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Posted on Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 5:56 a.m.

Ann Arbor Fire Department to get new $1M aerial truck and hire 3 firefighters

By Ryan J. Stanton

The Ann Arbor City Council voted Thursday night to accept a $642,294 federal grant that allows the city to hire three more firefighters this year.

That grows the fire department's ranks to 85 full-time employees.

The council also approved the purchase of a new 100-foot aerial platform truck from Ohio-based Sutphen Corp. for a little more than $1 million.

"I know that some of my constituents who live in tall buildings have been quite concerned that we had a tower truck that wasn't functioning well," said Council Member Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward. "They are pleased that we're going to be able to purchase a new truck."


Fire Chief Chuck Hubbard

Ryan J. Stanton |

Fire Chief Chuck Hubbard acknowledged the need.

"I know we have in excess of 100 buildings in the city that are considered high-rise," Hubbard said. "So we've got quite a few."

Thomas Gibbons, financial analyst for the city's fleet and facility unit, said the new aerial truck purchase allows the fire department to remain in compliance with national standards for fire truck service life.

That includes the recommendation that a fire truck stay in front-line service for no longer than 15 years and be removed from service completely after 25 years.

The new 2013 truck will replace a 75-foot ladder truck from 1999, which will be retained in the fire department's fleet as a reserve aerial truck. The estimated delivery of the new aerial platform is 10 to 12 months after the order is placed, Gibbons wrote in a memo to council members.

"I think both of these actions are positive steps and very appropriate actions, wholly consistent with the community's priorities," Council Member Jane Lumm said of the two items approved. "I will be working to increase public safety staffing in next year's budget, but that's a conversation for another day."

Mayor John Hieftje said both the city's 75-foot ladder truck and its nearly 100-foot tower truck are back in service following a period when they were out for repairs. But during that time, he said, the city had a box alarm system in effect so it could call for a tower truck from a neighboring jurisdiction.

"And I hope that we can get the region to the point where we can look around at these million-dollar trucks and figure out how many do we really need in the region," he said, "rather than all of the fire departments having one because in many of the departments they're rarely used."

Council Member Stephen Kunselman, D-3rd Ward, asked Hubbard why the department was going with a platform versus a ladder truck. Some have speculated it's because it would fit inside Station 2, which Hubbard has proposed reopening as part of a plan to switch from a five-station model to a three-station model.

Hubbard said the bucket is about safety.

"The platform has a bucket on it that the firefighters will get into to go up to the higher levels," he explained. "And if they have to perform a rescue, it's a lot easier to bring civilians out into a bucket and bring them down as opposed to trying to bring them down on a ladder."

Kunselman asked more directly if the purchase is in any way related to the proposed reorganization plan to close two stations and switch to a three-station model.

"Absolutely not," Hubbard said. "We still need this truck."

Hubbard said the city has been working for the last six months toward purchasing a new aerial truck. He said he surveyed some of his senior officers to see if they preferred an aerial with or without a bucket, and the unanimous choice was to have a bucket.

Due to its age and mechanical condition, Ladder 5, which is a 75-foot straight stick aerial without a bucket, will be put into reserve when the new tower arrives, Hubbard said.

Hubbard said he's still looking forward to adding two light rescue vehicles that will be used when staffing permits and will be a vital part of the fire department's operations. He said they can be staffed with two people and can respond to the majority of the city's emergency calls.

He noted they were recommended by the ICMA consultant report that came out this past year and would work in both the department's current system as well as under the three-station model.

He said they will be equipped to handle any type of call other than actual fire extinguishment, which is less than 30 percent of responses.

The federal staffing grant is being spread out over two years, with $255,000 each year covering the cost of three extra firefighters and the remaining $66,000 each year covering other operational needs.

Hubbard said hiring a fourth firefighter, which the city hoped to do, would require dipping $19,000 into the department's cash reserves and would hinder its ability to stay within budget.

