City fire dept. investigating damage to Fells Point truck

The Baltimore Fire Department is investigating how the electric wiring in one of its ladder trucks was cut last month — damage Fire Chief James S. Clack called "suspicious."

Investigators are looking into whether the 35 department members who work out of the Roman A. Kaminski Fire Station in the 2100 block of Eastern Avenue were involved, as well as the possibility that an outsider came into the station and caused the damage to the decade-old truck, Clack said Tuesday.

"We don't know if it was somebody that works for us or if it was somebody who came into the station and did this," Clack said. "We do know it wasn't accidental. Somebody cut these wires."

The truck had to be taken out of service for a day while the damage was fixed, Clack said. Another truck covered its service area.

Clack said police have also been notified, but that he could not discuss the ongoing probe in detail.

He said the fact that someone intentionally damaged a public safety vehicle was disheartening.

"Anytime our fire apparatus is not available to respond, it impacts public safety, so it's very concerning," he said. "It's important we find out how this happened, who did it and make sure it doesn't happen again."

Rick Hoffman, president of the firefighters' union, declined to comment pending the conclusion of the investigation.

Clack said the damage was not very expensive to fix. The truck, which was stationed downtown as Truck 2 before that station was closed in 2009, is not among the newest or oldest in the department's fleet.

The damage came just as two of the department's oldest trucks — each about 20 years old — are about to be replaced. At a price tag of $900,000 each, they are the first pieces of major equipment purchased under Clack's five-year tenure of belt-tightening in the department, he said.

They are currently being retrofitted, and will be rotated into use toward the end of next month, Clack said.

They were never intended to replace the damaged vehicle, so it's good the fix was able to be completed quickly, Clack said.

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