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Fells Point fallout: With closings looming Baltimore firefighter comments about two hatters coming into city during five-alarm fire makes news.

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Click here to watch WBFF-TV story on criticism against two-hatters

Click here & scroll down to read IAFF Local 964 forum thread titled What a Shame!

It’s getting down to the wire on the planned permanent July 1 closings of three fire companies in Baltimore, Maryland. Union officials and others have been making the case that recent fires involving the units on the chopping block prove that these fire companies are extremely important to the safety of the citizens and city firefighters. One of those stories from WMAR-TV, above, looks at this issue in connection with the five-alarm fire in Fells Point on Monday.

WBFF-TV looks at another aspect of this battle over closing companies and the Fells Point fire. It focuses on the online forum run by the Baltimore Fire Officers Association, IAFF Local 964. Specifically, a thread titled What a Shame!, that contains very passionate comments quite critical of fellow firefighters and officers who may have responded as volunteers, or had connections to suburban volunteer fire companies that provided mutual aid to Baltimore City during the five-alarm fire. Those postings believe such assistance undermines the work to save the three companies. The TV station reports Chief Jim Clack says the comments are under investigation.


Some Baltimore City firefighters criticized some of their own for using Baltimore County vehicles to respond to the fire. The city called on the county and other outside help during the fire, even though the department is now considering shutting down three fire companies because of budget cuts.

City Fire Chief, Jim Clack, says mutual aid is something the city has been practicing for decades. He says it’s important to maintain good relationships with other jurisdiction, not just for safety, but for many other reasons.

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Comments - Add Yours

  • mdff

    Don’t understand why a current BCFD employee or other off-duty IAFF member would even consider taking a ride into the city with their volunteer company. Need to consider the ramifications and the current state of affairs in the city. People need to be smarter then that.

  • Pipeman

    Some guys just don’t get it. Good luck up there brothers. Local 36.

  • Coffee Time

    When are you guys gonna learn to direct your anger at city hall instead of each other?? The vols have no affect on whether a station closes or not. It is entirely up to the city hall dwellers!! They close stations (and lay off LE) just so they can cry to the citizens that they need more tax dollars.
    The union would be wiser to direct their criticism toward the people actually causing them harm. Stop beating on each other!!Go after the real problem: city hall!!

  • Mike

    It should be against state law to have affliation with more then one fire department, hence elminating these scabs.

    • drivintheseagrave


    • mark

      Brilliant, because we don’t have enough stupid laws to begin with. Or unconstitutional laws.

      So please enlighten me, exactly what part of the Constitution would this “law” be based on? Because it would end up in SCOTUS, so please explain.

      Now, if someone could explain to me how and why fellow brothers (that’s how we refer to them here and across the country) are being ripped new ones for responding to help their brothers? Would it be better if they refused to respond?

      Can you imagine the great press the Local would have gotten had that happened?

      Do you guys think before typing?

      Are we in this to protect lives and property or are we in this to save a union member’s job? Yeah, I know, I’m a simpleton. I believe in the Constitution and doing the right thing.

      Let’s play the what-if game. What if a Baltimore brother went down and needed a rescue from a vollie FF, one of his off-duty brothers? Would you say: Screw you, you’re messing up the closing of the 3 houses, let me burn until my on duty brothers from the other side of town get here.

      Honestly, you wonder why taxpayers get pissed at unions? This kind of crap right here. You’re not going to win this battle or war with this kind of publicity, so take a word of advice from a taxpayer and a fellow fireman, give it up.

    • Anonymous

      Yea that’s a great idea… What an idiot..

    • Blake

      Mike… you just dont get it, do you? Without the vols responding citizens lives are in even more jeopardy. You do realize career firefighters are in the vast minority in the US? Guess not.

    • Anonymous

      Really? Are you 12, because that’s the maturity level you exhibit. It’s sad that this is the pervasive attitude of many IAFF members. I don’t think I’ve ever dealt with such a myopic organization in my life. Comments like this are evidence that you really don’t understand the issue at hand; however when you are poisoned by poor leadership who fights all the wrong battles, what can we expect. Learn to think for yourself. The volunteers that responded into the city have no bearing on the manpower reductions in Baltimore.

  • Joe

    I do not see the problem with off duty firefighters coming in at the request of the city with their Voli department. I am on a voli department and about 20% of the people on my voli dept are on a larger paid department that we run mutual aid with on a regular basis. There have never been any “ramifications” because they show up on a truck and wearing gear with a different name on it. I do not know, maybe I am missing some part of the story here. However, brothers should not be puting other brothers down for simply helping out when asked. Again, maybe I am missing some part of the story here.

  • Anonymous

    Volunteer yourself out of a job. That is what you are missing.

  • BmoreCareful

    Joe what you are missing is that the City is closing three companies 15 Truck the busiest, 10 Truck the most decorated, and Squad 11. So emotions in the BCFD are already very high. Then on top of that certain off-duty members decided to go to baltimore county and self dispatch/transsfer there volly engine in to the city, just so that they could show there younger members a good time playing big city firemen. I do not have anything against vollys I do have something against our own members going out of there way to transfer there volly company into the city. Also these vollys were not forced to transfer into there city they could have refused.

    • Joe

      Now I understand BmoreCareful. Thank you for explaining in more detail. I was under the assumption that someone asked for them to move up to the city. The story was missing some information. I did not realize that they self dispatched.

