Second Time Thieves Steal Saws from a Detroit Fire Truck!

For the second time in less than 2 years Detroit’s Ladder 22 has had a chainsaw and a large K-14 saw stolen from their fire truck. Firefighters use the chainsaw to breach the roofs of building to allow hot air and superheated gasses to escape during a fire. The larger saw is used to cut open metal doors often found on commercial buildings. To add injury to insult, the equipment was taken from the ladder truck while Ladder 22’s firefighters were fighting a fire.l-22 using chainsaw

After the first theft the replacement saws had been chained together with the chain attached to the inside of a truck’s compartment. At the time of the theft Ladder 22’s truck was out of service. They were given a Tac as a temporary replacement rig so the chain securing the saws was not attached to the rig.

Since the city does not have replacement saws the crew of Ladder 22 has already placed an order for a replacement chainsaw. They have paid for it from money they raised by selling t-shirts, money that was originally slated for remodeling the kitchen at Ladder 22’s quarters. At this time they are not sure how or if they will be able to replace the K-14.


The First Theft

The first theft occurred in January 2013. Firefighters of Ladder Company 22 were stopped at a restaurant just a few blocks from their station when thieves took their chainsaw and K-12 from a rig compartment. The crew was able to recover the K-12 saw from a local flea market, but the chainsaw was not found. The chainsaw was later replaced through a donation by the National Firefighters Endowment.

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Detroit Firefighter Line of Duty Death – George Lloyd

Today in Detroit Fire Department history –
Detroit Firefighter Line of Duty Death
October 15, 1917

Detroit Fire Department Substitute Fireman George Nelson Lloyd made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the citizens of Detroit. At the time of his death George was assigned to Engine 6.


George died from injuries he sustained by falling through an engine house fire pole hole on October 1, 1917.  He was 28 years old.

George Lloyd was born November 9, 1888 to Mary (Kline) Lloyd and James Lloyd.  George never married.  His full time profession was carpentry.

He was buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Detroit, MI on 10-17-1917.

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Detroit Firefighters respond to a jackknifed fuel tanker and a broken natural gas line.


This gallery contains 3 photos.

This morning Detroit Firefighters were called out to a fuel tanker that had jackknifed and slid into a church.  The accident caused a natural gas line to break and the tanker came to rest directly on top of it. As one firefighter put it, this … Continue reading

Detroit Fire Department History 1931- Depression Soup Lines

Today in DFD history 1931 – October 

The first depression soup line began at Engine 1.  

1930s soup kitchen at the firehouse

It was soon extended to 30 other stations to feed hundreds of hungry citizens during the worst years of the depression.   

This article, During the Great Depression Action Was Taken has some interesting insight into Detroit’s attemp to aid those who were hardest hit by the depression.

Another interesting post is Detroit Thrift Gardens of 1931  – The Depression Years which talks about the “vacant lot gardening” program that helped to feed the hungry.

The hard times of the depression were also expressed in song.   Detroit Moan, by Victoria Spivey was recorded in 1936.  Ms. Spivey sings of the hardships of life in Detroit as the depression dragged on year after year.

Detroit Firefighter John Campbell – Line of Duty Death

Today in Detroit Fire Department history – September 29, 1963, Detroit Firefighter John Campbell Line of Duty Death

Detroit Firefighter John Campbell made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the citizens of Detroit. John was assigned to Engine 34, The Lords of Livernois.

Detroit Firefighter John Campbell killed in the line of duty

On September 10, 1963 Firefighter Campbell was fighting a garage fire at Ogden and Kirkwood.  While pulling line he began experiencing severe chest pain.  He was taken to Detroit Receiving Hospital by Squad 4.  John had suffered a heart attack from which he did not recover.  He died 19 days later.  Firefighter Campbell was only 42 years old.

John Joseph Campbell was born in Toronto, Canada on December 17, 1920.  During WWII John served in armed services form July 24, 1942 to November 18, 1945. Prior to joining the fire department John worked as a Chemist for Allied Chemical & Dye Corporation, Detroit, MI.

Firefighter Campbell joined the Detroit Fire Department on May 19, 1947 and was confirmed on November 19, 1947.  His first assignment was Ladder 8.  He also served at Engine 29, Ladder 22 and Engine 34.  He held badge number 979.


John was posthumously awarded the Paxton Mendelssohn Award in grateful remembrance of those members who gave their lives in the line of duty.

Firefighter Campbell left behind his wife, Jean, and 5 children, Jack (13 years old), Lynn (10 years old), Gail (7 years old), Lauren (3 years old) and Diane (1 year old).



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Pop can system fails! Now replace by Detroit Fire wooden block alert.

Move over pop can alert, here comes the Detroit Fire Wooden Block Alert!

By now you’ve seen the Colbert Report on Detroit Fire’s pop can alert system. After it aired several tech firms have stepped up offering free alert systems to fix the problem. However, for one Detroit firehouse the problem is now getting worse rather than better.

Day 3 With No Alert

As of this writing, the station is beginning day 3 of no phones, no computer and no printer, which means no alert system. Instead, department radios are being monitored around-the-clock for calls in their area.

