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Posted on Sun, May 8, 2011 : 9:49 a.m.

Woman and son rescued from burning home on Ann Arbor's west side

By Juliana Keeping

The Ann Arbor Fire Department pulled a mother and son out of a burning home Sunday morning after the mattress in an upstairs bedroom caught fire.

The son was bedridden with a medical condition and had been smoking in bed, which caused the fire, said Robert Vogel, battalion chief.

Five trucks and 16 firefighters responded at 9 a.m. to a single-family home at 1121 Birk Ave., near Pauline Boulevard and South 7th Street on Ann Arbor’s west side, Vogel said. The fire department extinguished the blaze in 10 minutes but remained at the scene for about an hour.

Rescue workers removed the woman from the first floor and the son from a second story bedroom. He had rolled onto the floor after the mattress caught fire. His mother called 911.

Paramedics treated the woman and her son for smoke inhalation at the scene. The home had fire detectors but they were not working, Vogel said. It's not clear if the home's occupants were transported to local hospitals.

The 1,400-square-foot home, built in 1940, sustained $15,000 of damage. Vogel said damage was was contained within the upstairs bedroom where the fire started.

According to an eyewitness, damage was not visible from the street following the blaze.

Juliana Keeping covers general assignment and health and the environment for Reach her at or 734-623-2528. Follow Juliana Keeping on Twitter



Tue, May 10, 2011 : 5:06 p.m.

No but you are clearly missing the point... Yes I actually own a home in Ann Arbor and I believe the City can cut non essential things like art projects and reduce elsewhere than safety services? YOU where the one to claim it was a small fire and there were four trucks there. Sure there was enough manpower because the proposed cuts to firefighters haven't been enacted yet. Yes I have helped start and run a business, what's your point? I wouldn't "save money" if I still were by not paying for insurance, not making sure the extinguishers were in working order, or any other safety and recovery items. Guess what that money savings won't help you if disaster strikes. As for the last 2 questions. I'll ask a firefighter for you but to start if my memory is correct there have been 4-5 fire related deaths already this year. Not sure the percentage increase that is over past years but there you have it. Sure would be nice is a news person might dig into those facts. Oh Edward you are sorely missed. Can you site cases where fires have gone out of control in Ann Arbor because a lack of fire fighters? How many fires did we have in Ann Arbor last year? What was the average response time? Do you have that information?


Wed, May 11, 2011 : 2:19 a.m.

The answers to the rest of the questions here. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Look especially at the response time analysis and the archived stories


Tue, May 10, 2011 : 5:07 p.m.

Sorry wrong reply box, but this was a response to Scott


Mon, May 9, 2011 : 10:24 p.m.

And BTW is it ok now since the cat did it? Now was this incident worthy of AAFD's attention and our tax dollars?


Mon, May 9, 2011 : 12:21 p.m.

Great job AAFD -- just like in a text book, firefighters responded, HVA arrived and was ready to take on the individuals who needed it and fire contained. So very glad everyone is a-okay -- Again, will say, to those who continually complain, if it were your house on fire -- you would want the best -- Thanks again AAFD.

True Facts

Mon, May 9, 2011 : 1:42 a.m.

Why does this have to be about Money. Great Job AAFD you did what your there for


Mon, May 9, 2011 : 2:08 a.m.

Amen. Some folks got a BIG axe to grind. Too bad. Most of us appreciate first responders.

Wolf's Bane

Sun, May 8, 2011 : 10:06 p.m.

Wow, smoking in bed. Not the brightest bulb, huh?


Sun, May 8, 2011 : 9:39 p.m.

I guess this shows why smoking in your own property should be controlled by the government. The family should be billed for this fire due to IRRESPONSIBLE and RECKLESS behavior. This guy smoking in bed is ridiculous. If some other person had died because of this behavior he should be prosecuted as a criminal. This case brings even more justification to smoking ban in any building used by the public.

Dominick Lanza

Sun, May 8, 2011 : 8:41 p.m.

Glad the firefighters werent out taking care of some non fire call? Does that mean if you or a family member has a medical emergency or are involved in a car accident you'd like them to sit in the station and hope HVA isnt busy somewhere else? Yes firefighters are being laid off in other towns but they are doing so while also cutting parks, pools, golf courses etc. Only when people begin to die or suffer will the council and the taxpayers realize their system of priorities are out of whack. HVA works on a system known as system status management, this means no dedicated number of units for any area. They rely on historical information to move ambulances at different times hope the statistics arent wrong when you need them if you stop the fire department response. By the way how many of you who speak for fire department lay offs has volunteered to do their job for free? I am sure the lady and her son were thankful they were there.


Mon, May 9, 2011 : 1:20 p.m.

Maybe if you and your predecessors had done a better job not giving away the shop the city would not be in this predicament. It is absolutely ridiculous that FF and PD do not have co-pay associated with their benefits. This albatross has been hanging over the city for decades. Poor decisions of the past need to be fixed. You bailed rather than try to fix the problem.


