Safety: Baltimore Gets “No-Go” Bill
Laying out some law?
In the wake of the tragic deaths of three Baltimore City firefighters in an abandoned building fire, Councilwoman Danielle McCray has introduced legislation which would:
- “bar city firefighters from entering vacant buildings if 25% or more of the structure has been consumed by fire.”
- “Additionally, firefighters could only enter a vacant building if the department “confirmed” an occupant was inside and “structural and hazardous conditions permit a safe entry.” (Baltimore Sun)
The Sun also said, “In the aftermath of the Stricker Street fire, questions have been raised about whether the firefighters should have entered the building, which was also the site of a 2015 fire that injured three firefighters.”
And The Washington Post reports,
- “Firefighters would be barred from entering a collapsed structure unless someone’s life was in immediate danger...”
- “The bill also requires firefighters to be equipped with a recording device that collects audio and video to be used only at the scene of fires.”
The Post added, “McCray said her legislation was based on best practices from both the National Fire Protection Association and the International Association of Fire Chiefs.”
Someone apparently has the Councilwoman’s ear and it isn’t the chief of the department Niles Ford nor the city’s two firefighter unions since neither were consulted on the bill.
McCray is suggesting the unthinkable,
- not every structure fire is a candidate for interior attack, and
- not every report of a person trapped is credible,
- nor is every trapped person even remotely savable.
She even included quantitative and qualitative parameters, something hitherto deemed beyond the pale.
In the final analysis her measure effectively applies only to vacant single family dwelling units heavily involved in fire, a “smart bomb” of firefighter safety.
It crucially requires confirmation that 1) occupants are in the building and 2) they could be safely rescued.
Whether or not McCray’s proposal is drafted into law, it suggests that commonsense metrics can be adopted which bring logic and risk management into the equation of interior firefighting.
Her act is one of devotion to those lost and those who remain.