Burn (2012) Movie Script

I wish my head could
forget what my eyes have seen
in 32 years of firefighting.
Why do you do this?
I love my job.
It does... it's something
with adrenaline
that gets you pumped up.
And here we go!
Got to regroup, keep it
moving, that's the best I can do.
That right there times
30 a night, times 30 years,
is how you burn a city
down... one at a time.
It was probably the most
beautiful city back in the day,
you know, when there was
factories everywhere,
there was people spending
money around here.
The car industry was booming.
It was much easier
to get a job and it was more
of a family atmosphere then.
You didn't have to lock your doors.
I grew up in Detroit.
I've seen the City change from
a nice, decent neighborhood
to certain areas that just
look like bombs have hit them.
Most of the neighborhoods
are blighted, vacant lots.
Next to vacant dwellings.
We've got probably
one, two, three, four...
six, seven, eight vacants
on my block.
It kind of hurts me to see
the City getting destroyed like this,
I feel like I'm in the
burning of Rome sometime.
Population loss, I've
watched it go from a city
of one-point-eight million
to seven-hundred thousand,
leaves a lot of vacant homes.
The bottom line is everybody
that can seems to be fleeing.
I mean, this has been
Katrina without the hurricane.
Our city is crumbling around us.
Imagine two-thirds of the
people in your city disappeared,
but they left their houses,
their garbage, their furniture.
As long as
there's people leaving,
as long as there's vacant
houses, there's going to be fires,
it's called fire load,
there's more things to burn.
The neighborhood of our
district is, statistically,
one of the worst places on
earth for crime, for poverty.
So they were shooting, too?
And the other
one was right there.
High murder rate,
high infant mortality rate.
Police telling me this is
not just a murder, but an execution.
Crimes that you never
would, in a million years,
thought would happen
in your neighborhood.
In the City of
Detroit last year alone,
we had over 30,000 actual fire calls.
I mean, we're in trouble,
we need help.
This don't have
nothing to do with the City,
this is must my own
personal edge.
My name is David
Parnell, I'm a FEO,
Field Engine Operator,
for Engine Company 50.
Dave Parnell and I
were hired about the same time,
1977, great guy, solid guy.
You feel safe when
he's behind the wheel.
He'll get you water within 60
seconds of being on the fire drop.
That's what I do.
The soul, if you
will, of the firehouse.
He's pretty well loved and
respected by everybody here.
Dave is old.
He has to retire.
He's like Papa Bear.
He's in there, we catch him
nodding off in there a little bit.
He's watching an old
Western, black and white.
It's okay, he's earned it.
Sometimes, I
just need a little Parnell.
What is a man's worth
that doesn't make the
world a better place?
What's a gang besides a
family looking for a home?
Think about it.
My favorite one is when he says,
"I wish my mind could forget
what my eyes have seen..."
Could forget
what my eyes have seen.
We call it bullshit.
But it is comforting.
It is totally comforting.
Well, never get that from Dan.
Come on Dave,
I need some bullshit.
You're going to get
some bullshit from Parnell.
You know, I've
been here so long, you know,
you feel like a fixture,
thirty-three years.
Yeah, thirty-three
years of firefighting,
I have eight months left, and
then I'll retire, I'll be 60.
Are you ready to go?
no, not at all.
This is my neighborhood,
this is where I live,
this is where I fight my fires.
You used to could walk
in this neighborhood.
Well, now, you're pretty much
afraid to walk to the corner.
This is where some
of the firefighters lived
and grew up, right here.
And now look at it, that
was a fire job right there,
you can tell by the soot that
was in the front of the dwelling.
We've been to that
apartment building over there,
at least a half-a-dozen
times that I know of.
We actually saved a young
man out of this one, 18011,
actually saved a young man
out of that one.
When you look around the City,
you look at the burnt-out homes.
That's when you get this
attitude, "This is no good."
And I don't understand it, I'm
not going to understand it.
If you live in the community in which
you work, how do you not do something
for the people that are around you?
You have an opportunity
to make change.
Report of a growing fire...
Ninety-five percent
of what I do is arson.
Very rarely do we have
a legitimate fire.
We can't get out!
Somebody went in
through the back door,
went upstairs, and
they lit the place.
You go up stairs you can smell
some kind of accelerant or something.
I can't picture
another city that's like this
where so many of the fires are arson.
It's beyond me why people would
want to burn their own city down.
There's arson for profit.
There's arson for revenge.
And then there's just
arson for kicks.
It used to infuriate me that
this was going on night after night,
and nobody, nobody seemed to care.
But I mean, we're doing this
for the people that are left,
and for the houses are occupied.
You got to be tough.
The exhaustion
can be depressing.
To blow off steam,
you probably have ten methods
for every individual, you know?
We'll clean it.
Weird pink nursing home.
Holy cow!
Yeah, the DFD swagger.
I mean, we're above the law.
Detroit firemen think they
can do whatever they want.
Cowboys in a big rodeo.
We do things a little
differently, rigs pull up.
Oh, it's in the basement.
Guys go right in, we
advance to the heart of the fire.
Other guys are fighting
fires, you see water shooting in,
we fight fires, you'll
see water shooting out.
Whoa! You got me!
Detroit puts the
fires out from the inside out.
Plain and simple.
When we go on a
fire, we're kind of hyped up.