Sun, May 8, 2011 : 9:28 p.m.

Absolutely Mr Lanza. Great people! I am sure that you already know that.


Sun, May 8, 2011 : 8:06 p.m.

Good job, AAFD!!!! We aren't listening to the city hall administrative &quot;plants&quot; here. We know what a great job you do! Our first responders have walked into death more than once.....and were just honored in NYC this week. Do not let the administrators paint these guys as greedy or evildoers. The brave folks who are the first responders have given up their lives for us. Do not let the administrators belittle them!


Mon, May 9, 2011 : 2:07 a.m.

Craig, no, those are your words. My words are they they are honored when they give up their life for the citizens of the country. That does not make them more makes the act of giving up their life for YOU more important. Because some day, it could be you. Quite simple.

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, May 9, 2011 : 1:57 a.m.

In other words, in your mind they are more important people. Which is kind of my point.


Sun, May 8, 2011 : 9:28 p.m.

In reality as we already know, a pizza driver is not out there protecting the taxpayers of Michigan. That is the reason we honor first responders, obviously.

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, May 8, 2011 : 9:14 p.m.

&quot;nobody&quot; was a bit of hyperbole. Ever seen a Pizza drivers funeral covered on TV? Where pizza drivers from all over the state and country send representatives?


Sun, May 8, 2011 : 8:49 p.m.

I don't?

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, May 8, 2011 : 8:42 p.m.

Pizza a drivers die in the line of duty too but nobody cares.

Fred Gilbert

Sun, May 8, 2011 : 6:46 p.m.

In most unions the senior members who control things will not give up on anything to save the younger members from layoffs. We will soon have a chance to see how much the FF's Union really cares about safety in the city and preventing the layoff of their younger members. Across the state and the whole country unions have been willing to give up a lot more then they have here. City money being in &quot;buckets&quot; is absolutely correct so please don't tell us again about the art budget, etc. Check the chart online, safety services has grown from 40% of the city general fund budget to 51%. The city has been prioritizing safety services.


Mon, May 9, 2011 : 7:50 p.m.

It is important to look at the larger picture as explained by Jack Eaton at 11:21 AM on May 3, 2011 &quot;Police are a higher percent of the general fund because of a basic math principal. If you take dollars out of the denominator and keep the numerator the same, the percent goes up. In 2000, solid waste used to be part of the general fund. Just adding back FY2010 solid waste expenses to total general fund expenses (the denominator) reduces the police FY2010 percent to 44%. If you add back the other departments that have been moved out of the general fund since FY2000 (project management, IT, construction code fund) the percent drops to 39% The employee figures reported in the audits do not support the claim that everything has been done to protect the safety services budget. The number of police and fire employees dropped 35% between FY02 and FY10. The decline in non safety services employees during the same period is 24%. The proposed FY13 budget has more IT and DDA employees than those departments had in FY02.&quot; The safety services are an integral part of a healthy, safe, quality city. We are letting the city fail us.


Mon, May 9, 2011 : 9:45 a.m.

Cities and townships across the state also just voted for major tax increases to support safety services. It goes both ways.


Sun, May 8, 2011 : 6:29 p.m.

Mike is on the right track. The FD did their job. They are wonderful! But people also have to understand that fire fighters are being laid off everywhere. Some cities have closed half their fire stations, Jackson closed 2 out of 3 stations. In some cities, especially A2 there aren't as many fires as there used to be and budgets are tight. I think I remember reading hear there are 2200 fewer fire fighters on the job in Michigan than in 2001. Just because the city has money in one &quot;bucket&quot; doesn't mean they can legally spend it in another. People on this site don't seem to get that. Or won't for their own political reasons. All government accounting is like that, closely regulated. I know the FF's union gave up some $$ for benefits to prevent layoffs and as I understand it the city lived up to the contract, it was for 6 months. If the union would only agree to pay the same for benefits as other city employees they could cover half the proposed layoffs. Bet the city would find some way to pick up the rest. If the union cares so much about safety, why not end the &quot;blue flu&quot; why not open the contract and find a way to make it all work.


Mon, May 9, 2011 : 10 a.m.

If your boss came to you and said &quot; we need you to take a paycut to save John in the cubicle next to you.&quot; you take the cut and then they axe John anyways. Then a year later they say &quot; we need you to take a major increase in health care ($7000 to $10000) or we are going to layoff Joe in the other cubicle next to you.&quot;. You would take that cut without hesitation? Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me.

mike umbolt

Sun, May 8, 2011 : 6:13 p.m.