"I think the $66,000 was going to be used for some of the shortfalls that were already in our budget," he said, noting the department already had somewhat of a deficit planned.

Hubbard said the city will have the option in 2014 to reapply for another federal staffing grant, but he doesn't know what its chances will be of getting more funding.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Sat, Aug 25, 2012 : 6:47 p.m.

The only reasons I care to comment on a city to which I have no ties to, other than family, is my concern for innocent people. AA is a great football town, with a lot of great old homes and landmarks. I fear for my AA family members and others, because the FD is hiring 6 new FFs under a new contract that essentially puts them near the poverty level. $14.65 an hour, with no OT, huge copay and premium for health insurance, no medical after retirement, unless you buy it yourself, and no vesting into the pension plan until the 10 year mark. No promotions for 5 years, and the raises that go with the promotions are tiny for people hired now. A Bachelors degree in Fire Science gets you an whopping extra $400 a year though. Why would anyone with a Bachelors Degree work for Taco Bell Money? Guess what, $38,000 a year Firefighters won't hang around very long. If I was a 21 year old FF, I would work in AA until I found a real FD job with a livable wage. AA will get a growing number of new, inexperienced kids , living at home with mom and dad, then quitting when much poorer cities , whose Fire Depts.still budget enough cash to manage to pay a fair wage to people who risk their lives for others, hire them. There might not be a lot of cheesy art sculptures in less affluent cities, but at least the Firefighters can buy a small house, an average car, and feed their families. Not the case in Ann Arbor.Once the old timers are gone, the whole dept. will be a revolving door of rookie FF kids padding their resume', getting teased by their pals in literally EVERY other career dept. in Southeast Michigan, and applying like crazy to get out of their hopeless, futureless FF job in the wonderful, rich, well educated, forward thinking, highly evolved Ann Arbor. I sincerely pray you don't get any fires down there. Even our Port Huron FFs get more than $14 an hour...ha!


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 4:48 a.m.

and were closing fire stations......


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

I love the comment that anytime a firefighter says safety that you can replace it with money. Cause we as firefighters are more concerned about a little overtime then having the right equipment and enough staff to do our job. Believe me when I say that my number one priority is doing my job and getting home to see my kids.


Sat, Aug 25, 2012 : 1:14 a.m.

Well put. Although not personally in the fire service, I have a LOT of friends and family who are. Some do it for free, others part time, and others career. A young friend of mine clued me in on the new hire package for the 6 AA Firefighters being hired right now. Have you seen the contract? $14 and change an hour, minus medical premiums and copays that go up if you are married, and skyrocket for every kid you have. After your 25 year retirement, which isn't even vested for 10 years, you can use your little pension and 401K to BUY your own medical coverage. Bottom Line? You are hiring people to keep you safe and risk their lives for an unlivable wage. $38,000! Are you kidding me? AA people...move out now! Your Fire Department will soon be a resume' builder for 21 year olds looking for a job that pays enough to live off. High turnover, no experience, and the working poor. Maybe one of the closed stations can be turned into a soup kitchen for Ann Arbor Firefighters and their families.


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 6:58 p.m.

Make that one for the good guys!


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 6:44 p.m.

The city of Ann Arbor cannot balance it's funds, because the group running this city are incompetent, so let's get a Federal bailout. They can't fix the bridges, so let's get a Federal bailout. That Federal bailout comes from my pocket, not Obama's fairy account. I am all for Polcie and Fire, it's the people who control the money I want out. We have a new City Hall, expensive City Hall art, a new parking structure, but can't afford Police and Fire. When are you people going to see what is going on. They spend millions are pet projects and then throw the scare tactics at you. You people in this city need to wake up. Your governing body do not know what they are doing, or do they? Either they are not smart enough to budget or they are sly enough to steal from you. Either way, what is the taxpayer's problem? Take the blinders off. You have been lied to so much, you think anything that comes out of this city is truth.