We're like, "Let's go!"
"Ah!" You know, you're tackling this
thing like it's some type of dragon.
And we don't really lose too often.
Hot as fucking shit!
We have people that come from
across country, around the world
to just watch us fight fire.
Well, I don't know
if I should say that,
but we fight fires with balls.
It's the best
boys' club in the world!
We get paid to be here.
I like coming to
work., I look forward to it.
I think you'll hear that
from most of the guys,
ask anyone in the private sector,
and you'll probably hear differently.
This job is fun!
You get to turn the
lights on, the siren on,
you get to run through red lights.
Let's go!
We actually live together 24
hours, since there's a closeness,
the trust factor is there.
The busier you
are, the more you bond.
We're tight, it's a brotherhood,
that's just how we roll.
That's the team that we
have, the family that we have,
the trust that we have
for one another.
Most firemen
are social creatures,
we like to hang out,
we like to enjoy life.
A lot of times people
compare being a fireman
to being a member of a social club.
They might be onto something.
Brendan Milewski,
who was a trial man here,
he was probably the
youngest guy to be here,
come 20-years-old, or 18-years-old.
Nineteen, something
like that, he come on, yeah.
Fresh-faced kid.
I don't think he ever made a
bed himself when he got here.
My buddy, Doogie.
Silly picture of us back in
probably 2000 at HarleyFest.
I got on the job
when I was 20-years-old.
After 11 years, I was
content, I was happy.
It was August, I'd been off
for like seven or nine days.
I had a nice stretch of
days off, so I was excited
to go back to work, see the guys.
I got there a little
after seven o'clock.
And before I could come in and say
hello, and see what we had going
on for that day, the alert went
off and we got the run.
Once we got rolling,
and turned down Dickerson,
and saw this huge towering
column of smoke,
you knew it was just
not the way you wanted
to start your Friday, the 13th.
I mean, I'm no Nostradamus
or anything,
but I just had a bad feeling.
Soon as I saw it, I
just had a bad feeling.
Me and a couple other
guys were ventilating,
we were taking the plywood off
all the second story windows
so the water tower could get
water in through the second floor.
The bricks up there looked a little
suspect, and as we were working,
I remember hearing somebody shout.
The bricks in front of me, the facade
of the building were
cascading like a waterfall.
I mean, I saw it coming
and I made a run for it.
Chief 6 to
Central, send EMSes immediately,
we've had a building
collapse, fireman down.
I saw him running and
he was less than ten feet from me
when the wall caught him,
I could see his face.
Central, this is Engine 30,
Multiple EMS, multiple firemen down.
Hm, I can
still see it... plain.
And I went to go push
myself up off the concrete,
do a push-up and slide my knees
in and walk away, and when I did
that push-up, the only thing
that moved were my shoulders.
Central, we need everybody here,
we've got freaking firemen
down, the roof has collapsed,
we need everybody here now!
They were hurt pretty bad,
they were buried in the bricks.
I think it was about four minutes,
we had them all out on backboards.
Called for a second alarm instantly.
Chief 6 to Central,
give me a second alarm.
Fuckin' brake, goddammit!
I was angry.
I was pissed off that
this had happened.
I remember there was
chaos going on around me,
but just Inside I was so calm.
One of the things that I wanted
to do afterwards was make sure
we washed all of the blood
out of the street, there was
so much blood in the street.
Things could have been
done differently on August 13th
that wouldn't have resulted in this.
We could have did a complete surround
and drown defensive operation,
that would change things
I'd still be walking
if we had done that.
There's definitely things that
could have been done differently.
When we go into to
houses, it's a whole 'nother thing
from what you see on the news from
us standing outside with a hose.
Close your eyes,
feel heat all around you.
Do not have no clue as to
where you going, and then say,
"Okay, I got to fight this."
That's fear.
There's some buildings that
you come out of, and you realize
that the structure is
designed to kill firemen.
We've had stairways collapse.
We've had bathtubs fall
from the second floor
onto the first floor,
hit the guys below.
People have weights in
their rooms, they have waterbeds
in their rooms, they have weapons,
there could be anything up there.
We have a record amount
of guys injured right now
and we have had for the last
four or five years.
I don't know if I'm more
afraid of death or crippling injury.
Out of 17 years, I've been
in the hospital 15 of those years.
I had a second floor bathtub
fall on top of me, a concussion,
partially dislocated my
hips, messed my back up.
An air-conditioning unit from
the roof, collapsed through the roof,
took my helmet and my mask with it.
You just never really
know what you're walking into.
Until you put your life up
as collateral for another life,
you don't know what
life-saving is about.
It's just a miracle
that more guys aren't hurt
or killed on this job.
Middle of the night last
night our bell system stopped working
to notify us that we're
getting a run.
So it's a holiday, and we
figured we'd take a stab
at fixing it ourselves.
We haven't resorted
to the pots and pans
like we used to do in the old days.
Cross your fingers and hope
for a bell.
Yeah! Whoo!
We'll probably get taken down
on charges for doing this.
Well, no one saw us do it.
Yeah, the biggest challenge
about being a Captain here is you
want to take care of the guys,
you want to take care of the rig, you
want to take care of your building,
and you look around here,
you got broken windows
that you've been trying to
get repaired for four years.
You have rigs that are leaking,
and nobody has the parts to fix.
