3 fallen Baltimore firefighters remembered for their passion, sacrifice

Friends, colleagues share memories of Lt. Paul Butrim, Firefighter-Paramedic Kelsey Sadler and EMT-Firefighter Kenny Lacayo


McKenna Oxenden
Baltimore Sun

BALTIMORE — Remembrances have begun pouring in for the three Baltimore City firefighters who died battling a blaze in a vacant rowhome Monday morning.

Four firefighters were trapped when the building, which had been unoccupied since 2010, collapsed during the fire. One of them survived.

Firefighter John McMaster was on life support at the hospital as of Monday evening. At midday Tuesday, his condition was upgraded. 

A previous fire at the same home, located at 205 South Stricker St. in the Mount Clare area, injured three firefighters in 2015 and resulted in the building being condemned. The homeowners had also received a citation in 2020 from the city housing department for failing to complete a required annual registration.

Here is what we know about the fallen first responders.

Lt. Paul Butrim

Butrim, a 16-year veteran of the Baltimore City Fire Department, was no stranger to thrusting himself into harm’s way for his job.

In 2015, Butrim rushed into an apartment ablaze, found a child in a bedroom and brought the child to safety, according to the Firehouse Magazine. He performed CPR on the child alone until more help arrived, the magazine reported, recognizing his “great bravery in the face of dangerous conditions” as one of Firehouse’s honorees for its annual Award of Valor.

He also rose through the Baltimore City Fire Department ranks.

Hired in 2005 as a firefighter and paramedic apprentice, he dropped the novice title within years and reached the rank of lieutenant by the end of 2016, according to city salary databases and Butrim’s LinkedIn page.

Butrim and his family were no stranger to tragedy, either. In a February 2019 post on the Baltimore Fire Officers Association website, IAFF Local 964 leaders offered their condolences and support to Butrim after the sudden loss of his young son.

A family member declined to comment Monday evening, requesting privacy while the family grieved.

Firefighter/Paramedic Kelsey Sadler

Longtime friend Tracie Martinek said Sadler was one of the nicest people, and hardest workers, that she had ever met. The 32-year-old said Sadler earned the nickname “the beast” at one of her first fire department jobs because “she wouldn’t take crap from anybody.”

Martinek said the two first met in 2008 at the Jacksonville Volunteer Fire Company in Phoenix, Maryland, where they both worked part-time. Together, the two worked together for about 10 years, with Sadler working as a paramedic while Martinek drove the rig.

“Everyone thought she was unapproachable until you got to know her,” Martinek said. “Once you got to know her she was the sweetest person ever and would give the shirt off of her back.”

Martinek now works as a 911 dispatcher in Anne Arundel County, but said the two have always kept in touch over the years.

Martinek described Sadler as a “foodie” who loved her pitbull named Scary Mary and insisted upon leaving The Food Network or HGTV on for her dog to watch when she was gone. She also said that Sadler loved her family and enjoyed doing home renovations.

Firefighter/EMT Kenny Lacayo

In a Facebook post, the Wheaton Volunteer Rescue squad said throughout his tenure there, Lacayo was always climbing the ranks. He first joined the rescue squad in May 2011. About a year later he became a firefighter and in 2014 a paramedic.

The department said he was named Rescue Squad’s paramedic of the year in 2016 and was deemed a top ten responder in 2015 and 2016. He also received a unit citation for helping save a person struck by a car in 2018.

“His exceptional skills as a firefighter and paramedic were matched by his bright smile and his unfailing good nature,” Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad wrote in the post. “He was dearly loved by his fellow WVRS volunteers and will be greatly missed.”

Lacayo’s family members did not wish to comment Monday evening.

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Baltimore Sun reporter Christine Condon contributed to this article.

©2022 Baltimore Sun

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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