This video was posted to YouTube in August of 2010, apparently shot as a group of friends headed to an Orioles game. A STATter911.com reader sent it to me. It appears to me to be taken on the upper portion of St. Paul Street south of East Mulberry Street in Downtown Baltimore. You will only see about two seconds of the burning building. It’s the rest of the video that makes this a must see. It’s a look inside one of those cars you pass as your are responding. And no, before you ask, I can’t give you back the 2:08 you will have wasted by watching this.
Under the policy, department personnel can be reprimanded for anything they write online about their jobs that doesn’t adhere to conduct rules, which require “good judgment” and “courtesy and respect to the public and to fellow employees.” The policy also restricts them from sharing information about fire scenes.
Fire Chief James S. Clack said the department crafted the policy to protect firefighters from getting into trouble for sharing sensitive information.
But union leaders called the policy too broad and said the department created it unilaterally after negotiations with union attorneys broke down last month. Social media and free-speech advocates balked at the scope of the policy and questioned its legality.
Bradley Shear, a Bethesda attorney who has advised state legislators in Annapolis on social media policy, said the new provisions are “troubling” and potentially unconstitutional.
“I think the policy is clearly suspect,” Shear said. “It’s over-broad, it’s retroactive, and I think they need to go back to the drawing board.”
Chief Clack told The Sun that while attorneys for the City threw in a lot of things, ”I’m going to be most interested in people when they’re working”,
The policy, like many these days, brings up as many questions as it answers. One thing that is banned is ”the real-time public disclosure of locations of deployed units, assets or personnel or any other real-time information from an incident scene.” Until earlier this year, IAFF Local 734 was using Baltimore City firefighters to provide such information to the public much as IAFF Local 36 in Washington, DC is doing currently. Could a fire department legally ban such union activity?
Three Baltimore City firefighters were injured as maydays were called in two different house fires about an hour apart overnight. One of those fires left an adult and four children dead.
Above is audio from radioreference.com via firefighterdispatch of first fire on Bonsal Street. Mayday is at about 5:25.
In the first fire around 1:00 AM, a lieutenant is in serious condition with second and third degree burns to the hands, face and neck and a firefighter has third degree burns to the hand and is in stable condition. Both are at Johns Hopkins Bayview Burn Center. The fire occurred in the 1400 block of Bonsal Street.
The deadly fire was around 2:00 AM in the 5600 block of Denwood Avenue in northeast Baltimore.
One firefighter was hurt when he fell through the second story floor all the way to the basement. He was found immediately and pulled from the house. Medics rushed him to Bayview where he’s expected to be okay.
Fire investigators are now on the scene trying to figure out what caused the fire, but they believe it started in the basement of the home. It’s not clear if the smoke alarms in the home were working when the fire started.
Today’s Baltimore Sun describes in detail the prostitution related charges against Firefighter Jamar Simmons of the Baltimore City Fire Department. A month ago Simmons was arrested with another man, Franklin Coit, on charges similar to those they were arrested for in Baltimore County in 2010. In that case the men received probation before judgment.
Today’s article cites court records that accuse the men of operating a prostitution ring out of an apartment in Southwest Baltimore. The charges indicate that Simmons and Coit pocketed a percentage of the money taken in by a group of women selling sex out of the apartment.
Inside the raided apartment, according to court records, city police found a stage with two floor-to-ceiling poles, a large bar with a DJ booth, two bedrooms and a kitchen with six lockers labeled with women’s nicknames.
In one room, court records say, police found a chalkboard with written reminders to the women. Among them: do not mention sex for money on the phone, always search clients for police wires and tout the location of the third-story, loft-style apartment in the 200 block of S. Pulaski Street as being just 10 minutes from downtown.
“Ask about law enforcement!” the board warned, according to court records.
Police say the loft housed a prostitution ring that Simmons and 33-year-old Franklin Coit — a pair arrested in Baltimore County in 2010 on similar prostitution charges — had built with the help of some 25 women over the past couple of years.
The lawyer for Simmons denies that the apartment was a hub for prostitution and denies his client operated as a pimp. Simmons is suspended without pay from the department. An internal fire department investigation is also underway.
Three Baltimore City fire companies that had been slated to permanently close Sunday will remain open for four more days due to the weather, a department spokesman said Saturday.
Fire officials have decided to keep the three companies open until Thursday morning to help clean up from the storm and aid those suffering from heat-related health problems, said spokesman Chief Kevin Cartwright.
“It’s a common practice for the fire department to increase our manpower due to natural disasters,” Cartwright said.