Detroit-Fire-wooden block-alert-system

Detroit Fire Wooden Block Alert System

Firefighters tend to be creative and industrious by nature, so it is no surprise that firefighters at this station have come up with a method to circumvent the currently broken system. Continue reading

Detroit Firemen’s Field Day – A Long Standing Tradition

Detroit Firemen’s Field Day holds a special place in the hearts of those who grew up the child of a Detroit Firefighter. Every year Dad would the pack family and as many neighborhood kids as he could fit in the car to go to Field Day. One, now grown, firemen’s kid wrote “To me, Field Day was the same portent of fall that the State Fair is. It made me feel so proud!”

The First Detroit Firemen’s Field Day

The first Detroit Firemen’s Field Day was held at Navin Field (at Michigan & Trumbull) in 1922. The tradition has continued every year since, with the exception of 1933. It has been held in a variety of locations including: Briggs Stadium, University of Detroit, Tiger’s Stadium, Hart Plaza, Ford Field, and is currently held at Historic Fort Wayne.

Apparatus Parade from the 1974 Field Day held at Tiger's Stadium

Apparatus Parade from the 1974 Field Day held at Tiger’s Stadium

Those who attended Field Day would be treated to games, clowns, the Fire Department Band, exciting acts relating to firefighter skills, fire apparatus displays, dignitaries would attend, for many years there would be a raffle of 25 new cars (now replaced with a 50/50 raffle) and in years gone by the day would end with a fireworks display.

Detroit Fire Clown Team’s ties to Field Day

The Detroit Fire Clown team has it’s roots in Field Day. The Clown Team was officially formed in 1947 by Firefighter Larry Scarpace with seven firefighters to perform for the annual Field Day. Prior to that, clowns had been a part of Field Day, but not as an official team. The Clown Team continue to be a highlights of today’s Field Day activities. Continue reading

Detroit Firemen’s Field Day Tickets – A Historical Perspective – 1922 to Pre World War II

Shortly after the article on the Tradition of Detroit Firemen’s Field Day our friend, retired Detroit Firefighter Wayne Isken, emailed pictures of Field Day tickets from various years. These tickets give clues to how Field Day has evolved throughout the years. You can also see how popular culture and current events influenced Field Day.

Ticket from the 1922 (First Annual) Detroit Firemen's Field Day

Ticket from the 1922 (First Annual) Detroit Firemen’s Field Day

A Tradition Begins With Baseball
1922 - The first Detroit Firemen’s Field Day was a one day event held at Naven Field (Michigan & Trumbull).  Tickets cost $1.00 and were war tax exempt. The event began to raise funds for the Detroit Firemen’s Fund Association for the benefit of injured Detroit Firefighter, and firefighters’ widows and children.

In the 1920’s baseball entered it’s golden era of popularity, so it is no surprise that one of the main attractions of the early Firemen’s Field Day events was Baseball.  

Read more about the many factors that made baseball popular in the 20’s here.

Also in 1922:

  • The Detroit Fire Department celebrated the last running of the department horses.
  • The Capitol Theater (now the Detroit Opera House) opened.
  • Radio’s were just becoming popular. Detroit’s first radio station, which began broadcasting 2 years earlier, was officially assigned the call letters WWJ.


The Depression Era
1933 - No field day was held. The reasons for this are unclear. More than likely that year’s field day was another causality of the depression. 1933 was the worst year of the depression. During this time of such widespread economic hardship, it would have been very difficult to get enough tickets sold for a successful fundraising event.

Also in 1933 –


1937 - By this time Detroit Firemen’s Field Day had become a two day event featuring Class “A” Baseball and other amusements. Tickets Continue reading

Detroit Fire Department History – July 23rd-28th – 1967 Riots

Today in DFD history – July 23rd – 28th, 1967

During Detroit’s worst civil disturbance the Detroit Fire Department was taxed beyond its limits.


The department fought 1,682 fires.  Including 276 runs responded to by mutual aid companies from 45 fire companies from surrounding communities and across the river (Windsor). 


More than 5,000 citizens’ homes were burned.  Total fire loss was estimated at over $12.7 million.


Detroit Firefighters Carl Smith and John Ashby died as a result of the rioting.

Were you, your husband, or father a firefighter on the department during the ’67 Riots?  Please share your memories.



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38 Years – A Detroit Firefighter’s Story

Detroit Firefighter’s Story Revealed in a Recently Released Book

Recently one Detroit Firefighter’s story was revealed in a new book titled 38 Years a Detroit Firefighter’s Story.  It is a memoir written by retired Detroit Fire Department Senior Chief Bob Dombrowski.  In it he recalls the highs and lows of his nearly 4 decades with Detroit Fire.

38 Years - A Detroit Firefighter's Story new book from Detroit Fire Chief Bob Dombrowski

Chief Dombrowski began his career as a trialman with the Detroit Fire Department in 1972.  Over the years he rose through the ranks to retire as Senior Chief in 2010.  He served through some of the busiest years the Detroit Fire Department has experienced.  He recalls that “In the late sixties and early seventies, Continue reading