You know, you go down
to the repair shop
for your fire coat, and
they don't have any.
Gloves, boots.
They were leaking.
It's ripped right in the top
here, big chunk out of 'em...
rubber, you could see the steal,
figured I'd duct tape it up,
and it seems like it's
working, right?
Squad 6 leaks oil
like you wouldn't believe.
You can see it down here.
You know? I mean,
these rigs are held together
with bubble gum and tape.
What was it?
I think it was
the airbag or inner tire.
We're wearing this stuff out.
You know, just like the rigs,
you know, our stuff is worn out,
because we're actually
doing something,
we're working all the time, so.
You know, that's just
something that comes with the job.
It's been this way for so long,
and you just get frustrated.
You look at the big picture,
and there's just nothing
you can do about it.
Flames ripped
through an open warehouse,
destroying several businesses inside.
Now, firefighters explain
why they couldn't seem
to get a hand on that fire.
Well, we get there
without the tools we need.
There's not much we can do.
Firefighters doing all
they can, but stretched to the limit.
It looks like a war zone,
the whole block is just
gone, it's just gone.
When it comes
to public safety in Detroit,
At least five
of the City's 21 rigs were
out of commission in
the past few days.
Nothing but problems.
It's dangerous, it's scary
and one of these days,
we're going to get trapped.
It's gonna take
somebody getting killed.
Dozens of homes up in
flames, all in a matter of hours,
downed power lines, strong winds,
and at least one suspected arsonist
stretched Detroit's Fire Department
like never before.
Eighty-five blazes in
total with the entire fire department
on the streets, battling the flames.
Oh, what the fuck!
The Mayor
says, "Enough is enough!"
And he fires the City's Fire
Commissioner, and his right-hand man.
Tonight a Fox 2
exclusive, answering the call
for help for the men and women
of the Detroit Fire Department.
Tonight a look
at who's now in charge
of some much needed changes.
Having worked for 30 years
in the Los Angeles Fire Department,
Donald Austin knows all too well the
problems facing Detroit's embattled
fire department and EMS system.
Show me an organization
that says they can't improve,
and I will join you in watching
that organization become obsolete.
The leadership has
been challenged for a whole bunch
of reasons but I plan on
bringing a whole new perspective.
May I share the
table with you ladies?
I'm Don Austin, Don
Austin, Don Austin.
Fire commissioner, we
need to know who he is, right?
Well, here I am... and I'm the fire
commissioner that's come again, yeah.
I saw you on TV when
you first came on board, yeah.
Oh, okay, I'm
committed and invested.
So what do you guys want and
need from the fire department?
We don't need any those...
Our new commissioner's
from California,
so we have an LA commissioner,
Hollywood, I don't know,
Hollywood commissioner, we
just don't know what to expect.
Honor guard, forward, March!
In the 30-plus years, how
many mayors, how many commissioners,
how many chiefs of the
department have there been?
They're going to be gone
two or three years from now.
They're one election cycle away
from you not seeing them again.
I'd like to welcome everyone
to our Detroit Fireman's Memorial
Day service, Ladies and gentlemen,
our newly appointed Executive
Fire Commissioner, Donald Austin.
I'm happy to be here in Detroit,
and want to continue the fine
tradition of the men and women
of the Los Angeles Fire Department,
correction, I knew I was going
to do that, I apologize,
The Detroit Fire Department.
I remember when I told
my dad I wanted to be a fireman,
and he said, "Not in this city."
Ten years later, look where I'm at.
When I was a kid, my father
was a fireman, and I always wanted
to be a fireman, he was
proud of me when I signed up.
Family on the job,
it's just rich tradition.
A lot of people just fall into line
like that, uncles, brothers, fathers,
sons, can't explain
why, it just happens.
Most of the guys around here,
their dad's ran here at some point.
I've seen stuff my dad wrote in.
Matter of fact, 1979, I think
my dad just made Sergeant here.
I was 17 when my father died
from cancer,
possibly complications from a fire.
When he was sick, the fire
department stepped up.
The camaraderie came into play.
I don't think there
was a day that went
by that there wasn't a fire
truck in front of my house.
At 17, that had an impact on me.
Yeah, I guess they
say, "Firemen die young."
I plan on not being one of those.
I love you.
It seems like
the guys that stay to 60,
they stay till 60, and boom!
It's like, wow!
That guy just retired!
Good job.
That's the Jakester, you want
me to get farther away from you.
Mm hm.
That's my wife, Gloria.
That's my girlfriend.
Yeah. Wife, girlfriend, lover, all
of the above for the last 35 years.
Yeah, so I've almost gotten
to know her a little bit
and she's always dressed
me all these years.
You know, I guess I looked okay
most of the time, but people look
at me now and they say, "Wow!"
Was Gloria not home when you left?"
. I met my wife before
I was ever out of high school.
I got out the Marine Corp, she said,
"You got one date, that's it, buddy."
We've been dating ever since.
She's put up with me
for over 30 years,
so it's time to just do
what she wants to do.
Originally, we had planned
to move to Tennessee,
but it's totally different
now, because of her situation.
Yeah, hey, sweetie Love you.
See ya.
She went in for a simple
contracted Guillain-Barre, and
they said if it doesn't kill you,
you'll make a full recovery.
I'm waiting for the full recovery.
This is the empty engine
bay at Engine 50's quarters.
