Rally Held to Save Baltimore City Fire Department Engine 55 in Pigtown

| June 24, 2020 | 0 Comments

A large crowd gathered on Wednesday morning in an effort to save Baltimore City Fire Department (BCFD) Engine 55 which is housed at 1229 Bush St. in Pigtown/Carroll-Camden Industrial Area. Engine 55 has been cut from Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young’s budget in 2021.

Engine 55 is housed with Truck 23 and Ambulance 22. According to the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 734’s press release, “Engine 55 currently responds to over 1800 emergency runs annually. Nearly 400 of which are Box Alarms (which are calls for reported fires) and hundreds of emergency medical runs in just 2019 alone.”

Local 734 added, “An “Engine” in Baltimore City is responsible for extinguishing fire on dwelling fires. This is an intricate part to life safety as firefighters on Truck companies rely on the Engine company to allow them to search for victims who may be trapped inside the fire. Engine 55 and it’s members alone have received several awards for saving and removing lives of victims inside of dwelling fires over the years and that is all about to change.”

Today’s rally was put on by Local 734 and its President Dickie Altieri. It was attended in support by District 10 Councilman Ed Reisinger, who represents Pigtown and Carroll-Camden; Phylicia Porter, who won the Democratic primary for the District 10 Council seat with Ed Reisinger retiring; District 9 Councilman John Bullock, who represents neighborhoods just northwest of Engine 55; and District 11 Councilman Eric Costello, who represents neighborhoods just east of Engine 55.

Also there in support of Local 734 was City Council President Brandon Scott, who just won the Democratic primary for Mayor, and District 8 Councilman Kristerfer Burnett.

The rally was also attended by many fire fighters, members of the Pigtown community, and Kim Lane, executive director of Pigtown Main Street.

Altieri, the elected officials, and Porter all spoke and implored Mayor Young and BCFD Chief Niles Ford to restore the funding to Engine 55 and talked about its importance to safety in Baltimore City. Council President Scott said, “When you are in the midst of a global pandemic, cuts to people on the frontlines who are dealing with those issues are just unacceptable. We stand four minutes drive time – and one and a half with lights and sirens – away from a community that had a tremendous amount of fires over the winter,” referring to a number of arsons that occurred in Carrollton Ridge.

Andy Hotchkiss, President of the Carroll-Camden Business Association (CCBA), emailed the following statement to SouthBMore.com:
I wanted to let you know that as the President of the CCBA and after talking with our board and the membership, we were not only struck off guard with this proposed closure and given no real notice, but we are obviously completely against this closure!!
We are an area of industrial and manufacturing businesses, modern industrial businesses, and entertainment uses, and losing a fire station will put citizens in harm’s way. Not to mention our closest neighbor, Pigtown, is a large collection of densely populated, older, connected rowhomes and residences that would be prone to a fire spreading quickly and doing mass damage.

Just yesterday, Engine 55 responded to a fire in Locust Point.

SouthBMore.com has reached out to BCFD for comment, but has not heard back at this time.

Local 734 also said in its press release, “With Engine 55 gone, that means in the event of a fire, Truck 23 will be operating without an Engine company immediately on scene. This can delay and hinder rescue to any victims who may be inside while additionally put the lives of the members on Truck 23 at risk as they enter a dwelling fire without an engine company available.”

The press release also provided the following information about nearby engines:

The engines that would have to come into the area to render aide, of course ONLY if they are not already on an emergency run in their area are:

Engine 47 (Morrell Park) is separated by two sets of railroad tracks and 1.3 miles away

Engine 58 (Cherry Hill) is currently in Northeast Baltimore after spending several months in Brooklyn but upon their return will be 1.9 miles away

Engine 2 (Federal Hill) Located on Light Street is 1.7 miles away

Engine 23 (Downtown) at one of the busiest firehouses in the nation is 1.4 miles away

Engine 14 (Booth-Boyd) the second busiest engine company in the city averaging over 5000 calls annually, is located on Hollins Street at 1.4 miles away.

There are no Truck companies located at any of these firehouses and truck companies have to come from even greater distances to assist with fire suppression calls.

This article has been updated with a comment from Carroll-Camden Business Association  

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Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, beach volleyball enthusiast, dog lover, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.