Detroit firefighters union, deputy commissioner dispute 4th of July fire numbers

While most are barbecuing and celebrating this Fourth of July, Detroit firefighters have been gearing up for battle. But how much work is being done this year is up for debate between the union and Detroit's deputy fire commissioner.

July 4th is one of the busiest nights of the year for Detroit firefighters who have been battling not only suspicious fires, but also ones caused by fireworks. 

"With everything being dry like it is, you never know. You could start a grass fire, a house fire, to who knows what," says Detroit Fire Chief Pete Eskau. 

Detroit Fire Department Union President Mike Nevin told Fox 2 Wednesday that crews battle an average of 30 structure fires per night, on top of medical runs. Deputy fire commissioner Dave Fornell said that number on an average night has not been true for ten years. Fornell said that firefighters typically battle 6 to 8 fires a day.

Nevin also claimed that the 4th of July was "called the new Devil's Night", something Fornell also said is untrue. He said there are no more structure fires on Independence Day than any other day. He said there may be grass fires due to fireworks but nothing in comparison to Devil's Night arsons.

Fornell told FOX 2 that he would provide the exact numbers on Thursday.

Detroit firefighters are getting some help from thousands of miles away. Firefighters are here from other countries to lend a helping hand, while also getting in some training. 

Coming in from the Netherlands last Friday, Hans Block is getting a good glimpse of a busy week in the D. He says us he thinks it's been about 200 percent busier for him versus back home, where he says they only have 300 to 350 runs per year.

"We do it once a week maybe; they do it every day. Multiple times a day," he says. "They work very quick, very fast. They really get into the fire. It's different in the Netherlands."

Right now the Detroit Fire Department has six guys riding from the Netherlands and two from Germany, all here until Friday.

"Here in Detroit we get a chance to go in with them, which most fire departments don't let us," Block adds. 

This holiday, more firefighters and rigs are on the street. Block is already feeling like part of the crew that he says never stops.

"They're awesome. They work so hard," he adds.