Proposal to put advertisements on city fire trucks moves forward

Supporters hope to save fire companies

A proposal to put advertisements on Baltimore City fire trucks has taken a step forward.

Supporters hope the ads might prevent the proposed closing of three fire companies in Baltimore City.

Dozens of supporters packed the council chamber for the hearing of the Budget and Taxation committee.

Councilman Pete Welch (D-9 th) made the proposal.

"You can't put a price on human life. And this is a measure that not only provides for these fire companies to be around, but to protect lives," he said.

It came in response to a plan unveiled earlier this year to permanently close three fire companies around the city -- Truck 10 in West Baltimore, Truck 15 in East Baltimore, and Squad 11 in Southeast Baltimore.

The mayor and the fire chief say permanent closures would be better than the current system of rotating fire company closures.

"We've got to figure how to right-size the department so the city can afford the fire department. And that's what we're doing," said Fire Chief James Clack at a news conference on April 5.

A spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake told ABC-2 news the mayor she does not take positions on resolutions -- and won't comment until she sees an actual bill on fire truck ads.

But he did say a proposal to add advertisements to city-owned buildings like parking garages and even schools is very close to becoming a reality.

The head of the city's fire union says after some initial skepticism, he and his members are now in favor of the idea of ads on their trucks, especially if it might keep those fire companies open.

"After the shock wore off and we realized that what this really means is how desperate times we are in, when we want to do this. We do support this bill," said Rick Hoffman, president of Firefighters Local 734.

Those three fire companies would close when the next fiscal year starts -- that's July 1 st.  It's taken more than a year for the idea of putting ads on the walls of city buildings to make it to the stage where it is now -- the city is ready to put out requests for proposals.  That makes it difficult to foresee a scenario that fire truck ads would be ready in time to make enough money to save the companies.

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