Stuart Brown

Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 5:23 a.m.

Goober, The problem with Ann Arbor city government is that there are millions of dollars stuffed into various buckets that the city doesn't talk about. This fact alone will keep the city from trying to go through bankruptcy since no bankruptcy court would let the city play the kind of shell game the city plays with residents.


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 7:15 p.m.

Unfortunately, the majority of AA voters do not agree with this.i personally agree with you. This group is inept, lacks visionary leadership and only believes in tax and spend, especially spending on personal projects. I have personally lost faith in the majority of AA voters as a result. Anyone wishing to continue to live in AA long term needs to pay close attention to what is happening in many cities in California, for example. In time, AA will join the ranks. When this happens, the only ones smiling will be the city union retirees and those that sold art to AA.


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 7:33 a.m.

Hmmmmmm spending money on public art and then with hat in hand siphoning off some Obama monopoly money to buy neccesities required for providing basic services. Somehow we should all feel like we are being fleeced.


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 3:28 a.m.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who sees some conflict between the city's desire for taxing me for Art funds, and the need to pay for our fire department needs. I'd gladly pay more than the $1/month proposed for the art project to ensure we have the fire staff and great equipment. I'm not really sure why we spend money on art - most of the time I think it's pretty ugly and a waste of money. There are other ways to fund that stuff, it's not so easy but absolutely necessary to have great fully funded city services.

not a billy

Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 2:09 a.m.

Some more information to consider: 4. After many hours of research by an "apparatus committee" of AAFD personnel, specifications ultimately originated from Chief Hubbard's office. The committee members knew very little about what was happening in the past three or four months. 5. The plan to operate from three stations still looms prominently in the future, and I'm guessing that not much has been done to verify the overall feasability of the plan. This was supposed to be happening while the Stadium Road bridge construction was still going on, which was the guise for delaying implementation of the three station model.

not a billy

Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 2:08 a.m.

Some information about the situation need to be looked at: 1. SAFER grant specifically requires the money be used for personnel costs, and more specifically within the parameters for which the grant application was made. Certain statements and verifications were required in the original application, and deviating from the information submitted may require that grant monies be paid back. Chief Hubbard's comment that "I think the $66,000 was goint to be used for some of the shortfalls that were already in our budget" indicates that he really doesn't have a handle on his budget or the grant. 2. The aerial tower specifications that were formulated by the fire department for the Request for Proposals (RFP) and advertised/sent out to vendors contained proprietary items that only one manufacturer could meet. For a truck that only gets used occasionally, it would seem that a stock unit would suffice. They all have to meet National Fire Protection Association standards, which are quite stringent and very safety oriented. AAFD personnel have looked at several demonstrator/stock units in tha past couple of years that would meet the needs of the department. It is common knowledge at AAFD that there was one tower here last year that Hubbard had at Station 2 to verify that it would fit, but that vendor did not bid the RFP even though the truck is still available (and to the best of my knowledge, currently in Michigan). The company rep said he couldn't meet the specifications because of proprietary items. 3. Waiting nearly a year for delivery only compounds the dilemma (and the expense) of keeping the existing ladder trucks in service. Not much mention of what the current status is or what is going to happen to the 100' aerial tower which was taken out of service due to a cracked frame rail.


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 1:25 a.m.

The fact that this new truck was built in the USA. Not really an Ohio State fan, but never had an issue with anyone from there. lol Still I am in love with the idea of in-sourcing jobs back to the USA. Sp yes I'm pleased with this act of saving live over wasting money on bad art, well art, sorry to not like it, but I have stood in many different angles and depths to see what this $1milion dollar piece had to offer. I got nothing but a headache, trying to see what was so important for this price. Finally someone is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and thanks.

martini man

Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 12:57 a.m.

Nice to see that the city of AA is getting new fire equipment... Is it a govt grant paid for with other people's money ???? Hey the AA council can have the art tax, and the bus tax, and still claim how they saved AA by giving better fire protection. Hopefully the new fire truck/trucks will be American made ...but knowing AA ..I wouldn't want to bet on it .


