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Lori Underwood, Baltimore City firefighter and union official, dies

Lori Underwood was awarded the Maryland Star of Life for her response to a November 1995 bus accident in Cecil County.
Lori Underwood was awarded the Maryland Star of Life for her response to a November 1995 bus accident in Cecil County. (Baltimore City Fire Department)

Lori Underwood, a Baltimore City Fire Department firefighter, paramedic and union official, died June 27 in a Carroll County motorcycle accident. She was 43 and lived in Rising Sun.

Ms. Underwood was a passenger on a motorcycle that was struck by a car that pulled into their path. The 19-year member of the Baltimore City Fire Department was pronounced dead at Carroll Hospital.

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Born in Panama City, Florida, she was the daughter of Dale Riale, a retired federal worker, and Larry Underwood, an Air Force senior master sergeant. Her parents also live in Rising Sun.

She was raised in a military family in England and Germany and was a 1995 graduate of Rising Sun High School. She earned an associate degree in paramedicine from the Community College of Baltimore County’s Essex campus.

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“Lori was a very good child and she was always there for her daughter,” said her mother, Dale.

Ms. Underwood joined the Community Fire Company of Rising Sun in October 1993 and completed training to become a firefighter and paramedic. For two years she was an EMS captain.

On Nov. 27, 1995, Ms. Underwood responded to a Cecil County bus accident and was awarded the Maryland Star of Life from the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems.

She went on to graduate from the Baltimore City Fire Department Fire Academy in 2001.

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Ms. Underwood was secretary and treasurer of the International Association of Firefighters Local 734 and had served on the firefighters executive board since 2011.

Friends said she was an advocate for peer support in her union.

“This is devastating and incredibly difficult for all of us,” Fire Chief Niles R. Ford said in a news release. “It’s tough to think of losing someone in this way. Lori was very committed to this department. She was committed to the community and did everything in her power to help everyone.”

Richard “Dickie” Altieri, a past president of Local 734, said: “Lori was always smiling and energetic. She helped everybody. She could light up a room with her nice big beautiful smile.”

Mayor Brandon Scott referred to Ms. Underwood as a friend.

“On behalf of Baltimore, I extend prayers to Lori’s family, friends and colleagues. She will be sorely missed,” Mr. Scott said in his statement.

She was a firefighter-paramedic at Engine Co. No. 51 on Highland Avenue.

Ms. Underwood’s union duties called for her to attend disciplinary hearings in her department. She also helped with negotiations for salaries and benefits and contracts for health coverage.

She was an animal lover.

“Her dogs were her world. Her Rottweiler Beatrice Louise rode shotgun with her in her Jeep,” said her daughter, Madeline Moore, a Rising Sun resident.

“She was caring and loving. She put other persons first,” her daughter said.

The Baltimore City Fire Department will fly flags at half-staff until sunset the day of her funeral.

A visitation will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday at the Leonard J. Ruck Funeral Home at 5305 Harford Road.

A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m. at Community Fire Company of Rising Sun, 300 Joseph Biggs Memorial Highway.

In addition to her parents and daughter, survivors include a sister, Amy Plante of Elkton; six nephews; and seven nieces.

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