BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Baltimore City Fire Department plans to cut down on the number of firefighters responding to initial calls, a move that isn’t sitting well with the firefighters’ union.
Currently, five engines, two trucks, two battalion chiefs and a medic unit are dispatched when a call comes in.
Come September, though, that number will shrink as the department tests reducing initial responding units to three engines, one truck and one battalion chief.
“If it doesn’t work, we’ll try something else,” Baltimore Fire Chief Niles Ford said.
The department hopes this will help medics respond to more calls.
“We’re looking at the fact if we can utilize more resources towards ems as far as trying to get ourselves in this position to be able to tend to the people of the city as well as visitors of the city,” said Fire Captain Roman Clark.
Despite the cuts, the department will still be following federal guidelines.
“There’s no danger to the members, nor is there any danger to the public,” said Clark. “We’ve done our research and we’re within the guidelines, and there are also other cities that do this. I do know for a fact one of our closest cities, Philadelphia, (does this),” he said.
The firefighter’s union, however, disagrees.
“This local is against any changes that will lower the amount of units on a initial response,” the union said on Twitter Thursday morning. “This not only puts our members in danger but the citizens of Baltimore.”
Our members were notified of changes that will take effect on 9/1 on how we respond to dwelling fires. This local is against any changes that will lower the amount of units on a initial response. This not only puts our members in danger but the citizens of Baltimore.
— Baltimore Firefighters IAFF Local 734 (@BCFDL734) August 22, 2019
The plan is also raising questions for Baltimore City residents.
“I don’t agree. Scaling back is a way to go but send out what’s necessary to put the fire out,” Steven Wainwright, of Baltimore, said.
Other residents agree with the plan.
“Makes sense,” Patricia Roby, of Baltimore, said. “Maybe they always sent five as a matter of routine, and if that’s not necessary, then I agree it makes sense to be efficient.”
Fire officials say that this will give officers on the scene more responsibility so they will be able to make the call if they need more units on scene.