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 11:59 p.m.

how interesting. so, we have a federal grant good for 2 years. $643K so we get a couple of extra firefighters and a new fire truck which apparently we have so desperately needed. And in 2 years, what? We gonna hope God takes care of us and provides the funds to keep the extra firefighters employed? hmmm...and yet, the big article yesterday was about a replacing the "percent for art" program (which has diverted some $2MILLION away from "capital projects" ) with a new millage bringing in $460K per year for ART. So, if we need the new firetruck and firefighters so badly... am I the only one questioning the priorities here?

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 2:25 a.m.


Linda Peck

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 10:57 p.m.

It is possible that the Aug. 7 election helped this vote to happen. Whether or not it did, I am pleased that we have a new fire truck coming and three new firefighters to go towards restoration of an adequate fire department here in Ann Arbor. It is certainly a step in the right direction.


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 9:58 p.m.

@Stephen Lange Ranzini: Your character assassination through innuendo continues. I don't want hints. I want you to be explicit and quit trying to imply things. How did the mayor "upgrade his lifestyle " as you put it? Seriously, be explicit and stop the games.


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 4:21 a.m.

Correction: please change references above of "woodwind accompanist" to "wind instruments accompanist".


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 4:20 a.m.

@Stuart Brown: I did not see Stephen Lange Ranzini point any of that out up above. Did you? He instead insinuated that the mayor is the recipient of ill-gotten gains from unspecified sources. Sorry, without any facts, that's character assassination via innuendo. Second, what are you trying to imply without being explicit? Do you make any of the following claims? Do you make any other specific claims? 1. That the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy wouldn't hire him as an intermittent lecturer if he didn't do the university's bidding through his office as mayor? See: 2. That he gets paid an unusually high salary for his work as an intermittent lecturer? 3. That his wife gets paid an unusually high salary for her work as a woodwind accompanist? 4. That if he didn't do the university's bidding in his office as mayor that the School of Music would fire his wife?

Stuart Brown

Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 2:17 a.m.

Hieftje is/has been employed along with his wife by UofM, an institution he is required to negotiate with from the other side of the table. To characterize people pointing out these facts that are well known to the public as engaging in character assassination is character assassination! You should practice the same discretion you demand from others Peregrine.


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 11:42 p.m.

He s president of one of the largest banks in town. Perhaps his "investigative research activities" include snooping into peoples private financial affairs? Hmmmm Maybe someone should investigate That!


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 8:56 p.m.

Please Mr. Ranzini.."investigative research activities"? Isn't that an inflated way to say "I believe everything I am told by my AAFD contacts"? Wake up citizens of AA....when you hear the term "safety" from a disgruntled AAFD employee or their leader of "investigative research activity", just replace the word safety with money. Is this campaign against station consolidation really about safety or overtime?


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 11:57 p.m.

You know nothing, but yet attack Ranzini. Classic blogger garbage. Look at the ICMA report if you think all AAFD employees are just disgruntled. Maybe you should look at the proven facts before attacking those that are just repeating them. Ann Arbor is a joke when you compare it to even smaller college towns. Read the report for yourself.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 8:36 p.m.

@Peregrine: The real answer is none of those, but instead a question: How is it that our Mayor can afford to upgrade his lifestyle to a home in Burns Park? Hint: It didn't happen because of his $45k per year salary as Mayor.


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 2:53 a.m.

@Stuart Brown: More innuendo and character assassination. Isn't this below you? Isn't it the case that the city has provided the university with fire fighting services since well before Hieftje became mayor? And wouldn't it be illegal and open the city up to huge liability claims to withhold fire fighting services from university structures and grounds?

Stuart Brown

Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 1:45 a.m.

