DETROIT (WJBK) - "Nothing is going to happen overnight but change is coming and it's going to be for the better - for them and, mostly, for citizens," says Eric Jones, the new Interim Fire Commissioner.
The 46-year-old is proudly stepping into the role. He is a former Detroit police officer and director of the city's Building Department. The father of a Detroit firefighter says he's got big plans to revamp the department.
"I want to make sure that we have training, the proper equipment and that they get a fair wage. That is my goal," he says.
Mayor Mike Duggan said Wednesday choosing Jones was an easy choice, citing his leadership skills and work ethic.
"Nobody is under any illusion as to how much work has to be done in this city," Duggan said. "The next thing we need in in this department is we've got to get the basic systems to run."
Jones now replaces Edsel Jenkins, who, after serving in the fire department for nearly 30 years announced his retirement Monday. Sources tell FOX 2 Jenkins was forced to retire due to mismanagement, specifically, when it comes to equipment and the safety of firefighters. But Jenkins says it was his decision.
"I'll be 58 in December and I talked to my sister. She said you need to sit down and take a rest, so I'm taking her advice. I'm just going to take a rest for awhile," Jenkins told us.
FOX 2 has reported several firehouse violations just within the last year. Most recently, we learned that more than half of the breathing tanks at the Detroit Fire Department haven't been tested since 2008, posing a serious safety risk.
"We've got some of the greatest firefighters; some of the greatest medics in the world, and there's always room for improvement," Jenkins says.
Right now, under Jenkins sits two deputy fire commissioners and the department's chief, who will all be closely looked at, according to Jones.
"I'm going to evaluate current management and make judgements after a full and thorough evaluation," Jones says. He adds that he also plans to sit down with firefighters and listen to their concerns.
He has no immediate time frame for major changes, but he does say "it's starting right now."
Fire commissioner Jenkins officially steps down on Friday, Oct. 16 and Jones begins on Monday.