Last night we lost a precious part of Detroits Automotive history. The City of Detroit owned Studebaker Plant and the connected Piquette Market were lost in a 5 alarm fire.
The Studebaker company occupied this facility from 1910 to 1932.
For a higher resolution collection of photos of the Mighty DFD – click HERE
[df wrote: Here are several links that people submitted of imagecopyrighted from the fire last night that I am adding on now so everyone can see eachothers work. Special thanx to Cooper for the heads up on the fire, without which I woulda missed it entirely !]
http://www.flickr.com/photos/urbantiki/ Urban Tiki
http://www.flickr.com/photos/bewareofdog/20671961/ Race Bannon
I arrived just after sunrise to a scene that looked like the fires of hell – or Viet Nam or Baghdad. Beruit?
How about Detroit in 1967.
The steel frame is melted and twisted from the immense heat – the Studebaker structure was built just before the Kahn brothers innovation of re-enforced concrete. Without the concrete, fire causes the steel to lose its tempered strenghth, and the rest of the structure will cave in.
This is what the fire looked like headed west on my way into New Center.
The gas main in front of Piquette Market exploded wiping away the entire market section and showering bricks and debris on the surronding buildings. Look carefully and you will see the immense heat turned the gas main pipe into glowing molten metal.
In the background you’ll see 411 Piquette which is the Medical Records building. This is where most Detroit area hospitals store current medical records. This was saved by DFD
Next to the Medical Records building is the precious Ford Piquette Plant – Henry Fords original Model T productin facility. This block also caught fire, but was saved by the DFD.
This is the side of Fords Piquette plant – the construction predates Albert Kahns “Crystal Palace” design in Highland Park and is extremely vulnerable to fire as it is made of thick timber construction below the brick facade.
Piquette Market just recieved a multi-ton load of meat products yesterday. Along with the market were several artists lofts in this part of the block. For those of you who know about Piquette Market and its owner – he risked his life to save every Piquette guard dog inside. The homeless who sleep in the Studebaker portion were probably not so lucky.
Somehow certain local news personalitys reported that it was “perhaps started by squatters”. Well, I doubt any squatters were lighting fires to stay warm on a balmy Detroit summer night. Witnesses I spoke to reported multiple spontanious and simultanious ignition points. Squatters my ass.
This entire post is dedicated to the Mighty Detroit Fire Department who risked life and limb to extinguish this block and to save the surrounding historical structures.
I want someone from the Mayors Administration to say that they cant AFFORD these people now.
This is ZIGDFD and his pals. Zig – drop me an email and I will mail you a cd of all photos and film I shot this morning.
If any other DFD are interested I will also send you copies.
If there is one lesson I learned on that apocalyptic September morning in 2001, its that when the shit goes down it will NOT be the Federal Government nor the President nor the Army nor local government, Governor, Mayor or anybody else like that who will come to our rescue. It will be fellow Americans like the Detroit Fire Department who will lay their lives down to save ours. I can barely comprehend that type of dedication, and I need to constantly remind myself who the real heroes are. It wont be the President or Congress rushing into a collapsing building to save human lives – it will be fellow Americans like these people. God bless them for that.
Over 150 DFD responded to the 5 alarm fire – these guys all look exausted after battling this blaze all night long.
Look – the Pistons and all our popular heroes are pretty cool, but I’d like to see a parade sometime for the DFD and EMS. Rather than layoffs and bullshit exuses.
So many pumpers and ladder crews I couldnt keep it all straight.
If today is not an example of why these men and women are ESSENTIAL BEFORE ALL OTHER SERVICES I do not know what is. I dont not want to live through a terrorist attack with not enough first responders. Detroit without its full DFD/EMS will be helpless. I say we need more – and they all need raises. Even at the cost of a few administrators or counsel members.
Next time you are at the bar or pop open a cold one at home – drink a toast to the Mighty DFD. These people may save your life some day soon. Or your family’s, or mine.