With the city's economic cutbacks over the past few years, an average Detroit firefighter now takes home about $800 every two weeks, and if they stay around, their average pension will be around $30,000 after 25 years. You can see why they get a bit cranky when buff photos posted on the internet are pulled off by fire officials and used to try to discipline firefighters who may have forgotten to wear their gloves or pump operators who are not dressed in full fire gear.
But yet, they come to work each duty day, lay their ragged gear on the rigs and go to work at what they think is the greatest job in the world. Of course, they bitch in the firehouse and all are worried about what the upcoming bankruptcy will bring, but their pride in the job and determination to make things work is the same as found in busy firehouses across the country.
On Friday, Mayor Dave Bing announced that there were 95 fires over the three-day Halloween period. He did not specify if these included non-suspicious fires, minor cooking fires, trash fires and vehicle fires, and most insiders suspect they didn't.
Keep in mind that the sale of gas in containers is banned during the period, kids under 17 have an overnight curfew, hundreds of extra volunteers and police officers are patrolling the streets and yet, the fires raged unabated.
Maybe it's time for everyone to realize that while many mark Devil's Night on their calendars as a high point in the firefighting year, it has really evolved into nothing special for Detroit firefighters.
The mayor said it best when congratulating the volunteers afterward. He said that the number of fires over the Halloween period were the about the same as the numbers in 2011 and 2012 but, the number of fires are not much different from a typical day.
Mayor Bing simply reinforced what the firefighters have been saying all along -- in Detroit, Devil's Night is just like any other night.