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Baltimore City councilwoman introduces bill that would change how firefighters respond to fires at vacant homes

Baltimore City councilwoman introduces bill that would change how firefighters respond to fires at vacant homes
Posted at 10:08 PM, Feb 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-04 14:05:26-04

BALTIMORE — Baltimore City councilwoman Danielle McCray has introduced a bill, which would create new rules on how firefighters respond to a blaze at a vacant or abandoned property in the city.

The Firefighter Safety Act would ban firefighters from entering a vacant building if at least 25 percent of it is engulfed in flames. They also would be barred from entering a vacant property unless it is deemed safe to enter and with confirmation someone is inside.

The proposed legislation, which was introduced at Tuesday’s city council meeting, comes after Lt. Paul Butrum, Lt. Kelsey Sadler and paramedic/firefighter Kenny Lacayo died when a vacant home caught fire and partially collapsed on S. Stricker Street last month.

“Although we cannot bring back those we have lost, as a council we are in the position to abate the grave consequences of future eras,” McCray said. “And we can see to it that safety measures and equipment are in place to ensure Baltimore City does not incur such great loss again on our watch.”

The proposed legislation would also require firefighters to wear body cameras at the scene of a fire.

You can read the full bill here

The deaths of the three Baltimore City firefighters will stick with Kecha Dunn for the rest of her life. Not only because she lives across the street from the scene, but also because it was a property, she repeatedly warned the city about.

“I put several tickets in with Baltimore City when I noticed people were breaking into one of the properties, the actual property that was on fire, and eventually they did come back out and reboard the property, but people had been constantly breaking into that property, so this was not the first time,” Dunn said. “It could have been prevented, honestly.”

Dunn said the issues with vacant properties in the city were a problem long before the fire. She said she hopes something is done about them.

She also said she would support the bill if it means it will keep firefighters safe.

“If it’s something safety wise that will help them I’ll be for it,” she said. “You just hope and pray that something good will come out of something so tragic that had happened and they should not have had to lose their lives for something to be done.”

Rich Langford, President Baltimore Firefighters IAFF LOCAL 734 released a statement on the bill:

“We appreciate our council members taking an interest in the safety of our members and welcome discussing their ideas.

Local 734 believes that an open dialogue with our City Council concerning the recommendations in the citizen funded FACETS report would be the best starting point. We believe that there are issues which go far beyond those identified by Councilwoman McCray.

This report was released in November of 2021. Taxpayer funds were used to pay for this two year project which has been grossly overlooked by the BCFD Administration, the Mayor’s Office, and the City Council.

Instead of making a knee-jerk reaction to a single incident, let’s work together, using the report that the taxpayers funded, and make the city safer for its residents, it’s visitors, and our members.”