The Firefighters did their job. A fire truck and rescue vehicle arrived, with at least 4 firefighters on scene very quickly and they carried the person out to where the ambulance EMT's were ready and waiting. The fire was put out quickly. Well done. I am just happy the FF's were not out on a non-fire call and thus out of position to respond to the one emergency only they can handle, an actual fire. Let the ambulance crews, who can actually transport victims, handle the medical calls while the FD handles the fires, something they do very well. Now why can't the fire fighters union agree to pay the same for their benefits as city salaried staff and stop their &quot;blue flu&quot; of people taking as much time off as possible so they can to force overtime or station closures. They each work 9 days per month. Why do they need to call in?

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, May 8, 2011 : 6:27 p.m.

&quot;They each work 9 days per month.&quot; In fairness to the fire department they are 24 hour shifts which is the equivalent to 27 8 hour shifts a month. I'm not presenting an argument either way on the &quot;convenience&quot; or &quot;inconvenience&quot; of cramming 27 &quot;standard&quot; 8 hour shifts in to 9 days.


Sun, May 8, 2011 : 5:34 p.m.

Good job AAFD !


Sun, May 8, 2011 : 3:43 p.m.

So the mayor and city council budget ideas are right, this fire didn't happen to them so they are comfortable with cutting firefighters.

M. South

Sun, May 8, 2011 : 2:42 p.m.

A fire engine, rescue vehicle and ambulance all came at the same time. The two other fire engines came about 5 mins later. A neighbor.

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, May 8, 2011 : 2:55 p.m.

So the 5 trucks referenced in the story included 4 from the Ann Arbor Fire Department and one from Huron Valley Ambulance?

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sun, May 8, 2011 : 2:37 p.m.

The AAFD saved these people's lives. Obviously, there is even more room for cuts in the AAFD before we reach the danger level. [Note: My sarcasm button seems not to be working this AM] Good Night and Good Luck

Linda Peck

Sun, May 8, 2011 : 2:37 p.m.

They firemen must have gotten there quickly to contain the fire to the bedroom and get the people out. Thank you Fire Department!


Sun, May 8, 2011 : 2:14 p.m.

How long from the call until AAFD was on scene? Entering the structure? Engaging the fir? How many trucks and personnel on scene? Did they have to come from further away due to a closed station? Was there a delay in the rescue or fire suppresion simply because not enough FF arrived yet? Think about it, it likely took 2 FF to carry the bedridden guy out. The first truck on scene had at most 3 guys on it. 1 guy is running hose and setting pumps while 2 were rescuing... And the mayor wants it to be worse than that.


Mon, May 9, 2011 : 8:50 p.m.

I think you're missing the point... Do you actually own a home in Ann Arbor and if so are you willing to pay higher taxes to keep on the firefighters? The fact it was a small fire is immaterial because there were four trucks there; does that sound like there was a lack manpower? Can you site cases where fires have gone out of control in Ann Arbor because a lack of fire fighters? Have you ever ran a city or a business? How many fires did we have in Ann Arbor last year? What was the average response time? Do you have that information?


Mon, May 9, 2011 : 12:56 p.m.

oh boy where to start... It was a small fire - Well thanks to the fast response of AAFD, YES it was a small fire. This is the same logic that the Mayor and many bureaucrat use. Hey crime/fire is down so we don't need as many safety personnel or services. So let's cut. Guess what? Crime/fires increase, the people yell, then the rehiring begins. Ever heard the expression &quot;an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure&quot;? I'd rather a yearly 5-30 minute wait for a flu shot than the week + of illness and recovery, not to mention spreading it around the family. Safety services are the immunization responsible for the numbers the Mayor is using to justify cuts. When we &quot;need&quot; those people and services again the ramp up and the cure will be painful, long and much experience will have been lost. Not sure why that is a hard concept to grasp. And it is coming out of my pocket , I do pay my fair share in taxes and you'll not find any previous posts from me complaining about safety service monies. Money well spent imho.


Mon, May 9, 2011 : 2:24 a.m.

First of all, I live just a few houses down from this house. This was a very small fire and 4 fire trucks and an ambulance were all there in minutes. Does this sound like we are in desperate need of fire fighters? I love people who complain about government cuts when they are not really informed on budget issues. We live in a utopian community here who wants the best of everything, but doesn't want to pay for it. It's very easy to be for every program out there until that money is coming from your pocket and I can guarantee you would complain if you could see that you are paying more in taxes (presuming you have a job and pay taxes). In short, people need to put their money where their mouth is. It's all about responsibility, which brings me to my next point. There wouldn't have been a fire if this guy was smoking in bed to begin with. This is highly irresponsible, not only do we as taxpayers have to pay for his responsibility, but innocent people could have been killed if this fire would have spread more quickly. This is exactly what's wrong with America today - too many people not being responsible and making other pay for their irresponsibility. This is why we have personal, local, state, and massive federal debt. Think about it. Our country is declining because we have forgot what it means to be responsible and we are paying dearly for it.

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, May 8, 2011 : 2:27 p.m.

The third sentence in the article answers part one of your fourth question.