Roman Kaminski, right, pictured with his wife, Karen, received well-wishes and appreciation from the Baltimore City Fire Department for his decades of volunteer service. - Photo by Erik Zygmont
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At 92, Roman Kaminski is getting recognized for doing what needed to be done.
At a ceremony organized by Fire Commissioner Charles Bollack, a commemorative display honoring Kaminski was blessed and unveiled last Friday.
Located at the fire station that bears his name, the Roman A. Kaminski Fire Station at Eastern and Collington avenues, the display features mementos from Kaminski’s long history of volunteering for the Baltimore City Fire Department.
“I’ve been friends with Roman for 40 years,” said Bollack. “This generation has no clue who he is.”
According to Bollack, Kaminski made two job applications simultaneously in the 1940s, to the Fire Department and to Western Electric.
“Western Electric came in first,” said Bollack, and though Kaminski was offered a job as a firefighter, he chose to remain with the electric company.
Through the years, however, Kaminski remained dedicated to the Fire Department. He was an early member of the Box 414 Association, a volunteer group that responds to two-alarm and higher fires with drinks and food for firefighters. Today, the organization has two canteen units and a school bus—the “potty wagon”—that has been converted to house bathrooms for men and women. Box 414 has about 80 members, 10 of whom are active members, according to Joe Freund, the vice president.
Kaminski’s other contributions include chairing the Fire Prevention Committee for a few decades, and starting the Firefighter of the Year award at the Exchange Club of Highlandtown/Canton, of which he is a member. At the annual Firefighter of the Year dinners, Kaminski would bring 40 to 45 guests and pay for them all, said Bollack.
The event continues to this day and now includes a Police Officer of the Year award as well.
Kaminski was also a very active member of the International Fire Buff Associates, serving as executive vice president. The Fire Buffs are men and women—non-firefighters—who love firefighting and spend their free time helping fire departments as volunteers.
“This is something that is his whole life,” said Bollack of his friend’s dedication to serving the Fire Department as a civilian.
Acting Fire Chief Jeffrey Segal said that it is important to recognize community members like Kaminski.
“With Mr. Kaminski, a lot of the things he did over the years have really contributed to the Fire Department today,” said Segal. “I want to make sure that we as an organization make a commitment to show our appreciation for people like that.”
Retired firefighter Delmar Davis, who in 1952 was one of the first black firefighters in Baltimore City, expressed heartfelt appreciation to Kaminski.
“I want to say, Roman, you were always a good friend, and I will always be your friend,” said Davis. “May you enjoy the balance of your life.”
“Thank you,” replied Kaminski, who had just arrived with his wife, Karen.
Former City Councilman Nick D’Adamo said that naming the station for Kaminski back in 2006 was a “no-brainer.”
“You always gave from the heart,” he told Kaminski. “We thank you for that.”
by Erik Zygmont