Firefighters at those companies will also help people suffering from heat-related health problems. The Baltimore Sun reports East Baltimore’s Truck 15, west Baltimore’s Truck 10 and southeast Baltimore’s Engine 11 had been set to close Sunday morning as a cost-cutting measure.
Two other companies had been set to move to new stations, but that move has also been postponed.
It’s getting down to the wire on the planned permanent July 1 closings of three fire companies in Baltimore, Maryland. Union officials and others have been making the case that recent fires involving the units on the chopping block prove that these fire companies are extremely important to the safety of the citizens and city firefighters. One of those stories from WMAR-TV, above, looks at this issue in connection with the five-alarm fire in Fells Point on Monday.
WBFF-TV looks at another aspect of this battle over closing companies and the Fells Point fire. It focuses on the online forum run by the Baltimore Fire Officers Association, IAFF Local 964. Specifically, a thread titled What a Shame!, that contains very passionate comments quite critical of fellow firefighters and officers who may have responded as volunteers, or had connections to suburban volunteer fire companies that provided mutual aid to Baltimore City during the five-alarm fire. Those postings believe such assistance undermines the work to save the three companies. The TV station reports Chief Jim Clack says the comments are under investigation.
Some Baltimore City firefighters criticized some of their own for using Baltimore County vehicles to respond to the fire. The city called on the county and other outside help during the fire, even though the department is now considering shutting down three fire companies because of budget cuts.
City Fire Chief, Jim Clack, says mutual aid is something the city has been practicing for decades. He says it’s important to maintain good relationships with other jurisdiction, not just for safety, but for many other reasons.
Fire officials said crews were called to the 500 block of S. Broadway Street at about 1:40 p.m. Monday, where they were met with heavy smoke and fire shooting through the roof of a three-story vacant brick building.
“Back on Register Street, it’s a pretty narrow street. It was hard to get apparatus in there. That’s where we initially tried to attack the fire. We did surround it on all sides, but it was really tough because the fire was in the middle of the block and there was no way to get to it once we couldn’t go inside,” Baltimore City Fire Department Chief James Clack said.
Engine 8 ran into a little snag when their pumps malfunctioned. With the fire being fueled by winds it spread quickly up the interior stairwell to the upper floors. With a lack of water units were forced to stand fast at the front door until they got water. Eventually crews were able to enter the dwelling and fully extinguish the fire.
Just before 3:30 pm on April 6, 2012, Fire Communications alerted Box Alarm 52-2 for a reported dwelling on fire in the 800 block of Druid Park Lake Drive, West Baltimore. Some units had to take alternate routes due to a double shooting at W North Avenue and McCulloh Street. First arriving companies reported an end of group dwelling with heavy fire showing. Battalion Chief 3 arrived, reported fire on the 1st & second floors of a three story dwelling. A working fire was transmitted, bringing additional units to the scene. A few moments later, fire began to penetrate the roof and engulf the third floor. Battalion Chief 3 at that moment ordered a defensive attack due to the integrity of the building. Crews used monitor pipes, large hand lines and ladder pipes to pour water on the fire from a safe distance. The Fire Investigation Bureau has the fire under investigation and no injuries were reported.
Companies scheduled to close on July 1: Truck 10 at 1503 W. Lafayette Avenue; Truck 15 at 1223 N. Montford Avenue; Squad 11 at 5714 Eastern Avenue.
Companies scheduled to move on July 1: Engine 33 from 801 E. 25th Street to 1223 N. Montford Avenue; Truck 27 from 2700 Glenn Avenue to 5500 Reisterstown Road; Truck 6 from 1001 E. Fort Avenue to 15 S. Eutaw Street; Rescue 1 from 15 S. Eutaw Street to 1001 E. Fort Avenue.
Three city fire companies will disband, four more must find new homes. It’s part of the fire department’s efforts to do away with rotating closures.
It’s important to note that no firefighters will lose their jobs and no fire stations will be closed. But this is a big shuffle of fire personnel and equipment and some worry it leaves city residents at risk.
“We are going to be there just as quick as we are today,” Jim Clack, chief of the Baltimore City Fire Department, said.
“We’re not laying off any firefighters,” Clack said. “We’re not closing any fire stations. We’re taking some firefighters from one area of the city and moving them to other stations.”
“Obviously, I don’t want to have anybody closed,” said Rick Hoffman, president of the firefighters union. “It makes our job a hell of a lot harder. We’re at bare bones right now. I don’t know how these people sleep at night. … They are gambling with the lives of the citizens of Baltimore and the lives of the firefighters serving Baltimore.”
