From the January 12,2011 FIREGEEZER 
By Captain Patrick Mahoney (Company Officer for a career department in Texas.)

In this month’s Firehouse magazine there is a short interview with Baltimore City’s Chief James S. Clack. Baltimore’s is one of many fire departments on the frontlines of the budget meltdown across the country. The interview touches on a number of important subjects with relevance to many of us. But what caught my eye and made me cock my head a little was his answer to the magazine’s question about public education. Chief Clack is rather proud of their “home-visit program” in which they knock on doors and ask to come inside to educate the citizenry. “The key is getting through that front door,” he says. Once through, they might install smoke detectors or educate the occupants on matters of “total-risk-reduction,” to include the proper way to put your baby to bed. This, Chief Clack tells us, is “the future of the fire service.”

The United States Census Bureau tells us that Baltimore’s population declined by 32% from 1960 to 2009. Chief Clack says various estimates place the number of vacant buildings in the city as high as 40,000. Over the same time the fire department went from 88 companies to 54, per Chief Clack. This is a reduction of about 39% overall. Further stretching the numbers are rolling brownouts ranging in number from six per day last summer to three per day now. Baltimore recently had to call mutual aide from Washington’s DCFEMS to help with a pair of greater alarm fires. This is a city in decline that needs a top-rate fire department to protect its aging and deteriorating housing stock, commercial districts, and bypassed industrial centers. They have a big fire problem and they have it now, right now, tonight, tomorrow, and in the morning. Yet here we find the chief of the department in the pages of the nation’s foremost trade journal and he’s bragging about going into houses to teach people how to put their babies to bed and calling it the future of the fire service.

The fire service’s leaders love to tell us that we need to train, prepare, train, and prepare some more. Leaving aside questions of propriety and over the political wisdom of bringing government agents into homes to “educate” the populace in this era of Tea Parties, I wonder how much time is left to train and prepare after “total-risk-reduction.” We also might be wise to ask when, how, and, most of all, why, the fire department is in charge of reducing the totality of risk. If words mean something then this is surely the greatest and most untenable mission creep anyone has ever seen.

The urban ruins of the decaying metropolis and the bare bones fire department are on display in Baltimore for all the fire service and world to see. Baltimore and its fire department are sinking; teaching people to put babies to sleep will not be the future that Chief Clack and the city fathers will be remembered for.

#1 Clicky Clack does not know how we work in Bmore.
#2 He needs to go back to minneapolis and take care of there bridges.
#3 The home visits are a joke when we put up a smoke detector next to 3 empty shells because as soon as we leave the people take them out and use the battery for some thing elses.
#4 Unlike what Clack said when he shut down one of the busies trucks people do not save themselves.

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So, is this author trying to claim that promoting a chief from within would somehow magically increase Baltimore's tax base and somehow restore the disbanded companies?

It's interesting to hear a firefighter being anti-smoke detector, too. Maybe some of the residents do remove the batteries, but some of them will leave them in.

Smoke detectors are a terrific way to help the occupants self-rescue and to help the fire department get earlier notification. Those are both good things. If you're going to fight fires with reduced manpower and fewer companies, what better way to do it than to get there sooner with the occupants standing outside and a pre-flashover fire?
Nope I am just saying that we have a guy from the out side who has no pride and no clue and who is only in baltimore as a stepping stone to the national fire academy.
and the number things were added me no the author.
E/L: You state this is a city in decline that needs a top-rate fire department to protect its aging and deteriorating housing stock, commercial districts, and bypassed industrial centers. If you truly have 40,000 vacant structures as stated, I suspect no taxes are being paid on any of these vacant properties....

So instead of just complaining about your current chief... Let's say you get tapped as the next chief, how do you fund 88 companies with tax base that can't support your 54?
When did Chief Clack go to the National Fire Academy? I thought that he was still Baltimore City's chief.
OK. Care to respond to my points about early detection, occupant self-rescue, and pre-flashover fires?

After all, those things are good for the city economy. They reduce property damage and personal injury, both of which are expensive to try to repair - and that doesn't count the human cost of the pain and suffering from burns, smoke inhalation, etc.
Clack is still in Bmore but he stated to the membership that his ultimate goal is the national fire academy.
Have nothing against smoke detectors but when you work in the hood and go to the same houses day in and day in and put the things up while there is a flat screen and an escalade sitting out front of the the row home it gets old.
I have stated nothing not my article. Also I would never be chief I am just a lowly ghetto firefighter but if I were the mayor I would get some one from with in the BCFD who knows how we operate, what we need..... like they have been doing for the last 150 years. I would not get some one who's only thing on there resume is a bridge collapse.
Helping provide early fire detection, early alerting, helping occupants self-rescue prior to the FD arrival, and catching the fires pre-flashover gets old for you?
The thing about occupant self rescue was when Clack shut down one of the busiest trucks in baltimore the only truck downtown 2 truck saying the most people rescue them selfs. So if you plan on coming to bmore for the fire house expo bring an bail out kit in case your hotel catches fire.
Interesting. I've heard that claiim made on and elsewhere, but I've never seen any public record that shows that Chief Clack made that statement. Do you have a link to a video or news report that confirms that he actually said that?

I've heard that he was leaving "any day" for well over a year, and he's still there.

There have been several positions open at the NFA since Chief Clack was appointed in Balto. City, too. Is there any reason that you know of that he didn't apply for one or more of those positions?

I'm not doublting you. I just haven't seen anything that confirms what his intentions really are.

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