By Tim Barbalace
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
Dave Goldman never intended to be a firefighter. He was searching for a new career path after he served two years in the Army.
“I got out of the military and didn’t know what to do,” Goldman said. “A friend of mine told me the firefighters were giving a test, so I went to take it. I got hired 18 months later.”
Goldman recently celebrated his 29th year as a firefighter. His current rank in the Baltimore City Fire Department is battalion chief in the First Battalion, which covers Canton, Fells Point, Dundalk Marine Terminal and Northeast Baltimore. Goldman has served in this role for the past four and a half years.
Goldman considers himself like a football coach on the fire ground. As a battalion chief, the 52-year-old Belair resident is in charge of over 50 men. As a firefighter there are days of making a difference and there are also days of heavy sorrow, Goldman said.
“Eight years ago one of my firefighters died on duty and I had to call his wife in the middle of the night to tell her that her husband would not be coming home,” Goldman said. “You can watch someone die or watch someone get brought back to life. You really don’t know how the day is going to go.”
Experiences like this, though, have taught Goldman that the safety of his men comes before anything.
“Dave is very safety conscious and he looks out for his men and their safety,” said John Damario, a Baltimore city captain in the fire department. “Dave is always willing to accommodate someone. He is always willing to work with people and people tend to work harder because of him.”
Damario said that Goldman always weighs the risk factors. Damario recalled a situation about a year ago when there was a fire on the second floor of a building. Damario said the whole building was covered in smoke.
“When we were up there it got really hot and we had a bad feeling about this situation,” Damario said. “Right when I got that bad feeling Dave also realized something bad was going to happen. He pulled everyone out to regroup. If it wasn’t for his great knowledge, someone would have gotten hurt or died.”
Goldman’s experience was tested during the recent Baltimore city riots. He said his battalion saw the beginnings of malcontent start at Mondawmin Mall. Above all, he stressed safety to the rest of his battalion.
“We were in the front line of the riots,” Goldman said. “Some of the people did not want the fires out and were violent. We were lucky that we had the police protect us.”
Goldman was at five different working fires throughout that night. One fire stood out from the others, Goldman said.
“The last one I was at, looters broke in and set a grocery store on fire,” Goldman said. “The fire was spreading to the top floor where people were. Luckily, we were able to save the people on the top floor in time.”
Goldman proceeded with extra caution throughout the night so his men could return home safely.
“Dave wouldn’t leave the scene until the fire was out and everyone was safe,” Damario said. “He made sure we all left together.”
Goldman said having the extra reinforcements really made a big difference during the riots.
“Mutual aid had to be used during the riots,” Goldman said. “We called Howard, Anne Arundel and Baltimore county fire departments. In total, we had 10 engine companies, four ladder companies, eight medic units and two battalion chiefs as reinforcements.”
Goldman said firefighters deal with a lot of people, so they have to make sure to treat others how they want to be treated. This principle is definitely practiced by him when dealing with his battalion.
“Dave definitely takes great care of his crew,” said Dale New, a Baltimore city firefighter. “He does not show favoritism to anyone in his battalion and treats everyone as an equal.”
Goldman has had a big impact on New’s life. New has been a firefighter for 17 years and has worked in the city for just close to five of those years. He has developed a close bond to Goldman.
“I view him as a second dad,” New said. “He is definitely the dad I never had.”