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Firefighters Union calls out department for transparency and lack of community involvement

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Posted at 10:01 PM, Jul 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-27 05:48:56-04

BALTIMORE — The Union for the Baltimore City Fire Department is not happy with the way the city is answering their call for more help.

The President of the Union sent a letter to the fire Chief saying the city hasn’t been transparent or involved the community in their decisions to move units around.

This comes down to staffing, overtime and most importantly firefighters' ability to keep people safe.

The Baltimore City Fire department found that the highest volume for calls is between 9am to 9pm and so they created what are called “peak units” which include fire trucks or ambulances.

The volume of service has increased every year for the last 10 years.

Four of the peak units ran about 37 calls a day for the last three years, but they could get repurposed.

Robert Patterson III is the first Vice President of the Firefighters Local Union 734.

“The city EMS Is very busy, and when you are looking at national statistics is 60% we are 10% already above the national standards as far as business,” said Patterson.”Now you are looking at adding an additional 37 calls per day. How are we going to compensate that?”

Rich Langford, the Union President has collected data on how this change will effect the department.

He sent a letter to fire Chief Ford saying the decision to close and relocate units does not comply with city code requiring a public hearing.

He also said designating 4 peak units to be run by people on overtime is not the right call.

“Suppression units are waiting on scene a lot longer for a transport unit to come to pick patients up to be able to get by them to the appropriate facility they need to be at,” said Patterson.

“If no one signs up for them they will be out of service and than they are going to disband four units currently with the proposal they sent out to us.”

Blair Adams, A spokesperson for the fire department sent us a response to the letter saying they aren’t closing any units or stations.

Adam’s said the plan is reassign 2 peak ambulance units to 24/7 shifts which increases the number of 24/7 ambulances from 26 to 28.“There will be more opportunities to render care to our community and to ensure shifts are covered – without a constant call for members to voluntarily work overtime on the Ambulance Peak Units,” said Adams.

The firefighters Union has also sent out a Maryland Public Information Act Request for the Facets Report assessing the departments operational and management practices.

On Thursday WMAR2 News’ Erin MacPherson will take a closer look at staffing concerns and more as she puts the fire department issues in focus.