"Thank you for all of your help," Detroit Fire Capt. Teresa Sanderfer, who has been with the department for 16 years, said as she hugged a member of the Detroit Public Safety Foundation, which coordinated the delivery. "This is unbelievable. It's mixed feelings. (Firefighters) are really happy about the outpouring of support. We had just become accustomed to going into our own pockets. It is unbelievable, the outpouring of support."
Firefighter Jim Plieth, 39, of Warren said citizens in metro Detroit and across the country, along with other firefighters, have been donating supplies since a story ran in the Free Press on Nov. 23.
"I've had calls from around the country from guys that have wanted to help, from California to Salem, Mass., to Miami, Fla.," said Plieth, a 17-year firefighter working with Engine 58 and Squad 6 on Whittier, on the city's east side. "I hope it shines a light on things that go on on a daily basis here, stuff that we need to help us move forward, get the city moving. It's not all about the fire department -- it's about the city of Detroit."
City officials said snafus with a change in the purchasing system and missed payments to a vendor resulted in the lag in supply deliveries to stations. Fire Commissioner Donald Austin promised to increase supplies in the stations and address the issues.
The news coverage led everyone from local schoolchildren to metro Detroit businesses to hold toilet paper and supply drives for Detroit firefighters. The Andiamo chain of restaurants promised to donate supplies for three months, and radio station WKQI-FM (95.5) made a delivery today of toilet paper gathered during an on-air call for supplies.
"It ended up filling our whole lobby," 95.5 promotions manager Clarence (Stick) Day said outside the firefighters' warehouse. "Hopefully this solves the problem for a long time."
Plieth said the next step is to address the lack of working equipment in the fire stations.
"We don't even have apparatus to replace the apparatus that's broken down," Plieth said. "Those are things we deal with on a daily basis."
Those who wish to make additional donations can go to www.detroitpublicsafetyfoundation.org for a list of needs for the Detroit Fire Department (DFD) and Detroit Police Department (DPD). Monetary donations of all amounts can be made through the foundation on PayPal. Supplies can be dropped off at the Detroit Fire Department's Appartus Division at 1400 Erskine. The Detroit Public Safety Foundation is tracking and inventorying all donations and coordinating final delivery to DFD/DPD as appropriate.
Written by Detroit Free Press