They've taken our rig and placed
it at Engine 58's quarters,
because both of their rigs, the squad
and the engine are
broken down at the shop.
Yeah, we're at Engine 58's
quarters, which is at Lake Point
and Whittier, which is about
two miles from 50's quarters.
Detailed here today.
Riding 50's rig.
The next step, what we've heard,
the rumor is that the TAC is going
to come to Engine 50's quarters.
The TAC is a small
truck with a tank on it,
it's just for transportation
purposes only for manpower.
It'd be nice if we
had some kind of a back-up plan
when things break, you know,
I suspect there are a lot
of other rigs that
are about to break.
Been lucky so far.
I mean, you got a... you don't
want to imagine what could happen,
it's like playing with fire.
Got that?
All right.
The whole fucking
house is rolling!
Yeah, yeah, it's done.
Come on!
Yeah, over here.
That's every
fucking thing I got!
Move over.
Man, this motherfucker's
Look at that black-ass smoke!
That's every
fucking thing I got!!
I know... I know.
It's gonna be okay.
Any retiree will tell
you that when they come back
to the firehouse, even if it's just
for a visit, it's just not the same,
when you're removed from it, life
goes on, the firehouse goes on.
Thank you, honey.
That's Doogie
right there in that one.
And this is probably my
favorite one right here
with all the ax and all the smoke.
He almost looks like a ghost.
I think it's kind of cool, but it's
scary at the same time how kind
of after the fact that
something happens.
I always thought he was
kind of like invincible.
When I see these pictures.
I was 19 when we Brendan met.
I cut Brendan's hair.
I was an absolute
busy body before this happened.
When I cut loose, I
like to cut loose.
We traveled a lot together.
Cabo San Lucas, in Mexico.
Saint Lucia.
I've been
snowboarding for 23 years.
You know, we'd go up north, get
a nice cabin for three/four days
at a time, it was a big deal for us.
Nice job, baby.
To not have that anymore, it
really uh... it really sucks.
The neurosurgeon's opinion
is that most recovery,
most of what you're going to
get back will take a good six
That, for me, right now is like
that's where my blinders are,
that six to eighteen months.
Keep going,
keep going, keep going.
Pull yourself up.
Hold on.
I got it.
I wasn't going to help you
C'mon, pull, pull, pull, much better.
Emotionally, physically,
I mean, every day is a battle,
when you wake up, there's that split
second between opening your eyes,
and remembering that
you're paralyzed.
- It's just kind of like...
- , "Alright",
alright, let's get things going."
Take deep breaths.
It's a rough
way to start the day.
Took us a while
to break Doogie in.
He was just the way we like him,
nobody could swear more cutting
in a pipe flashing, this is
Doogie's enemy right here.
It'd just make you laugh, I'd give
anything to get him back here.
This isn't the easiest work,
but it's what we do, you know,
it pays a few extra bills,
because everybody knows
they don't pay you enough
to run into burning buildings.
The starting salary
of a Detroit Firefighter is
right around $ 30,000 a year.
I'd leave that wall alone.
Same thing?
Same thing, yeah.
So most firefighters
have a second job.
Because that just isn't enough
money today to feed your family.
Can we see the seasoning?
That seasoning is...
"WIC approved."
So I can use my food
stamps to buy these
but I didn't, I'm almost eligible.
If my pay goes down 20 percent more,
I'll be eligible for food stamps
but I think the Governor's
cut food stamps, too.
You know, I understand
in tough times everybody has
to take a haircut, but I'm bald.
We're all going bald now.
We're on our
way to a union meeting.
A special meeting that was called
to discuss a recent contract.
If they keep on chipping
away at the contract like this,
and any improvements we
gained over the last 20 years,
what's going to happen is you're
going to work till you're dead.
You'll never retire.
Times are tough,
and everybody knows it
but they're taking away our
pension, it's a tough thing to do.
Twenty-one years on the job.
I've had 11 years that I've
had a zero percent pay raise,
no one wants to talk about that.
They feel this country is being
run into the ground by the unions,
which is the furthest
thing from the truth.
It hurts that we're the scapegoats
for the country's financial
problems now.
I think that's the
political climate we're in right now,
I mean, we know nothing's perfect,
but if we didn't have unions,
a lot of people would be in a bad
position, even non-union workers.
So what I don't get
is when we became the enemy.
When the firefighters and the
police officers and the teachers,
the people that are trying
to make a difference,
all of a sudden we're
just costing too much,
and there's too much
expense out there.
And now, god, you'd think
you'd want to run away in shame,
because, "Oh, you're a public
employee, you're a civic employee."
I hear our new
commissioner's coming
to visit us this afternoon,
I've read a little bit about him
in the newspaper, I know he's from
Detroit originally, unknown quantity,
I'm sure we can all formulate
our opinions and jump
to our conclusions,
but time will tell.
I ain't got time to BS.
Somebody didn't do their job but
we can't be abusing our equipment,
pipe posts come up missing at fires,
axes come up missing at fires,
generators come up
missing off the trucks.
How does that happen?
If we're bringing good money in the
front door, and we're throwing it
out the back door, what
sense does that make?
Now you do know that 95 to 96 percent
of the budget goes to pay you guys.
Yes, yeah, we know that.
That leaves
four to five percent left
for everything else,
fuel and oil, supplies.
