Detroit Fire Box Alarm Assignments

The Detroit Fire Department (DFD) provides fire protection and emergency medical services to the U.S. city of Detroit, Michigan.

The Detroit Fire Department operates 48 fire companies out of 34 fire stations located throughout the city, with a total sworn personnel complement of 830 firefighters in all ranks. It is headquartered at the Detroit Public Safety Headquarters on Third Street, which also houses police, EMS, and additional services.

The Detroit Fire Department responds to approximately 165,000 emergency calls annually, with over 80% being medical emergencies and approximately 9,000 working structural fires.

Recent history[edit]

Department Leadership in the 2010s[edit]

From 2011 to December 31, 2013, the Detroit Fire Department was led by Fire Commissioner Donald R. Austin, a former member of the Los Angeles Fire Department and a Detroit native. Under Mayor Dave Bing, Austin had come to Detroit in May 2011 on the difficult mission to bring change to the Detroit Fire Department. He resigned in November 2013 due to changes in city administration.

The new mayor of Detroit, Mike Duggan, named Jonathan Jackson, a 25-year veteran of the department, and a Second Deputy Fire Commissioner under Austin, as the Interim Fire Commissioner on December 23, 2013. Craig Dougherty, a former member of Engine 50 on the city's East Side and Fire Chief under Austin, became a Second Deputy Commissioner under Jackson. The administration was rounded out by Deputy Commissioner Edsel Jenkins, C.P.A., Second Deputy Commissioner Sydney Zack, LL.M., and Second Deputy Commissioner Orlando Gregory.[1]

By the end of March 2014, Commissioner Jackson resigned due to a life-threatening neural disease. On April 8, 2014, Deputy Commissioner Edsel Jenkins was named as the new Executive Fire Commissioner. He resigned in October 2015,[2] and was succeeded in office by Eric Jones.[3][4]

Budget Crisis of the 2010s[edit]

As of January 2011, in an effort to reduce costs, the city of Detroit was considering privatizing the Fire Department's EMS Division.

Budget cuts led to the Chief of Department closing a total of 10 Engine and 4 Ladder Companies, effective July 4, 2012. Also 200 firefighters and officers were to be demoted and around 150 laid off initially, with more than 100 to be re-hired as funds were to become available.[5] In addition to the 14 permanently closed companies, a number of units were placed out of service ("browned out") on a daily basis. As a consequence, the standard response to a structural fire was reduced by one engine to 2 engines, 1 ladder, 1 squad and 1 chief.

At the beginning and into the first half of 2013, apparatus availability was at a low point[citation needed]. An estimated 40 units remained in service,[6] with all three aerial platform trucks damaged or defective, and up to eight engine and seven ladder companies browned out.[6] At the end of January 2013, the entire fleet of aerial ladder trucks was found lacking certification for routine operations.[7][8]

The City of Detroit declared bankruptcy in July 2013.

By 2014, the established practice of using improvised tools like soda pop cans, doorbells, door hinges or pipes to alert firefighters of incoming alarm faxes made national news.[9] Merely 48 pieces of apparatus were available for service, down from 66 in the year 2010.[10] A number of ladder trucks continued to be pressed into service without working aerials.


In December 2014, the City of Detroit emerged from bankruptcy protection. Funds for replacement and maintenance of parts of the aging fleet and facilities were included with the new budget. Mutual aid arrangements with fire departments in the two enclaves, the cities of Highland Park and Hamtramck, were formalized in October 2014.[11][12]

In 2015, with a first batch of ten new fire engines going in service. Previously browned out Engine Company 32 was also reopened. New vehicles bolstered the fleet available to EMS and for fire investigators.

