An investigation has been launched into a picture which appears to show a group of Detroit firefighters posing and smiling for a photo in front of a burning home.
The image was shared online by Detroit Fire Incidents Page with the caption: ‘Crews take a moment to get a selfie on New Years!’
It is thought the picture was taken as a farewell snap for a retiring fire battalion chief.
But Detroit Fire Commissioner Eric Jones said in a statement: ‘There are a lot of ways to celebrate a retirement. Taking a photo in front of a building fire is not one of them.’
Jones added: ‘We will investigate this matter and follow the facts where they lead us. If this photo is verified, discipline will be in order.’
He told The Detroit News: ‘Ninety-nine percent of the men and women who go to a scene like that and know what to do. Behind every fire is a devastated family or property owner. Jones called the image ‘inappropriate and unprofessional.’
A picture of the home the following day shows it was completely burnt down.
It is understood the property and its neighboring one were both empty at the time of the blaze.
Dep. Commissioner Dave Fornell told WXYZ that crews were not able to go inside last night. He added of the image: ‘It was despicable.’
Detroit Fire Incidents Page said they do not know who took the the image but that they were asked to post it by a firefighter based in the city.
They said they removed the picture after ‘guys on the job’ messaged them to say they had been ‘threatened for the photo being posted’.
After deleting the photo, the group said in a statement: ‘In regards to the photo that was removed we would like to clear a few things up. First of us no one at this page took that photo.
‘Second we were asked to post it by a fire fighter for the city of Detroit.
‘Third the only reason it was removed is we received messages by guys on the job stating that they had been threatened For the photo being posted.’
They added: ‘To clarify “threatened” meaning threatened by their work I would assume by their context threatened of punitive actions. Happy New Years from us at Detroit Fire Incidents Page.’
The post received a mixed response online. One user wrote on Facebook: ‘Happy New Year’s DFD, you guys are the best there is!’
But another added: ‘I hope that was a staged fire. I’d hate to think my firemen where [sic] posing for pictures while a real house was burning.’