  • Sal Brunacini

    look at it this way….this is how I support my family and put food on the table. how would you feel if someone came into your job and did it for free there by eliminating your job. open your eyes. this has nothing to do with volly vs career. its about what is right and wrong.

    • Anonymous

      Nobody’s job is going to be saved or eliminated because Baltimore County responded to mutual aid requests. Someone might get saved an injury as a result of the extra manpower.

      The *ONLY* ones putting Baltimore jobs at risk are the elected officials at city hall. Direct your anger to where it belongs.

      If you are driving down the road in DC and you see a fire, would you pull over and bang on the doors to try to alert and save any occupants, or would you let them wait for DCFD (yes, that’s DCFD) to arrive lest you be accused of putting someone’s job at risk?

  • Anger Management

    Same story different day! Yawn!

  • jb

    Would a union electrician work the same jobs in his time off for free? Common sense if your also a vollie fine but do not come to your own city and do your Job for free. That goes for neighboring depts that are career. Think. It is a big deal its what pays your bills and puts food on the table. Anyone that doesn’t get it feel free to do your job for free in your time off and see what happens.

    • Commenter

      Yeah. Sometimes they go build stuff for Habitat for Humanity, or wire stuff for their Church, or help a buddy out for free. So, yeah.

      Perhaps you could do a better job justifying your salary to the powers that be. Why is it that we should pay you to do something that apparently a 19 year old will do for free? Do you do it better than him? Prove it.

  • Anonymous

    Really, but what you don’t hear is that it is ok for them to go volli in other area’s that a IAFF local. Some go to other locals talk trash about their so called union brothers, tell them they are needed. But when the shoe is on the other foot they complain that the sky is falling. Dude you can’t have it both ways.

  • Anonymous

    This issue probably deserves a book on 21st centruy fire service management. Career/volly issue is the blight on the fire service, especially in MD. The same arguments have been made by the IAFF Locals for 4 decades in the Counties around DC, Baltimore, Harrisburg, etc.

    The mutual aid and the few career/volly firemen who respond into cities on big jobs are not the factor on whether companies close or not. I bet the majority of the brothers in Baltimore realize this fact, but there are always guys who don’t have a clue. It sounds like a personal issue for some because it is predominately a combination system around the city anyway. So, is the issue a threat of mutual aid or two-hatting??

    As a career fireman, I believe there are union radicals who are so caught up in the noise of the IAFF that they have lost sight of reality. The word scab is an old slur used in trades for decades but has no basis for dictating what someone should do or not do on their day off. When tradesmen were pushed out of jobs by lower wage, non-unionized, workers they were causing real damage to the livlihood of the tradesman. I don’t believe this is a similar situation in the fire service but to the contrary, brings bad pr to the locals.

  • Bob Andrews

    How do you guys not see the problem? Unbelievable. This is a city that should be able to handle several multiple alarm fires at one time. The older members could probably speak to actual examples of this issue. Instead the city is having to reach out for mutual aid time and time again because funding the FD is at the bottom of the priority list, matter of fact, its not a priority at all for the administration. And for you who care to say “Take your argument to City Hall”, you have NO idea what’s going on. Members of both unions, have been working with City Hall and the Mayor for years on issues. It would be nice if the Chief of the FD was involved or at least interested in those discussions, he’s a puppet for the mayors office as it stands and helps his members ZERO. Even if this is Mayberry, USA, I can’t rationalize an off-duty career FF coming into his own jurisdiction as a volly. I would be waiting for the callback instead.

  • Anonymous

    So, I ask a question. What is the difference between scabs and those union members that have part time jobs on your days off, whether its building decks, electrical work, etc? Nothing. You are taking this supposed “food” out of someones mouth that relies on this work day in and day out. You just do it to have some extra spending money.
    Whether you are in the union are not, it doesnt matter. Most of my dues go to sending a small contigent of our local “officers” to these so called IAFF leadership meeting which we see nothing from. The Union does nothing for me, other than provide a small amount of funds to my family in the event somthing happens to me. That, and only that, is the reason I retain my membership.

  • R2

    It could easily be argued that the city demoralizes and screws the firefighters over at every opportunity: Closing of fire companies, demotions, furloughs, no cost of living raises for years, the list goes on and on. But what is mind-boggling is the complete lack of any logical thought process here. How can anyone (or any group, i.e. the unions) assert that their services are worth more when these same people come back to the city on their day off as a volunteer, giving the same services away for free?

  • Anon

    Admittedly I don’t know the whole story but… Seriously? Was there a request for off-duty Baltimore firefighters to respond to the alarm? If not, then I don’t see anything wrong with them responding with their vollie companies. I get the fact that people may lose their jobs, but the higher ups could have requested off duty firefighters to respond as an entity of the city and shown city hall how important these firefighters are.. If this request was made then I understand why others are upset. If it wasn’t made then there’s absolutely no reason to get worked up about these firefighters trying to help their brothers.

  • R2

    And another thing: Some BCFD members need to get over this whole “most decorated” truck company, “busiest truck in the city” thing. Aside from a small but vocal group of firefighters with big egos, NOBODY cares. THAT is not going to save your company from closing, In fact the FD brass can and will use those facts to make an effective argument as to exactly why they should be closed.

    • Mark too

      Please explain how being the busiest truck company in a major city somehow justifies being shut down????

