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Nearly four months later, families of fallen Baltimore firefighters are still without benefits

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Posted at 7:29 PM, May 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-18 19:29:29-04

BALTIMORE — We called them heroes after losing their lives fighting a fire in a vacant rowhome in January.

Now, the families of Lieutenants Kelsey Sadler and Paul Butrim are fighting to get their benefits.

Their death certificates are on hand, and have been for weeks now.

However, the autopsy and toxicology reports necessary to apply for benefits for their families haven't been released by the medical examiner's office.

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Not only are the families of Lieutenants Sadler and Butrim facing grief, they are doing it empty handed.

Josh Fannon, the President of the Fire Officer's Union has been with the families of those fallen firefighters who died battling a vacant rowhome fire on Stricker Street last January, through their grief.

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Months later, after their final goodbyes, the toughest hurdles still haven't been cleared.

"When youre dragging out this many months, when that's going to happen the financial future become a lot less clear,” said Fannon.

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The future for Sadler and Butrim's families appear to be unclear.

While they are entitled to the fire fighter's pensions as though they retired, Fannon told WMAR-2, two documents from the medical examiner's office have them left in limbo.

"Each passing day they're missing out on money that they should be receiving everyday so we're already several months behind,” he said.

Butrim and Sadler's spouses, according to Fannon haven’t even been able to apply for the benefits they deserve without those documents.

"When you're talking about any two income family, when half of that suddenly ceases, if somebody lost their job, they can go look for a new one. When somebody dies, then you have to figure out what your financial future would be without it,” Fannon said.

Fannon said the medical examiner's office has failed to offer any explanations for the delay.

WMAR-2 News reached out to Bruce Goldfarb, at the ME's office, and he turned down an on-camera interview explaining their side, but stated over the phone that delay doesn't exist saying the cases for Sadler and Butrim were concluded over a month ago.

But still, it appears nearly four weeks later, closure for the families is still wrapped in red tape.

“For the families having to deal with the grief is enough right but the difficulty in trying to clear bureaucratic hurdles, they're so unnecessary and so frustrating and they just want to be able to get to the other side of that and move on,” said Fannon.