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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Fire/EMS Department Valor Award Recipients

GOLD MEDAL OF VALOR
&
FIRE FIGHTER OF THE YEAR

Presented to

FIRE FIGHTER/MEDIC SARA A. SHAFFER


On the morning of January 30, 2013, Fire Fighter/Medic Shaffer and her crew members from the St. Joes Fire/EMS Station 806 had just cleared the scene of a motor vehicle accident on the Capitol Beltway in Lanham.  Less than a minute after being placed in service, the crew was jolted into action as they witnessed an overturned tractor trailer coming to rest atop a jersey wall.  The Officer-in-Charge notified Public Safety Communications of the situation, and after the Squad was positioned, Shaffer exited the apparatus to begin evolution of the scene.  She suddenly noticed that behind the tractor trailer and SUV large diameter hose was sprawled across the fast lanes of the beltway, indicating a fire engine was involved in the accident.  Having 3 vehicles involved and many potential patients the crew split up to check on injuries.  Shaffer sprinted toward the engine where it appeared the force of impact had been so violent it overturned the vehicle and then spun it around 180 degrees, before coming to rest across the broken jersey walls. 

As she approached the front of the vehicle, Shaffer saw two of the firefighters from the engine had extricated themselves through the windshield.  A third firefighter was standing on the officer’s seat.  Although in shock, the firefighters seemed otherwise okay.  Immediately, she immediately checked to see if anyone was still in the Engine.  The injured crew pointed to the Engine’s cab, where one of their crew members was trapped.  She recognized the trapped firefighter was in grave condition, as his legs were not visible and appeared to be pinned beneath the Engine; and, he had also suffered massive trauma to his arm.  The seriously injured firefighter stated he was unable to move his legs; therefore, rapid extrication was his only hope. 

Fire Fighter Shaffer quickly ran back to inform her crew of the entrapped firefighter.  While updating her Technician of the need for extrication equipment she had to assist him in removing a victim from under the SUV, an immediate life or death situation.  The SUV passenger had attempted to self-extricate but was now become pinned at his chest, between the pavement and the vehicle’s roof.  Fearing the victim would suffocate if there was further movement of the vehicle, the Technician used his weight to gently rock it, while Shaffer pulled the passenger from beneath and away from the vehicle.  Dragging him to the jersey wall, she assessed that neither he nor the driver were severely injured and instructed them to remain still until additional assistance arrived on the scene.  

Fire Fighter Shaffer then returned to the overturned, unstable engine and entered through the windshield to assess the injured firefighter.  He was pale but awake and covered by equipment.  Shaffer removed all debris from the cramped cab, freeing him from the waist down.  The firefighter had suffered an amputation of his right arm above the elbow.  Without the proper EMS supplies, Shaffer positioned the patient so his own body weight would control bleeding.  She performed a rapid trauma assessment and attempted to keep the near unconscious firefighter awake and calm.  As other units arrived on scene, she informed them that a tourniquet and other supplies were needed. 

The officer of the Squad, who had been managing the entire scene, informed Fire Shaffer the Squad would be in position and she was needed to work the extrication tools.  Prior to exiting, she instructed the two providers coming to replace her in patient care and ensured they had the necessary equipment. 
Upon exiting the Engine, she realized the Squad had not moved.  With time running out, she retrieved a back board from an ambulance and reentered the Engine.  Positioning herself in the officer's area, she explained the extrication plan to the injured firefighter, the crew, and those standing outside the Engine.  The backboard would serve as a fulcrum to slide the firefighter up and over the seats and then as a ramp, with which to slide him the remainder of the way through the cab and out the window onto the awaiting stretcher and backboard.  During the process, Fire Fighter Shaffer used her body as a wedge-locking board between the Engine’s house and the cab’s roof.   Following the extrication, she proceeded to the waiting ambulance and she continued to assist with patient care.   

No Advanced Life Support units were on the scene, and a decision was made to move forward with transport to the closest trauma center.  With the dislodgement of the tourniquet, Fire Fighter Shaffer applied pressure by clamping down with her hands over the firefighter’s brachial artery.  She maintained that position for the duration of the transport, as well as initial treatment phases once inside the ER.  While en route to the hospital, she was critical in ensuring proper care by instructing the crew on the best treatment plan.  She also talked with the injured firefighter, explaining everything that was going on during transport and in the trauma room.  She remained with the injured firefighter until he was sedated and unconscious.
While everyone working on this incident displayed acts of heroism, Fire Fighter Shaffer illustrated valor and ingenuity throughout the entire process.  Most firefighters responding on a call will likely be assigned one role; but Fire Fighter Shaffer’s duties on this incident included extrication, patient care, and scene management.  She undertook multiple roles and did them exceptionally well, all the while faced with trying to save the life of one of our own.