But there's a lot of stuff
here that I'm trying to figure
out why is it still broken?
I shake my head at some of the stuff.
I'm waiting for somebody
to say, "Smile!"
You're on Candid Camera!"
Shit rolls downhill and the Mayor
wants change, we better get back
in charge of our own damn department!
Trust me! I'm going to
do what I think is right,
I don't give a shit whether you
like me or not 'cause I ain't here
to make friends, I'm
here to be your leader.
Fire 23
service, report a disposition
at 000, at 1245.
Start getting into warmer
days, and then when school lets out,
it just seems like the
fire load increases.
A gallon of gas is still
cheaper than a movie ticket.
As soon as the weather
breaks, come May /June, ba-boom!
We was in the back
yard, smoke was coming out.
Got a barbecue going, eh?
Uh huh!
Okay, have a good day, now.
You too.
He said he was
burning some rats out of a bush.
And they started them on fire,
and they ran into the tree.
That was fucking horrible!
You got my dog out?
Did you get my dog out?!
You don't have to pay me, sir.
Is that a piece of steak?
I don't think we've been
to sleep for more than a few minutes,
I mean, this is typical of
a summer night around here.
Watch the wires, guys.
We got wires down.
It's really not that hot.
You know what saggin' means?
What it mean?
It means you're looking
for a girlfriend!
In prison!
It's weird.
The sensation's really weird.
Yeah, your perception is a little
off, and your first instinct
when you hit the bottom of anything
is to like, put your feet down
and kick yourself back up to the top.
You can't do that, so
it's kind of strange.
My line of injury is
basically between my nipple
and my belly button, because
that's where my sensation stops.
Since I've been here in therapy,
I can now consciously flex muscles
and control muscles way
below my line of injury.
I'm starting to gain control
over things I didn't have
control over when this happened.
It's relaxation, but at the
same time it's freeing your mind
from everything else.
You know, your only job is
to, is to float, don't drown.
And it definitely lightens up the
stress a little being in the water.
You always expect
things to be the same.
You always expect things
to last longer,
you expect to grow old together,
I never expected to bury my wife.
Just figured that I would
certainly leave before her.
Well... you know, it didn't
work out like that, so.
Just came out of the
funeral for Dave Parnell's wife.
She had a cardiac arrest last Friday.
It was kind of shocking,
and incredibly sad.
The last four years, Dave's
taken a lot on himself
to help rehabilitate his wife.
Dave's life changed
radically that day.
I know his planned retirement
was wrapped around his wife.
Thirty-five years just
wasn't enough, it really wasn't.
She did things like
this, she liked colors,
so she would make them
different colors.
It's like springtime all
the time, that was like her.
Always new, "You know,
hey, come here",
let me show you a little
something different."
Yeah, everybody needs a
Gloria in their life, oh, geez, Man!
We're heading over
to our apparatus division,
we have a lot of rigs that are
broken down and it was getting
to a critical condition in
the field for fire trucks.
Now the Mayor has challenged all
of us department heads to come
in on budget, and that's
going to be my goal.
Looks like we're over about six
million dollars between fire and EMS.
You know, a lot of our budget goes
to repair these rigs
that are broken down.
And I don't think the men
and women understand the cost
of things, you know?
Just happened?
It's one of those days.
Wow, so would your
assessment be that we tear up a lot
of equipment around here?
My assessment would be that
we tear up a lot of equipment.
We don't even have on
the radar buying new equipment.
You know? There's no
money for it, unless we...
A lot of things happen
here that shouldn't happen.
Everyone probably knows that we
parked a truck on a train track.
The Detroit Fire
Department is still looking
into why a firefighter decided
to park the ladder truck on the
tracks and in the path of danger.
I mean, how do
you park on a train track?
An Amtrak train track no less.
When you park a 700,000
dollar truck on a train track,
and it gets taken out, that's
700,000 dollars out of our budget.
We had another vehicle that
was driven under an overpass,
and we created a convertible
out of it.
The cab alone was 200,000 dollars.
I don't think we hold ourselves
accountable like we need to.
Let me ask you this:
What should happen?
To the individual?
Well, you tell me!
That backed up?
Or the officer?
Or the officer?
Let's start
with the officer first.
Well, I'm
kind of partial to that, so.
I feel like I'm
in a parallel universe.
Nobody else thinks
like this in the world.
And I don't want to get to a point
where I accept that as a norm,
because that is not the
norm everywhere else.
It shouldn't be the norm.
You know, how they say when
you're in Rome, do as the Romans?
I ain't doing as the Romans,
I'm changing shit around here.
Excuse my French, but this is
pure, unadulterated nonsense!
I don't care how many more
stations you badly want open,
or might need to be opened,
there is no more money.
What do you do in your own
families when there's no more money?
How many of you going to come to
work and not get paid in two weeks.
Raise your hands if
you come in to work,
and knowing you ain't getting paid.
I'm at tremendous odds with
the people in this organization
for the direction that it must go.
Go down to the shop,
we're not getting gear,
we're not getting rigs,
we're not hiring.
I ain't got any extra money.
Imagine being in a closet
with a hornet's nest.
You can hire now.
You're going to get stung.
This past month
was really, really tough.
I wasn't feeling very well
the majority of the month,
and it kept me out of therapy.
I hate even saying it, but I still
can't take a shower by myself.
