutocrats hide behind their sock puppets better.

    They are trying to bring back the ancien feudalistic regime, that is their NWO. We’ll wish we had fascism, at least the government would be in charge of business and not the other way around.

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