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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Statement from DeHaven Family

“Yesterday, Tuesday January 9th, at 8pm, the Prince George's County Police Department informed the family that they located our Dad and he had already passed.

We would like to thank everyone for their time, energy, and efforts towards trying to find our father. All that we were able to accomplish was a direct result of the overwhelming love and support from the community, the Prince George's County Police Department, the Beltsville Volunteer Fire Department, the media, and the supporting agencies.

At this time we need to process this outcome and appreciate the life of Danny DeHaven.

Thank you."

Friday, January 5, 2018

Location of County Warming Centers

Location of warming centers in Prince George's County.  For additional information visit the County Web Site.

Bowie Community Center

3209 Stonybrook Drive
Bowie 20715
Phone: 301-464-1737; TTY 301-218-6768
Camp Springs Senior Center
6420 Allentown Road
Camp Springs, MD 20748
View Map
Phone: 301-449-0409
Kentland Community Center Park
2411 Pinebrook Avenue
Landover 20785
Phone: 301-386-2278; TTY 301-445-4512
Langley Park Community Center
1500 Merrimac Drive
Hyattsville, MD 20783
View Map
Phone: 301-445-4508
Laurel Beltsville Senior Activity Center
7120 Contee Road
Laurel, MD 20707
View Map
Phone: 301-206-3350
Palmer Park Community Center
7720 Barlowe Road
Landover, MD 20785
View Map
Phone: 301-773-5665
Rollingcrest- Chillum Community Center
Rollingcrest- Chillum Community Center
Chillum, MD 20782
View Map
Phone: 301-853-2005
Southern Regional Technology and Recreational Complex
7007 Bock Road
Fort Washington 20744
Phone: 301-749-4160; TTY 301-203-6030
Suitland Community Center
5600 Regency Lane
Forestville, MD 20747
View Map
Phone: 301-736-3518
Temple Hills Community Center
5300 Temple Hills Road
Temple Hills 20748
Phone: 301-894-6616; TTY 301-203-6030 

PGFD FAQ's About New Maryland Smoke Alarm Law in Prince George's County

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
MEBrady@co.pg.md.us     @PGFDPIO

A new law went into full effect on January 1, 2018.  This Maryland Law states that a smoke alarm shall be present and working on every level of your home.  Once your current 9-volt battery powered alarm reaches its 10-year life span than it shall be replaced with a 10-year, sealed long life battery, with hush feature smoke alarm.

At the very minimum each home shall have a smoke alarm (9-volt or 10-year) on every level of their home located just outside of sleeping areas.

If you have a home; recently constructed, rented or recently purchased, there should already be 10-year alarms on every level of your home and in every bedroom.  You are required to maintain these alarms and ensure they work.

Rest assured that the Prince George's County Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department will not be doing any enforcements checks on homes with the intent to issue fines or citations.  We maintain a passive enforcement policy whereas during our neighborhood smoke alarm checks if we find a home without smoke alarms we will install one new 10-year smoke alarm in your home and advise you to purchase additional smoke alarms to become compliant.  Firefighters will not be issuing fines or citations to homeowners and residents for failing to comply with the new smoke alarm law.  However, strict enforcement will be maintained for all multi-daily dwellings (apartments, condos, etc), building industry and other commercial buildings.

While older homes are not required to maintain smoke alarms in bedrooms, the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department strongly encourage everyone to install 10-year smoke alarms in every bedroom and to sleep with bedroom doors closed.

This new law is a law we can live with.

Why has the Law changed?? 

3 out of 5 fire fatalities occur in homes that are not protected by working smoke alarms. Many of these unprotected homes did not have a smoke alarm or a smoke alarm was found to be nonworking due to a lack of batteries or a dead battery. The use of 10- year smoke alarms will save lives. It’s a law we can live with. 

The County Law states that I need just 1 smoke alarm. Why do I need to follow the Maryland Law?? 

The State Law supersedes the County Law. We will work towards changing the language in the County Law to match the State Law; however, we must follow the State Law. 

What type of smoke alarm should I purchase and install?? 

