Firefighters say Detroit burned on new boot purchase - FOX 32 News Chicago

Firefighters say Detroit burned on new boot purchase

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By Charlie LeDuff
Fox 2 News


DETROIT (WJBK) -- Detroit firefighters say they have a new worry -- their new boots.  The rank and file are complaining they're not up to snuff.  So why did the city pay top dollar?

Now we've chronicled leaking fire trucks, missing money, cutbacks, feces bubbling out of the floors of the firehouses and no toilet paper.  Now this week's outrage is the new fire boots.

Now while they are fire certified, fire officials tell us that the new boots aren't even the ones they agreed to buy this past summer.  The new boots are flimsy.  They don't fit.  They don't have support and nails go through the bottoms.  Nevertheless, we paid top dollar.  Why?

In July, the City of Detroit accepted bids for a $188,000 contract to purchase fire boots.  Now the low bid was $106 per pair.  But the city went with the high bidder who was asking $118 a pair.  Why?  Because that company is a Detroit-based contractor, which is allowed to charge more by city ordinance.

"So they'd be better off just going to Payless and taking their chances and buying a pair of boots because our city dollars bought a pair boots that are totally useless?  I don't understand this," said Michelle King.

It's a Coleman Young era law that was intended to help business people in Detroit, but it's a law that's gone wrong says Adolph Mongo, a former aide to Mayor Young.

"You know what they remind me of?  When I was a kid, I grew up on Eight Mile Road and Wyoming in Royal Oak Township and they had an A&P store, and I always wanted one of those fire truck things for Christmas.  It was $5.99 and they had those boots that look like the same boots."

Now if the city had gone with the low bidder, they could've at least gotten 200 more pairs of the flimsy boots, a pretty big deal for a fire department that can't afford toilet paper.

Mayor Bing and his chief procurement officer Andre DuPerry said two years ago we couldn't afford the practice and they'd put an end to junk like this, so the boots and I went to find out what's what.

DuPerry was in, but he wouldn't come out.

I called the fire commissioner three times.  He didn't return my call.  I went to go see him and he wouldn't come out.

"Shame on your, fire commissioner, because you wouldn't wear those boots into a fire," Mongo said.

So there you have it.  Nobody in this story wearing a silk tie wants to have their feet held to the fire, but don't worry Detroit.  The men in uniform still have honor.

I asked a firefighter whether he would now think twice about jumping in and saving someone's baby.

"Nope.  That's what we're here for," he said.

So he would do it anyway even with bad equipment?

"That's why they pay us.  Took an oath.  That's what we do."

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