Firefighters deserve a greater commitment from city they...


January 13, 2001

Firefighters deserve a greater commitment from city they serve

The recent fire in a vacant Baltimore rowhouse that injured numerous firefighters should cause an immediate, critical review of Fire Department policies regarding vacant house fires and firefighter safety equipment ("5 city firefighters injured as floor of house collapses," Jan. 3). The city also needs to look at the department's staffing and pay.

Questions that demand answers include whether we are placing firefighters in harm's way when it might be more prudent to "let it burn" and whether we should provide firefighters with electronic locators or other devices that help track personnel working in dangerous, heavy smoke.

Firefighters and their families also need to know Baltimore is more concerned about the health and safety of these brave men and women than the bottom line.

It is obvious that this approach to the Police Department has brought about better police work and improved morale. This is the time for Mayor Martin O'Malley to make the same commitment to his firefighters.

A terrific first step would be to make sure the panel searching for a new fire chief has a majority of rank-and-file firefighters and a mandate to search nationwide for the best and brightest candidates.

Herb Butler, Perry Hall

City shouldn't tolerate boarded-up houses

When will we correct the problems caused by vacant homes? Why do decent people have to live near boarded-up houses?

Why do firefighters and others put themselves on the line putting out fires that could have been prevented?

If landlords do not care, the law should allow the city to take over such properties.

Martha Bromberger-Barnea, Baltimore

Police force's dedication cut city's homicide rate

A heartfelt thank you to all the men and women of the Baltimore Police Department who, through hard work and dedication, made a significant reduction in our homicide rate in 2000 ("Fewer than 300 homicides at last," Jan. 1).

Keep up the good work.

Susanna Maddox, Baltimore

Sparing west side saves what makes the city special

I was so pleased to see The Sun's article "Mayor spares historic west side" (Jan. 9). I was wondering if anyone was ever going to catch on that Baltimore has something worth saving.

I know many people feel it is cheaper to demolish things and put up shiny new buildings. But, frankly, that is all you end up with -- cheaper buildings.

Baltimore and Maryland have so much more to offer. We are steeped in local and national history; let's take care of it.

Thanks to Mayor Martin O'Malley for seeing the light and much appreciation to the preservationists for their perseverance and hard work.

Rachel Mercer, Catonsville

Meddling bosses prevent workers from organizing

Kirk Pickerel of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) has some nerve saying that the Project Labor Agreement on the Wilson Bridge will force workers to "accept unwanted union representation" ("Union work rules prevail," Jan. 6).

Polls show that tens of millions of workers in this country want union representation and don't have it. The main reason is vicious opposition from employers such as the ABC.

Union supporters are often fired when they try to organize, and employers who break the law get, at most, a slap on the wrist.

If Mr. Pickerel really cares about what workers want, he should help them win the right to choose whether to join a union without interference from their bosses.

Ben Ross, Bethesda

Cold War mentality betrays hope for more humane future

In a recent article, Condoleezza Rice, who will be George W. Bush's national security adviser, was labeled a realist and put in the category of Hobbes, Machiavelli and Bismarck ("Rice holds a different worldview," Dec. 31).

It seems odd that our leaders criticize Russian leaders' flirtation with their Soviet past while Mr. Bush is reaching back into the caves to haul out former Cold Warriors to run his administration.

How long before that rigid, Cold War mentality will get us into deep confrontation with the rest of the world, particularly our European allies? The Europeans, after all, have shaken off that yoke of rigidity in the post-Berlin Wall years.

One had hoped for a new direction from new people to complement a brand-new century and lead us into of helping our fellow humans, not hindering them.

Will American politicians ever get it?

Robert L. Reynolds, Bel Air

Bush's pessimistic rhetoric prompts economic slowdown

President-elect George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have been talking about a sluggish economy since the election, despite the fact that at the time retailers, consumers and even Wall Street predicted a good holiday season.

It doesn't take much to frighten people about the economy, and the negative campaigning caused the American people to tighten the string to their wallets.

Now we are all paying the price for their dire predictions.

Ann Falk,Towson

UN force could quell violence while parties talk

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