For great personal risk, zeal, ingenuity, and judgment, Fire Fighter/Medic Sara A. Shaffer is awarded a Gold Medal of Valor and She is recognized as the 2013 Prince George’s County Fire Fighter of the Year.

Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department

GOLD MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE IN EMS

Presented to

FIRE FIGHTER/MEDIC TECHNICIAN KATHERINE P. JOHNSON



Over the past year, Fire Fighter/Medic Technician Johnson became a county certified paramedic.  On the morning of August 7, 2013, Paramedic Johnson was off duty and driving down a narrow, one-lane road known for deadly motor vehicle accidents, she came across upon a Camaro that had crossed the center line and collided with an SUV in a T-bone style collision.  The scene was still, without any movement from either vehicle and no rescue vehicles in sight. Johnson immediately stopped her own vehicle and sprang into action.  She sized up the scene and called 911, relaying imperative information to ensure additional units and a helicopter were dispatched. 
Despite not having any personal protective equipment, Johnson grabbed a small first aid kit from her vehicle and headed to the most damaged car.  Inside the Camaro were three sisters, ages 20, 17 and 10.  They had been on their way to an appointment for senior portraits.  The 17-year-old passenger suffered the full force of impact and was completely entangled in the wreckage.  Technician Johnson checked for signs of life and found none.  Being alone, she had to make the extremely tough decision to move on and help the other victims.  
The 20-year-old driver was motionless and not breathing.  She felt for a pulse and adjusted the airway so it opened, and the girl took a breath.  Recognizing her breathing was inadequate, she used a CPR mask provided by police who were now on the scene.  Johnson provided ventilations and maintained an open airway until another unit could arrive and take over patient care. 
Johnson could hear the moans of another victim that could not be seen.  A 10-year-old girl, Peyton Curl, was underneath the vehicle wreckage.  Again without the protection of personal protective equipment, Johnson entered the vehicle and started to remove items from around the victim.
As more units and personnel arrived on the scene, Johnson was able to perform a rapid trauma assessment, vitals, establish an IV, and give pain management drugs.  But, most importantly, she was able to keep the 10-year-old girl calm and still during the tedious extrication process.   She guided the placement of hydraulic tools assisted with operations from her position inside the vehicle, due to the limited access of the operators.  After a 20-minute extrication process, the child was removed from the wreckage.  Johnson accompanied the girl into an awaiting BLS transport unit and continued patient care with other providers, including stabilization of fractures, establishing additional IV with fluid therapy, and other Advanced Life Support capabilities.  She remained with the child until the unit was ready to transport to the helicopter landing zone. 
If not for Fire Fighter/Medic Johnson’s immediate actions, there would have been two fatalities.  Her ability to stay calm and perform her duties, command a scene, and instruct others in the extrication of these severely injured girls deeply impacted the outcome of the situation for the.  Without bodily protection, she selflessly placed herself in harm’s way, where she remained until the last patient was removed.  
For great personal risk and outstanding execution of advanced life support, Fire Fighter/Medic Katherine P. Johnson is awarded a Gold Medal for Excellence in EMS and is recognized as 2013 Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Departments Paramedic of the Year.

SILVER MEDAL OF VALOR

Presented to

FIRE FIGHTER/MEDIC ANTONIO D. COLE


On the morning of Sunday, December 8, 2013, Public Safety Communications dispatched units to the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and Powder Mill Road for a personal injury accident with entrapment and fire.  Fire Fighter/Medic Cole was on the way home from having just completed his 24-hour shift at a Medic unit in Laurel, when he came upon the accident.  A fire in the engine compartment was growing and impinging on the passenger area.  Cole heard the distant sirens of Fire/EMS Department units, however, he realized time was of the essence; and, immediate action was critical.   Without the protection of his Personal Protection Equipment, he approached the vehicle and broke out the window.  After establishing the occupant was unconscious, he quickly entered the burning vehicle and began initiating EMS care.  Despite seriously lacerating his finger on a piece of metal, Cole worked feverishly to extricate the victim.  He was successful in removing her and initiated care on the roadway awaiting EMS arrival.  Although he administered the best possible prehospital emergency care, sadly, the victim succumbed to her injuries.   
          
The courage and selflessness Fire Fighter Cole demonstrated on the scene of this incident truly symbolizes the caliber of service we strive to provide to the citizens of Prince George’s County. 

For great personal risk, courage, and zeal, Fire Fighter/Medic Antonio D. Cole is awarded a Silver Medal of Valor.     


