Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Closing Firehouses Not the Answer

A recent plan from City Hall would have three BCFD fire companies close after the New Year. Engine 14, Truck 15, and Truck 16 would be closed after January 1st if the city has its way. The firefighters from those companies would be assigned to other houses. This year, in an attempt to curb overtime costs, the BCFD has rotated closings where certain fire companies would be closed on certain days of the week. These three companies are currently a part of that rotation.

Engine 14 is one of the oldest companies in the Baltimore Fire Service, having opened in 1888 at Hollins St. in West Baltimore. The station house is the original building, and according to the Baltimore Sun, is one of the oldest fire houses on the East Coast. With Engine 14 closing, the station house will remain for storage, which will most assuredly mean its deterioration. The company’s first response was on July 15, 1888, and after 121 years will make its last in 2010.

The consequence of closed stations is reduced service and longer response times. Recently, when Banners Bar in Locust Point caught fire, (coincidently a bar owned by firefighters), the local fire company Engine 26 on Fort Ave was closed on rotation, and the back-up was already out on a call, so it took a while for the engines to finally arrive.

There needs to be a better solution to this problem. The city cannot just close Fire companies because of budget; a policy like this can be a risk to public safety and fire fighters lives. The Baltimore Sun article did bring up the idea of having volunteers as auxiliary firefighters. Interestingly enough, when you look at Engine 14’s original roster they had 5 permanent fire fighters, and 6 at call members (part-timers). Not a bad idea right?

1 comment:

  1. The city did have auxiliary firefighters at one time. The only thing they could do is outside duities. I am currentley a volunteer firefighter in Baltimore county. we are trained just as the paid side of the department (Maryland Fire & Rescue Inst.) and we do it all. The problem is the IAFF will not allow it. So the PT Paid thing sound like a good idea. It will keep the house open and the citizens as well as my brothers and sisters safe.