Behind the scenes… what you may not know about the Detroit Mutual Aid project.

The National Firefighters Endowment (link) made history and opened MANY doors in Detroit last week. It was not an easy task and couldn’t have been done without the assistance many of YOU provided.

By now, you’ve all noticed all the hype surrounding “The Detroit Mutual Aid Project” (link) on Face Book, Twitter, your favorite web sites and all other Social Media outlets. It’s well deserved attention and I hope you take the time to “share” this story.

If you missed it, here are some helpful links to get ya up to speed ….

Providing Mutual Aid (,   Mutual Aid to Detroit (Fire Critic),  Why Detroit Mutual Aid Matters (Firefighter Wife) , Positive Attitudes (Model City Firefighter) , Mission Attack (Holy Fire, Cake Girl) .

The Detroit Mutual Aid Project provided over $150,000 worth of much needed equipment to Detroit Firefighters!

Detroit Mutual AidYou should know that by now. What you may not know is how we did it.

When I say “we”, I mean you too. Sparked by a request from Detroit Firefighter Jeremy Mullins (Ladder 22); the NFE started a tee-shirt campaign to benefit the Detroit Firefighters.

We sold over 6,500 of them to Brothers and Sisters JUST LIKE YOU. (They are still available HERE)

We even started a campaign where we asked you to change your Face Book profile thumbnail picture to the Detroit Mutual Aid logo. We can’t track how many of you did that, but it was HUGE!

Photo by Matt Schimmel

Photo by Matt Schimmel

We sold over 6,500 shirts and raised around $50,000! Again, you should know this because total sales are updated with each sale and displayed on the web site.

What you may not know is that NFE Advisory Board Member,  and DMA Project Lead; Bob Gard turned that $50,000 into $150,000!

He was able to do this through the generosity and support of our partners / sponsors. These folks either provided equipment at no cost or at a VERY discounted price allowing us to get more “bang for the buck”. PLEASE take the time to visit the partners / sponsors shown in the picture below and show your thanks and support!

Detroit Mutual Aid Corp Partners

I’ll add here that it’s NOT easy to give something to the Detroit Fire Department. There were SEVERAL “hoops” that had to be jumped through. Detroit can NOT and will NOT accept just any ‘ol piece of equipment.

If you send a truck load of gloves to Detroit, it may NEVER reach the hands of firefighters.

CLICK HERE to read about a DONATED Tower Ladder that was never placed into service or used!

Due to Union stipulations / specifications, as well as City policies, contracts etc; there is a ton of “red tape” that has to be sorted through before a project like this can work. For the sake of transparency (and honesty) I should also add that corruption was also a big issue.  There was a big and legitimate fear that if we simply shipped the equipment to the “City”, that it would never reach the firefighters.

Our President, Shane Parkins; along with Bob Gard, Jeremy Mullins and others worked very hard and met with both Union and City Officials weeks and months prior to delivery to assure our equipment would meet their specs and that it could be placed directly into the hands of Firefighters.

 This was an UNPRECEDENTED achievement! 

opened doorsLike I said earlier, The National Firefighters Endowment opened MANY doors in Detroit to make this project possible!

You could see it in the members eyes as we delivered the equipment. It was almost as if they didn’t believe it. They couldn’t believe we were actually there and handing over brand new K-Saws, PPV Fans, gloves, hoods,  hand tools and more. We were NOT simply posing for pictures and leaving with a hand shake and empty promise!

I speak about it often and understand it’s difficult for Firefighters to ask for or even to take or receive help. We are the ones, after all; who gets called to do the helping! It was difficult for many of the Detroit Firefighters to fully understand why we were there and what was happening.

8200_531313466966234_2087982021_nIt was asked at several of the stations we delivered to … “what, are we (Detroit’s Firefighters) now, a charity case?” Well, the answer to that question is NO ! Read “Providing Mutual Aid” by clicking HERE.

The Detroit Mutual Aid Project was NOT about charity, it’s about BROTHERHOOD!

Firefighters are “Firefighters” no matter where you go and it’s impossible for us to stand idly by when anyone is in need (much less when it’s one of our own). For years now, the Fire Service has been tasked with “doing more with less”. We’ve seen it in our own Departments and watched it affect others all across the Country.

