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Firefighters knock on doors to keep engines running

Posted at 9:10 PM, Jul 08, 2020

BALTIMORE — When the Baltimore City Council passed the budget on to the Mayor a few weeks ago, their hope was to allocate money from their cuts to go towards the fire department.

On Wednesday, firefighters hit the streets to urge the Mayor to make that a reality.

When you see a fire engine roll out a lot of people don’t realize there’s a good chance they may be showing up for reasons other than a fire.

Shane Heberle, who lives in Pigtown, said he wouldn’t be alive if one of the engines now on the chopping block, didn’t get to him so quickly .

“They saved my life you know when I OD’d, they was there right away,” said Heberle. “I was basically flat-lined and they brought me back.”

Heberle is one of the many Pigtown neighbors who signed a petition to save Engine 55 in Pigtown and Engine 4 in in the Northwood Community from closing.

Closures that firefighter Union President Dickie Altieri anticipates will increase response times.

Valuable minutes and seconds that could be the difference in saving someone’s life.

“If they’re not here and we have a fire around the corner than we have to rely on the next fire engine available,” said Altieri. “The one in Morrell Park, what if they’re out? That response time now becomes even greater.”

They are asking for the public’s help to convince Mayor Jack young not to cut the $3.6 million dollars from the fire departments budget out of the nearly $4 Billion city budget.

Councilman Ed Reisinger who represents the 10 the district said the Mayor could re-direct funds to save the engines.

“We cut the budget I think it’s like $22-23 million. He could do a supplemental the money is there,” Reisinger said. “If he doesn’t use it it goes as a surplus to next years budget.”

They hope Mayor Jack Young listens, because they say so many firefighters are already overworked and the department continues to lose resources.

“The pandemic is just adding to it. We said before we’re at bare minimum,” said Stephen Horschar, the President of Baltimore Fire Officials Local 964. “When the minutes count here there’s no reason to do this. We’re out here trying to educate the community, the communities with us.”

They say they're trying to save engines that are saving lives.

Phylicia Porter won the democratic primary for Resinger’s spot on the City Council.

She lives in Pigtown, and is very concerned that they could lose an engine.

“We are facing some of the highest rates of chronic health disease and substance abuse in Pigtown alone and so we don’t need any increased response times,” said Porter.

As of Wednesday night, there is no hard date on when these engines would be shut down if the money isn’t allocated to keep them open.