Executive Summary


The Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC) and the Presidents’ Roundtable were asked to review the management and efficiency of the Baltimore City Fire Department (BCFD). The project team was led by James L. Shea, Managing Partner of Venable, Baetjer and Howard, and a member of the Board of the GBC, and Joshua Matthews, President of JCM Control Systems, Inc., and a member of the Presidents’ Roundtable.

A group of executive volunteers assisted in the review. They brought varied expertise and experience to the task. Among them were an international bank’s senior vice president in charge of regional branch operations and three persons with significant fire department management experience, covering administration, operations and budget. A fire protection engineer, fully conversant in all National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and fire insurance industry standards, also assisted. Those assisting the Greater Baltimore Committee/Presidents’ Roundtable review also brought significant expertise in emergency medical services (EMS). Several volunteers had EMS field experience, and two had a background in EMS management, including experience as an EMS provider.

The project team obtained and analyzed a variety of records and statistics provided by the BCFD itself. They also collected, collated, and studied published materials, studies, and analyses of urban fire departments and emergency medical services from across the country. Three subcommittees were formed, one on fire suppression, a second on emergency medical services, and a third reviewing the Department’s management systems. Each subcommittee conducted extensive interviews, which totaled nearly 50 in all. Those interviews were of fire suppression and emergency medical personnel and included union leadership as well as the management of the Department.

The following paragraphs provide the project team’s consensus view of the BCFD. The detailed recommendations that follow flow from this overview and implement the concepts outlined.

Introduction: Fire Department
Baltimore City Needs More Emergency Medical Resources
Resources Should Be Reallocated from Fire Suppression to EMS
The City’s Firefighting Bureaucracy can be Streamlined Without Sacrificing its Effectiveness
Achieving Economies Will Enable the BCFD to Improve and Modernize the Department