Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Fire Chief James Clack have still not come to a “firm conclusion” about whether to keep or close three Baltimore fire companies, sources said today.
The lack of a decision, they added, is “driving down morale” among firefighters already stressed from handling a surge of emergency medical and heat exhaustion cases stemming from the continuing power outage in parts of the city.
Said one firefighter today: “We are exhausted emotionally and just want this roller coaster ride to end sooner rather than later.”
The Brew reported yesterday that the Baltimore City Fire Department postponed the disbandments of Trucks 10 and 15 and Squad 11 from tomorrow to Monday, July 9.
This is the second delay of the controversial decision by the Rawlings-Blake administration to close firefighting companies that serve some of Baltimore’s most impoverished neighborhoods, areas with heavy concentrations of fire-prone vacant houses.
Yesterday’s general order did not give a reason for the postponement, but said that Engine Company 33 will be transferred to the Montford Ave. fire station of Truck 15 on Monday morning.
Silence from Mayor’s Office
Chief Clack and his spokesman, Kevin Cartwright, have not publicly commented on the postponement of the company closings. The latest news release on the department’s website notes that “Illegal Fireworks Are Dangerous” during the Fourth of July.
There also has been no statement from Mayor Rawlings-Blake, whom The Brew reported is rethinking her stance on closing the companies.
Ryan O’Doherty, the mayor’s spokesmen, has issued dozens of press releases about the mayor’s involvement in the power outages, but has not yet responded to requests for comment about the status of the fire companies.
The Brew has written extensively about the potential effect of the fire closings on citizen safety, which would result in only about $750,000 in savings over the next year.
Endangered Truck Companies 10 and 15 have alone handled more than 150 medical emergency and heat-exhaustion cases arising from the Friday thunderstorm and continuing power outages.