Detroit Fire Commissioner – Let Some Buildings Burn To The Ground

I might take the policy a step further. Put the 10,000 abandoned homes designated for demolition on a list and have the fire department identify all the structures on the list that could be burned safely.

From ClickOn DetroitThe Detroit Fire Department could adjust to a looming 15 percent budget cut by allowing some abandoned buildings burn to the ground, according to the city’s top fire official.
Executive Fire Commissioner Donald Austin said his is creating three proposals for Mayor Dave Bing to consider when making deep reductions to the 2012-13 budget, likely to be below this fiscal year’s $183 million. Detroit is going through a state-monitored budget overhaul under a deal reached between Gov. Rick Snyder and city officials, an alternative to a state-appointed emergency manager……..
One of Austin’s proposals would allow vacant buildings to burn if they’re more than 50 percent ablaze — as long as they’re not a risk to inhabited structures and the weather is favorable. Austin said about 40 to 60 percent of the fires in Detroit are in vacant structures.

I might take the policy a step further. Put the list of 10,000 abandoned homes designated for demolition in front of the fire department and allow them to identify all the structures on the list that could be burned safely. According to this Wall Street Journal piece the city is sitting on over $20 million in federal money set aside specifically to deal with demolition. Chief Austin should make a pitch to get some of that money. Burn one house a day with a private demolition crew to come in the following day with a dozer, loader and dumper. Pre-plan, execution and clean up, three days from beginning to end. Surely this would cut into the typical $10,000 costs to demolish a residential dwelling.

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