SILVER MEDAL OF VALOR

Presented to

VOLUNTEER FIRE LIEUTENANT TIMOTHY MCCLOSKEY

BRONZE MEDAL OF VALOR

Presented to

VOLUNTEER LIEUTENANT KEVIN KANE

VOLUNTEER SERGEANT TIMOTHY JONES

VOLUNTEER FIRE FIGHTER RICHARD NEUNER




During the early morning hours February 21st  Firefighters were alerted to a house fire in the 8600 block of Leslie Avenue in Glenarden.  Firefighters from the Kentland Fire/EMS Station were the first to arrive and encountered a 1-story home with heavy fire coming from the front of the house.  As crews prepared to advance an attack line to start extinguishment, an adult female met firefighters on the street in front of the house and told firefighters that her husband and three children were still inside the burning home.  Volunteer Lieutenant Timothy McCloskey organized a strategic plan to make the rescues and extinguish the fire which was now consuming the majority of the house.
McCloskey entered the burning home with other firefighters ahead of the hose line to search for family members still inside the home. 
Another team of firefighters advanced a hose line into the structure to start extinguishment and to cover the firefighters conducting a search.  One by one, despite intense heat and blinding smoke, the trapped family members were located and carried outside.  Other firefighters and paramedics had started to arrive and initiated immediate emergency medical care to the four unconscious and non-breathing adult male and 3 siblings.  All four were transported to the hospital in Critical Condition.  Despite the very best efforts of everyone involved the four family members succumbed to their injuries at the hospital.
For their heroic efforts in locating and removing the trapped victims from the burning house under extreme conditions and placing themselves in great personal risk these firefighters are hereby awarded Medals of Valor.
Kentland Volunteer Fire Lieutenant Timothy McCloskey is hereby awarded a Silver Medal of Valor,
Kentland Volunteer Lieutenant Kevin Kane, Kentland Volunteer Sergeant Timothy Jones and Bladensburg Volunteer Fire Fighter Richard Neuner are hereby awarded Bronze Medals of Valor.

SILVER MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE IN EMS

Presented to

FIRE FIGHTER/MEDIC KACIE E. HAYTER



BRONZE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE IN EMS

Presented to

FIRE FIGHTER/MEDIC JOHN A. BOWMAN


On Saturday, February 29, 2013, Fire Fighter/Medic Hayter and Fire Fighter/Medic Bowman responded on board the Paramedic Unit from Fire/EMS Station 830, to a home on 58th Place in Cheverly for a female in labor.  During the patient assessment, the pair observed the umbilical cord was presenting with no sign of impending birth.  The bluish colored cord was an indication that no blood was getting to the baby from the mother.  If this child was going to be afforded the best possible chance of survival, it was imperative to act quickly.  Relying on her training, Hayter used her hand to alleviate pressure on the umbilical cord.  With her hand in place, the cord became pink and she could feel a pulse.  Having alleviated pressure on the umbilical cord, Fire Fighter/Medic Hayter’s hand could not be removed until directed by a physician to do so.

Fire Fighter/Medic Bowman contacted Prince George’s Hospital Center and informed them of the severity of the situation, as well as alerted them to prepare a delivery room.  Immediately upon arriving at the hospital, the patient was assessed and without delay taken to Labor and Delivery.  The physician determined that Fire Fighter/Medic Hayter must accompany the woman into the operating room, where an emergency Cesarean Section would be performed.  Her hand remained in place, and pressure was kept off the umbilical cord until the baby was delivered.  After a week in the hospital, the healthy baby girl delivered at 36 weeks gestation was discharged into the care of her parents.

For her outstanding application of emergency medical skills that saved a life, Fire Fighter/Medic Kacie E. Hayter is awarded the Silver Medal for Excellence in EMS.

For his application of emergency medical skills that saved a life, Fire Fighter/Medic John A. Bowman is awarded the Bronze Medal for Excellence in EMS.

BRONZE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE IN EMS

Presented to

FIRE FIGHTER/MEDIC ANTHONY L. TAYLOR



On the evening of Monday, September 2, 2013, Taylor responded on board the Medic unit from the Northview fire/EMS Station in Bowie for a reported small plane crash at Freeway Airport.  He was the first Paramedic to arrive on the scene, where he encountered three victims with obvious serious injuries.  A female victim had sustained severe facial injuries and was lying on the shoulder of the highway.  She had been removed from the wreckage prior to the arrival of Fire/EMS units.  Two critically injured males were trapped inside the plane and would require extensive extrication.  Employing his training and experience, Paramedic Taylor instructed the only Basic Life Support transport unit on the scene to quickly load and transport the female to Prince George’s Trauma Center. 