I was supposed to work till I was 60,
have a big blow-out retirement party,
retire a Chief, and things
were going to be lovely.
It wasn't supposed
to happen like this.
You know, I still have large
dependence on other people.
That's one of the most difficult
things with the situation.
It wears on you.
I feel like shit as it is, not
being able to go down to therapy
and get exercise and
get your blood pumping,
and get that social interaction.
Right now, I'm rounding the corner,
on getting the driving thing back.
It'll lighten the stress a
whole lot once I'm independent
to where I can drive wherever
and whenever, and I'm not relying
on someone for transportation.
It's a really big step into making
me feel somewhat normal again.
Looks like it.
If they knock that down, if
they do, get out of here.
Come on down!
We're trying.
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.
Oh, fuck!
Big challenge,
how do we get rid of this?
Seventy percent of our work
is going to this stuff,
80,000 vacant structures.
How many does the mayor
have slated to tear down this year?
He wants to
tear down 3,000 a year.
That's just a
drop in the bucket.
Of course it is.
This is whooping our behinds.
This is breaking our
firefighter's back.
It's increasing overtime, injuring
our firefighters, damaging homes next
to these vacant structures,
making the City look ugly,
we're being defeated.
We are so desperate, we got to
do something with this number.
You know, I'm almost resigned to the
point that until we get rid of this,
as Fred said, we're
just "managing misery."
Tonight on "Let it Rip,"
the new Detroit Fire
Commissioner has been on the job
for only three months, and
already he's shaking things up.
His controversial plan
is to fight some fires
in vacant houses, but not all.
I'm talking about
sometimes let it burn.
He's worked in Los Angeles,
but tonight, he's back in the city
of his birth, with a bold new plan
to save money, and save lives.
Mr. Commissioner, lay it out
for us, how will this work?
I'm changing our aggressive
strategy on these vacant homes.
When there's no one in the home, we
need to be more in a defensive mode.
What I don't want is
an over-aggressive
non-thinking firefighter.
We are a professional
fire department,
and we have to balance
the risk versus gain.
There's not a building in the City
that's worth losing a firefighter's
life on, particularly if it's vacant.
There's nothing within
100 feet of either side of this.
Let it burn.
Tony, let it go!
I thought we
weren't putting it out.
Chief said put it out.
I think it's absolutely
bullshit that somebody would tell us,
who's never been in a fire
here in the City of Detroit.
He might have lived here 30 or 40
years ago, but hey, I live here.
I know these neighborhoods or
whatever, and you never know
which house has somebody in it.
Bottom line, you never know.
Unfortunately, in
all the abandoned buildings,
there's a lot of people
that squat in these homes.
How long he's been down there?
He's been down here for a week.
He was coming down here to
get water, and evidently,
somehow he couldn't get out again.
I mean, I heard somebody
yelling, "Help, help, help!"
But from out there it
sounded like a little kid.
I got in there and
it was a grown man.
Homeless guy, his
feet are frostbitten.
I'll call the
Commissioner uneducated
about what he's talking about.
For him to be talking
about this city,
you have to be here for a while.
You have to see it, and
you have to work it.
So what other people consider vacant
or abandoned, or living in squalor,
these are people's homes.
So I'll park so you guys can get
out without banging
up my '86 El Camino.
So this is home.
Well, you know, you leave
work, you come home, you work.
You know, and because I'm not
married and don't have any kids,
it's just always working.
Man, that's when I had a hairline.
Lord have mercy, that was
back in my younger days.
And this is the helmet I was
wearing when we had a fire
on the eighth floor of the
Department of Health Building,
and this was the result of
me crawling on my knees,
and I crawled into a partition
or something, and I hit it
and I put the dent in the helmet.
So I tell the guys I've
been, I've been around.
My first day as Chief 9.
You officially make it?
I officially made it.
WHEN? Today?
- Today?
- Yep.
Cap or... Chief.
Thank you.
We are doing our rounds.
We're going to go pick up the mail
from Downtown, and then run it
out to each individual fire station.
Hey, how you doing?
Hey, everybody.
You know what,
they're not even here.
Engine 47 is one of the
browned-out companies, as they say.
On paper, it's a fire company,
but it's closed every day,
so all the men are dispersed.
We've got like five fire
companies that are like that.
It's quite a change.
The phones ringing, and the
paperwork, the scheduling,
and the manpower, it's
a whole different job.
And you're not one
of the guys anymore.
All of a sudden, you're
the guy saying, "No."
Here it is, the TAC Unit.
Their regular rig is out of service,
they got this as a
replacement vehicle.
The pumps work on it, we just are
not authorized to turn them on.
Regarding the TAC Unit, are
we going to be using that,
are we going to pump with
that tonight, or what?
We just got in it with the Chief
of the Department about the TAC Unit.
That's for manpower only.
It is not... orders are to not
let anybody stretch with it.
What did they say
about us using the pumps, no?
I called after
they went back in service,
I was told they have no record
of any changes, status quo.
So we're not allowed to pump.
That's what I was told.
Beginning to wonder if Detroit
doesn't put the "D" in dysfunctional.
I had a janitorial
staff of one individual.
And we cannot afford to
keep him on the payroll,
so we cut him loose,
it's budget cuts.
You know, is that something
the Commissioner
of the Detroit Fire
Department should be doing?
