BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City Fire Department is in its first week of a scaled-back response policy.

Baltimore City’s Fire Department’s new police now sends two fewer engines to every fire — from five currently — down to three.

Its policy change cuts short ladder trucks and battalion chiefs from two down to one.

The City’s Firefighter Union said the new policy jeopardized someone’s life Sunday, on the first day it was implemented.

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A fire on Booth Street in west Baltimore would have brought 30 firefighters under the previous policy.

Instead, 17 responded. They still rescued someone inside and put out the fire with only two fewer engines, one less truck and one less battalion chief.

“We have to decide, based upon what we have, resource-wise is what we can do with it. To a certain extent, this is probably more back-to-the-future, because this is closer to what the department probably did 15 years ago,” Chief Niles Ford, of Baltimore City Fire, said.

Ford said the policy is on a trial basis right now and that the new policy is in line with federal standards.

Thursday at City Council, Ford testified about the department’s recruitment efforts.

Union officials told WJZ off-camera that its members are doing the best they can with limited resources.

The heads of the city fire unions in Baltimore told WJZ that during this trial, they have requested at least a second truck be sent to scenes, and have been told that decision is being considered.

Paul Gessler

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