Following 2012's reduction, the standard assignment to a structure fire was again increased to 3 Engines, 1 Truck, 1 Squad and 1 Chief. In 2016[citation needed], an expanded type of first alarm assignment called Commercial Box Alarm was introduced to better handle fires in structures bigger than a standard dwelling. Six new fire engines were placed in service in 2016, one of them replacing the Quint at Engine Company 48, plus reinstating Ladder Company 13 as a permanently staffed unit. So far, Engine Companies 1, 9, 17, 27, 30, 32, 33, 39, 40, 42, 48, 50, 53, 56, 58, and 59 have all been assigned new Smeal fire apparatus.

For the year 2017, six new HME/Ahrens-Fox Squad trucks, nine Smeal rearmount ladder trucks, two Ferrara platform ladder trucks, eight Ferrara fire engines, fourteen Braun Medic Units and a number of Light and Air units are scheduled to enter service.

Fire Activity and Investigation[edit]

The city of Detroit has to cope with a large number of fires. The number of vacant buildings throughout the city, combined with a dire economic situation, resulted in numerous fires on a daily basis. About 85% of the fires that occur daily in Detroit occur in vacant homes and buildings. In 2011 alone, the DFD responded to over 9,000 working structural fires.

Numbers of fires per year declined subsequently, with 4,600 structure fires in 2014 and 3,700 in 2015. On average, Detroit firefighters attended to 11 to 16 fires per day in 2015.[4]

A large number of these fires are believed to be "incendiary" (or arson), far above the national average of about 7.8%.[13] In the early 2010s, there were no accurate statistics for determining the arson rate in Detroit due to the fact that only a fraction of the fires could be investigated by the limited resources of the DFD Arson Unit. Only fire scenes which have been investigated can be ruled as incendiary or arson fires. Those fires which have not been investigated must be classified as "undetermined" unless an investigation is completed.

It should be noted that an "Incendiary Fire" is a technical definition for "a fire that is deliberately set with the intent to cause a fire to occur in an area where the fire should not be".[14] "Arson" is and a statutory definition for a criminal offense. There are occasions where a fire may be "incendiary", but not meet the threshold of "arson".


The Detroit Fire Department is divided into 10 divisions of operations: Administration, Apparatus, Communications, Community Relations, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Firefighting/Fire Suppression, Fire Marshal, Medical, Research and Development, and Training Academy.[15]

Emergency Medical Services[edit]

The Detroit Fire Department operates a separate EMS Division. In September 2013, AED devices were put in service on the fire apparatuses as a first step into performing life support to citizens as first responders. As of 2015, Detroit firefighters are trained medical first responders and have the ability to handle patient care until EMS arrives.

This section needs to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.(February 2017)

The EMS division operates with limited manpower. As a result, many calls are handled by DFD until a unit is available. The availability of EMS units is often compromised due to the number of calls in a city which has a lot of violence, citizens calling 911 for non-emergencies, as well as the breaking down of the EMS rigs due to age, mileage, and lack of proper maintenance.

Thanks to Mayor Bing's collaboration with the business community, Roger Penske sponsored 23 new ambulances for the department, which were put into service in the summer of 2013. Many of these, however, soon developed defects.[16] More new ambulances were purchased throughout the following years.

Fire Station Locations[edit]

As of March 2017, there are a total of 34 fire stations in the city of Detroit, not including the Fire Headquarters. There are 27 engine companies, 15 ladder companies (including 3 platforms), 6 squad companies, 22 Medic Ambulances, and several specialized units. These fire stations and companies are organized into 8 battalions, each headed by one Battalion Chief per shift.[17]

