Reisterstown volunteer firefighter dies of injuries
By By Alison Knezevich and The Baltimore Sun
May 02, 2013 | 10:29 PM
A volunteer firefighter who joined the Reisterstown Volunteer Fire Company as a teenager more than a decade ago died Thursday of injuries sustained in a fire last week that also killed another man.
Gene Kirchner, 25, died at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, officials said.
"Everybody is extremely shocked by this," said Craig Hewitt, assistant chief of the fire company. "They're missing Gene right now. He was a very key part of our fire company, and he will be greatly missed."
Kirchner was one of the first firefighters to respond to the house fire on Hanover Road early on the morning of April 24.
He tried to save a man trapped inside, officials said. Kirchner was found unconscious on the second floor when a county response team arrived, officials said.
The company had not lost a member in the line of duty since 1928, Hewitt said. Firefighter Monroe Seitz was killed that year when a gasoline tank in a burning car exploded, according to a company history.
Brad Reter owns Reter's Crab House near the Reisterstown station. He joined the fire company more than 30 years ago.
Kirchner had dined at the crab house with other firefighters the evening before the fire. Later that night, "he was on a mission to save lives, not just to put a fire out," Reter said.
On Thursday, Reter leafed through a booklet of community ads and historical photos that the fire company published this week to celebrate the 100th anniversary.
"Here we are, ready after three years of planning, to celebrate the existence of the fire company," Reter said. "Now we'll turn it into a celebration of his life."
A funeral is scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. at Har Sinai Congregation in Owings Mills. Kirchner will be buried at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens in Timonium.
Gov. Martin O'Malley ordered state flags to be lowered until sunset on the day of Kirchner's interment.
The county Fire Department said it has begun an internal investigation of Kirchner's death.
"The entire Baltimore County fire service mourns the passing of a very young man and a very dedicated volunteer," said county Fire Chief John Hohman. "This was his passion."
Kirchner's death marks the second death of a Baltimore County firefighter in two years. In January 2011, Lutherville volunteer firefighter Mark Falkenhan, 43, died after a four-alarm apartment fire in Hillendale.
"Sometimes we take for granted the willingness of our first responders to lay down their lives for us," County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said in a statement. "Today, we're reminded just how much we owe them."