BALTIMORE — A report for a man who has been severely beaten and Engine 58 answers the call just two minutes from its station house.
But instead of traveling seven blocks to where the victim awaits them on Hollins Ferry Road, they must drive over three miles from a Brooklyn firehouse taking them well out of position to fight fires in their backyard.
"The station is temporarily closed down, but the engine itself has been moved to run out of the firehouse in Brooklyn... down on Maude Avenue,” said Richard ‘Dickie’ Altieri, the president of the Baltimore Fire Fighters, Local 734, “So right now, there is a small void in the Annapolis Road area where units will take a little bit longer to respond to that area."
By calling more critical alerts, turning firefighters into medics and busting the overtime budget, the fire department has maintained it's doing what it must to get the job done, but its resources are spread thin.
"Every service level is the same, and I've heard the complaints from the fire department and we're working with Chief Ford to try to address those concerns,” said Ex Officio Mayor Jack Young, “So if he needs more resources, we're going to try to figure out how we can get those resources as well."
But in a letter to Fire Chief Niles Ford, the chairs of the city's public safety and budget committees have demanded a plan to address the problems before they'll consider giving the department more money.
"We can't just throw things at the wall and see if they stick, but thinking we're going to continuously pull down our overtime and pull people off of fire apparatus is unacceptable," said Councilman Brandon Scott.
The letter also calls on the inspection of every station house.
Engine 58 temporarily moved to Brooklyn after faulty plumbing, mildew and peeling paint raised health issues for the people stationed on Annapolis Road.
"To have the conditions of paint peeling and things like that,” said Stephen M. Horchar, Jr. of the Baltimore Fire Officers, Local 964, “Our ladies and gentlemen, they live in these firehouses. This is their second home. I mean they spend weekends. They spend holidays there.
A single medic call, which brings many of the fire department's challenges into focus, and this time, despite a slower response time, the longer trip didn't carry an even greater cost to the victim who received the treatment he needed in time.