Engine CompanyLadder CompanyMedic unitSpecial UnitChief UnitBattalionLocation
Engine 11115 W. Montcalm @ Park Ave.
Engine 9Ladder 6 (Platform)Medic 2113787 E. Lafayette St. @ Mt. Elliott St.
Engine 17Ladder 7 (Platform)Chief 556100 2nd Ave. @ Burroughs St.
Engine 27Ladder 8Medic 19Chief 774700 W. Fort St. @ Summit St.
Engine 2977600 W. Jefferson Ave @ Solvay St.
Engine 30Medic 3416543 Meyers Rd. @ Florence St.
Engine 32Medic 23Chief 6611740 E. Jefferson @ Hart
Engine 33Ladder 1371041 Lawndale St. @ W. Lafayette Blvd.
Engine 3426345 Livernois Ave @ Walton St.
Engine 35Medic 205136 Kenilworth St. & Woodward Ave.
Engine 39Medic 158720 14th St. @ Blaine St.
Engine 40Ladder 17 (Platform)Medic 10813939 Dexter Ave. @ Ewald Cir.
Engine 41Medic 1465010 Rohns St. @ E. Warren Ave.
Engine 42Ladder 21Medic 226330 Chicago W. @ Livernois Ave.
Engine 44Ladder 18Chief 8835 W. 7 Mile Rd. @ John R. St.
Engine 46910101 Knodell St. @ Grace St.
Engine 48Medic 1172300 S. Fort St. @ Downing St.
Engine 50Ladder 23Medic 15Chief 9912981 Houston Whittier St. @ Gratiot Ave.
Engine 52Ladder 3195029 Manistique St. @ E. Warren Ave.
Engine 53Ladder 25Medic 17415121 Greenfield Rd. @ Fenkell Ave.
Engine 54Ladder 26Medic 4416825 Trinity St. @ Grand River Ave.
Engine 55Ladder 27Medic 5Chief 2218140 Joy Rd. @ Southfield Rd.
Engine 56Medic 16818601 Ryan Rd. @ Hilldale St.
Engine 57213960 Burt Rd. & Schoolcraft Ave.
Engine 58Medic 24Squad 6910801 Whittier Ave. @ Lakepoint St.
Engine 59Medic 22Squad 1Chief 4417800 Curtis St. @ Southfield Rd.
Engine 60919701 Hoover St. @ Manning St.
Ladder 14Medic 1262200 Crane St. @ Brinket Ave.
Ladder 20Medic 6Squad 21463 W. Alexandrine St. @ Cass Ave.
Ladder 2226830 McGraw Ave @ Martin Rd.
Squad 361820 E. Grand Blvd @ Moran St.
Medic 7Squad 451697 W. Grand Blvd. @ McGraw Ave.
Medic 18Squad 5818236 Livernois Ave. @ Curtis St.
Medic 8TAC 2, Haz-Mat. 1, Decon. 1Chief 113080 Russell St. @ Wilkins St.


Rank structure[edit]

Below is the rank structure of the Detroit Fire Department.[18]

  • Executive Fire Commissioner
  • First Deputy Commissioner
  • Second Deputy Commissioner
  • Chief of Department
  • Deputy Chief
  • Senior Chief
  • Battalion Chief
  • Captain (Capt.)
  • Senior Lieutenant (Lt.)
  • Lieutenant (Lt.)
  • Sergeant (Sgt.)
  • Fire Engine Operator (FEO.)
  • Firefighter Driver (FFD.)
  • Senior Firefighter (SFF.)
  • Firefighter (FF.)
  • Trial Firefighter (TFF.)


Response guidelines[edit]

Alarm TypeAlarm LevelCompanies Assigned
Still Alarm1st Alarm Assignment1 Engine, or 1 Engine and 1 Ladder
Box Alarm1st Alarm Assignment3 Engines, 1 Ladder, 1 Squad, 1 Chief
Commercial Box Alarm1st Alarm Assignment4 Engines, 2 Ladders, 2 Squads, 2 Chiefs
2nd Alarm Fire2nd Alarm Assignment3 Engines, 2 Ladders (with 1 Platform), 1 Squad, 1 Chief, Car 203 (Senior Chief), 1 Medic Unit, 1 Medic Supervisor
3rd Alarm Fire3rd Alarm Assignment3 Engines, 1 Ladder, 1 Squad, 1 Chief, 1 Deputy Chief (Car 201 or Car 202), Mobile Command Unit
Motor Vehicle Accident/Elevator RescueSpecial Assignment1 Engine, 1 Squad, 1 Medic Unit
Confined-Space RescueSpecial Assignment1 Engine, 1 Squad, 1 Chief, 1 Medic Unit
Bomb ThreatSpecial Assignment4 Engines, 1 Ladder, 1 Squad, 1 Chief, Haz-Mat. Unit, 1 Medic Unit
Police Assist/AccessSpecial Assignment1 Ladder or 1 Squad, 1 Chief