Well, in these times, yes.
But, it was like Nala
was wrestling in the movie.
I know.
Have you seen "The Lion King?"
You know what
I watched yesterday?
There was no Westerns on yesterday!
Oh, no!
Don't you have the Western Channel?
Yeah, but that didn't
have nothing to do with it.
I spent 24 hours watching...
That was Direct TV, too.
So, no, no, no,
so there were no Westerns
on the Western Channel?
Is that what you're saying?
Sometimes they have like
shows where they talk about Westerns.
No, it wasn't that.
It wasn't an actual Western.
24 hours of a black-and-white movie.
Did I think about moving?
But I work in my community,
I live in my community,
and I go to church in my community.
I do everything within
a five-mile radius.
What are you
going to stay here for?
What am I going to leave for?
I'm just...
What are you going to leave for?
So you don't get shot!
Well, cancel the damn shot,
I don't plan on being shot, baby.
Nobody plans on being shot!
That's why they have to
be rushed to the hospital.
I talked to
your Uncle Joe about it.
It's going to take me a year to
get everything out of this house.
As long as you don't
plan on being in this home for more
than a year or two,
I'm okay with that.
Two years max!
Two years max.
It was eight
months five minutes ago.
No, no, no, no.
Well, I guess eventually I'm
going to be Downtown somewhere.
I might go to a Johnny Mathis
concert if he comes to town, maybe.
Memories, she used to like to...
well, we used to like to sit on
the balcony, yeah, that was fun.
It won't have the happy ending.
You might be the youngest guy
at the Johnny Mathis concert.
It'll be you and the guy
that takes the tickets.
How you doing?
Okay, how are you?
I'm good, okay, you're
all set, thanks, you too.
Hey, Doogie, how's it going?
Pleasure to meet you, Steve.
You big, jerk.
Sorry, had to do it.
It's okay!
Do you ever have thoughts
of hurting or harming yourself?
Are you on any
anticonvulsants, tranquilizers,
psychotropics or hypnotics?
What's a psychotropic?
The doctor here has
been in a chair for 20 years.
He was a quadriplegic that eventually
gained the use of his arms.
Is that solid?
Stronger than I look, huh?
It's nice to have a
doctor in a chair.
Okay, you passed the test.
He's not going
to bullshit ya, he knows.
And this weekend is a
year from the accident.
Anything else as far as where I
should be at the one-year point?
I think you're probably
about where you're going to be
for the long-term in terms of
recovery of movement and sensation.
I think you're going to be
in-line with the rest of us.
Now, you know... when I got hurt many
years ago, I used to see pictures
of those nerve cells growing...
Big deep breath in, out, your
mouth open, again, one more time.
Anywhere that you look
up, you can see fireworks going off.
And you hear them and the
dog's a little bit nervous,
because we just rescued her out of
a fire, and now she's hearing all
of these sounds, but
she's a good dog.
Twelve years deep, and I'm retired.
Everything I did to
supplement my income
in the fire department
was all manual labor,
hardwood floors, carpentry, roofing.
I can't roof, I'm in a wheelchair.
Nobody's paying me for
my mind, that's for sure.
You know, maybe I'm not going to win
the lottery, maybe there's no miracle
out there for me, you hope in one
hand, and shit in the other and see
which one gets filled up faster.
He calls them as he sees them.
He's a straight-shooter,
that's for damn sure.
This is probably the
most difficult battle I've had.
And so far in life, I've
been fairly successful.
I'm going to hang in there,
I'm not going to quit,
I'm going to do the best I can.
I don't want to fail now in the
backend of my life, certainly,
backend of my work career.
I've got
approximately 11 working days left,
and then I'll be retired,
that'll be the end of an era.
See I've been with Gloria for the
last 35 years, and this is going
to be different, totally different.
So I don't know, I don't know
what that's going to be like.
I don't want to think about it.
Alarm Company is responding.
Fire is reported in a dwelling.
They state that a child is trapped
in the upstairs attic,
in the upstairs attic.
A three-year-old
girl dies
after being trapped
in her burning home.
When help arrived, the fire truck
wasn't equipped for the job.
But a tactical truck
was the first to arrive.
It's smaller, didn't have a
ladder, and didn't have a driver
who could use the 300-gallon tank.
Thank you, Jesus.
Oh, Jesus!
This is a personal tragedy,
because this is my family, okay?
And all I know is that everyone
of these guys would have
risked their life to save.
Yes, thank you, thank you.
They did not fail.
Who failed us was the City!
Thank you, Jesus.
Thank you
Oh, it hurts deeply.
You know, I've seen my share of
life lost in the fire service,
and you just wonder what could
we have done differently?
I'm mad at the City of Detroit
that don't have the equipment
to rescue our people.
Why was a faulty truck
sent to my fire?!
Ms. LaRock, have you
heard from Don Austin yet?
No, I haven't.
What would you say
to the Fire Commissioner?
Fire Commissioner,
I don't know how you can feel
in the bottom of your heart
that everything was done.
There was faulty equipment
sent to my fire.
And I wish you were here on this
panel, so I could look you dead
in your eye to show you how I feel.
His hands were
tied by the legal department,
he can't say, "I screwed up."
My Chief screwed up."
The person who lives the
next block over, next house down,
"they're going to think
it was our fault."
Yeah, some days, I'm beat up.