    • Bob C

      Please explain this logic. How can the fact of being busy be used as justification for closure? The have a high call volume and closing the station will simply add to the burden of adjacent companies. A busy territory justifies another house or better territory boundaries at the very least. Since there is already funding issues the first choice is already out. A sane person cannot, to me, use high call volume as a justification of putting that apparatus out of service.

  • Don Chambers

    ah yes the never ending debate of career vs volunteer. another game of whos dick is bigger. im reading alot of comments about brotherhood and doing what is right. how about those guys that are getting demoted and what about the citizens who are losing there fire protection? i guess thats okay in your world because youre just here to help people. what you fail to comprehend is that by you jumping on your volunteer wagon and bringing it into the city you are only driving the knife into your “brothers” backs, it allows the city and mayor to not fully fund the FD. it allows guys to be demoted. it takes away neighborhood fire protection. so if you really wanna throw the “brotherhood” bullshit around , then you need to start looking at the bigger picture. but i digress, i know how cool it must be for you to brag to your other volunteer
    “brothers” about how awesome it was to take runs in the city.

  • Coffee Time

    Let’s try a different tack here. The city is going to close houses regardless of whether there are vols avail for mutual aid or not. You are on the line working a multiple alarm. You need help now. So, are you going to ask if the guy backing you is a vollie or a two hatter? If so are you going to refuse the help and die instead??

    This is not a right/wrong thing. The argument about someone coming into an office or shop or anywhere else and volunteering is invalid as almost no other trades have or depend on volunteers like in the fire service.

    All this anger needs to be directed at the Chief who does not get involved in budget discussions, and/or city hall using firefighters as pawns in budget battles.

    • Capt Dick

      Any retard could understand that the bean counters realize them “heroes” coming in from mutual aid to “help” ( code for get their rocks off without adult supervision) their “brothers ” costs the city a grand total of zero dollars and zero cents. Hmmmm, he’ll yeah we can make budget by closing companies, these edgits will come back to work for free on their days off! Brilliant move you scabs. And as far as you tics coming to ” save” me I just hope you weren’t on your 3 rd beer or stuck in traffic or watching Rescue Me on DVD unlike the city companies who should be in service on duty and at the ready. Firefighters, we’ve always been our worst enemy, especially the ones who are ate up with it.

      • Anonymous

        The only part of what you wrote I agree with is your statement that we are our own worst enemies. The animosity *HAS TO STOP*. Enough already! Understand that a mutual aid response to a large fire once in a while will have ZERO impact on jobs. Someone pays for that mutual aid response, whether it is career or volunteer. When those units are responding, protection in the home district goes down. Do you really think taxpayers in the other districts will stand for this to be a frequent event if it is not reciprocated? No.

        Stop making yourself look childish in the media, attacking other firefighters. Do you want to know how the public sees that? You lose any credibility and respect you had. Act mature. Make a political case that argues facts against the decision-makers/politicians’ case. Stop the petty bickering.

  • Justin

    I find it quite funny that people on here, call volunteers scabs, traitors, and everything else under the sun. It seems you guys just don’t understand, most firefighters, emt’s, and paramedics all started as a volunteer somewhere. And, what is worse, is that the volunteer companies or counties that are volunteer paid for you to get your certifications or helped to do so. So easily do you forget where you come from. Here’s the bottom line… It doesn’t matter whether you are volunteer or paid, we do the same job. As far as going into your paid jurisdiction as vollie, that’s between you and your union. That’s it. Stop hating, all your doing is making yourself sound like a moron. There have been sayings volunteer love it more because they volunteer, I don’t believe that. It goes back to, we all do for the same reason, to help….

    • Don Chambers

      the only thing you are helping is the city make budget cuts. what is so hard to understand about that. keep your wagon in your community where those taxpayers are expecting you to show up and stop bailing out the city because they dont wanna fund their FD. this goes for the career companies too. although they dont really have as much of the choice to respond as a volunteer does.

    • Mark too

      I find it quite interesting that when discussing this particular topic people can’t seem to understand that the issue isn’t actually about the volunteer fire service. It isn’t a situation of “forgetting where you came from”. The issue is fellow union brothers engaging in activities that can be detrimental to other union brothers. It’s an internal union issue, not a department vs department issue and the IAFF by-laws say don’t do this. As you wrote, this is a matter “that’s between you and your union” and that’s what is happening here.

      Bottom line….we really don’t all do the same job. We all respond to calls for assistance from the public and in most cases do it to the best of our ability. However, doing “the job” is about more than just the general ability to show up and squirt water on stuff that’s burning.

      • Capt Dick

        Any fool could understand that the bean counters realize them “heroes” coming in from mutual aid to “help” ( code for get their rocks off without adult supervision) their “brothers ” costs the city a grand total of zero dollars and zero cents. Hmmmm, he’ll yeah we can make budget by closing companies, these edgits will come back to work for free on their days off! Brilliant move you scabs.

      • Capt Dick

        Well put, it’s definitely a Union issue . And they just wouldn’t understand. Truly moths to the flame.

