Dixon announces promotion of fire recruit

February 26, 2007

Mayor Sheila Dixon announced a posthumous promotion yesterday for city Fire Apprentice Racheal M. Wilson, who was killed Feb. 9 in a flawed live-fire training exercise - a move she said will enable her two children to receive "full pension benefits."

"Racheal Wilson was willing to put her life on the line for the citizens of Baltimore and she lost her life training to serve this city," Dixon said in a statement. "This promotion recognizes her sacrifice.

"As a city, we have an obligation to care for the families of our fallen heroes," Dixon added.

Wilson, 29, whose children are ages 8 and 11, had begun her fire academy training in November. She died after leading other cadets into an abandoned rowhouse where instructors had set seven fires in what was supposed to be a routine exercise that was found after her death to have been rife with safety violations

As a result, two fire officers were suspended without pay and the head of the training academy was fired.

Dixon said Fire Chief William Goodwin and union officials support the promotion of Wilson to "full firefighter-paramedic status."

The mayor's spokesman, Anthony W. McCarthy, said last night that Wilson had been months away from completing her training, and that her pension would have been relatively small without the promotion.

"What will happen is the Fire Department will consult with the fire and police pension board, and will get a new pension status for Ms. Wilson. What the exact increase will be I am not sure until we hear back from the pension board," McCarthy said, adding that the matter eventually will be presented to the city Board of Estimates and "an adjustment will be made in the Fire Department budget to absorb that increase."

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