Three out of five, I feel like a
loser, can't seem to get ahead of it.
Every problem seems to
generate another problem,
and another problem,
and another problem.
I feel like I'm walking
in a mine field,
at any time I could sever a leg.
Tragedy like that, guys do
come together, that invisible thing
that bonds us all together,
kind of draws you in.
There's no way to
do anything but grieve,
and to get through the grieving
process, and the only way to do
that is to stay close to one another,
and just pull each other through.
I don't want
you to feel attacked,
I don't want you to feel threatened.
We can figure this
out, now, I tell you,
I know that we can figure it out.
Yes, we can.
Because we're firefighters.
We know it the best.
We're still DFD!
We the baddest guys in Michigan!
I want to let you know that
I'm in alignment with you,
I'm not against you,
I'm not against you.
We're all on one team,
"Here's what we did wrong,
here's what we're going
to do to improve."
Together, we come up
with the answers.
Commissioner, straight-up,
we don't look at you as the enemy,
we're accepting you into the
family, I think with open arms.
And I perceive that.
You know, you have to stay positive,
it's all about leading, you know,
if the leader is all
shaken up and afraid
and you can expect the
crew to fall apart.
Give him the
benefit of the doubt.
He knows his business, he seems
to know what he's talking about.
If he can pull it all
together, you know,
more power to him,
go ahead and do it!
Let's see what you can do here.
Be seeing you again,
y'all better get back to work.
Commissioner's "Let
it burn" policy, you know what?
If there's no hazard
to nearby structures,
and there's nobody inside
the building, let it go,
I don't have a problem with that.
Hey, do not let them go in there.
They do have a
door open in the back?
Yes, that roof
looks real shaky there.
It's collapsing right now, isn't it?
Get everybody off the roof!
Get off the roof.
Hey, get the... hey,
get him out of there right now.
Chief said, "Everyone
off the roof," let's go.
It's my job now to make sure
everybody goes home in one piece.
I'll take it as a huge win that if
three years from now when I retire,
that at any of my fires, nobody
gets hurt, nobody gets killed.
That's all I'm really
concerned about right now.
What's up, BK, you all right, man?
Good, call me.
Did you ever give my girl
in the Ford an invitation?
Your girl in the Ford?
Who you talking about?
The woman that's in that Taurus?
Oh, wow, no, I didn't,
I don't know that lady.
I don't either.
I'm not hitting on her for you.
My father taught me,
never let anything beat me,
you can always figure out a way.
I'm a product of Detroit.
I'm one of those guys that I'm not
going to turn my back on Detroit.
I'm an optimist, so I
see it, it's got to come back.
This City is too great,
there's too much history.
For all the pain
that the City truly causes me,
I still love it, it's still home.
I'm a Detroiter.
Boy, I tell ya, it
feels good to be back in Detroit.
Driving down Woodward
drinking my Vernor's, man,
this is the life.
As firefighters,
all we deal with is change.
And we know that we
got to fix this thing.
Hey, man, a single
guy only needs like one
of these massive potatoes.
I thought I'd be much further along.
Some mornings, I feel like
throwing in the towel.
It wears you down, you know, after
a while, 'cause you don't want
to let the people down, I
don't want to let them down.
Like every week I work here is about
a year off of my life.
But that's all right, my
grandmother lived to be 103,
so I got a lot of time left.
So what do you
want to eat there, Smiley?
National Coney Island.
Somebody telling
me that I can't walk,
it's not going to kill me.
I have other things to worry
about, you know, like maybe trying
to start a family,
and stuff like that.
So all that stuff is still possible.
This shit doesn't happen
overnight, progress takes time.
Detroit Fire
Department, the time is 07, 28 hours.
Congratulations, FEO
Franklin Parnell of Engine 50
from the Detroit Fire Department on
your retirement from Central office.
Thanks, so much, Keith.
Thank you, I appreciate it.
Today is the last day that I
will be standing in this uniform
for the Detroit Fire Department.
So we're having
a few guests tonight.
Like the whole battalion, some
family members, some friends.
Hey, Fred!
What's up, man?
Just glad to be on the job, huh?
I'm sure the fires will
be annoying and screw it up today.
It's hard to plan this
kind of stuff around work.
Oh, I want that piece.
I think they might miss me.
I'm going to stop by
occasionally and say, "Hello."
It's going to be different,
but it's going to be good.
Yeah, I'm going to stick
with that, it's still going
to be good, no matter what.
It's going great, absolutely great.
I'm looking at a true blessing here.
That was Craig.
Captain Daugherty, or
Chief Daugherty, now.
Yeah, yeah, wow.
Engine 60 and Ladder 23.
60's and Ladder 23.
Engine 60 en route.
Ladder 23 en route.
Engine 50, Squad 6.
Chief 9 en route, Engine
50 and Squad 6...
Is it okay
to get my favorite kiss?
See ya.
Yeah, he's got it.
I'll be seeing ya, man.
See ya bro, see ya, hug, okay.
See ya later tonight, bro.
Take care, see ya, thank you.
All right, Mr. Johnson, take care.
Where to?
Engine 50, Ladder
23, Chief 9 en route.
Engine 50,
Ladder 23, Chief 9 en route.
Box Alarm Company's responding.
Fire reported, 14467 Almont.
Engine 50 stretching on a dwelling.