BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Union President for Baltimore City Fire said the firefighters and paramedics need help and support from the administration, and they’re not getting it. Those effects could trickle down to those who need help.

Baltimore City Fire Union President Rich Langford said some of the working conditions for the men and women of the Baltimore City Fire Department are unacceptable and morale is the worst it has ever been.

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The men and women who put out Baltimore fires and respond to your calls for help are asking for a little bit themselves.

“The morale in this department is the lowest I have seen in my 19 years,” Langford said.

Langford said this past weekend multiple units–so engines, ladder trucks, and ambulances–were off the road because of staffing.

“This weekend we had seven to eight units closed,” Langford said. “Some of those were suppression units some EMS units, one of the suppression units closed actually had a fire not too far from their station.”

Langford said that the shortages are causing longer response times. On Sunday, crews stationed further away responded to the fire on Hilton Parkway because the closest station didn’t have the manpower to go.

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“This staffing issue is about the citizens of Baltimore and their safety,” said Langford. “People shouldn’t have to wait 30-45 minutes for an ambulance to arrive to get them to the hospital.”

Baltimore City Fire told WJZ that there is not a significant staffing problem.

“That’s an outright lie,” said Langford. “This staffing issue has been going on for months.”

One example he gave was the promise of 60 more EMS units by the end of May 2021. The city only hired 11.

Langford said there is a class of 17 recruits graduating in the coming weeks, but they have 45 open positions to fill just on the EMS side, and dozens of firefighter positions.

He is hoping the city will consider hosting trainings two to three times a year to beef up the department as they continue to lose employees due to retirement and injuries.

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Langford said in the coming weeks there will be several units, including EMS units, that are expected to be closed due to staffing shortages.

Rachael Cardin