Detroit’s first responders were honored at an awards ceremony recently for their heroic efforts battling two major fires in the Islandview community just before Christmas.  

A fire broke out around 5 a.m. Dec. 23 near E. Lafayette Street and E. Grand Boulevard at a vacant storage warehouse on the city’s East side. More than 65 Detroit Fire Department firefighters and other first responders were at the scene working to extinguish the blaze as heavy winds and cold weather temperatures made the fires harder to control.  

Twenty-three residents from a neighboring apartment building were evacuated to safety to avoid potential health risks from the smoke. No injuries were reported. 

The awards ceremony was hosted by Church of the Messiah Pastor Rev. Barry Randolph to thank the firefighters, homeland security and city officials involved in the efforts.  

Full Transcript:

Pastor Barry Randolph, Church of The Messiah:  It is truly about a day of service. And we are here to honor our firefighters, homeland security, and some of our other officials. 

Sheree Watson, President, Mustard Tree Co-op: As a community person, as a citizen, we take the services that we get for the city for granted. We know that the work is important. But until you’re there and you’re up close and personal, you don’t see just how important. 

Pastor Barry Randolph: I watched the firefighters not only put that fire out but protect our property. They actually protected the property from catching fire. You have to remember, these winds were blowing 55 miles an hour and we watched the embers fly from the warehouses going over to the other property. They were in the alley protecting the property. They were in front of the buildings, protecting the property. And we were like, wow, they are going beyond the call of duty. Of course, when we spoke to them, they’re like, this is our job. We know this is your job, but we’ve never seen that in action. 

Deputy Mayor Todd Bettison, City of Detroit: In Detroit, we don’t have to get ready because we stay ready. We’re prepared. This is the service that Detroiters deserve. And to the firefighters, to Homeland Security, to Terra DeFoe out of the mayor’s office, who oversees Code Blue, to everybody involved, the mayor and I could not be more proud of you. 

Adam Hollier, Director, Michigan Veteran Affairs Agency: You take care of people. You take care of families, and you make sure that families have the thing that matters most to them, and that’s the people that they love. Because you take care of people, property is secondary. But people is first and you show that in this day you said, hey, people are our priority. Which is why you weren’t just fighting the fire, you were making sure the folks who had lost everything had a space to go. And once they went there, were safe and taken care of. 

Gregory Love, Senior Associate, Center For Public Safety Management: What happened that night took the three C’s, communication, collaboration, and you know what else? Cooperation. 

Terra DeFoe, Senior Advisor, Mayor’s Office, City of Detroit: The job itself is so rewarding. You know, we come in and we work for an administration that we care about people. And so, when we have incidents like this that happen, these four-alarm fires, which we know from October to April is a critical time because of, you know, how people heat their homes. Just anything can happen during those winter months. And so, we all work together as a team to get the job done. 

Hilton Kincaid Deputy Director, Homeland Security and Emergency Management: We enjoy doing what we do. So, we want to thank you all for recognizing us because we count the zero. How many lives we don’t have to say we lost. How many buildings didn’t get burned up because we’re responding properly. We’re one of the few departments that tracks our progress success by zero. It’s hard to track zero, but that’s how we do what we do. So, we want to thank you, pastor, very much, for recognizing and giving us a one instead of a zero today. 

Pastor Barry Randolph: A lot of times in the city of Detroit, you always hear the problems. People don’t take the time out to stop and say, “Thank you, job well done.” And even though I tried to do that and everybody kept saying, “No, you don’t need to do something.” The people in the neighborhoods say, “Yeah, we do.” 

James Harris, Chief Public Infomation Officer, Detroit Fire Department: It’s not a job, it’s not a career, it’s a culture. It’s a lifestyle and we love it. We wouldn’t do anything else. 

Stephen Henderson, Host, American Black Journal: Pastor Barry presented the first responders and city officials with awards, followed by a reception for their families and neighborhood residents. 

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