  • North Chief

    I worked as a career firefighter for 35 years. During my time on the job I volunteered in the town I lived in because it was a small all volunteer department, no career guys and never will have. There is nothing wrong with that. As president of my IAFF local I discouraged my guys from volunteering in towns where there was an existing local. The theory being if you vol.there you ARE taking away a job. I saw no problem with responding mutual aid into a career department that is short staffed, the brothers there needed the help, why let them get hurt or killed for lack of manpower. That said, volunteering to respond into the city you work at makes no sense. Why do we have overtime laws if some employees will work for free? It’s crazy. I know that combination departments exist in many places and in my observation, very few of them work well. There is always that wall between the sides. Human nature I guess.

  • edg

    A little bit of history – Baltimore City did not rely on mutual aid in the 50′s, 60′s and 70′s (except for the race riots). Mann and Parker Lumber fire – 12 alarms – the chief turned down the 1st alarm on the 3rd adjacent box (13th alarm) becasue there were not enough engines and trucks to fill out the assignment. And the city tried to recall memebers but it was midnight on New Years eve – they ended up with a handful of apparatus out of the 55 engines and 30 trucks back then.

    Instead of asking firefighters if they want mutual aid, why not ask the citizens if they care what the helmet shield says. They want the closest fire apparatus when they are in trouble.

    And guess what – they never consistently got the closest apparatus, even with 55 engines and 30 trucks. Baltimore City and Baltimore County have always practiced a prarochial environment. Both jurisdictions would run apparatus for 5, 6, 8 miles when their neighboring jurisdiction has something closer.

    Are these modern fire departments? When you look at it from the most efficient use of apparatus, both are still in the dark ages. And don’t forget, Baltimore County is probably the oldest county career department in the country – and it has over 1000 union members. And it is curious that the city folks aren’t complaining about the daily mutual aid that county medics run into the city.

  • Anonymous

    I fully understand the emotions of the city ff’s, I have many of them as close friends. Oddly enough I met them all through the volunteer system. I dont see why the volunteers are being attacked here. The issue is with the f’d up mayor and spineless chief. Nobody has said what the city guys who were on the vollie pieces should of done when their stations were alerted to go into the city. Were they supposed to get up and walk out of the station??? If I was a city ff on duty at one of the very few stations that were not on the 5 alarm fire, the first person I would want showing up on the vollie piece to back me up would be a city guy who I knew knows the area and tactics that are used in the city as opposed to some 18yr old kid who is still green behind the ears. The vollies responding into the city has absolutely no bearing on closures or downsizing. The mayor is going to do what she wants.

    • Anonymous


  • Cpep

    So when the city offers a zero wage increase only to the ones s who volunteer, then maybe they will think differently. Do not ne hipocrates and demand pay for putting yur life on the line when you are willing to do it for free as soon as you go off duty! Oh and give up your retirement and insurance! I guess the job is less dangerous when you do it for nothing!!!

  • Engineman

    If Baltimore County only sent career companies on the transfers and then had vollies fill in those county stations, would the BCFD IAFF be ok with that? Would that stop the city from closing companies?

    It seems to me the issues is the City’s inability to handle a large fire anymore. Whoever has to come in and help (vollie or career) isn’t the problem. The problem is the City’s finances.

  • CVFD Chief2

    Where did I lose track?

    The City of Baltimore is wiping out Truck 15, Truck 10, and, Squad 11 because there’s 2-hatters in the ranks?

    How did your focus get so scewed? Refocus that anger back to ciy hall. Get the public involved. 2-hatters aren’t going to get people killed when a truck is out of service – budgets will.

  • Jeffrey P Bell

    Better to some help than none at all ? Eh?

  • BmoreCareful

    You wanna play fireman in the city take the test if not stay out we don’t want or need ya.

  • firefighter

    Here are several reasons why being a two hatter is frowned upon: Joe Two-Hatter is a career firefighter, but also is a vollie for a busy vollie FD. He want time off (vacations days, sick days, etc.) to get away from the paid FD. He then spends his time off (non duty days, vacation days, etc.) at the vollie dept.

    Also, Joe Two-Hatter is subjected to smoke, injury, etc. at his vollie dept.. Now Joe needs to go on medical leave, disability, etc. for health problems. The paid FD will mostly pick up the tab (sick leave, disability, sick days, etc.), when all or a portion of the condition and/or injury was incurred at the vollie FD.

    Just my two cents.

    • Anonymous

      And what if instead of volunteering at another department, he had hobbies such as diving, mountain biking, rock climbing…or anything else with a slightly higher than normal risk of injury? Heck, what if he rode a motorcycle to work in the rain? Or chewed tabaco…yeah…nobody does those things. Would you submit to a zero-tobacco on and off duty policy in order to avoid the FD having to pay for possible medical expenses that can result from personal choices? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

      • Mark too

        You appear to be not getting his point. It’s not about the “risk” involved with off-duty activities. An off-duty injury or illness that results in lost time at work regardless of the cause will likely impact the employee and employer in the same fashion – lost pay and OT cost to replace them, respectively. However, the point being made is that should a person contract an occupational illness, like cancer since firefighters have a higher risk for that, two-hatting can lead to problems for both. Who’s responsible for the bill on that when it can’t be proved that the illness was related to your occupation as a firefighter or your volunteering as a firefighter? Who potentially suffers the most while that battle is waged? I’d submit to a “zero tobacco” rule, but that doesn’t mean much since I’ve never used it and don’t plan to ever use it.

