When visiting Detroit stations there are a few times to avoid. Here’s a guideline of the good and the not so great times to stop in.
7:45 – 9:00 am / Stop in for an early morning cup of coffee and chat. There’s usually a lot of happening as they guys who just got on shift are preparing for the day.
9:00-11:30am / Best to avoid this time. Companies may not be away from quarters running errands
11:30 – 1:00 pm / Typically companies are back in quarters after finishing their morning errands and food shopping. You may catch them having lunch, but most guys don’t get bothered by that.
1:00 – 5:00 pm / Best to avoid this time. This is nap time. Although there will be someone on watch, most of the guys will be upstairs.
5:00 – 8:00pm / One of the best times to stop in. Typically everyone is downstairs. There may be a game of pool or ping pong happening, or the kitchen is a flurry of activity getting dinner ready.
All the stations I’m recommending will typically have great crews that will be open to visitors. If you do run in to a crew that is less than welcoming, don’t be discouraged. Just move on to another house.
One more note: The places that are marked with an (*) are what I would consider must dos.
Downtown Area Detroit:
*Old Fire Headquarters – 250 W. Larned (across from Cobo Hall)
This building was recently vacated and sold. It is being renovated to be a boutique hotel so you won’t be able to go inside, but the outside is worth the stop. Fantastic architecture, and wonderful decorative elements honoring some of our early Chiefs.
Engine 5 – 433 W. Alexandrine
Built in 1909 but renovated some time in the 2000’s. This station has an engine, truck, squad and medic unit assigned to it. One stop shopping to see all the apparatus. Always lots of firefighters around to chat with.
Engine 1 – 111 Montcalm (just down the street from Comerica Park)
Built in 1926, this is our only 3 story firehouse. The inside doesn’t have a lot of the charm that some of the houses have, but it does have its original swing out doors and a fantastic mural outside.
*Detroit Firemen’s Fund –Ste. 326, 1301 Third St., Detroit
Only open on weekdays 9am-4pm. Located in Detroit Public Safety Headquarters. This is the place to get official duty shirts, patches, job shirts and other Detroit Fire logoed items.
*Tour the Fisher Building – Free tour by Pure Detroit Saturdays at 11am and 1pm
If you’re in to architecture you will really love this. Not firefighter related, but really an incredible building.
City Wings – 2896 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit
This is a Detroit Firefighter owned restaurant featuring 17 flavors of chicken wings and a variety of homemade sides.
This is a must do for everyone who visits Detroit. For years there’s been a debate over which place has the best Coney Dogs. The traditional thing to do is to get a Coney from each place and compare for yourself. The restaurants are located right next door to each other, so it make it easy to do.
*Slow’s Bar BQ – 2138 Michigan Ave., Detroit
This is hands down my favorite restaurant in Detroit! Some of the best Bar BQ I’ve ever had. They also have a nice selection of beers to compliment your meal.
Downtown Firefighter Bars:
Casey’s Pub – 1830 Michigan Ave., Detroit
Owned by a retired Detroit Firefighter. Doesn’t draw much of a firefighter crowd in the evenings, but many of the guys will stop in for a few when getting off duty in the morning, or to grab a burger and a beer for lunch.
Nancy Whiskey’s – 2644 Harrison, Detroit
When you’re trying to find this place you’ll think your GPS is acting up because it’s right in the middle of a residential area. Nancy’s has been a Detroit Firefighter favorite for years. The bar has been around since 1902. They had a fire a few years back so the building has lost some of its original charm, but the atmosphere hasn’t changed.
Engine 29 – 7300 W. Jefferson (If you want to hit this house it could easily be done the same day as some of the downtown stuff)
Built 1907 – Great house all the way around.
Although I don’t have a great recommendation for a specific restaurant in southwest Detroit it has some of the best Mexican food around. Ask one of the guys at Engine 29’s what they suggest.
*If you’re in the southwest area you must stop at Evie’s Tamalies, 3454 Bagley. The best tamalies I’ve ever eaten!
*Engine 54 – 16825 Trinity (my station before I retired)
Built 1937 – This station has been well maintained and has a huge back yard (a rarity at our engine houses). Although I may be a bit bias I think it’s one of the best houses to visit.
Engine 42 – 6324 W. Chicago at Livernois
Built 1927 – Engine 42 and Ladder 21 are assigned here. This house has a very unique design. Its got 2 halves that are nearly mirror images of each other.
*Engine 34 – 6535 Livernois
Built 1918. This is the only active firehouse with a fireplace.
*Engine 23 – 1818 E. Grand Blvd.
Built 1899. A definite must see. Although the original doors have been replaced, the building retains a lot of its original charm.
Engine 50 – 12895 Houston-Whittier
Built 1925 – This is the house where a majority of the footage for BURN was filmed.
Engine 52 – 5029 Manistique
Built 1926 – This is another great example of a classic Detroit firehouse.
North East suburbs Firefighter Bars:
Engine House Bar & Grill – 309 Cass, Mt. Clemens
Detroit Firefighter owned. With a name like the Engine House of course it’s firefighter themed. Lots of our eastside guys frequent the place. I believe it draws a pretty good crowd in the evenings.
3 Blind Mice Irish Pub – 101 N. Main St., Mt. Clemens
Detroit Firefighter owned. This place has a huge assortment of beers and ales. They have live music downstairs every night and featured bands upstairs on Friday and Saturday. I’m told they also have a killer Sunday brunch although I’ve never had the pleasure.
Fire House Pub & Grill – 23018 Greater Mack Ave., St. Clair Shores
Detroit Firefighter Owned. Opened about 2 months ago, so I have not been there yet. It’s my understanding that they have decorated with a bunch of Detroit Fire memorabilia.