Reporting Derek Valcourt
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Three city fire companies are on the chopping block but some say they could be saved by slashing the mayor’s proposed budget.
Derek Valcourt explains it’s a decision the city council will make Thursday night.
The mayor’s budget calls for those three fire companies to close. A plan by the city council president would save them.
City firefighters get credit for knocking down some of the biggest blazes, but this time it’s a plan to close three fire companies they’re hoping to extinguish.
Fire Chief James Clack came before city council members Wednesday night defending a plan to permanently disband Truck 10 on the west side, Squad 11 on the far east side and Truck 15 near Patterson Park. Those firefighters would all be reassigned to other companies in a move Chief Clack insists will not affect citizens in emergencies.
“We are going to be there just as quick as we are today,” Clack said.
Firefighters’ union representatives are outraged by the proposed closures.
“I’m sorry, he is dead wrong on this,” said Rick Hoffman, Firefighters’ Union.”My fear is citizens are going to die.”
Many firefighters insist response times will be affected near the closed fire companies. Take Squad 11 for example. If the company that operates that engine is disbanded as planned, the next closest engine to service the neighborhood would be coming from two to four miles away.
City council members heard an earful from citizens with similar concerns.
“If they close one where I’m at…I live by myself so I need the fire house,” said Emma King.
City Council President Jack Young proposes slashing the mayor’s budget by more than $6 million and using speed camera money to keep those three fire companies open.
Many city residents say that’s exactly what needs to happen.
“Restore in the budget what is necessary for a fire house,” said Henry Burris.
Thursday night, the city council will vote up or down the plan to cut the mayor’s budget and keep those fire companies open.
City council members have until the end of the month to approve a budget for next fiscal year.