Fire officer badly burned in East Baltimore fire recovering

Lieutenant taken off ventilator, but has 'tough road to go,' union president says

October 22, 2012|By Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun

A lieutenant with the Baltimore Fire Department who was badly burned during an early-morning fire in East Baltimore on Oct. 11 has recovered enough to be taken off of a ventilator but still has a long way to go in his recovery, according to a union official.

"He was able to talk to me. We were able to have a conversation," Michael Campbell, president of the fire officers union, said of his recent visit with the officer at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. "He was still somewhat sedated. He's got a tough road to go."

Campbell said the lieutenant's injuries — he suffered burns to his arms, hands, neck and head — are no longer considered life-threatening, but his recuperation will take a long time.

Firefighters were first dispatched to the home in the 1400 block of Bonsal Street, in the Medford neighborhood near Dundalk, about 1:40 a.m., officials said. A family who lived in the home had managed to escape.

The lieutenant, who has not been identified but who Campbell says has more than 20 years with the department, was fighting the blaze with a "pipeman" — or a firefighter armed with a water hose — when they were both burned.

The firefighter's burns were to his hands and were considered minor, and he was treated at Bayview and released.

Campbell said the Fire Department has launched an investigation into what happened during the fire to cause the injuries, and that officials have been keeping in touch with the lieutenant's family, including his wife and children.

The fire occurred on the same morning of the Denwood Avenue fire in Northeast Baltimore that claimed the lives of a woman, Nancy Worrell, three of her grandchildren and one great-grandchild. An investigation has also been launched into that fire.

Campbell said the injuries sustained by the lieutenant underscore the unpredictability of fighting fires.

"It's a very difficult job that you can't predict," Campbell said. "When you walk out of the house, you have no idea what's going to happen."

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