Firefighter Mark G. Falkenhan, Lutherville VFC, Baltimore County, Maryland LODD

Fire Community Mourns Loss of Firefighter Who Died In Four-Alarm Blaze

Towson, Md. (January 20, 2011) — The Baltimore County fire community today mourns the loss of Mark G. Falkenhan, the Lutherville volunteer firefighter who died in last night’s four-alarm blaze at a Hillendale apartment complex.  

In addition to his affiliation with Lutherville VFC, Falkenhan, 43, was a member of Baltimore County’s career fire department for 16 years, from 1990 to 2006. He was a paramedic/firefighter whose assignments included the Fire-Rescue Academy, where he was an instructor.  He served at many stations, including Woodlawn, Dundalk, Golden Ring, Essex, Eastview and Fullerton.  

Falkenhan resigned in 2006 and was most recently employed with the U.S. Secret Service.  

In addition to his membership at Lutherville, he was a life member and past chief of the  Middle River Volunteer Ambulance Rescue Co.  

The call for the fire at 30 Dowling Circle came in to fire dispatchers at 6:18 p.m. The call came in as a kitchen fire; however, fire investigators have not determined that the fire originated in the kitchen. The fire remains under investigation. Fire Chief John Hohman has asked the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for assistance.  

Engine 11 was the first-arriving engine. The fire quickly escalated to a second-alarm, and eventually four alarms worth of equipment were dispatched. About 30 pieces of fire equipment and 100 fire personnel responded.  

At some point, Falkenhan called a mayday, indicating he was in distress. He was on the third floor, searching for fire victims. His partner was able to escape through a window on the third floor. Firefighters found Falkenhan on the third floor and moved him to the balcony, where crews delivered him to paramedics. Medic personnel administered advanced life support measures and transported him to St. Joseph Medical Center.  

Fire crews rescued two civilians who were critically injured. An adult female was transported to the Johns Hopkins Bayview Burn Center, and an adult male was transported to Sinai Hospital.  

Firefighters contained the fire to a single garden-apartment building. About 30 residents were displaced during the fire, but about 20 of those lived in adjacent buildings and were able to return. Baltimore County’s Office of Emergency Management has been working with the Red Cross and the building management to help the victims who lost their homes. There are twenty residents have been able to return to their apartments.  

A firefighter has not died while engaged in firefighting operations in Baltimore County since the Shiller’s furniture store fire in Dundalk 26 years ago, where three firefighters were lost.  

Standard Fire Department procedures call for a full investigation of any line of duty death. That investigation already is under way.   

Falkenhan is survived by his wife, Gladys, and two children aged 14 and five. 


First 70 Minutes Of Fireground Radio Traffic:   DOWNLOAD AUDIO CLIP The following radio traffic audio provided by firefighterdispatch has been edited to remove sensitive radio transmissions.

[1:15] Mayday occurs (edited due to sensitive radio transmissions)

[1:43] Dispatcher announces radio traffic limited for trapped firefighter

[4:21] Side Charlie command announces they have a trapped firefighter in Division 3 – rescue in progress

[6:00] Interior firefighter low on air says he has the firefighter

[6:20] Firefighter brought to the balcony

[7:10] Firefighters requesting assistance in removing firefighter from balcony

[7:30] Truck 8 requested to place ariel to 3rd floor balcony

[7:43] EMS requested to rear of building

[8:23] Truck 8 making rescue with stokes basket to balcony

[9:31] Dispatcher announces ‘Mayday complete’ at 7:01PM

Flames engulfed an entire apartment building at the Towson Crossing Apartments complex at 30 Dowling Circle at about 7 p.m. Wednesday: View Larger Map


Additional Media Coverage:

From the Essex-Middle River Patch;From an early age, Mark Falkenhan knew exactly what he wanted to be: a firefighter.

