As of 2013, the DFD had about 781 firefighters. 60% of the City's 11-12,000 fires each year are in abandoned buildings. 

The department has been plagued with a series of problems, including poor EMS response times.

Commissioner James Mack Jr. resigned in January 2011. Commissioner Donald Austin started on 23 May 2011.

Chief of Operations Derrick Grochowski was removed by Austin on Friday, September 23, 2011, after a broken fire engine was unable to save a child trapped in a house. Grochowski was to return to his position as a battalion chief.

In 2013, the DFD got a two-year FEMA SAFER grant of $24.2M to help pay for 150 firefighters. The Detroit Public Safety Foundation helped write the grant. In 2011, the City got a $22.5M grant to keep 108 firefighters. Another 26 firefighters were re-hired with an additional $5.6M 2012 SAFER grant.