Firefighters labor on a stormy night as change is in the air - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Firefighters labor on a stormy night as change is in the air

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Engine 33 on Lawndale is one of the companies slated for closure.  (Credit: WJBK | myFOXDetroit.com) Engine 33 on Lawndale is one of the companies slated for closure. (Credit: WJBK | myFOXDetroit.com)
DETROIT (WJBK) -

There were a lot of storm-related calls Wednesday night for Detroit Fire.  Engine 55 at Southfield and Joy made several runs.  However, with all the cutbacks expected, you could call this the calm before the storm.

On the west side, firefighters went to work in 100-degree heat putting out flames at an abandoned house at Six Mile and Lasher likely set by another arsonist.

"If anything went from the front, we would've all seen it, so somebody must have came from the back and did something to the house," said Janice Whellwritht.

Setting fire to the city one structure at a time and this is just the beginning.

"There are going to be a lot of people hurting come tomorrow morning, firefighters and civilians," said Lieutenant Richard Fleemon.

Severe storms slowed the burn for a while, but then crews start responding to fireworks set off by Mother Nature.  The calls came in one after another.

"I feel we're going to be very, very busy tonight, and with companies closing, we're going to be hurting," Fleemon said.

City officials are being forced to slash the budget to meet the needs of the state and cut the fire department to the bare bones.  15 companies will eventually close, but with mandatory no overtime in effect, 18 companies throughout the city were already shutdown on Wednesday, 22 will be down on Thursday, not enough manpower brought in to man the rigs.

Southwest side could take the hardest hit in an area overrun with fire calls over the last few months.

Soon Engine 8 on West Lafayette and 33 on Lawndale will be closed for good.

"We need our fire department.  We've got to show our appreciation.  We've got to let the city know, the city council know, support the fire department," said Terry Makinen.

Layoff notices are being worked on right now.  We're told 156 expected to happen.  108 firefighters will get their jobs back through a SAFER grant, the rest, we're told, hopefully through attrition.

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