Money

Detroit Fire Chief Donald Austin: Let Some Buildings Burn to Save Money

| by Michael Allen

Detroit Fire Department's Executive Fire Commissioner Donald Austin has suggested allowing some empty buildings to burn to the ground, as part of three proposals for Detroit Mayor Dave Bing to consider when making deep cuts to the 2012-13 budget.

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 claims about 40 to 60 percent of the fires in Detroit are in vacant buildings: "When these houses burn up and there's no value left, I can get my firefighters, with proper training, to raze that house, get rid of it."

Detroit is going through a budget overhaul under a deal reached between Gov. Rick Snyder and city officials, whom Gov. Snyder has threatened to replace with an state-appointed emergency manager.

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Detroit Fire Fighters Association President Daniel McNamara said he opposes Austin's idea of letting vacant homes burn, unless they're on a predetermined demolition list.