Photo by Matthew Barnard – MD22 from Alertpage.
(This post update at 1:00 AM EST with latest news coverage & videos)
It is with deep regret that we advise you of the Line of Duty Death of Baltimore County FF Mark Falkenhan, 43. Mark was killed this evening after becoming trapped and calling a mayday in a multi-family dwelling fire and suffering massive burns. FF Falkenhan had recently left as a career Baltimore County FF to take a position with the United States Secret Service. However, he was an active member of Baltimore County’s Lutherville Volunteer Fire Company (Station 30), a part of the Baltimore County FD. Mark was also an Instructor with MFRI, the Maryland Fire & Rescue Institute. He leaves his wife and 2 children, ages 10 & 13 behind.
At around 6:15 p.m., Baltimore County emergency 911 dispatch received a call about a kitchen fire at 30 Dowling Circle in the Towson Crossing apartment complex.
When the first firefighters from the Hillendale fire station arrived, flames could be seen on the second floor of the three-story, 12-unit apartment building, Baltimore County Fire Division Chief Michael Robinson said.
“They had fire showing and reports of multiple subjects trapped,” Robinson said. “Our crews immediately went to work and were able to make several rescues, including two civilians … The fire quickly escalated to a second alarm.”
Firefighters had to make a third rescue: A fellow firefighter was trapped.
“At 6:47, what is known as a ‘Mayday,’ which is a distress call, was signaled,” Robinson said. “The incident commander picked up on that. … The crews go into a rescue mode.”
Falkenhan’s death comes just eight days after his uncle, William Falkenhan, a retired firefighter himself, died.
Baltimore County paramedic Lt. Sam Snyder knew both Falkenhans well and spoke with Mark at his uncle’s viewing.
“He always kept in touch with everyone and stayed active through volunteering,” Snyder added. “Plus, he was such a great husband and father. He always talked about his sons. I can’t believe he’s gone.”
The initial call went out at 6:18 p.m. as a kitchen fire in the Towson Crossing apartment complex at 30 Dowling Circle and was quickly upgraded, Armacost said. About 20 minutes later, Falkenhan sent out a “mayday” distress call, Armacost said.
She said Falkenhan’s partner leapt from the third-floor window and crews eventually found Falkenhan on a third-floor balcony.
Baltimore County Fire Chief John J. Hohman identified the fallen firefighter as Mark Falkenhan, 43, a volunteer member of the Lutherville Volunteer Fire Co.
“I just left the hospital, and we lost a firefighter this evening at this scene,” Hohman said. “I knew him personally. (I) met him on his first day on the job when he came to work with us. He was a friend and he a great person.”
Hohman said preliminary informaiton indicated that a fire ignited in a basement kitchen, but conditions were too intense for firefighters to enter the building immediately.
“The fire was knocked and crews moved to the second and third floors to search for any possible victims,” Hohman said. “A flashover occurred. One firefighter escaped successfully, one firefighter succumbed to his injuries at the hospital and passed away.”
“We have an inherently dangerous profession,” Hohman said. “We will pull together and we will make certain that our all procedures were followed, and if not, (we will identify) what we can learn from this.”