Hieftje can afford to upgrade his lifestyle due to a little help from his friends as a reward for voting right and not asking the wrong questions. Point of fact, the Mayor and his wife are both employed by the University of Michigan. It could be argued that this Mayor is not qualified to teach at UofM since he only holds a BA degree from EMU. The issue with the AAFD brings home in my mind just import it is for voters to realize where a politicians income is coming from. Ann Arbor provides excellent fire protection to the UofM for free and the Mayor's financial ties to UofM ensure he will never ask the wrong questions.


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 11:39 p.m.

What exactly are you insinuating Steve?


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 9:56 p.m.

Really, that's why you raised the issue? That's why you wrote: "The specific equipment configuration purchased does not have some of the safety features of the tower truck to be retired and this was done so the the new tower truck could fit parked inside Station 2, the currently closed fire station on Stadium near Burns Park (and near the Mayor's residence) that is planned to be reopened as part of the plan to close three fire stations and reopen that one."? Is that your honest answer? Is that why you used the word "near"?


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 7:39 p.m.

Excellent. Great start!

Russ Miller

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 7:27 p.m.

Mr Ranzini, Back in June you uncovered the AAFD illegal gag order and ironically gagged you! Can you break ranks and reveal anything about why the ACLU hasn't moved on the city? Stephen Lange Ranzini 11:19 AM on 6/13/2012 @sigdiamond & Craig Lounsbury: As a regular columnist for, I have been instructed as to a limit on the scope of my investigative research activities within certain parameters and I am under instructions to let Ryan Stanton sort out the issues I uncover. I expect you will read about some of these issues further in future articles by Ryan.

Dog Guy

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 4:58 p.m.

"We had a tower truck that wasn't functioning well," said Council Member Sabra Briere. Wonderfully dry understatement or political ambiguation?


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 4:14 p.m.

@Stephen Lange Ranzini: As long as we're discussing debating tactics, I'm calling you out for your attempts at character assassination. From the wikipedia article: "In practice, character assassination may involve doublespeak, spreading of rumors, innuendo or deliberate misinformation on topics relating to the subject's morals, integrity, and reputation." In one of your comments above, you point out that the fire station reorganization opens Station #2, which is close to Burns Park, the neighborhood where the mayor lives. The implication is that this plan is designed to aid the mayor while hurting more citizens than it helps. So what is your position? 1. The mayor put pressure on Chief Hubbard to create a plan that would open Station #2 for the mayor's benefit? 2. Chief Hubbard, to gain the favor of the mayor, created a plan on his own to benefit the mayor. 3. You, Stephen Lange Ranzini, benefit from pushing this innuendo, so you're happy to keep pushing it.

Basic Bob

Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 10:38 p.m.

@Stuart Brown, they could afford more because they weren't paying the true cost of retirement and health care benefits in 2001.

Stuart Brown

Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 2:28 a.m.

Let me give you another fact that really bothers me: the Ann Arbor of 2001 could afford almost 120 firefighters when the city was pulling in less tax revenue in constant dollars than the Ann Arbor of 2012, why? There are reasons for this but regardless of what those reasons are, why is it not proper to hold this Mayor responsible? I don't like Chief Hubbard's plan because we should never be in the situation where any stations need to be close in the first place.


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 2:01 a.m.

@Stuart Brown: Facts are facts. And Chief Hubbard outlined the facts behind his proposed fire station reorganization plan. If you haven't yet, you should read the proposal: The maps in the proposal are very compelling. The facts are that given current staffing the fire station restructuring plan would allow the fire department to get four firefighters on the scene faster to a greater portion of the city. Four fighters is the minimum number that must be on scene before any will go inside the structure. With the current fire station structuring, where four stations are staffed with only three firefighters, no firefighter can go into a structure until a second fire company arrives from another fire station. That delay puts many more residents at risk. Those are the relevant facts. Where the mayor lives has nothing to do with the restructuring plan. That's also a fact. If you have any evidence to counter that, bring it forward. Now I don't know whether the three additional firefighters provided through this grant will change the equation. Three additional firefighters spread across three shifts makes just one more firefighter available at any moment in time.

