Photographer Ralph Jones has been documenting his hometown of Detroit providing a glimpse into the joys, struggles, and uniqueness of the city and her people. He is in process of publishing a book called Motor City is Burning which highlights firefighters, true heroes of Detroit. These are a selection of images from the series.
"They are composed in the midst of chaos... They are the ones who run in, when everyone else is running to get away. They put their lives in harms way every day, to protect the lives and property of strangers. They are the men and women of the Detroit Fire Department."
~Ralph Jones - Motor City Burning
"The city's budget crisis landed suddenly on the Detroit Fire Department this week as officials took far more rigs out of service than ever before. On paper, the city has had 66 rigs; about eight rigs are usually "browned out" on any given day for budget reasons, leaving around 58 fully staffed fire vehicles, or "companies," stationed across Detroit. On Thursday, the department de-activated 25 rigs, leaving only 41 vehicles to respond to calls across the 139-square-mile city, which has one of the busiest fire departments in the nation. On Friday, officials sidelined 21 rigs, plus the HazMat unit. On Wednesday, 18 rigs were shut down." ~*From Bill McGraw Deadline Detroit July 5th, 2012
"In 2012, the city closed 15 stations — one quarter of the total — while 6-8 stations are on regular brownout. Last summer, to save $100 million, the city imposed a 10 percent cut in pay on all city workers, including firefighters.
Overtime pay has been eliminated and medical benefits slashed.
Recently firefighters from southwest Detroit were called to fight a fire in the northwest, a distance of 18 miles, because of fire station closures. It took the firefighters 21 minutes to make the trip. While the 85-year-old owner of the house escaped unharmed, she lost everything.
Not long before that, a 71-year-old man died in a house fire only four minutes away from a fire station recently closed."
~By Lawrence Porter for World Socialist Web Site 2012
I once asked a Detroit Firefighter after a blaze had been extinguished, how he knew when a burning structure was safe to enter. His response was, "We don’t". ~Ralph Jones - Motor City Burning
"35-40 Box Alarms per day, 156 Square Miles (251 square Kilometers) to cover, an estimated 80,000 abandoned structures and antiquated equipment; Nobody on the planet does more with less!" ~Ralph Jones - Motor City Burning
Until you risk your life as collateral to save another; you will never understand this job" ~unknown Detroit firefighter
All photos by Ralph Jones. You can find more unique Motor City moments on his Aminus3 website.