See also[edit]


  1. ^"Mayor-elect Mike Duggan announces 3 new top administrators | Detroit Free Press |". 2014-01-05. Archived from the original on 2014-01-05. Retrieved 2017-02-20. 
  2. ^"Detroit Fire Commissioner Edsel Jenkins to Retire". Firehouse. Retrieved 2017-02-20. 
  3. ^Cwiek, Sarah. "New Detroit fire commissioner promises to fix "basic processes"". Retrieved 2017-02-20. 
  4. ^ ab"New chief putting mark on Detroit fire dept". Detroit News. Retrieved 2017-02-20. 
  5. ^Statter, Dave (2012-07-03). "Detroit sends out order closing 15 fire companies. 200 firefighters to be demoted". Statter911. Retrieved 2017-02-20. 
  6. ^ ab"Detroit, MI Fire Department". Retrieved 2017-02-20. 
  7. ^"Detroit Fire Department not saying when aerial ladders might be cleared for firefighting". Retrieved 2017-02-20. 
  8. ^Statter, Dave (2013-02-05). "Charlie LeDuff blew this one. But can his message about another Detroit Fire Department outrage still be right when his facts are wrong?". Statter911. Retrieved 2017-02-20. 
  9. ^Baldas, Tresa. "Detroit fire department has alert system made of pop cans, doorbells" (Archive). Detroit Free Press. September 6, 2014. Retrieved on October 25, 2015.
  10. ^"Detroit routinely sends dangerously defective rigs to fires". Motor City Muckraker. 2015-07-30. Retrieved 2017-02-20. 
  11. ^"Fire Dept. expands its mutual aid | Hamtramck Review". Retrieved 2017-02-20. 
  12. ^"A new model in firefighting | Hamtramck Review". Retrieved 2017-02-20. 
  13. ^Source: NFPA Fire Analysis and Research Statistical Reports, June 2014
  14. ^NFPA 921-Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigation, 2014 Edition.
  15. ^"About the Fire Department | City of Detroit Departments |". Archived from the original on 2013-12-27. Retrieved 2013-12-27. 
  16. ^Drew, Karen (2014-02-21). "Defenders: New Detroit EMS rigs not getting job done". WDIV. Retrieved 2017-02-20. 
  17. ^
  18. ^"FAQs | Fire Department | City of Detroit Departments". Archived from the original on 2014-07-06. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 

External links[edit]

A DFD Captain overseeing a fire in 1978.
The quarters of Engine 17, Ladder 7, and Chief 5 at 6100 2nd St.
The former Fire Headquarters at 250 West Larned, in operation until 2013

Video: Box Alarm Fire in Detroit, Michigan With Evacuation Tones

in Fire Videos, Fire WireNovember 17, 2017

Video of a Box Alarm Fire in Detroit, Michigan with Evacuation tones.  The video was posted by Hooks & Halligans Fire Photography and description is below.

“Detroit Fire, the 7th Battalion; Ladder 22 arrives and reports a vacant dwelling going, and transmits “the first engine will be stretching”. Firefighters from Engine 34 initially go defensive with a transitional attack to interior. Shortly after entering the dwelling, Chief 7 orders crews out as the fire eats away the rear and the roof of the structure. As crews exit, they immediately take up a defensive posture to protect the the Bravo exposure, an occupied dwelling. At the end of the video, firefighters enter the Bravo exposure which now has smoke on the second story coming from the attic and advance a line.”

Box Alarm FireDetroit Fire DepartmentEvacuation Tonesvideo2017-11-17


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