10-year, long life, sealed battery, alarm with hush feature. 
The hush feature will allow you to silence an accidental alarm for up to 10 minutes before turning itself back on. The hush feature will eliminate the need to remove the smoke alarm and its battery. 

Where can I purchase the 10-year alarm?? 

All home improvement stores in Prince George’s County sell the 10-year alarm. All 9-volt battery smoke alarms have been removed for purchase from these stores. 
If you choose to order on-line; ensure you are purchasing a 10-year, sealed battery, with hush features smoke alarm. A 10-year guarantee does not always mean it’s a 10-year alarm. 

How can I tell the manufacture date of my smoke alarm?? 

You will need to remove the smoke alarm off of its base and examine the writing on the back of the alarm. The expiration date should be in clear view. If you cannot find the expiration date consider it at least 10 years old and replace it with a new 10-year, tamper proof battery, with hush feature. 

I just installed a 9-volt battery smoke alarm in my house 2 years ago. The manufacture date is April 2015. Do I need to replace this alarm?? 

No, you are in compliance. Remember to replace your alarm when the 10 year life of your smoke alarm is set to expire. 

I live in a 2-story single family home with a basement. How many smoke alarms do I need?? 

If your home is currently protected by a 9-volt battery powered smoke alarm you will need to have a new 10-year smoke alarm installed on every level of your home so you will need a total of three. 

The Fire/EMS Department highly recommends you install a 10-year smoke alarm in every bedroom as well and sleep with your door closed. 

I currently have one 9-volt battery powered smoke alarm in my house. I don’t recall when the smoke alarm was installed?? 

If you cannot determine the manufacture date of your current smoke alarm it is best to replace it with a new 10-year smoke alarm. Remember, you must install a new 10-year alarm on every level of your home. 

I have hardwired smoke alarms in my house. Does the new law affect me?? 

Yes, even the hardwired smoke alarms have an expiration date. Check the back of your alarms for an expiration date. If they are close to 10 years old or older you need to replace them with a new hardwired alarm with a 10-year battery backup. 

It is important to remember to replace your hardwired alarms with a new one with similar features. For example; if your hardwired alarms are interconnected, when one sounds an alarm, all of your alarms will also sound an alarm. 

Will the Fire Department issue a fine if I don’t have the proper smoke alarms?? 

The Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department will not issue a fine or penalty if homeowners are found to be in non-compliance. We will have a passive enforcement policy on residences whereas we will install a new smoke alarm for you instead of issuing you a citation. 

The Department will continue to closely monitor apartment buildings, commercial buildings and home builders to ensure they are installing the appropriate alarms and are in compliance with all applicable fire safety laws. Any violations of the Law will be handled through management and our Fire Prevention office. 

Do I need to install new smoke alarms in my bedrooms?? 

If you are residing in a home you own, the Fire/EMS Department highly recommends you install 10-year smoke alarms in every bedroom and sleep with your bedroom doors closed. 
Rental properties are required to maintain smoke alarms in all bedrooms. 
Newly constructed homes are sold with hardwired smoke alarms that are interconnected. 
Never disconnect hardwired alarms as they are required by building code. 

Where should I install the new 10-year smoke alarms?? 

Same area as your previous smoke alarms. Primarily just outside of sleeping areas on ceilings or high on the wall. 

What are insurance company consequences if I have a fire in my house and I’m not in compliance with new smoke alarm law?? 

This unfortunate circumstance is out of our area of responsibility and is between you and your insurance company. It is best to avoid this situation by complying with the law and maintain 10-year, tamper proof, with hush feature smoke alarm’s on every level of your home. 

I purchased new 10-year smoke alarms but I am having difficulty installing the alarms. Who can help me?? 

If you call 311 and explain the situation, a firefighter will call you to set up a convenient time for them to come by your house. They will install your smoke alarms for you at no charge. 

Does the Fire/EMS Department provide free 10-year smoke alarms?? 