His wife Gladys said Mark decided to become a firefighter after watching the show “Emergency!” as a boy.
His uncle, William Falkenhan, a retired firefighter who died on Jan. 11, was also a big influence. “He used to joke that ‘Emergency!’ made him the person he is today,” Mrs. Falkenhan said during an interview in the dining room of their Middle River home on Thursday. “He was so dedicated to the job and loved what he did.” Falkenhan, 43, died in the line of duty after fighting a four-alarm fire in a three-story Hillendale apartment complex Wednesday night, an effort that led to the rescues of two trapped residents. Falkenhan is the first firefighter in Baltimore County to die while actively fighting a fire since 1984, officials said.
On Thursday, the Baltimore County and state firefighting communities collectively mourned the loss of a man described by Del. Jim Malone, a retired firefighter and family friend, as a “great firefighter, a great husband and a great father.” Friends, relatives and co-workers—including Fire Chief John J. Hohman—were in and out of the Falkenhan house all day Thursday. The home is decorated with family photos, including one of Mark at the beach with his family and photos of him with his two sons—Christian, 14, and Garrett, 5—decked out in fire gear. “There was nothing more important to Mark than his family,” Gladys said. Mark Gray Falkenhan was born on Dec. 26, 1967 in Middle River. Shortly after he graduated from Mount Carmel High School in 1986, Falkenhan joined the Middle River Volunteer Ambulance & Rescue Co. He rose to the rank of chief and is a lifetime member. 
Falkenhan then joined the Baltimore County Fire Department as an emergency medical technician in 1990. He married Gladys on Nov. 11, 1993, and became an EMT-Paramedic the following year. He served at various stations across the county before retiring in 2006 to accept a job with the U.S. Secret Service. “He loved his family first, but his life was the fire department,” said his wife. Fire Chief Hohman could barely hold back the tears as he reflected on Falkenhan’s life and his devotion to public service. They first met more than two decades ago when Hohman was the union president and he spent time speaking with those fresh out of the fire academy. “He was so dedicated to what he did and I could tell he loved what he did,” Hohman said. “You won’t be able to find a picture or photo out there of Mark that didn’t show that broad smile that went across his face.
He enjoyed everything about his life.” Despite that love, Mrs. Falkenhan said the opportunity to work for the Secret Service was too good to decline. He spent the last four years as an emergency services instructor for the agency. “Mark knew that the opportunity was a great move for our family, but he didn’t make the decision easily,” Mrs. Falkenhan said. “The hardest part was to leave his brothers behind.” But he clearly found new brothers in the Secret Service. “Mark is one of many Secret Service employees who volunteer their off-duty time to local fire and emergency rescue departments,” said U.S. Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan in a statement. “Mark’s devotion to public service was indicative of the strength of character he possessed and we share in the grief of his loss. The Secret Service family is focused on supporting Mark’s family and colleagues through this difficult time.”
As part of the Secret Service’s Emergency Medicine Section at the James J. Rowley Training Center, Falkenhan was responsible for providing emergency medicine, rescue and fire-fighting services at the training facility. He was also responsible for training Secret Service agents, officers and other critical response employees to respond to life threatening incidents. Hohman knows Falkenhan didn’t leave the fire department easily and said he still remembers reading the heartfelt resignation he wrote. “It just showed how passionate he was about the fire department,” Hohman said. “But I knew going and teaching what he had learned with us to the Secret Service was his second calling.” It was that passion for firefighting that led him to join the Lutherville Volunteer Fire Co. about two years ago. He was taking a class on driving the engine at the station when the fire call came out on Wednesday.
The fire, which began in a basement kitchen, quickly spread through the three-story building in the Towson Crossing apartment complex on Dowling Circle. Firefighters arrived shortly after the 6:15 p.m. 911 call. The blaze quickly escalated to a total of four alarms. Mark Falkenhan arrived with the Lutherville Volunteer Fire Co. and entered the building with his partner, Dennis Fulton. The pair were on the third floor when it’s believed they were suddenly overwhelmed by a huge burst of flames known as a “flashover.”   Fulton escaped by diving off the balcony and sliding face first down a ladder. But Falkenhan did not make it out.  The 43-year-old husband and father of two signaled a “Mayday” distress call at 6:47 p.m. and rescue workers quickly returned to the third floor. They pulled Falkenhan out of the building, down the ladder and performed advanced life support measures.
He was transported to St. Joseph Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. Gladys Falkenhan said she trusts that the firefighters on the scene did everything to save her husband. She also knows he would have done the same for his fellow firefighters. “He cared for everyone that he ever met,” Mrs. Falkenhan said. “Everyone he met was his friend and was so loved. We’re all going to miss him.” Outside the fire department, Mark Falkenhan’s main passion was his family and spending time with his two sons. Mr. Falkenhan enjoyed watching his sons play soccer and lacrosse.
He was also an avid Navy football fan and held season tickets to their games for many years. Along with his wife and sons, Mr. Falkenhan is survived by his father, Casper Falkenhan; his sister, Mary Lou Farnsworth; a brother, Eric Falkenhan; his mother-in-law, Etta Emkey; his brother-in-law, John Emkey and several nieces and nephews. Mr. Falkenhan’s mother Gloria Falkenhan (nee Gray) passed away in 2008 while his father-in-law, Edwin Emkey Sr. died last month. Viewings for Mark Falkenhan will be from 2-4 p.m. and 6 -8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at the Ruhl Armory, 1035 York Road in Towson.
Funeral services will take place at 11 a.m. on Monday at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles Street in Baltimore.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation or the Baltimore County Fallen Firefighters Foundation.



Mark Falkenhan was also an Emergency Services Specialist with the United States Secret Service. He began work there in 2006. According to the USSS, “As part of the Emergency Medicine Section at the James J. Rowley Training Center, he was not only responsible for providing emergency medicine, rescue and fire-fighting services at the training facility, but was responsible for training Secret Service agents,officers and other critical response employees to respond to life threatening incidents.”

Statement from U.S. Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan on the death of Emergency Services Specialist Mark Falkenhan:

On Wednesday evening, January 19, the U.S. Secret Service lost not only a dedicated employee, but a close friend, colleague and public servant. Mark Falkenhan, a four-year employee of the Secret Service and a firefighter with the Lutherville Volunteer Fire Company, died while responding to a four-alarm fire in Maryland. Mark is one of many Secret Service employees who volunteer their off-duty time to local fire and emergency rescue departments. Mark’s devotion to public service was indicative of the strength of character he possessed and we share in the grief of his loss. The Secret Service family is focused on supporting Mark’s family and colleagues through this difficult time.  


Credit Doug Donovan


Credit Doug Donovan


Credit Doug Donovan


Credit Doug Donovan



Filed Under: In the Streets


RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.