'We have to obey orders': Baltimore fire crew turned away from house fire

'We have to obey orders': Baltimore fire crew turned away from house fire

Baltimore fire officials are investigating after a fire engine was turned away from a burning house in Northeast Baltimore by dispatchers. It's a decision that's frustrating a captain and annoying neighbors.

Captain John Parker is heated over a department policy that triggered that decision.

Parker is speaking out after his Engine 31 crew arrived at the scene of the house fire but was then told they could not fight the fire.

"It's increasingly frustrating, that's exactly what we're here to do and we also have to obey orders and if an order is given, you have to follow it," said Parker.

The incident involved reports of a fire with kids in an upstairs bedroom with heavy smoke on Chilton Street just after 7 o'clock Friday night.

Sean Bookman caught the scene on cell phone video. "It's kind of stupid," said Bookman.

According to Parker, Engine 31 happened to be near the house and responded. But because of the department's recent use of GPS technology, which dispatches units only by their geographical area of coverage, Engine 31 was told they could not respond. It was a decision that annoyed neighbors and frustrated the captain.

"It just makes you think what if someone was actually still in the house, like if there were any kids still in the house, what would've happened because of that decision," said Bookman.

"I mean we train for this. We do our best to do a good job at it. And when the opportunity arises and we're right there, we don't want to be turned back," said Parker.

Fox45 five learned Monday that the department has updated its policy. Fox45 obtained an internal memo that was circulating at another station Monday.

The new policy allows battalion chiefs authorize an additional unit to respond if it happens to be near a fire, even if another unit is a sign by GPS.

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