        • Anonymous

          I understand his point perfectly. I am pointing out that there are any number of risky activities that someone can engage in that have nothing to do with firefighting. Actually, a previous employer almost had to pay a higher premium for my disability insurance because of some of my after-work outdoor activities. Whether someone is injured rock climbing or at a volunteer compony does nothing to change the outcome – injury. So unless you are suggesting that people lock themselves in a padded room after hours lest they hurt themselves, this argument is simply an attempt to take one potential risk out of many and create some kind of scandal around it.

  • CharlieBrown

    I will add a couple of more things to think about.
    • You argue that you can “do what you want to off duty”:
    o Yes you can. BUT, when you signed your name onto your union card you agreed to abide by ALL of the rules and regulations of the IAFF. Either uphold your promise to not be a two hatter or withdraw from the union.

    • Another argument is that it was a mutual aid call and they were “just responding to help”:
    o Even if it were, you are in the jurisdiction where you are employed and doing the job the said jurisdiction pays you to do. Unless you are a salaried employee, by not being paid OT, a violation of FLSA is occurring. Don’t like it, change the law.

    • What happens if/when you get hurt while wearing the volunteer uniform and you can’t go to your paid job to feed your family and pay your mortgage?
    o You are screwed! I don’t want to see anyone get hurt on the job (regardless of their compensatory status), but this is a real scenario and could happen to you.
    Just my thought s from the peanut gallery.

    Stay safe and fight the good fight brothers & sisters!

    “Strength through unity”

    • Commenter

      Can you even withdraw from the union and still be employed? Sounds like fuel for the anti-union people if you can’t. Just another reason public employee unions are outdated, I guess.

  • Anonymous

    I agree the problem is the guys who are totally ate up with it are the problem. When you get off work in a place like Baltimore or DC and the go run in PG or Balto county and run more calls than you do at work, you have a problem. You are a loser. Get a life. And if you ride that volly engine into the city where you work you are a total idiot and you should be kicked out of your union.

  • Capt 45-2

    Wow did this get off track,, the old volley vs carrier debate.. Sorry but I agree with bob on one thing at least,, Off duty paid UNION firefighter responding into your job as a volley is not a smart move, it is simple re set and roll over let someone else fill in for you. We are all working with less, and I am willing to bet the cuts won’t be in the area of the city where the mayor lives. Best of luck to Baltimore but one word of advice to the bean counters you may want to call mayor Booker from Newark N.J. and ask him how his lay off went .. From a proud Union member and a Volley

  • Anonymous

    I dont know if you wonderfully educated Union firefighters have noticed, but volunteers arent taking jobs from you. Maybe you should read the news a bit more often and notice that 100% career departments ARE FIRING PEOPLE!!!!! Again, uneducated people placing blame on others because they fail to pay attention to the big picture.

    My question to you folks in the big bad Baltimore City Fire Department is this, would you rather have your own coming to help you for free, or the “lesser” departments of Baltimore Co. or Anne Arundel career stations that you have for years looked down your noses at and refused to allow into your city for various reasons because of your “pride”.

    You guys will never learn that your “glory” filled department of running all the fire you do is directly related to the ghettoes that you run. And its because of those areas being such a poor tax base that you are losing fire companies because the city cant afford them. One day you guys will realize that you chose to work in a broke, poor, and mismanaged city because thats where the action is, and then continue the thought that you are closing fire houses exactly because of that reason.

    The guy was right about Truck 10 and how being the busiest closes it down, its a shame you all couldnt figure out just how true that was. Rescuing poor people and winning medals for it, does not pay the bills. Keep on pushing and being stubborn and you will be seeing alot more mutual aid companies coming into the City because you all cant get your head out of your a**.

    This all boils down too, dont blame your two-hatters. Back in the day, yes, it could be argued that a volunteer was taking a job because if they werent there a government would be forced to fill those positions. Now, that most definitely is not the case. So suck it up boys and girls, youre in for a long ride, and if the volunteers are where you want to place blame, go right ahead, but remember this. Who provides the service where you live?

    • ron

      Id rather have a man from baltimore getting paid overtime to back me up. not some scab wagon from the county. also who the hell knows whos gonna show up in the jolly volly unit. it could be anyone from the 70 year old guy to a brand new 16 year old JR fireman. unless you can garuntee that you have 4 qualifired firemen riding that apparatus then dont come.

      • BH

        The “jolly volly unit” is coming to the city whether you want it there or not once the mutual aid request is made. And every “two-hating” B-more firefighter is another qualified butt in the seat. Guess you’d rather the experienced city fireman stayed home and let whoever shows up take the truck into the city. Makes sense.

        • Ron

          bring a career engine or truck. one that has a guaranteed 4 FF with the the same qualifications the that the city requires its FF’s to have so that the same level of service can be provided. not a bunch of weekend warriors showing up with shorts and flip flops on. if you wanna go to fires in the city then take the test and get hired. until then. stay in pikesville where you can provide protection to the citizens that donate their money to you or support your bingo games.

          • BH

            Don’t belong to Pikesville or any other Maryland company. Just trying to open up the narrow vision.

          • Bob C

            Are your “fully qualified” and tested career boys dedicated or are they paycheck firemen there for the benefits. The trash talk cuts both ways. I’ve seen great vollys and social club vollys not worth 2 cents. So too have I seen great career guys and piss poor paycheck firemen. Your “holier than thou” attitude speaks volumes about you.

