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Friday, January 18, 2019

Stay Warm Safely - Dangerous Cold Temperatures in the Forecast

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Public Information Officer, 240-508-7930
MEBrady@co.pg.md.us     @PGFDPIO and @PGFDNews

Dangerously cold temperatures are in our forecast and your Prince George's County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department 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.

We are 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 National Fire Prevention Association (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 the United States Fire Administration (USFA) report that from 2013-2015, an average of 45,900 home heating fires occurred in the United States each year. These fires caused an annual average of approximately 205 deaths, 725 injuries and $506 million in property loss.

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

NEVER MASSAGE OR RUB FROSTBITTEN AREAS AS THIS MAY CAUSE FURTHER DAMAGE TO THE SKIN.

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.” 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Shovel Snow Safely or better yet - not at all!!!

Media Contact: Mark E. Brady, Chief Public Information Officer, 240-508-7930
MEBrady@co.pg.md.us.    @PGFDPIO

This weekend’s storm is certainly living up to the forecast.  High snow totals are being recorded across the region in addition to cold temperatures.

This winter storm has produced enough snow that clearing sidewalks, driveways and other areas will be a challenge to shovel, especially for those that have an existing heart condition or anyone not in good physical condition.  Limit shoveling to only a few minutes at a time, shovel smaller amounts, and take frequent breaks. 

The snowfall has been a heavy and wet texture.  The heavy and wet snow adds weight to your shoveling that requires high energy and is dangerous to your health.

Use smaller shovels; perhaps a narrow shovel that will not allow you to pick up big amounts.

Cold temperatures also will affect your health when shoveling.  You will exert high energy when shoveling which will make you breath harder and more often.  Deep and frequent breathing will result in inhaling colder air that will constrict your lungs and airways making the exchange of oxygen into your bloodstream difficult.  When you venture outdoors this weekend wear clothing that will cover your mouth and nose.

Ask a neighborhood youth to clear your walks for you or be a good neighbor and clear the snow for your senior citizen neighbor.

If you experience signs and symptoms of a heart attack, which include, chest pains, difficulty breathing, heaviness on your chest, numbness in your neck and left arm, call 911 immediately.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Riverdale Church Fire with Civilian Fatality - UPDATED January 18th ID of Deceased

MEDIA CONTACT; Mark E. Brady, Chief Public Information Officer, 240-508-7930
MEBrady@co.pg.md.us.    @PGFDPIO

Just before 2:30 am, Saturday, January 12th, a 911 caller reported smoke coming from the roof of a structure.  Firefighters arrived at a 1-story building that was being used as a church and found a working fire inside.  It took about 30 minutes to extinguish the fire.

Shortly after an investigation commenced a deceased male was found inside.  The Prince George’s County Police Department Homicide joined Fire Investigators as a matter of standard operating procedure whenever a fatality is involved at the scene of a fire.  ATF Agents also joined in the investigation being as a church was involved. The joint investigation will continue until an autopsy determines the cause of death and a cause of the fire has been determined.

The Celestial Church of Christ is located at 5804 Roanoke Avenue in Riverdale.  Fire loss is estimated at $100,000.  There were no other firefighter or civilian injuries.  The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

The name of the deceased will not be released until after an autopsy has been completed.

UPDATE - January 18, 2019 1:30 pm

After an autopsy by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner the deceased has been identified  as Kingsley Isidore Duru. He was a 54 year old male who was associated with the church.

A smoke alarm was located inside the structure, however, it was not working.

The investigation into the cause of the fire remains open and on-going.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Firefighters Returned to Full Duty Pending Additional Review

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Public Information Officer, 240-508-7930
MEBrady@co.pg.md.us.    240-508-7930

The actions of two firefighters on the scene of a Capitol Heights house fire have been under review since an incident occurred on December 29, 2018.  The review centered on a radio transmission made by one of the firefighters concerning water supply.

The review has determined that miscommunications on 2-way radios used by firefighters played a role in an inappropriate radio transmission by one of the pump operators. The pump operator from the first arriving District Heights engine called to the second arriving engine from Kentland to charge the supply line (send water from an engine connected to a fire hydrant through large hose line to another engine in order to provide water to firefighters using attack line (hose with a nozzle used to extinguish the fire).  The Kentland pump operator mis-heard the radio transmission and thought what he heard was his crew asking for their back-up attack line to be charged (filled with water) when in fact it was the District Heights pump operator making the request for his supply line to be charged.  As a result, the Kentland back-up attack line was pre-maturely charged without the line being in place yet and still being advanced up to the house.

It was at this point, seeing an attack line being charged before the supply line being charged, the District Heights pump operator made a radio transmission referencing using a hose clamp (a device placed a hose line to close it off to stop the flow of water until a pump operator is ready to receive the water or to close a broken hose line).  The review determined that while a hose clamp was placed over the Kentland back-up attack line, it was never engaged and never restricted the flow of water in the line. 

The review also determined at no time were firefighters inside the house battling the fire in any danger from any of the actions of the two pump operators.

At no time was there any physical altercation between the two pump operators.

Immediate actions were taken that night removing both the District Heights and Kentland pump operators from emergency operations until the Department had an opportunity to review the incident.  This action was not a “suspension”.  This action limits the firefighter’s role to administrative functions.

As a result of the internal review both firefighters have been returned to full duty status.  

The review found that the actions that night did not warrant keeping the firefighters from their assigned duties, however, the matter is not yet closed and may lead to administrative discipline and required training.  The firefighter that made the inappropriate radio transmission, while currently returned to full duty, may go through the Department’s disciplinary review process. If a violation of any Departmental procedure or Code of Conduct occurred, and if appropriate, additional disciplinary action could be taken.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

PGFD Recommended 2019 "Safe Home and Family" Resolutions

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

Are you having difficulty in choosing your 2019 New Year Resolutions???  The combined 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.  These resolutions will help you stay compliant with the State of Maryland Smoke Alarm Law and the County carbon monoxide (CO) detector law.  These are listed in no particular order, as they are all important.

I will install and/or maintain 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 protection, prevention 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.

Monday, December 24, 2018

PGFD Firefighter/Medics Deliver on Christmas Eve

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

Throughout the month of December, members of the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department participated in several holiday events to benefit members of our communities.  Toys for Tots and the Public Safety Food Baskets are just two examples where our civilian, volunteer and career members are provided with opportunities to interact with County residents in a festive and joyous fashion.

There are occasions when members of the community may not have been able to participate in these charitable events but our firefighter/medics become aware of their situation through incidents, word-of-mouth or family members.  The Department's First Battalion became aware of such a family and were able to present toys and food that will enable a Landover family, including 6 and 9 year old girls, to enjoy a festive Christmas Day.

A Landover mother of two girls marvels at what Firefighter/Medics just delivered to her home on Christmas Eve

Monday, December 17, 2018

Clinton Man Dies from Burn Injuries

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

The Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department regretfully announces the death of a man that had sustained critical burn injuries earlier this month.  Just before 3:00 pm, December 5th, an adult male employee of an auto parts store had just completed removing a fuel tank off of a vehicle.  When the man walked near an open flame (from a burn barrel being used for warming) the fuel vapors ignited causing burn injuries to about 75% of his body.  Bystander’s extinguished the fire.

Firefighter/Medics arrived on location in the 9100 block of Allentown Road in Fort Washington, initiated treatment and summoned a helicopter to fly the man to the Burn Unit at Medstar Washington Hospital Center.

The victim in this incident succumbed to his injuries on December 13, 2018.  He is identified as:


Christopher Terry, 51 years of age, from Clinton, Maryland.