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July 23, 2010

Firefighters behaving badly

I ventured down to the opening ceremony of the Firehouse Expo on Thursday expecting a feel-good speech and not much news. Then the city's fire chief, James S. Clack, stands up and admonishes visiting firefighters to behave.

Apparently, last year, visitors got a little out of control, pulled fire alarms and emptied stand-pipe water valves in the city-owned Hilton Convention Center Hotel near Camden Yards. At least a dozen rooms got flooded and damage, according to Clack, ran into the "hundreds of thousands" of dollars. At left, firefighters arrive at the conference. The photo is by The Sun's Barbara Haddock-Taylor.

The city's fire union blames the damage on visiting volunteers. Another city official hinted that maybe visiting soccer fans (in town for the Chelsea-AC Milan match) might be to blame. But the stand-pipes (akin to indoor fire hydrants) can only be opened with a firefighter's tool, so that might narrow down the suspects.

No one was every charged and officials said those responsible were never found. But poor Clack had to use his opening address to lecture the visitors about childish behavior. This is one of the city's biggest conventions, brining up to $15 million into the city. It's been coming to Baltimore for 27 years.

Apparently it needs a little adult supervision.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:22 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Top brass

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About Peter Hermann
Peter Hermann started covering news for The Baltimore Sun in 1990, first in Anne Arundel County and, starting in 1994, reporting on the Baltimore Police Department. In 2001, he was assigned to Jerusalem as the Baltimore Sun's Middle East correspondent. He returned in 2005 as an assistant city editor overseeing crime coverage. In 2008, Peter returned to the beat as a daily reporter and blogger. A recent BBC report featured him in a segment on the harsh realities of covering crime in Baltimore.

Coverage will focus on crime trends, problems in neighborhoods in the city and elsewhere, profiles of victims and police officers and try to offer readers a fresh perspective on one of the most vexing issues facing Baltimore and its future.

Contributing to this blog is Justin Fenton, who joined The Sun in 2005 and has covered the Baltimore City Police Department and the criminal justice system since 2008. His work includes an investigation into Cal Ripken Jr.’s minor league baseball stadium deal with his hometown of Aberdeen, a three-part series chronicling a ruthless con woman, coverage of the killing of five Amish children at a schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pa., and a job swap with a British crime reporter to explore differences in crime-fighting. A special report looking into how city police handle rape cases led to sweeping reforms that changed the way sexual assaults are investigated in Baltimore. He was recognized as the best reporter in Baltimore by the City Paper in 2010 and by Baltimore Magazine in 2011.

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