Yes, the Fire/EMS Department has been providing free smoke alarms to residents for nearly 40 years. Through generous donations from private entities like PEPCO and the American Red Cross we can provide and install one free smoke alarm per residence. In most cases this will not bring you into compliance with having a smoke alarm on every level of your home. The firefighters installing your free alarm will advise you of your responsibility to install additional alarms. 

To take advantage of this opportunity simply call 311 and ask about the Fire/EMS Department smoke alarm program. 

I live in an apartment, condo or rental property and there are still 9-volt battery smoke alarms. What should I do?? 

You should contact our Fire Prevention office and register a complaint. This is a serious violation of the law and our fire inspectors will inspect and follow-up with complex management. 

Our Fire Prevention can be contacted at 301-583-1830

The following responses come directly from the State Law.

The new law is very confusing. What part of the law affects me?? 

The Maryland State Law is broken down by the year your residence was built. As a general rule you will need to replace alarms that are currently installed in your home. Most older homes, an increase in the number of alarms you have is likely. 

The requirements for smoke alarms vary depending on when the residence was constructed. Refer to the attached Matrix for specific statutory requirements. 

KEY DATES: July 1, 1975 
January 1, 1989 
January 1, 1990 

For New Construction 

Maryland’s Smoke Alarm Law has simply been updated to correspond with the International Residential Code and NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code. An AC powered, battery back-up smoke alarm is required in every bedroom, in the common area outside of the bedrooms and on every other level of the dwelling unit, with all of the required smoke alarms being interconnected. 
Every local building official who is presently enforcing the 2009 or 2012 IRC should already be enforcing this requirement and there is essentially no change in requirements or increase in cost. 

For homes constructed PRIOR to July 1, 1975: 

Under the old law, for homes constructed prior to July 1, 1975, a smoke alarm was required outside each sleeping area. The smoke alarm could be battery- operated or hardwired. 
Under the new law, for smoke alarms that are battery-operated, the units need to be replaced/upgraded with new, sealed, long-life smoke alarms equipped with a hush feature. 
For homes constructed between July 1, 1975 and June 30, 1990: 

For homes constructed between July 1, 1975 and June 30, 1990, an AC-powered smoke alarm was required in each sleeping area. The requirement that the AC- powered smoke alarms have a battery back-up became effective July 1, 1990. 

Smoke alarms installed during this time period should have been replaced after 10-years of service under the existing law and, after July 1, 1990, replacement alarms were equipped with a battery back-up. 

Note: At the time the new law was signed, hard-wired smoke alarms are currently manufactured with a 9v battery back-up. It is anticipated that hard-wired smoke alarms will incorporate long-life, 10-year batteries in the near future. 

For new homes constructed AFTER January 1, 1989: 

Any new home in Maryland constructed after January 1, 1989 required at least one hard-wired, AC-powered smoke alarm on every level of the home, including the basement and required that the units to be interconnected in order that activation of any one of the required smoke alarms resulted in the sounding of all the required smoke alarms. The requirement that the AC-powered smoke alarms have a battery back-up became effective July 1, 1990. 

I still have questions about the law and smoke alarms, who should I call?? 
Call the Fire/EMS Department Watch office at 301-583-2200.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Residential and Commercial Building Sprinkler System Freezing Prevention Tips

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
MEBrady@co.pg.md.us     @PGFDPIO

Prince George’s County homes constructed since the early 1990’s have a residential sprinkler system installed to save lives and protect property.  Therefore there are a large number of single family homes, in addition to commercial buildings and multi-family dwellings, that are equipped with these life-saving systems.  The Fire/EMS Department has documented hundreds of incidents since the law changed requiring residential sprinklers that demonstrate that lives have been saved and damage to property limited when fires have occurred.  Prince George’s County now has a very high percentage of structures protected by sprinkler systems.

Home, apartment, condos and commercial building owners and management companies should take the time now to ensure that sprinkler and plumbing systems are adequately protected against pipes freezing.  During long periods of below freezing temperatures exposed water-filled sprinkler pipes can freeze expanding the pipe to the point when it will break. Sprinkler pipes tend to freeze before other water pipes because the water is not moving. Most sprinkler systems are wet systems that contain water all the time.

