Baltimore fire closures delayed in wake of severe storm

Three Baltimore City fire companies that had been slated to permanently close Sunday will remain open for four more days due to the weather, a department spokesman said Saturday.

Fire officials have decided to keep the three companies open until Thursday morning to help clean up from the storm and aid those suffering from heat-related health problems, said spokesman Chief Kevin Cartwright.

"It's a common practice for the fire department to increase our manpower due to natural disasters," Cartwright said. 

Fire fighters have been helping with downed wires and caring for people afflicted with heat exhaustion or heat stroke -- particularly elderly and home bound people who have lost power, Cartwright said.

Three companies -- East Baltimore's Truck 15, West Baltimore's Truck 10 and Southeast Baltimore's Engine 11 -- had been set to close Sunday morning as a cost-cutting measure.

Two other companies had been set to move to new stations. Engine 33 was to move from the 800 block of E. 25th St. to take Truck 15's place in the Broadway East neighborhood. Truck 27 was to move from a station in the county line in Northwest Baltimore to a nearby station a little to the south.

The closures and transfers have been postponed until 7 a.m. Thursday, Cartwright said.

The closures, which were strongly opposed by fire union members and some city politicians, were intended to help the cash-strapped city save money. They are to replace a system of rolling closures of fire companies that have been in effect for several years. 

Cartwright said that the rolling closures have also been suspended today due to the weather emergency. 

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