Stuart Brown

Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 1:26 a.m.

Facts are facts Peregrine, get over it. It is not Mr. Ranzini's job to analyze how the decision came down nor to speculate on the three possibilities you outline above. The fact is that two more people a year can be expected to die from fire incidents in this town since this Mayor first got elected while at the same time, the Mayor's neighborhood is fully covered--explains why this Mayor is so comfortable. This is enough to outrage me, why not you?

Fat Bill

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 3:17 p.m.

When you invest in a million-dollar piece of capital equipment that you expect to use for at least 15 years, you need to get it right the first time. There have been many fire departments and districts that have purchased "off-the-shelf" equipment only to find that said equipment was close, but not quite exactly what was needed. Ask anyone in the fire service about purchasing a rig that looked great on paper, but won't quite fit in the fire station. Who really knows what will happen in 15 years, but if the tower will fit in every Ann Arbor station, the department will have maximum flexibility with regard to apparatus deployment. For those who think buying a tower over a straight-stick ladder is extravagant, I think you should get together with the Fire Department and see how it feels to man the ladder pipe on a straight stick versus the monitors on a tower. Maybe they could make it part of an open house. Climb up the ladder, clip on your safety hook, hook a leg through the rungs, and hang on tight when the water starts to flow, ladders WILL move. Towers generally have higher tip ratings, and thus move around less from the reaction force of the large-diameter discharges flowing water at greater than 1000 GPM. Towers also make great work platforms; two firefighters can work side-by-side; much harder to do on the top of a ladder. Towers are simply more versatile than ladders; when you amortize the costs over the 15 years life span, you get more bang for your buck with a tower.


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 3:03 p.m.

Does anyone know what brand ladder truck is being purchased ? Hoping it is a "Pierce" built by OshTruck as I do business with them. Selfish interest on my part of course. Good Day


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 4:22 p.m.

Read the article.... Ohio based Sutphen.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 3:01 p.m.

@Tesla: Any good debating coach will tell you that when you stoop down to making an "ad hominem" attack it is an admission that the facts aren't on your side and you're admitting that you've lost the debate!


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 11:28 a.m.

Sounds a lot like our current politicians.

Stuart Brown

Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 1:15 a.m.

Tesla, would you run for office? Being Mayor is a thankless task unless you plan on dipping into the public kitty. The politicians are lame because the system we have to cultivate and elect them is lame. Would you run for office knowing that your family could be thrown out of your home if you do not vote right? The only honest people that can be elected are retirees that are getting a decent pension and are set financially. Otherwise, you can be gotten to through threats to your lively hood. Our political system is a fraud most of the time and only responds to citizen demands when large groups of people are up in arms.


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 3:56 p.m.

Yeah but the difference is I am not debating you. I am critiquing you and I am not a huge supporter of the current admin either. I think you have a lot to offer. As hypocritical as it sounds as your critic, I think you are too critical sometimes and perhaps it is just indicative of todays crap political climate, and me just saying it sure would be nice to hear opposing politicians agree on something for a change and let it go. What I don't get is why we don't see your name on any ballots. Whats up with that Steve?


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 1:40 p.m.

Bucket seems like a good idea. Americans have become too fat to carry down ladders.

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 3:15 p.m.

bam ;)

Ron Granger

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

Who lives or works in a high rise without a real solution to get themselves, and their kids, out in an emergency? I can tell you that I would not be depending on a ladder truck. When I was a kid, I recall stories of people jumping out of a hotel/apartment that burned. People were jumping out of third story windows. At least one hit a parking meter. All for want of a bit of rope and a little know-how. Of course we need an aerial truck in a town this size. But it isn't something I'd ever depend on.


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 1:26 p.m.