  • Anon

    So what I’m getting from this is that if career department A desperately needs an engine from volley department B, but the only vollies that are able to respond are off duty career department A firefighters, the engine should stay in quarters with those guys keeping their thumbs in a dark place. Think about it. That is what it seems some of these arguements are implying.

    If the fire chief had made call backs would there be a need for that volley engine to be dispatched? it would help prove how vital that these city firefighters are and why these companies need to stay open. And this whole two hatter debate may not be happening.

    And are you people seriously criticizing fellow firefighters for responding because a call for help was sounded? ridiculous.

    You want to solve the problem, start with your mayor and your high-ups.

  • Newburgher

    Coming from a small city fire department that is always dealing with the threat of cutbacks, I can see where the Baltimore guys are coming from. In my opinion, it isn’t a career/volunteer issue. Our city is supposed to provide fire protection. What they would like to do, is show up with a single engine, then get all the rest of the crews from free mutual aid. Not free as in no paycheck, but free as in, we can get all the firetrucks we need from the surrounding town, and don’t have to pay a cent for the fuel, training, wear and tear, equipment, etc. I have no problem volunteering. Some fire departments will never have the budget, call volume, of lack of manpower to have paid people. Some however, have the run numbers and budget, but have no problem with manpower because there are a dozen off duty guys that are around during the day when people with regular 9-5 jobs are at work. The only thing likely keeping that fire department from paying firemen and at least becoming combination, are the off duty guys. They are helping to make the system work. That’s ok. Now, if those same guys are the ones that give the mutual aid departments enough manpower to respond into the city, and they do, they are making the cities idea work. If they choose not to go, and the department can’t get enough responders, it shows the city that the surrounding fire departments don’t have the manpower to cover for the city’s shortcomings. As a fireman in a city going through the same thing, remember, it’s the politicians who want to gamble with not providing enough manpower. We will still do our job with our safety as the top priority. All fires go out. Some are put out fast because there enough people, some go out slower because the city wants to wait for enough people and it continues to grow until enough people are there. I know it’s a long post, and I hope it’s not too confusing, but I definitely understand what’s happening. And for the record, I volunteer too, but I choose not to go on mutual aid calls into paid jurisdictions. The ones around me run short staffed, but have large budgets and a lot of runs.

  • In The Hood

    It always amazes me how short-sighted the two-hatters (i.e. SCABS) can be. At work, they would/should scream if their jurisdiction put a volunteer in charge of their company or department. Show me other city/county departments that are run by volunteers or a committee, and in charge of life and death decisions too! We elect a Sheriff, County Commissioners, City Council, but they are then paid. Library’s, Sanitation Dept.’s, Parks & Rec…..all of them run by staff that are held accountable to their city/county manager and governing body. We certainly can’t say the same about combination or volunteer departments. But back to Baltimore…..they want to be “in charge” at work but also be “in charge” off duty. If the impending shutdown of three companies isn’t enough to wake you up, then sure, guarantee the shutdowns by them getting the exact same guy for free on his days off. Bail out the city every time. The city would have to be an idiot not to close the companies if there is little reduction in services.

    The Local will need to handle their own problems with their members. Throw them out of the local (there are absolutely by-laws that cover two-hatters in other jurisdictions with locals) and spread the word that no one does shift trades or covers for these folks. Once they realize that you can’t have it both ways, maybe they’ll rethink their position.

  • Anonymous

    Anon brings up a good point. Did the City chief order any callbacks or just rely on mutual aid?
    And Engineman, in the ‘old days’ (70′s, 80′s, early 90′s) when the city requested transfer companies from surrounding counties, they got carreer engines. The counties then filled their own houses however they could, often with volunteers.

  • Anonymous

    Paid firefighters have the best job in the world. Why do I say this? Because no other occupation have people who are willing to do it for free.

    • Capt 45-2

      Love it

  • Texas Gordo

    Does anyone know if member of the members of Virginia Task Force One are considered paid employees of either the federal or state government. I don’t think they are all paid (that is what it says it states on their webpage).

    Would anyone argue that the members of VATF1 are “scabs” for working without pay? Do we consider those who volunteer in hospitals, libraries, schools, coaching kids, and a million other arenas as “scabs”? Personally I would love to shout “scab” at the guy who coaches my son’s baseball team and instead replace him with the head coach from UT, but I don’t believe the budget will cover it.

    How about those pesky volunteer departments that keep getting in the way of the US forest service fire fighters?

    The interesting question to me is why would an individual volunteer the time, energy, effort, and risk of injury for something like the fire department. I’d suggest taking a look at Daniel Pink’s “Drive”. Also, I’m pretty impressed that I live in a country where so many Americans find ways to be involved in their community.

    • Sal Brunacini

      this isnt about volly vs paid. this is about a member breaking a union by law. bottom line. he shouldnt have done it. whether he was on a volly company or not. he was in the wrong. please stop trying to justify his wrong doings.

    • Mark too

      The term “scab” has nothing to do with working without pay.

  • Ted

    Again, as it was mentioned in two previous posts, career IAFF mutual aid exists in all counties surrounding the City of Baltimore.

    These counties are all combination departments. If every volunteer disappeared from Baltimore County, Anne Arundel and Howard tomorrow – do you think that would stop these closings? NO, your mutual aid would be exclusively IAFF and these City companies would still be closed.

