Lt. Doug Bell, A Benton Harbor firefighter, is recovering in a Kalamazoo burn unit after reportedley entering a burning house by himself.
The homeowner says he didn't think there was enough help from firefighters. And he only saw Bell go inside. A union representative also told us he was in the home by himself when he was injured.
Bell has severe burns to his hands, ears, forehead and back, the union rep. confirmed. He was the only firefighter to enter the burning home just after midnight on Thursday.
Bell’s injuries are now raising concern among people in that community about whether Benton Harbor is properly staffed to respond to emergencies. They've had to cut back now that the city is in a financial emergency.
Some firefighters in Benton Harbor have been replaced with cross trained public safety officers – basically police who also fight fires.
“For them to just have one real fireman is a shame,” said the homeowner. “I mean, they got policemen that came in here with fire equipment on.”
Other public safety officers were reportedly outside the burning home and did not enter when Bell did.
WSBT did reach out to get more details about what happened from Benton Harbor Public Safety Director Roger Lange, but he did not want to comment.
Mishigan OSHA is now investigating – trying to figure out how this could happen.
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