I agree with Ron. I'll say it with less decorum though. Mr.'re a whiner. Last time it was theres no fire truck with a ladder to save me and my family who live in a high rise apartment in downtown. Now it's the wrong model, size, takes too long, wrong money, etc etc. Is the shade of Red they chose to your liking? Blah blah blah. How about just saying. "Thank you"


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 5:03 a.m.

"Last time it was theres no fire truck with a ladder to save me and my family who live in a high rise apartment in downtown." The well being of your family didn't occur to you until after you decided to live in a high rise? Just kind of ironic that you mention it as if your a victim of your surroundings when nobody forced you to live there.

Ron Granger

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 12:36 p.m.

Typical comment section - you get your ladder truck and more firefighters. And yet all five posts still complain about it. For those who are not aware, Michigan pays significantly more federal taxes than we get back. So when we do get a "grant", or similar, from the fed, it is our tax dollars coming back to us. Red states and their politicians, in particular, tend to get more from the fed than they pay. And yet they still like to complain about socialist government. But isn't that always how it is?

Ron Granger

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 1:05 p.m.

Stephen, I think the issue is grossly over-hyped. The negative comments despite the great news of a new truck support my contention. "Wow! We're getting a new aerial fire truck!" "Aww, this stinks!!" Some people are never, ever, happy.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 12:59 p.m.

@Ron Granger: Do you *get* what's actually going on here, Ron, or are you actually one of the few people in town who likes the plan to close three fire stations and open the fire station in Burns Park? Also, do you *like* the fact that our city has put an illegal gag order on the fre fighters to try to keep the citizens less informed about unsafe decisions that impact their safety being made? I don't speak for the other commenters, however my goal us to make our city as good as it *could* be!

Danielle Howard

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 12:35 p.m.

Journalism Integrity? A fair and balanced article would have mentioned the gag order over the AAFD. How is it that suddenly $642,294 is granted during an election cycle? John Hieftje says that we are 'back in service'. Really?


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.

Once again, the leaders of our city have shown that they are financially irresponsible. If these positions are truly needed, they should be covered under our normal budget process. Scrimp someplace else to add firemen. But – a grant is accepted and the budget issue delayed until a short time down the road. The Ann Arbor voters need to wake up before we join the ranks of other cities in dire straits – not being able to pay any bills due to the long term commitments made by others. This financial irresponsibility needs to stop and stop now.

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 12:07 p.m.

In a broader picture this speaks to how broken our Governments are. The federal Government only gets its money from we the people or it borrows it. To operate at a large deficit while sending money to people who are relatively "well off" compared to many other municipalities is madness. Ann Arbor likes to think of itself as "cutting edge" with things like solar power and "filling stations" for electric cars. We like to think we set an example or lead the way in things green energy. How about we lead the way and set an example by NOT taking money from a broke federal Government and shout it out loud to the rest of the country that the madness has to stop? ....Like that would ever happen.

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 12:29 p.m.

I should add that I think we should find a way to build up our fire department with our "in-house" budget. Sacrifice in other less important areas as needed.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 12:05 p.m.

@Ryan Stanton: Your article notes that the current budget calls for 82 fire fighters and with this grant there would be 85 budgeted. However, last we heard, the fire chief wasn't using the budgeted funds to hire all the fire fighters we could and for over a year he was only employing 76 fire fighters despite being budgeted for 82. All this despite the fire chief's public statement that he really needs 88 fire fighters to properly staff the department to meet national standards across our current five fire stations. My first question of you is, how many fire fighters are currently employed? 76, 82, or something in between? My second question deals with the grant to hire the additional 3 fire fighters. I am informed that the city doesn't have the ability to use the grant as originally applied for due to an administrative snafu (the city's grant application called for using the funds to rehire laid off fire fighters but the city had none to rehire). The city was planning on trying to get the grant money repurposed so it could be used. So my question is, what is the current status of the grant and can it actually be used, or will it be lost due to the administrative error?