  • Don Juan Chambers

    Id like to know what wouldve happened had the Pikesville Community had an incident and there were no volunteers around because they were all on the wagon covering the city. their truck company sees alot of first due work in that section of the county. how can they justify bailing out the city while leaving there tax payers unprotected?

    • BH

      Because that’s what mutual aid is. Would Baltimore refuse a request to go to Pikesville?

  • A concerned taxpayer

    One thing noone has posted is,how effective is the IAFF? I know alot of guys who complain bout scabs,vollies, the pols, their chiefs, the weather, Joe Citizen. I guess there’s a reason why Maryland isn’t a right to work state. If I give someone my money to protect my job,dammit he’d better do it. Screw the career vs vollie/scab crap. Demand better from the union. I sure dont wanna see DC Engines 10 and 16 on mutual aid on N Eutaw street

  • Reginal77

    I dont think this has been mentioned. At the end of the month / year / decade, mutual aid into the city has to equal mutual aid out of the city. That is part of the “mutual” part of “mutual aid”.

  • 0 cool

    The International by laws state that any union member who volunteers in an area with an IAFF local can be placed in a not good standing status with their own local. So basically they should not be volunteering in a dept that has an IAFF local if they are a member in another. Example works/ member xyz but voiles in local abc. That I think it is the big issue in most departments, on a personal level.

  • Anonymous

    Were these members really volunteering for Baltimore City??? No, they were volunteering for whatever piece they were riding. With the theory that so many are trying to use, if a City engine is transferred into AA County, they then become part of the AA County FD. It is trying to compare apples to oranges. The union law refers to volunteering in the area that you work. Last time I checked Baltimore City has no volunteer stations. Channel your anger and agression to city hall, not a few guys who were most likely responding into the city on the volly pieces simply to give their brothers the best back-up they could get.

  • mark

    So, the question remains unanswered.

    For those of you who are so angered by this action, exactly HOW can this look good to any of your employers, I.E., the taxpayers?

    Seriously, you guys need to take a step back and think about what you are bitching about and how it looks to Joe Taxpayer.

    Want some help? Childish, whining, immature, sour grapes, and on and on and on. You guys are well paid for what you do. Should be paid more. How many of your citizens make the money you guys do, yet bitch when a MA engine shows up which is not union staffed?

    So again, you really wonder why taxpayers are taking it out on unions when this kind of crap goes on? Seriously? Keep it up, this kind of thinking is absolutely brilliant.

    • Sal Brunacini

      yea your right how does it look to the taxpayers of Baltimore county who are having their fire protection stripped to be sent into the city that doesn’t want to fund its fire dept? and by well compensated do you mean no cost of living raise in years? over 100% increase in what we pay for health insurance? furlough days? having our safety put in jeopardy by constantly doing more with less? an all out attack on our “overly lavish pension plan”? or how about the admin wanting to go from a 42 hour work week to a 56 hour work week? i could go on and on…seriously though you have no clue. were just evil people who should just lie down and allow the Mayor and COFD to walk all over us because were so well compensated for what we do….get real!

      • mark

        Blah, blah, blah, blah.

        Really Sal, you might want to take a look around. This is the same thing that has and is still happening in the non-public sector of employment as well. I live in Michigan. You want to cry your story to the hundreds of thousands of UAW workers who are OUT OF A JOB? Get over yourselves.

        You still didn’t answer my question, because you can’t. This is a no-win situation for you guys and until you realize it, you are just going to cause problems for yourself.

        Plus, if it’s soooooo very bad with the list you gave me, quit and go find another job with better benefits. Don’t give me this crap that you are forced to stay there, it’s a free country. Go find a better job with more benefits and less danger.

        I own my own business. I haven’t had a COLA or any raise in 10 years. My health insurance keeps going up just like yours does. But I have to provide it for my employees too. Yet the prices I am able to charge my customers have gone down to pricing from 15 years ago. But my costs have gone up too. Insurance, fuel, cost of equipment, labor, etc, etc, etc. Just like costs have gone up for municipalities while tax revenue has gone down.

        Maybe because you’re too busy whining you haven’t noticed that while real inflation is closer to 7%, wages are not going up even close to that. Maybe you would notice that for a few years NOBODY was getting raises, and as I mentioned, people were getting laid off instead. But I doubt it. Everyone has been asked to do more with less, not just the fire service. The problem is we’re the only ones that when a house is on fire and no on is inside, we still bust our asses instead of saying: You cut our manpower, it’s going to burn to the ground. I have a small self-funded pension plan, and by small, I mean small because I can’t afford to contribute.

        So again Sal, how are you and the IAFF going to win this battle by bitching about MA that are not union when your employers–THE TAXPAYERS like me–are in the exact same boat as you are, or worse?

        • Sal

          ok. and no one told you to own your own business. LOL. i love how police and fire have become public enemy #1 because the politicians and biased news outlets try to make us look bad. all your doing is pissing and moaning about your job and sounding awfully jealous about mine. get over your self. a city with a fire dept that handles over 100K runs a year and goes to multiple fires a day should not have to rely on volunteers to come in and bail them out cause they dont having there spending priorities straight.

          • mark

            You still haven’t answered the question. How are you going to look to your employers raising this kind of stink about something this petty?

            Once you answer my question, I will address your comments further. I won’t be holding my breath, because if you are the least bit intellectually honest, you know this is a no-win battle for the IAFF.

