Detroit firefighters disciplined for posing in front of burning house

Jan 24, 2020 at 10:01 am

Some of the Detroit firefighters who stopped fighting a raging fire to pose in front of a burning house for a group photo have been disciplined.

“Our investigation has been completed and appropriate discipline has been issued to some of the members of the department involved in this incident,” Fire Commissioner Eric Jones said in a written statement.

Details of the discipline are unclear because Jones said “we do not comment on the details of personnel matters.”

Fire officials declined further comment. But WXYZ reports that 13 firefighters, including four sergeants, were charged with Exhibiting Ignorance of the Rules or Orders. It’s unclear whether anyone will be fired.

The photo of grinning firefighters was taken on New Year’s Eve in front of a fully engulfed house owned by 70-year-old Dorothy Higgenbotham on Detroit’s west side. The photo was posted on at least two Facebook pages, including one operated by three Detroit firefighters. According to the firefighters’ page, Times Up Outdoors, the photo was taken to celebrate a fire chief’s retirement.

“Wishing chief Gary Fisher a happy retirement. We are happy for ya, but sad to see ya go sir! Looks like Detroit sent you out with a busy night!” the post read.

The post added, “Calm down about the photo, the dwelling was empty and conditions would not allow an interior attack.”

The house was empty because the family was renovating it.

At the time, Jones said firefighters would be disciplined if authorities authenticated the photo.

The investigation revealed the photo was real.

"There are a lot of ways to celebrate a retirement. Taking a photo in front of a building fire is not one of them," Smith said in a statement on Jan. 2. "We will investigate this matter and follow the facts where they lead us. If this photo is verified, discipline will be in order."

Stay on top of Detroit news and views. Sign up for our weekly issue newsletter delivered each Wednesday.