10-3-11: The Closure of Fire Companies
Last Wednesday, a house fire in northwest Baltimore on Mohawk Avenue claimed two lives, both former school principals and civil rights activists. It was the second fatal blaze to occur in the city in a week’s time – six days earlier, a mother and her two sons died in a fire that swept through a block of Pulaski Street in Southwest Baltimore.
The city firefighters union reacted to the fires by criticizing rotating closure of fire companies, which were put in place last year due to budget cuts. Rick Hoffman, the president of International Association of Firefighters, Local 734, says those closures are affecting the response times of vehicles. He says he can’t play god, and know if lives would have been saved without the closures, but he also told us: “I don’t think it’s fair to say that we can’t either.”
In both fires, the vehicles responding to the fires met the minimum response times set by the National Fire Protection Association. However, these events made us want to examine how rotating closures work in Baltimore–and whether they’re affecting firefighters’ response time. Sheilah discusses this with James Clack, Fire Chief for Baltimore City.