Detroit firefighters disciplined for photo in front of burning house

Thirteen firefighters and four sergeants were disciplined for the photo taken on New Year's Eve


Darcie Moran
Detroit Free Press

DETROIT — Thirteen Detroit firefighters face internal charges for a viral photo of members of the department posing in front of a burning house on New Year’s Eve, according to a report from WXYZ-TV.

The fire department completed its investigation into the photo, Detroit Fire Commissioner Eric Jones said in a statement shared Thursday by John Roach, media relations director for the mayor’s office.

Roach said Jones would not comment further on the report from WXYZ that 13 firefighters are facing department charges of exhibiting ignorance of the rules or orders.

“Our investigation has been completed and appropriate discipline has been issued to some of the members of the department involved in this incident, however, we do not comment on the details of personnel matters,” the statement read.

Jones could not immediately be reached for comment and Deputy Fire Commissioner Dave Fornell directed questions to Roach.

Four of those dealt discipline are sergeants charged with failure to supervise or take appropriate action, WXYZ reported.

Jones previously announced discipline was forthcoming, and supervisors would receive a greater degree of disciplinary action.

"I am satisfied that everyone involved has shown the appropriate level of regret for this inappropriate behavior," he said in a Jan. 10 release.

The controversy began on New Year’s Eve when a fire was reported at 6:34 p.m. in the 600 block of South Green Street on Detroit's west side, Fornell previously said.

The house was too dangerous to enter, believed to be unoccupied and firefighters were celebrating a retiring fire battalion chief, he said.

A photo of 18 firefighters posing in front of the home started circulating shortly after.

The homeowner, 21-year-old Deonte Higginbotham, called for those in the photo to be fired, according to a report by the New York Post.

Higginbotham said he only moved out for renovations, the Post reported.

There’s been no record of water usage at the home in two years and no permits issued for home improvements, according to city officials.

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©2020 the Detroit Free Press

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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