John R. Frazier

[ Age 71 ] Baltimore firefighter became a bureau commander and advocated for the Fire Department in Annapolis.

One of his earliest memories was the gift of a pedal-powered firetruck he received at Christmas.

April 10, 2007|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,sun reporter

John R. "Jack" Frazier, a retired Baltimore firefighter who rose to bureau commander and was still working as the department's legislative liaison in Annapolis, died of a heart attack Friday at St. Joseph Medical Center. He was 71 and lived in Idlewylde.

The son of a firefighter, Mr. Frazier was born in Baltimore and spent his early years in Waverly before moving with his family to Frederick Avenue in Southwest Baltimore.

One of his earliest memories as a child was being given a shiny red pedal-powered fire engine at Christmas, family members said.

When he was 10, he began hanging around Engine Company 30 and Truck Company 8, stationed at a firehouse a block from his home. When passing by, he'd check the watch desk status board, and, if the engines had responded to a call, Mr. Frazier would close the front doors and guard the station until their return.

Mr. Frazier was a 1954 graduate of City College, where he was an active member of the Civil Defense Club.

While at City College, one of the most memorable fires he witnessed was the Tru-Fit Clothing Co. fire in 1955, which killed six firefighters when a wall and the roof of the East Baltimore Street building collapsed, family members said.

"At a memorial ceremony on the 50th anniversary of the fire, Mr. Frazier gave bricks he had collected from the site to the fire chief, fire union officials and the Box 414 Association," said Division Chief Donald W. Heinbuch.

Mr. Frazier attended Loyola College and earned an associate's degree in fire service technology from Catonsville Community College in 1972. He also was a graduate of the National Fire Academy and the fire service program at the University of Maryland, College Park.

He served in the U.S. Naval Reserve from 1953 to 1964, attaining the rank of chief petty officer, and from 1964 to 1996 in the Coast Guard Reserve, where he was an intelligence officer.

Mr. Frazier worked for the old Baltimore Bureau of Water Supply from 1954 until 1957, when he joined the Fire Department and was assigned to Engine Company 15. He was promoted to pump operator in 1963, to lieutenant in 1964 and to fire alarm analyst in 1969.

He was named safety officer in 1977, then promoted to battalion chief in 1978. He was bureau commander of the Fire Prevention Bureau when he retired in 1995.

During his career, Mr. Frazier had been presented 10 departmental commendations and the Maryland Arson Investigators Association's Leo J. Sullivan Memorial Award.

"He first got to know me earlier in my career 31 years ago, when I was a young rookie and Jack coached the department's softball team," said Chief William J. Goodwin Jr. yesterday. "He was one of those people who never could do enough. His was a career of service, and he exemplified that."

Mr. Frazier became the department's legislative liaison in 1972 and held that position until retiring; he continued in that role as a contract employee, representing the department's interests in Annapolis.

"He worked in Annapolis on Friday," said Battalion Commander Rod Devilbiss.

Mr. Frazier was nicknamed "The Senator" by department colleagues because of his lobbying work. He played a pivotal role in establishing the current structure of Maryland's Emergency Medical Services system and helped craft the legislation that governs it. He was an original member of the state's EMS board and continued to serve until 2005.

Mr. Frazier's knowledge of departmental history was legendary.

"He could pull not just years but dates of events right off the top of his head," said Mr. Devilbiss.

"There wasn't anything about fire service or emergency medical services that he didn't know," agreed Mary G. Lesser, an administrative assistant who had worked with Mr. Frazier since 1974. "He had an outgoing personality and had a statewide reputation," she said.

He was an Orioles and Ravens fan.

Mr. Frazier was a communicant and usher at St. Pius X Roman Catholic Church, 6428 York Road in Rodgers Forge, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. today.

Surviving are his wife of 45 years, the former Janet Leona Lammers; two daughters, Ellen L. Kunert of Hampstead and Jennifer L. Cernak of Idlewylde; two brothers, Dennis Frazier of Pasadena and Dr. Kevin Frazier of Evans, Ga.; two sisters, Georgia Lee Daub of Weehawken, N.J., and Janet Logue of Catonsville; and four grandchildren.

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