The Baltimore & Chesapeake Steamboat Company is sorrowed to announce the loss of a wonderful man and supporter of maritime heritage.
Baltimore City Fire Boat Capt. James William Smith passed away on March 29, 2012, after an extended illness. He leaves his wife Beth, two daughters, and their families with a legacy of love and devotion. Services were held on April 3rd at Eastside Church of God and he was interred at Holly Hills Memorial Gardens.
Mr. and Mrs. Walt Mathers of B&CSC attended the services and report that fire fighters from both Baltimore City and Baltimore County were in force along with many officers, a bagpiper and the color guard. Two hook-and-ladder trucks raised a large American flag to form an archway to the entrance into Holly Hills. Upon returning to the church, a large floral arrangement depicting a Baltimore City fire boat, along with a photograph of MAYOR THOMAS J. D’ALESANDRO, JR. occupied the place where Capt. Smith’s casket had laid. We also acknowledge retired Division Chief Rod Devilbiff, who has known Capt. Smith from his first posting on Engine 26, and has remained a treasured family friend to the Smiths.
The State of Maryland bestowed the honor of Chesapeake Bay Ambassador to Capt. Smith during the National Maritime Day commemoration last May (2011) aboard the N/S SAVANNAH. The B&CSC and Baltimore City Fire Dept. co-sponsored the recognition through heritage supporter State Senator Jennie M. Forehand:
The State of Maryland and the people of the Chesapeake Region hereby recognize with great appreciation Captain James William Smith for his 32 distinguished years of service to the Baltimore City Fire Department, and those who have greatly benefited from his years of watchful service. Captain Smith has been a staunch proponent for protecting the people of Baltimore and the port, contributing his knowledge, skills and abilities to our Maritime Community and aiding the development and implementation of the 2007 first-line hazardous materials vessel, the “John R. Frazier,” a Regional Response Watercraft for port protection with homeland security capabilities including emergency medical treatment, personnel decontamination, command post, and communications capabilities on the water.
Captain Smith, a fellow researcher of maritime history, including an excellent web presentation of Baltimore City’s Fire Boat history, has been and remains a constant supporter of organizations seeking to document and protect the Chesapeake Region’s heritage, assisting them in their efforts and outreach, and enhancing the harbor’s heritage tourism.”
Fire Chief Kevin Cartwright, Director of Communications for the Baltimore City Fire Department, states that Captain Smith has 32 distinguished years of service to the Baltimore City Fire Department, the citizens of Baltimore, Maryland, and countless others along Chesapeake Bay and Baltimore Harbor who have greatly benefited from his years of watchful service.
Smith joined the Baltimore City Fire Department on July 9, 1979, and was assigned to Engine Company #26 at 399 East Fort Avenue. Promoted to Fire Lieutenant on November 2, 1983, he transferred to Engine Company #50 where he attained the rank of Fire Captain on December 10, 1986. Capt. Smith transferred to the Fire Boat Station in March 1996 to fulfill his vocation and passion for fire water crafts and has valiantly served as the Captain of Fire Boat #1.
Captain Smith has been a staunch proponent for protecting the citizens of Baltimore and the port that spans from the Potomac River to the Chesapeake Bay and surrounding tributaries. His knowledge, skills and abilities surrounding emergency response, rescue and recovery and expertise in battling vessel fires, and maintenance and repair of the departments fire boats made him instrumental in the development and implementation of the first -line hazardous materials vessel, the JOHN R. FRAZIER, a Regional Response Watercraft purchased through funds from the US Department of Homeland Security Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) and the collaborative efforts of the jurisdictions of Baltimore and Annapolis Cities, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Hartford, and Howard Counties, launched from and stations at the Fire Departments Marine Operations at Ft. McHenry on August 4, 2007. The FRAZIER has regional response, port protection and homeland security capabilities and is designed to NFPA Class A standards providing the city and region with modern fire fighting, emergency medical treatment, personnel decontamination, command post, and communications capabilities on the water.
Fair winds, following seas, and a clear horizon, Capt. Smith.