A second Baltimore firefighter injured last week while battling a fire in Northwest Baltimore has died, a fire department spokesman confirmed.
Lt. Dillon Rinaldo had remained hospitalized at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center since the Oct. 19 fire, and was described as critical but stable over the weekend. However, his conditioned worsened and he succumbed early Wednesday.
Mayor Brandon Scott, who had earlier visited Rinaldo and his family alongside Fire Chief James Wallace, called Rinaldo a “true hero.”
“His willingness to put others before himself to try to protect his community each and every day is something that we should not forget, and we should always consistently think about,” Scott said before an event in West Baltimore. “We have to honor his name and wrap our arms around his family and his brothers and sisters in the fire department, which we will continue to do.”
Scott said he did not know what had caused the firefighter’s condition to turn since the weekend.
Rinaldo was among a group of firefighters dispatched to battle a blaze that ignited a group of rowhomes on the 5200 block of Linden Heights Avenue on Oct. 19.
Council President Nick Mosby said the council will do “everything we can” to provide support to Baltimore firefighters.
“Firefighters are our superheroes and we don’t expect to ever lose them,” Mosby said. “If you see a firefighter, give them a hug, console them, lift them up. Remind them that we are here for them, and they can lean on us.”
Rodney Pitts III, who had completed one year of service with the city, was killed on the night of the fire. His family has scheduled viewings for Wednesday and Thursday followed by a funeral service at Cathedral of Mary Our Queen at 5200 N. Charles St. on Friday.
Three more firefighters were injured in the fire. Seth Robbins, a 17-year veteran, remained in the hospital last week in stable condition. Lt. Keith Brooks, a 14-year veteran, and Tavon Marshall, a 3-year veteran, were both treated and released late last week.
Gov. Wes Moore during the state spending board meeting Wednesday asked attendees to bow their heads for a moment of silence in honor of the fallen firefighters. He expressed gratitude to the men for their service, and to their families.
”These are people who served, who raised their hand, who did the job and who did the work,” Moore said. “And though they’re with the angels right now, we know that they have an entire state who is grateful to them.”
It’s the second time in less than two years that the Baltimore Fire Department has lost multiple members battling a fire. In January 2022, Lt. Paul Butrim, Lt. Kelsey Sadler and firefighter Kenny Lacayo were battling a fire at a vacant rowhome on South Stricker Street in Southwest Baltimore. They became trapped when part of the building collapsed. Then-Fire Chief Niles Ford resigned as a report critical of the agency’s response to the fire was released.
The deaths of now-five city firefighters in the line of duty in under two years is “a tragic thing for our community, for our Fire Department, but most importantly for those families,” Scott said. “This is five ... heroes we’ve lost in the city, some of the bravest among us.”
Investigators with the fire department’s arson task force are still working to determine what started last week’s fire, with support from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Wallace said last week that a rapid intervention team went to “attack” the blaze and began fighting it from the front and back. As the crew fought the fire, it “started to grow very rapidly,” he said.
Rinaldo had been a Baltimore firefighter since 2018 and is the son of a deputy fire chief in his hometown in New Jersey. According to an online fundraiser, Rinaldo had recently become engaged to his fiancé and they had also recently adopted a puppy.
A wedding website for the couple states they were planning to marry in May at St. Paul Catholic Church in Ellicott City, where baseball legend George Herman “Babe” Ruth tied the knot with his sweetheart Helen Woodford.
“Our amazing friend Dillon is the most selfless individual anyone knows. He is always willing to help with anything, putting others before himself and carries a true passion for his job as a firefighter,” noted the online fundraiser, which had raised more than $100,000 as of Wednesday morning.
According to a Facebook post by the chief of the volunteer fire department in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, Rinaldo had served there for six years before joining Baltimore’s fire department.
“The older members remember Dillon growing up as firehouse kid. Most of us served with him a few years back and of course we are all reminded of his presence since his father is an active member,” wrote Fire Chief Jacob Mamo. “This will be a very tough time for the department and the community as we have lost a great firefighter, a great person, and a great friend.”
Baltimore City Councilman Mark Conway, who chairs the public safety committee, said the city “owes a debt to Rodney Pitts III and Lt. Dillon Rinaldo that we will never be able to fully repay.”
“Their courage and ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten, and my heart remains with their grieving friends, family and colleagues,” Conway wrote on X, the site formerly known as Twitter.
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger said he was “devastated” over the news of Rinaldo’s death. “I am praying for his loved ones during this difficult time. He will always be remembered as a hero,” he said.
“The Baltimore community, specifically our first responders, need our support right now,” added Sen. Ben Cardin.
Baltimore Banner reporters Lillian Reed, Pamela Wood, Brenda Wintrode and Adam Willis contributed to this article.