When water freezes inside a sprinkler pipe or any exposed water pipe such as a hose bib or under cabinet plumbing, it creates an obstruction that can damage and break the plumbing pipes.  This freezing will also render sprinkler system useless in the event of a fire. As the ice expands, it increases the internal water pressure in the pipe and causes the pipe to burst.

Alternatively, the expanding ice can cause a pipe, fitting or sprinkler head to crack but the ice will block the flow of water while it is solid. In this case, the actual water damage will not be apparent until the ice melts and water flows out of the burst section.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

The best way to protect a residential fire sprinkler system and plumbing pipes from freezing is to provide sufficient insulation and maintain adequate heat during the winter months.   Insulation helps block the flow of heat or cold from one space to the next. Most plumbing pipes are within the walls or ceilings of a home. Cold air can enter these concealed spaces through small gaps in the exterior sheathing and insulation and find its way into pipe chases and soffits that focus the air directly onto the piping and accelerate freezing.

Under cabinet plumbing in your bathrooms and kitchen, especially if they are located up against an exterior wall, can freeze.  Keep the cabinet doors open so heat from your house will circulate through the cabinets.  Leaving the faucet open just a trickle will also help to prevent freezing plumbing pipes.

Hose faucets on a homes exterior can be turned off.  There should be a valve on the inside of the home near the location of your exterior faucet that can be easily tuned off.

In attics, piping should be as close to the ceiling as possible with insulation placed over the pipe.  If you inspect your plumbing pipes that are in the attic and you can see exposed pipes; they need to be insulated immediately to prevent freezing.

When sprinklers are required in unheated spaces such as attics or crawl spaces, the use of a dry system, or special dry sprinkler heads are required.

If a sprinkler pipe or plumbing pipe bursts ensure that the location of the water shut-off valve is known and the proper method to turn it off.  Contact a residential sprinkler professional or plumber immediately to initiate repairs.  It is recommended that a sprinkler system is tested and inspected on a periodic basis to ensure it is in proper working order to prevent against rupture and flooding.

Friday, December 29, 2017

PGFD Recommendations for 2018 New Year Resolutions

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
MEBrady@co.pg.md.us     @PGFDPIO

Are you having difficulty in choosing your 2018 New Year Resolutions???  The career, volunteer and civilian men and women of the Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department (PGFD) have a few ideas for you.  We recommend you adopt the TOP TEN Fire/EMS Department Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors Resolutions for the New Year.  These resolutions will help you stay compliant with the new 2018 State of Maryland Smoke Alarm Law and the County CO detector law.  These are listed in no particular order, as they are all important.

I will install 10-year, tamper proof with hush feature smoke alarms and CO detectors on every level of my home.  

I will check my smoke alarms and CO detectors on the first day of every month by pushing the test button on the front cover and listen for a warning signal.  No sound = no protection.  Not working?? Replace with a new 10-year smoke alarm or CO detector.

I will check the manufacture date on my battery powered and hard-wired smoke alarms and CO detectors.  If they are close to or have exceeded the 10-year life span I will replace with a new models.  

If I have a 9-volt powered alarm that is within 10 years of its manufacture date I will continue to provide fresh batteries twice a year and test monthly.  Once the life span of 10-years is up I will replace with a new 10-year smoke alarm.  The day you provide a fresh battery should be consistent each year; your birthday, your spouses birthday, your oldest child’s birthday, a holiday, change-your-clock/change your battery.

I will designate one family member to be responsible for testing smoke alarms and CO detectors monthly.  Everyone in the family should be made aware of the responsible person and reminders should be encouraged.  Regardless of the type of alarm you have – test the alarm on the first day of every month.

I will replace my smoke alarm and CO detector if it is 10 years old and than every 10 years after.  A properly maintained smoke alarm works hard to protect you and your family every second of every day.  The alarm wears out and is not as reliable as it was when you first installed it; replace it every ten years.

