The above photo was posted on the facebook page of Baltimore Fire Department’s Truck Company 15, along with this note: “Can we have a moment of silence to reflect [on] all the lives that were saved over the last 104 years by the members of Truck 15 Hotel Montford!”
Activated on May 12, 1908 at the Montford Ave. Fire Station (hence the nickname Hotel Montford), Truck 15 was officially disbanded an hour ago, at 7 a.m., a victim of cuts in the 2013 city budget.
The photo was taken at the entrance to Baltimore Cemetery, another venerable Baltimore institution which the fire company protected at the far eastern end of North Ave.
The Brew has written extensively about Truck 15, which was considered a legend within the fire department.
The much-decorated company has been among the busiest in the city, serving the Berea/Clifton Park area that has one of the highest rates of vacant houses – and lowest income levels among the remaining population.
Fiscal year 2012 was no exception.
Truck 15 made a record 4,097 “runs,” or responses, to emergencies between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012.
That was 510 more calls than the city’s second busiest truck (Company 16 on McMechen St.) and double the citywide average.
The vast majority involved medical emergencies, ranging from elderly residents suffering from heart or asthma attacks to the horrific case of an infant stabbed by her mother at a social services office three months ago.
Truck 15 was first on the scene of the infant stabbing. Its cross-trained personnel controlled the baby’s bleeding five minutes before the arrival of an ambulance.
The 22 firefighters of Truck 15 will be dispersed to other fire companies as part of the city’s plan to close three companies this year (Truck 15 and Squad 11 will be closed today; Truck 10 in Harlem Park will remain open until October 1).
Vacant House Fires
Yesterday, during its last shift, the men of Hotel Montford were the first responders to a working fire at Preston and Washington streets, a derelict stretch of abandoned buildings near Gay St.
A firefighter from Engine 13 fell from the building’s second story, Fire Department Spokesman Kevin Cartwright confirmed this morning. The firefighter sustained non-life-threatening injuries, Cartwright said, and was discharged from the hospital.
Three nights earlier, Truck 15 helped contain a blaze at 1015 N. Castle St., which also involving a boarded-up, vacant house. The blaze was contained and did not spread to the adjoining buildings.
The disbandment of Truck 15 and Squad 11 will save the city about $500,000, based on testimony given by Fire Chief James Clack to the City Council.
Clack says the closures will improve the response times of the department because the practice of rotating station closures will end.
Beginning today, Engine 33 will replace Truck 15 at the Montford Ave. station. That move will leave the fire house at 25th St. and Kirk Ave. with only one active company, Truck 5.
Squad 11, based on Eastern Ave. near the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Campus, will not be replaced.