        • Bob C

          +1 to Mark’s post. Empty house? Exposures protected/evacuated? Then let it burn. It’s like getting a traffic light.. won’t happen until someone is killed… very sad that that winds up being the reason things get done…

    • Anonymous


      As I see it, the problem is that the union leadership needs to justify their salaries and the dues paid to support them. They use scare tactics to manipulate their members into thinking that anything that the unions don’t like is a threat to their jobs. The problem is that the members don’t question the stories they are being fed by the union.

      As someone else pointed out, today budget cuts are occurring everywhere. They would occur whether or not there were volunteers. They would occur whether or not there was mutual aid. Fortunately, they do exist, and it means that departments are going to get extra resources when they need them. Also pointed out that they key word in mutual aid is MUTUAL, so if it were a one-sided attempt, it wouldn’t continue.

      Do the unions really believe that if all volunteers in a combination department walked out tomorrow, that the governments involved would just run out and hire that many more paid firefighters? Look around you at the economic situation resulting from drastic drops in income as the housing market tanked. It’s not going to happen. Period! They will simply explain to their citizens that the are shutting down companies and spreading staffing out more. Nobody wins. The same is true of MA into cities like Baltimore. If the MA agreements went away tomorrow, it would not save one single company from being shut down.

      Understand that the citizens just want to know that someone is going to show up when they call 911. They don’t know (or care!) about 3 vs 4-person staffing, or any other issues we face. Have you ever had to explain to a citizen why what they thought was a “massive response” was just the standard response to a box alarm?

      If you want to impact the community, talk about things that are important to them. If they see petty infighting about things they don’t know or care about, they are going to tune it out. They are not going to care about the things that are really important. Rather than all this stupid fighting, see mutual aid as the resource that it is. Look to compromises. Welcome the response from out of the jurisdiction and show that you’re working with those companies. If you do that, and THEN can point to some smaller gaps, there is probably going to be a lot more willingness to listen to you.

      Stop listening to the union leaders that try to use you like peons by framing everything as a threat to your job. The threat to jobs is the economic situation and the reduced income of cities that have seen their budgets decimated.

      • Don Chambers

        no one has anything against volunteers. the problem is this guy chose to bring his volly engine into the city where he works. that is the issue at hand. he should not have done it. bottom line. he had no reason to get on the wagon that day. i hope that in the future he chooses not do go this route again. and just to prove the point here is what he wrote on his union forum…….”Im not going to defend anything that was done as I was wrong and should have stayed home. All I can say is I’m truly sorry for this and can promiss it will never happen again. I deserve everything that’s been said. I’m sorry.”

  • Anonymous

    So is joining the fd just to wear the t-shirt, ride the fire truck, look cool and kiss the dog.

  • Capt 45-2

    This is an old question that I think of in times like these, would you take your taxes to a volunteer accountant??? Let’s say you are being sued would you rather a volunteer layer or would you pay for one?? I am a union member and a volunteer that are separated by 65 miles, I know some brilliant volunteer fire fighters I know some crappy ones. I know some brilliant paid fire fighters and I know some crappy ones but the bottom line is how you support your family is worth fighting over so I understand.

    Taxpayers are for the most part clueless, if they knew all the pay for play jobs, no show jobs that is in government bureaucracy they would be amazed. I love acting surprised every once in a while when someone gets caught and there is a huge public lynching of the politician while all there henchmen slither back under their rocks. Until that changes and money goes where it is needed into public safety things will never change.

  • Sal

    @Mark….our “employers” have spoken loud and clear and they want a fully funded Fire Dept…as have the City Council by making cuts to the mayors budget in order to fund the dept correctly. and what about the Volunteers “employers”? do they not deserve adequate fire protection as sell? cause obviously in order to cover the cash strapped city, fire protection has to be pulled from a neighborhood in the county full of taxpayers and donators….so how is that fair to them? bottom line is that it should not have to happen….and by the volunteers willingness to come in the city for free, the COFD and Mayor will take full advantage of that and continue to cut the fire dept.

  • Bob C

    What is patently clear is that there is a SEVERE case of piss poor leadership. That Chief should be out on his 4th point of contact. The additional aspect is the terrible city council members who have their budgeting priorities bass-ackwards. The vollycareer issue is only exacerbating the problem. Fire ground ops should be dictated by the staffing. If you don’t have the personnel to perform some ops safely, then adjust the tactics accordingly. I absolutely don’t want anyone to get hurt or worse but if houses start to get burned down, maybe then city council will see the value in funding the FD. Again, that’s not how I’d want to see changes occur, but politicians are infected by myopia and seeking the most expedient solutions to, well, anything.

    I’m in a right to work state (NC) so my IAFF dues buy me the death benefits and that’s it. We are also fortunate to have a strong chief and a city manager who “gets it.” The whole union/non-union issue is as much a part of the problem as anything else. Strong arm tactics by the union isn’t helping how the dept. is viewed by anyone, particularly city hall. Is there any community/neighborhood involvement or outcries in the areas where houses are closing?

    Capt 45-2 is right, you have the good ff’s and the bad on both sides. Again, failure of leadership all around is obvious. But also look beyond the elected officials, enough outcry can get a deadbeat out of office. But, what about the “henchmen” who aren’t elected and who retain the screwed up agendas…. Political machines still exist, just not as overtly as in the past.