Detroit fire union claims new lights, sirens policy cheats residents

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The battle over a new policy limiting the use of lights and sirens by Detroit firefighters is getting hotter - on Monday state reps joined the fray.

It's an ongoing battle quickly heating up between the city of Detroit and the Detroit Fire Fighters Association.

"Our residents are being cheated," said Mike Nevin, president of the Detroit Fire Fire Fighters Association.

Democratic state reps joined the DFFA Monday to protest the new and controversial "no lights, no sirens" response policy Monday. LaTanya Garret of Detroit -- says the policy makes the community feel like their lives don't matter.

"How does the public identify that there is a true emergency?" said Garrett. "Lights and sirens."
The policy, that went into effect in August, classifies fire runs using two codes - Code One for emergency runs -- and Code Two for other calls not deemed life-threatening.

The response procedures of course based upon those tiers.

"You don't fart around with public safety," Nevin said. "We had a system that worked."

Detroit Fire Fighter Association President Nevin says the new policy has already proven to be dangerous, adding that hundreds of calls have already been coded inaccurately since the policy took effect.

"The public shouldn't have to worry if they're going to get response to a 911 call," Nevin said. "Whether it is a cat in a tree, you are upside down in a car, or you are trapped on the 12th floor somewhere."

Nevin also says the policy is greatly slowing down response time from roughly eight minutes to 11 and a half minutes, claiming it is also the city's way to manipulate data.
"What the city is doing right now is they are using the code system and they are moving it into fire to hide emergencies," he said.

In a bulletin to all department personnel, Detroit Fire Commissioner Eric Jones says responding to all runs in emergency mode is "unsafe and unreasonable," adding that traffic collisions are the second leading cause of on-duty firefighter deaths.

Jones previously told FOX 2 that the policy protects pedestrians - and drivers.

"Being struck by one of these very large rigs 30,000 to 60,000 pounds, you don't want to be on the other end of that," Jones said.

Jones also calls the union's information "false and misleading," adding that the new policy has been amended. 

Firefighters now respond with lights and sirens to all home smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and reports of any downed wires. 

But Nevin says Monday that's not good enough and he's prepared to file a lawsuit.