Under the current plan, 72 firefighters would be transferred and 21 officers would be demoted, including six captains and nine lieutenants. The changes, Clack said, make the department more efficient and could improve response times.
This is a fire yesterday in the 1500 blk Sheffield Avenue in Northeast Baltimore, Maryland. IAFF Local 734 reports the closest engine company was closed for the day. The union also reports three firefighters suffered minor burns.
Around 6:00 am on January 23, 2012, while returning from a dwelling fire, Battalion Chief 3 (F. Ruff) came upon a two-story, middle of the group dwelling, with heavy fire showing from the first floor. The box alarm and working fire were requested. While requesting the assignment, Chief Ruff sees a civilian jump from the second floor, front window. He immediately requests an additional medic unit. The civilian tells him that there are two other occupants in the second floor, rear room. That information is immediately relayed to responding units. Engine 14 arrives and begins an aggressive interior attack with a preconnected hoseline. Trucks 10 & 23 arrive, deploying ground ladders and initiating a primary search. Command orders the RIT engine to assist in search and rescue due to the known life hazard. Engine 8 arrives in the rear and reports that there is an adult civilian who jumped from the second floor rear as well as an infant who may have been thrown from the second floor. Additional medic units were requested,a total of five, as well as the EMS Battalion Chief. Engine crews worked quickly to extinguish all of the fire while Truck crews performed search and rescue while ventilating and checking for any hidden fire. Paramedics worked quickly to provide advanced life support to two adults and one pediatric patient. The Fire Investigation Bureau, as well as Police Arson Investigators, were on scene to determine the cause and origin of the fire. The victim that jumped from the front of the dwelling was a 45 year old female who was transported to Shock Trauma, in serious condition, with injuries sustained from her fall. The adult victim that jumped from the rear was a 21 year old female who was transported to Johns Hopkins Bayview Burn Center with 2nd and 3rd degree burns, as well as injuries she sustained in her fall. The pediatric victim in the rear was transported to Johns Hopkins Pediatric Trauma Center for possible smoke inhalataion. There were no apparent injuries to the victim and it is not clear whether she was thrown to another person or landed on the ground.
This incident was a perfect example of how all aspects of the Fire Service work together, from the suppresion units to the emergency medical units to the exceptional job by the Fire Communications Bureau in relaying all pertinent information to responding units.
Baltimore's fire chief is surrendering his department's emergency medical services training accreditation.
Chief James Clack announced Tuesday that the department would use training from outside educational institutions instead. He says officials may seek accreditation in the future.
Clack says when the state licensing agency raised questions about cheating at the training academy in June, he learned that the EMS training division had been placed on a one-year provisional status more than a year earlier.
A fire department investigation found recruits were given confidential testing materials they should not have received, but none of them intentionally cheated.
Internal charges were recommended for three instructors and two supervisors related to improper certification of a recruit and one supervisor related to the maintenance of student records and test security.
During yesterday's press conference Chief Clack pointed to a "lack of communication up and down the chain of command" explaining why he did not know until recently that poor paperwork handling had caused the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems to put the city's emergency medical training program on provisional status last year.
Joseph Brocato ran the academy from February 2007 until September 2010. Brocato, now retired, is disputing Chief Clack's account.
"As for Chief Clack's claim that he was not aware of the provisional status until June of 2011 or that he was not made aware of the contents of the letter," Brocato said in a written statement, "I will say that I personally briefed him on two separate occasions regarding the provisional status and our plan to correct the issues … Both briefings occurred in the summer of 2010, shortly after the letter was received."
Clack said he doesn't remember being briefed by Brocato on the academy's provisional status and that he's certain he never saw the May 2010 letter until a few weeks ago.
Previous STATter911.com coverage of this issue here, here and here
It appears we won't be seeing many more videos like this one from the website of the Baltimore Fire Department's Engine 8 & Truck 10. While we recently told you of the new policy by the Houston Fire Department banning helmet-cams and the like, Baltimore's policy had already been in place.
Yesterday, Assistant Chief of Operations Donald Heinbuch sent out a friendly reminder that reads:
The use of any type of recording device by on duty members on Fire Property or Vehicles is prohibited. Included are cameras, video recorders, audio recorders and recorders on cell phones.
Members are prohibited from using these devices while on duty and responding to or operating on incidents.
Unit officers may approve the use of cameras and/or recorders by on duty personnel for photographing apparatus and members in nonemergency situations. Otherwise, only personnel authorized by the Chief of Fire Department may use recording devices under the conditions specified when authorization is granted.