I will include my smoke alarms and CO detectors when I perform household cleaning.  Use a vacuum wand or clean rag to remove any dust that may have accumulated.  Dust particles may affect the timely sounding of the alarm.

I will install working 10-year, tamper proof with hush feature, smoke alarms and CO detectors on every level of my home.  Most importantly is to have one in hallways outside of sleeping areas.

I will install a working 10-year smoke alarm in bedrooms where my family members sleep with their bedroom doors closed.

I will know and ensure my family knows what to do when a smoke alarm sounds – “get down, get low, get out.”  Have a family escape plan and practice it to ensure everyone knows two ways out of every room in the house and designate a meeting place outside when 911 can be called in safety.

A working smoke alarm provides you an early warning of a fire in your home.  Your chances of surviving a fire in your home is increased by 50% by having a working smoke alarm.   Having a family home escape planned and practiced increases your chances of survival even more.

A working smoke alarm allows home occupants to escape safely and make a quick notification to the fire department equating to an earlier arrival and mitigation of the fire before it is allowed to spread thereby saving property and helping firefighters to stay safe and go home after every call.

CO detectors are required by law if your home uses a gas to fuel your heat or to cook, has a fireplace and/or an attached garage.  CO detectors are required on every level of your home.

The Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department resolves to continue to provide the very best in Fire and Emergency Medical Services to our citizens, residents and visitors.  We vow that if you call and say you need a new smoke alarm that we will come to your house and install a working smoke alarm for you and your family; free of charge.  Call 311 and ask about our smoke alarm program.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Freezing Temperatures - Staying Healthy and Safe Advice

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
MEBrady@co.pg.md.us     @PGFDPIO

Freezing temperatures apparently will usher the week prior to our 2018 New Year and beyond this year.  We would like to remind everyone that staying warm in your home without keeping "Safety First" is one of the leading causes of residential fires.  Cold weather also could be unhealthy if you venture outdoors unprepared.

The Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department (PGFD) is reminding everyone that home fires are more prevalent in cold weather than in any other time of the year. This is due in part to an increase in cooking and heating fires.  This reminder involves the safe use of space heaters, general heating safety tips, hypothermia and frostbite prevention.

Stay Safe

The civilian, career and volunteer men and women of the Fire/EMS Department want to remind everyone that fire safety and prevention are especially important during times of cold temperatures.  “Temperatures drop and fires increase,” said Prince George's County Fire Chief Benjamin M. Barksdale.  According to NFPA statistics space heaters account for about one third of the home heating fires yet more than 80 percent of the home heating fire deaths.  The Winter Residential Building Fires report released by USFA in 2010, reports an estimated 108,400 winter residential building fires occur annually in the United States, resulting in an estimated average of 945 deaths, 3,825 injuries, and $1.7 billion in property loss.  Most notably, cooking and heating are the top causes of fires during cold weather. 

“The winter season brings the highest number of home fires than any other time of year,” said Fire Chief Barksdale. “Each winter season, home fires increase in part due to cooking and heating fires. Fire safety and injury prevention must not be lost in an effort to stay warm. Stay warm and do so safely.  Safety First ensures everyone goes home.” 

The Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department recommend the following safety tips for space heaters. 

Electric Space Heaters

• Buy only heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). 

• Check to make sure it has a thermostat control mechanism, and will switch off automatically if the heater falls over. 

• Heaters are not dryers or tables; don't dry clothes or store objects on top of your heater. 


• Space heaters need space; keep combustibles at least three feet away from each heater.

• Always unplug your electric space heater when not in use.  Turn off at night or whenever you sleep. - - Never use an extension cord with space heaters - plug directly into wall socket.

Using a kerosene heater???  Never refuel indoors.  Remove the kerosene heater outdoors, turn off and wait for it to cool down before refueling and only use the correct type of fuel.

General Heating Tips     

•    Furnaces, fireplaces and chimneys should be cleaned and checked each year by an appropriate professional prior to using.  Clear away any clutter from these heating devices, at least 3 feet away.

•    Only use seasoned wood in fireplaces, never use ignitable liquids to start a fire and do not overload your appliance.

