Baltimore County Central Alarmers in financial straits
Wednesday, 22 August 2012 10:13

Lost $52,000 attempting to buy new truck

by Nicole Rodman

    No matter the emergency, Baltimore County’s first responders are ready to do their best to save lives and property 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
    Leaping into action at a moment’s notice, the county’s police officers and firefighters put themselves into harms way on a daily basis in order to keep the public safe.
    But who takes care of the first responders while they take care of us?

That would be Baltimore County Central Alarmers, an all-volunteer organization that provides food, drinks and other comforts to first responders at the scene of an emergency.
    As Central Alarmers president Frank Ward noted in an e-mail to The Eagle last week, “We respond on all working fires, various rescues or any other details that the fire department request us on.”
    The Central Alarmers also respond on all police barricade situations and upon special request.
    “We serve the police and fire department 24/7, 365 days a year and have not missed a call in over five years,” Ward noted of the Central Alarmers’ dedication to their work.
    In responding to an emergency scene, the Central Alarmers have three trucks to dispatch.
    The canteen truck, offering food and drink to hungry police and firefighters, is known as Rehab 155.
    Rehab 154 is used to provide cold water and towels on hot days and, according to Ward, usually responds in under 10 minutes
    Finally, Rehab 153 is used as a restroom facility as well as a treatment facility for any wounded emergency responders.
    Built in 1996, Central Alarmers’ Rehab 155 truck  is equipped with a grill, stove, coffee maker, refrigerator and freezer.
    Now 16-years old, the truck is old and in need of repairs.
    After doing a bit of research, Ward learned that repairs to the truck would cost more than $100,000, while a new truck would be $200,000.
    In light of this information, the Central Alarmers decided to have a new truck built.
    Last fall, the group paid $52,000 down payment to truck maker Krammes Kuston in St. Clair, Pa.
    In business for 30 years, Krammes built the Alarmers last truck in 1996, as well as most of the other rehab trucks across the state.
    By December 2011, Krammes told the group that the chassis for their new truck was in and work would begin.
    Little progress was made in early 2012 until March, when Krammes asked the Central Alarmers for another $50,000.
    “We told him we had to come up and see the progress before cutting that check,” Ward explained last week, noting, “He put us off several times.”
    Finally, Ward received an e-mail from Krammes that he was going out of business.
    “We received an e-mail stating he was closing up shop and sorry for our loss,” Ward said, adding, “We learned that he never paid for the chassis and that was taken back by the Ford dealer he got it from.”
    Though the Central Alarmers have since ordered a new Rehab 155 truck, they lost their original $52,000 down payment.
    They are now trying to recoup the lost funds in order to continue providing care to first responders across the county.
    Though provided with a small budget by Baltimore County, Central Alarmers relies mainly on donations to continue their work.
    Donations may be sent to Central Alarmers, P.O. Box 336, Perry Hall, MD 21128.
    More information on Central Alarmers’ Rehab 155 can be found at