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Local First Responders Take Over For Baltimore's Firefighters During Memorial Service

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Fire and medic crews from all over Maryland and Washington, D.C., covered for the Baltimore City Fire Department Wednesday in what was described as an "unprecedented" level of mutual aid.

"Every Baltimore City truck, engine, medic is out of service today. They put the whole city out of service," Joe Freund of Baltimore City Fire Department's Box 414 said. "Unfortunately, it's a sad occasion, but everybody comes together."

The calls for help from the state emergency officials were answered from agencies from as far as Ocean City.

"This is unprecedented," Acting Secretary of Maryland Department of Emergency Management Russell Strickland said. "Never has a large metropolitan city placed all of its apparatus out of service at one time."

Fire crews from at least a dozen agencies helped put a fire out at REACH! Partnership at Lake Clifton Wednesday.

"This is the most large-scale mutual aid effort I've ever seen," Nanjemoy VFD Asst. Chief Daniel Stonestreet said. "We all speak the same language when there's smoke coming out of windows."

Strickland could not give exact numbers of how many agencies or personnel came in, but it was enough to cover the city's more than 75 engine companies, ladder companies, and medic units.

"If us being here means one of those guys who wouldn't have been able to before, that's what it's all about," Stonestreet said. "We'll do anything we can to help out guys whether we've met them before or not."

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