Detroit considers 'firefighter tourism' to cover department shortfall

Commissioner comes up with plan to allow firefighter tourists from around the world to pay to battle city's blazes


Firefighters who don't see enough action in their own towns can pay for the privilege to jump in the fire with the smoke eaters of Detroit.

Fire Commissioner Don Austin has raised the suggestion of putting tourists of the Motor City—a long-time hot spot for firefighter tourists to participate in truck ride-alongs—to work on blazes in a department memo, according to

The fire department has been gutted in recent years, forced to close down rigs and layoff men. Because Detroit, for years, has been a magnet for firefighter tourists riding along on the rigs, Austin, according to his "ride-along training program" memo, thought why not put them to work and charge them for the privilege.

Many in the department say using tourists, even those who are experienced fire fighters, is a bad idea.

"What about when the roof falls on the guy that's out helping. Who's going to take care of his liability part?" one firefighter said to the TV station.

"That's not the answer, no. We need firefighters, our laid off guys back. That's what we need," Darnell McLaurin, a firefighter with DFAA Local 344, said.

"Tourists? Wow. Do they know what to do?" Sam Shack, a laid-off firefighter said to 

Reporters for the news station tracked down Austin at a department repair shop who said he would have to get back with a comment, but has yet to. 

Instead, a representative for Mayor Dave Bing said that it was just an internal memo and there's nothing to discuss publicly. 

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