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Fundraisers for families of firefighters Rodney Pitts III, Lt. Dillon Rinaldo

Posted at 6:18 PM, Oct 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-24 16:24:40-04

BALTIMORE — Baltimore City Firefighters looked on as fellow first responders escort the body of EMT/firefighter Rodney W. Pitts III from the Medical Examiner's office to a funeral home. It's a moment Josh Fannon says every firefighter hopes never happens, but one they know is a possibility in this job.

"Even when you come to work and do everything right, you can still die," said Fannon, president of Baltimore Fire Officers Association IAFF Local 694.

Pitts passed away on Thursday after a large row home fire on Linden Heights Avenue. Three firefighters were injured while trying to rescue him and Lieutenant Dillon Rinaldo inside one of the homes. Rinaldo is still in serious condition in the hospital.

"He's not out of the woods yet, he's very sick. But he's a fighter," said Matthew Coster, president of Baltimore Firefighters IAFF Local 734.

"He has undergone a few surgeries, and his situation is clinically significant. We just ask the public to pray for a good outcome," Cannon said.

"He has a long road ahead of him. And we ask that everyone continue to keep him, his family, and this fire department in their prayers," said Kevin Cartwright, director of communications for the Baltimore City Fire Department.

A GoFundMe for Rinaldo and his family has already raised more than $64,000.

"I've been in close contact with his fiance. He does have a wedding coming up next year. The hope is that he'll be walking her down the aisle on the scheduled date," Fannon said.

There's also an ongoing fundraiser for Pitts' family - he leaves behind two young children. Funeral arrangements should be announced soon.

Meanwhile - the ATF is leading the investigation into the fire. A spokesperson tells us there's no new information yet regarding the origin or the cause.

The Baltimore City Fire Department has recently struggled with staffing shortages; we asked spokesman Cartwright if that could've played a role in this tragedy.

He responded, "We don't find that staffing issues were a concern during battling this recent fire."