It’s not every day that a Fire Battalion Chief from Baltimore City writes this newsroom. But, he and his family live in Queen Anne’s County and frequent the Chestertown Safeway where an elderly man was rescued from his flooded vehicle. And, this Fireman was asked by his wife to write to us. You see, he was a big part of why that man was rescued this past Thursday morning.
We talked with Chief Thomas Kirk who has been with the Baltimore City Fire Department for 26 years, working 24-hour shifts and commuting from the eastern shore to Charm City during “off-hours.” He also provided the following text:
“On Thursday morning September 23, 2021, I was loading my car with groceries and noticed an elderly man pull away from the front of Kent Island Safeway towards the standing water on the West side of the parking lot. As I begin to leave I saw he was in up to about the bottom of his door so I circled back and asked the Safeway employees outside to call the fire department. I have been with Baltimore City Fire Department for 26 years and knew the local FD could come with a raft and assist the man out of the water.
As I kept watching I noticed the vehicle was getting deeper and deeper so I quickly drove around, parked, and waded out into the water to reach the elderly man’s vehicle. I looked through the passenger side front window and could see him in great distress. I could not open doors because the water was too deep, up past my chest. I called to bystanders who had wandered over and someone threw me a small window breaker. The front passenger window would not break so I then tried the rear passenger window and was successful in busting that out. Now I had a clear view of the driver and could see his head was pressed against the roof with water up to his neck. There was no way to pull him out of my position. I could see sunroof was the only possibility of saving this man as water continued to rise and was now up to his chin. I figured maybe 20- 30 seconds until the man was completely underwater. I got onto the roof and busted the sunroof with the window breaker. At this point, there were a few others who had come out to the vehicle, and together we were able to hold the driver above the rushing water until the fire department came and pulled the vehicle out of the water.”
Chief Thomas says that he was very glad that other people were there to help him rescue the elderly man. He says it was very surprising to see the water rise so high in that section of the parking lot. But, he says if there’s a lesson we call can learn: Don’t drive into standing water. You never know what’s underneath it. And, take flood warnings seriously.