According to a report from FOX5, the Baltimore City (MD) Fire Department’s (BCFD’s) recent staffing issues are creating a new push for the department to hire more paramedics as gun violence surges in the city.
Rich Langford, President of Baltimore Firefighters Local 734, said 70-80 percent of the calls to which the BCFD responds are emergency medical services (EMS)-based, an area where the department is short staffed. So, there’s an even greater need to recruit and retain EMS workers.
Langford said there are around 30 vacancies for paramedics and another dozen more for emergency medical technician (EMT) vacancies, but since the city is on track to surpass last year’s homicide count, it can be difficult to recruit new members partially because of the pay, which is lower than most surrounding jurisdictions.
Online postings show the starting salary for a paramedic in Baltimore County is about $10,000 higher than in the city.
Langford said the city’s high volume of trauma calls comes at a cost, and the current conditions and call volume requires a solution to close the gap.
Proposed closures of two of the city’s fire companies are looming. Mayor Brandon Scott’s administration as well as this year’s fiscal budget have delayed these closures as the BCFD is subject to a review by an outside consultant. The BCFD says there is still no timetable as to when the review will be completed.
Consultants are expected to assess BCFD’s staff structure, schedules, compensation, leave, and overtime policies.