The whole time we’ve been doing “more with less”, we’ve also watched Departments like Detroit do more with almost NOTHING.  We HAD to step up an help … it’s what we do! It’s what we do not only as Firefighters but also as members of the National Firefighters Endowment. Here’s our Mission Statement…

“National Firefighters Endowment is a non-profit, public charity with a driving passion to protect the lives of our firefighters and the communities they serve. We believe that small actions can have life altering results and that the right equipment in the hands of our first responders can literally be the difference between life and death.”

Captain Wines and Shiloh MacCabeSo how’d we pull the logistics off? Again I’ll say … with our members!

We knew that the only way the 2 days of delivery would work was through strong leadership and direction. We’re firefighters and used to working within a chain of command … this event would have to be run like a fire scene.

Shiloh MacCabe (from Anchorage, Alaska) was selected as our IC and let me tall ya … this Sister ran a tight ship! Everything went like clock work. A well oiled machine. Andrew Catron (Model City Firefighter) handled our Social Media, Kim Fitzsimmons was the photographer (along with Matt Schimmel). Everyone knew their job and had an assignment.

MORE pics from Detroit Mutual Aid HERE

Detroit Mutual Aid prepSomething else I bet ya didn’t know is that it took almost 40 members (18 from The Officer’s Club… linked HERE) to make it all happen!  Most of which traveled at their own expense!

Many of these folks even arrived a day early to help sort, pack and load the equipment to be delivered!

Again, this was a HUGE undertaking and only accomplished through organization and team work.

The Detroit Bus Company donated a bus and driver to haul the members from station to station while we used a rental truck to haul the equipment. In total, we made 14 stops at various Stations all across Detroit.

Photo by Matt Schimmel

Photo by Matt Schimmel

Here are the members who were present in Detroit (I hope I didn’t but apologize ahead of time if I missed anyone as well as for any misspelled names. Thanks to Shiloh for creating the list ).

Shane Parkins, Bob Gard, Rhett Fleitz, Andrew Catron, Willie Wines Jr, Jeremy Mullens, Shiloh MacCabe, Kim Fitzsimmons, Clinton Powell, Steven Burke, Jill Boden, Tom Boden, Blake Bowers, Nick, Ron and  Carole Magoteaux, Jeramie Morris, Lori, Dan, Luke, Maya and Macie Mercer, Lyn Backlund, Bonnie Leigh, Jackie Postage, Rebecca Hudson, Mary Donch, Kelvin Davis, Grant Grinstead, Nathan Crooks, Ryan G, Kevin Thompson, Matt Schimmel, Matt Cervino, Chris, Ian Kushnir, Carrie Graber, and  Blake Govan.

Photo by Matt Schimmel

Photo by Matt Schimmel

Here’s something else you may not know … it’s EASY to be a part of and become involved with the National Firefighters Endowment…. just use the link below to get started.

CLICK HERE to learn more about and to join “The Officer’s Club”

I also want to mention something else I’ve been asked about…. WHY DETROIT? They are a “paid” Department. They are supposed to be funded by Tax money. Why not a smaller Volunteer Company / Department?

That’s another easy answer that you may NOT be aware of. The first answer is because they ASKED (or at least Jeremy Mullins asked on their behalf). They “APPLIED” to receive a “grant” (assistance) from the National Firefighters Endowment.

They asked and there was a legitimate NEED. The City is broke and these members were suffering because of it. Detroit firefighters do not have the option of doing their own “fund raisers” etc to buy the equipment they need. In fact, many of the tools we seen were actually purchased from the pockets of the Brothers and Sisters using them. They don’t mind venting a roof with an axe vs. a saw but many of the companies didn’t have either! Hell, they didn’t have gloves and hoods!

The NFE supports ALL FIREFIGHTERS … paid, volunteer or paid on call…. it doesn’t matter to us. We’ve delivered Bail-out kits across North Carolina, assisted with rebuilding in New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy. We were in Moore, Ok (link)  after the deadly F-5 tornadoes and so much more!  All you have to do is apply and it’s EASY …. just use the links below to get started … Your Department could be our next stop!

Get NFE Support HERE

Contact the NFE HERE

So there’s a small look “behind the scenes” of the Detroit Mutual Aid project. A lot of work but also a lot of support from Brothers and Sisters across the world! Yea, the shirts sold outside the United States as well! Another thing you may not know is that the shirts are still available! There’s still a lot of work to be done in Detroit and we’re not going to leave them stranded! If you haven’t got a shirt yet … buy one now! If you have one, buy another for your spouse etc. TOGETHER, WE’RE MAKING A DIFFERENCE!

Follow IronFiremen on Face Book HERE 

Stay SAFE and  in House!

Captain Wines