Union leader critical of fire resources

Hoffman says departement is 'spread too thin'

At a special press conference Thursday, the head of the local firefighters' union wanted to make it clear that he believes the Baltimore City Fire Department is doing a lot with a little. He said the department is "spread too thin."

The press conference was called following two morning fires. One was on Denwood Avenue and resulted in the deaths of five people (four children) and the injury of two firefighters. The other fire happened on Bonsal Street – two firefighters sent to Bayview with severe burns.

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• 5 killed in morning fire

Rick Hoffman, president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 734, offered condolences for the families and the firefighters involved in the two morning incidents. While he said he had a message to send, he also wanted it to be clear that he was not using the deaths and injuries in the morning fires to prove a point. Instead, he said he simply wanted to raise awareness for what he believes to be a "non-arguable point."

"I don't want to use this to get on a soap box and beat the same band," Hoffman said. "Nor do I want to play God and pretend to have a crystal ball and have the ability to see the future and say the companies that were shut down would have made this outcome any better. What I believe is a non-arguable point is the Baltimore City Fire Department is doing a lot more with less resources and spread too thin."

While he carried the message, in the same breath he wanted to assure the public that Baltimore firefighters are doing all they can to keep them safe.

"Baltimore can rest assured, the men and women of this department are here to serve them proudly," he said.

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