Detroit Fire Chief Suggests Letting Vacant Buildings Burn

Detroit’s fire boss suggests his department could adjust to a looming 15 percent budget cut by letting some abandoned buildings burn to the ground and using firefighters and even Navy Seabees to demolish vacant structures.

Executive Fire Commissioner Donald Austin says he’s creating three proposals for Mayor Dave Bing to consider in making deep reductions from the current budget year’s $183 million spending plan.

The ex-Los Angeles assistant fire chief says no other U.S. city has lost 200,000 people in 10 years. He tells the Detroit Free Press that means “it takes unique approaches to deal with situations that are not the norm.”

Austin’s proposals include letting vacant buildings keep burning if they’re more than 50 percent ablaze, as long as they’re not a risk to inhabited structures.