•    The 3-foot rule also applies to furnaces and fireplaces.  No combustibles items within 3 feet of these heating appliances.

•    Dispose of fireplace ash into a metal container and store outdoors away from structures on a concrete surface.  Fireplace ash can ignite a fire days after they have been discarded.

Finally, ensure your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms are working by pushing the test button on the front cover.  If you do not hear an audible warning, replace your alarm with a new 10-year, tamper proof, with hush feature alarm.  Having a working smoke alarm dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. A working CO detector will protect you and your family from deadly "silent killer" fumes that may be building up in your home.  Remember to practice a home escape plan frequently with your family. 
Residents of Prince George’s County can contact our "Safety First" smoke alarm program by calling 311.  A firefighter will install a working smoke alarm in your home free of charge. 

 For additional safety info from the United States Fire Administration,
Stay Healthy

With colder temperatures in the forecast for this week, Prince George’s County Fire/EMS and Health Department are joining in a common voice to remind our residents to avoid serious health problems that can occur due to prolonged exposure to cold weather. The two most common conditions are hypothermia and frostbite.

 “All residents must take precautionary actions as a primary defense against injuries and illness resulting from extreme cold weather conditions,” said Chief Barksdale. “When exposed to cold weather, our bodies lose heat faster than it can produce it, resulting in bodily injury, illness, and even death.”

The Fire/EMS Department advises all residents to check on your elderly relatives and neighbors to ensure they have adequate heat and protection from the cold.  Limit the amount of time your pet spends outside.  Bring your pets inside when outdoor temperatures are freezing cold; pets can also contract hypothermia very quickly.

Hypothermia is one of the serious health problems that can be caused by exposure during cold weather.  If a person’s body temperature drops below 95 degrees, immediately seek medical attention.

In mild cases the symptoms include:

•    Uncontrollable shivering
•    Pale and cold skin

Other more serious signs include:

•    Confusion or sleepiness
•    Slurred speech
•    Shallow breathing
•    Weak pulse
•    Stiffness in the arms or legs
•    Or, poor control over body movements

In the case of serious symptoms, contact the victim’s doctor or call 911.

The homeless are a particular concern when there are freezing temperatures.  If you know of a homeless person that could use an offer of assistance to protect themselves from hypothermia, consider contacting the Homeless Hotline at 888-731-0999.

In any case where hypothermia is suspected, until help arrives or the person is seen by a doctor, move the person to a warm room, warm the body with dry layers of blankets or clothing, and give warm beverages.

Frostbite refers to actual freezing and subsequent destruction of body tissue which is likely to occur any time skin temperature gets much below 32F.  The areas most likely to freeze are toes, fingers, ears, cheeks and the tip of the nose.

Individual at risk for frostbite include those with impaired circulation, the elderly, the very young and anyone who remains outside for prolonged periods.  The danger increases if the individual becomes wet.

Symptoms of frostbite include:

•    Gradual numbness;
•    Hardness and paleness of the affected area during exposure,
•    Pain and tingling or burning in affected area following warming; and
•    Possible change of skin color to purple


Follow these tips to weather the winter in a healthy way:

•    Cover your head.  You lose as much as 50 percent of your body heat through your head.
•    Wear several layers of lightweight, loose fitting clothing.  The air between the layers acts as insulation to keep you warmer.
•    Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect lungs from direct, extremely cold air.  Cover your ears and lower part of your face as well.
•    Wear mittens rather than fingered gloves.  The close contact of fingers helps to keep your hands warm.
•    Wear warm leg coverings and heavy socks or two pairs of lightweight socks.
•    Wear waterproof boots or sturdy shoes to keep your feet warm and dry.

Finally, areas of water may start to freeze over during this cold spell.  Never venture out onto frozen bodies of water.  Consider these areas to be thin ice and avoid at all costs.  This information includes pets as many humans get themselves into trouble venturing out to retrieve pets that have fallen into freezing water.  All frozen areas of water should be considered “thin ice” and “extremely dangerous.”