Foundation formed to aid firefighters

March 13, 2003|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

Saying its role has expanded since the terrorist attacks of 2001, the Baltimore Fire Department launched a fund-raising foundation yesterday to allow individuals and businesses to contribute to an array of public services and equipment.

At a reception in Mount Vernon, Mayor Martin O'Malley and Fire Chief William J. Goodwin Jr. urged business leaders to respond to what they characterized as urgent needs for medical care equipment such as defibrillators, bicycle medic units, two fireboats and upgrades for aging station houses across the city.

"There are innovative steps we can take rather than buying duct tape," Goodwin told a gathering of more than 100 people at the Peabody Court Hotel.

Until now, Goodwin said, tax dollars covered the Fire Department functions. But the chief said he has spent the past year organizing a charitable foundation - his first major initiative since taking over the department last year - because of pressure for increased emergency preparation and response in a post-Sept. 11 world.

The new Baltimore City Fire Foundation is accepting money and contributions of garments or gear, said foundation Chairman J. Hollis B. Albert III. A local company, Under Armour, has pledged a corporate gift of underclothes.

During the reception, O'Malley evoked the image of firefighters responding to scenes of terror or disaster, recalling the underground train fire on Howard Street in 2001.

"I'm asking you to dig deep," the mayor said, adding that donations to the foundation will be more useful than "teary tributes to firefighters."

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