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 4:31 a.m.

Yes, please.

Rod Johnson

Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 3:32 a.m.

Get a blog.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 11:50 a.m.

After all I've written about this topic, I am certainly very pleased that *finally* a new tower truck is being bought to replace the frequently broken down tower truck and Ladder 5, which for more than a year now have been more out of service than in service, leaving the city at times exposed to potential tragedy. However, I'd like to express two concerns with this purchase: 1) The new equipment won't arrive for 10-12 months because a specific configuration was purchased instead of a standard model off the shelf. With the current highly unreliable equipment and 100 tall buildings in our town, our city leadership continues to gamble with the lives of many 1,000s of residents. 2) The specific equipment configuration purchased does not have some of the safety features of the tower truck to be retired and this was done so the the new tower truck could fit parked inside Station 2, the currently closed fire station on Stadium near Burns Park (and near the Mayor's residence) that is planned to be reopened as part of the plan to close three fire stations and reopen that one. The new tower truck is configured so when parked it can fit under the lower ceiling at Station 2 and is not planned to be based downtown where the current tower truck is based. How does the city leadership think they can get away with telling us that the three fire station plan is "on hold" pending further review, while carrying out plans to buy key equipment designed specifically for the plan that is "on hold"? Because they still have an illegal gag order on the fire fighters from speaking to the press to inform them what they know about what's really going on. Ann Arbor need effective and transparent government and we are sadly lacking both!

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 3:38 p.m.

In any case I think its a stretch to make a connection with his current address. The truck on order would not be one that showed up at his house anyway. In fact that truck in station #2 one could argue would be a disadvantage to the mayor. It would take up a spot that otherwise might have a truck that would come to his house.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 12:41 p.m.

@Craig Lounsbury: The mayor moved after upgrading his lifestyle courtesy of his new jobs. He still owns his old house in Ward 1.


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 12:22 p.m.

Station 2 is perfect. Great proximity to the heavy concentration of high rises around Burns Park, plus they can take it over on Iroquois when it rains to rescue the people from their flooded basements and yards.

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 12:19 p.m.

" inside Station 2, the currently closed fire station on Stadium near Burns Park (and near the Mayor's residence) " I don't know the mayor but I thought he lived off Barton Drive on the North side. I only assume that from my snooping in publicly available property information online. There aren't very many " John Hieftje"s listed as owning property in town.


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 11:37 a.m.

Your last paragraph hits it right on the head. Instead of One Percent for Art, how about One Percent for Fire Protection.


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 11:10 a.m.

So, let me get this straight. The additional fire personnel are being covered under a grant from our government. In reality, AA does not have the money for these additional positions. Probably cannot afford the pension liability either, but this is a separate topic. Seeing that the US is out of money and borrowing from countries like China to cover for expenses, then it seems to me that AA participated with the US government to borrow from China to hire these positions. Also, the cost to AA is only short term relief, seeing that the grant only covers until 2014. We will have to 'hope and pray' that our economy improves such that we can cover the additional personnel cost. Isn't this how we got in trouble in the first place? Spending future money in hopes that the economy is strong? Sounds like a formula for disaster. Just ask many of the cities in California that are declaring bankruptcy. If we did truly need these positions, AA leaders should have rearranged the current budget to hire them without the need to borrow from China.


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 11:25 p.m.

To mixmaster Read the comment again from Itchy. It says nothing about the purchase of the new fire equipment. It only comments on the hiring of additional fire personnel. Pay close attention as you read the comment!


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 9:22 p.m.

So I hear you saying that your gloom and doom prognostication advises that we should not take advantage of the grant no matter how short term or even if the economy does get better in a couple of years. Even if in those years the ladder truck actually saved a life or two or minimized property damage from a fire. I see that sitting on ones hands is a serious political philosophy.

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 11:57 a.m.

well put, I agree. The only thing I will quibble with is your last sentence in that I believe we truly do need the positions.