Turning his attention to the remaining victims, whose injuries were life-threatening, Paramedic Taylor administered Advanced Life Support care to both males while they were being extricated from the wreckage.  One patient had sustained a severe head injury and was presenting a decreased level of consciousness.  The other patient complained of a possible broken back and could not move his legs. 

Upon the arrival of a EMS Supervisor Taylor provided an update on the patient’s condition, including the female transport.  His concise information was extremely beneficial in ensuring the appropriate resources were requested for the care and transport of the remaining patients.  After giving the update, he continued to provide patient care until additional ALS resources arrived.  

Paramedic Taylor’s quick thinking to transport the female patient by Basic Life Support is credited with saving her life.  Immediately after reaching the hospital, the woman was intubated and placed on a ventilator to protect her airway.  Had Taylor elected to wait for another Advanced Life Support unit to arrive and transport, the outcome could have been tragic.  His decision enabled him to concentrate on caring for the two critically injured males, thereby providing the best possible chance for their survival.

For quick thinking and application of emergency medical services that saved at least one life, Fire Fighter/Medic Anthony L. Taylor is awarded a Bronze Medal for Excellence in EMS.

BRONZE MEDAL OF VALOR

Presented to

VOLUNTEER LIEUTENANT PAUL J. McKENNY


In the early morning hours of Sunday, November 10, 2013, units from Branchville Volunteer Fire/EMS Station 811 responded for a house fire, with a person reportedly trapped, in the 5200 block of Palco Place in College Park.  Engine 811 was the first unit on the scene, with Lieutenant McKenny as the Officer-in-Charge.  He arrived to find heavy fire showing from the second floor and roof of the house.  Lieutenant McKenny and his crew stretched a hose line through the front door, where they encountered high heat and thick smoke.  McKenny could see an adult female near the bottom of the interior stairs in obvious distress.  Conditions on the first floor were continuing to rapidly deteriorating, with high heat and smoke banking down from the second floor.  McKenny instructed his crew to provide hose line protection as he advanced toward the victim and lifted her out of the house and into the care of awaiting EMS personnel.  Prior to being transferred to EMS personnel, the woman told  McKenny that her husband was still trapped on the second floor.

After notifying all units that an adult male victim was still trapped on the second floor, McKenny rejoined his crew.  The hose line was advanced to the second floor to knock down the fire and provide protection for the truck crew that was conducting the search.  Sadly, the male victim was pronounced deceased upon being located. 

In addition to suffering smoke inhalation, the female patient had sustained thermal burns to her airway.  Following several weeks in the hospital, she was released in good condition. 

Branchville Volunteer Lieutenant McKenny’s quick thinking and rapid action on the scene of this incident are attributed with saving the victim’s life. 

For personal risk and  judgment,  Volunteer Lieutenant Paul J. McKenny is awarded the Bronze Medal of Valor.

BRONZE MEDAL OF EXCELLENCE IN EMS

Presented to

ACTING FIRE FIGHTER/MEDIC CAPTAIN ALAIN W. ANTONIN


FIRE FIGHTER/MEDIC TECHNICIAN STEPHANIE A. BUNCE



On the morning of Thursday, September 12, 2013, while returning to the station after responding on a call, Captain Antonin and Technician Bunce observed a car swerving across both sides of the road.  When it crashed into a bus stop, the initial thought was the driver might be inebriated.  Antonin and Bunce, realizing the safety of other motorists was compromised, quickly began following the vehicle with both siren and air horn sounding.  The car eventually stopped in the middle of the road, at which time a young female passenger jumped out.  The school-aged girl was frantically screaming, “Help me!”  Fearing she may have been abducted and uncertain of what to expect, Antonin and Bunce approached the car with extreme caution.  Upon reaching the girl, the pair learned the driver, her mother, was suffering a diabetic crisis.  After assessing the woman and noting that her glucose reading was only 23, an IV line was started.  Within minutes after receiving Dextrose 50%, the patient’s blood sugar level increased and she gradually returned to a lucid state.

The quick thinking and immediate action of Captain Antonin and Technician Bunce quite possibly saved the life of the patient, her daughter, and others.   

For their bravery, quick thinking and application of emergency medical care, Acting Fire Fighter/Medic Captain Alain W. Antonin and Fire Fighter/Medic Technician Stephanie A. Bunce are awarded the Bronze Medal for Excellence in EMS.  















Wednesday, April 16, 2014

MEDIA ADVISORY - 37th Annual Public Safety Valor Awards

Media Contact: Dana Brook, Fire Captain, 240-691-2175, DNBrooks@co.pg.md.us

The 37th Annual Public Safety Valor Award Luncheon is fast approaching.  This event honors the men and women of Prince George's County Public Safety Agencies for their heroic acts performed during 2013.  The event is always well attended by family members and co-workers of our recipients.  Members of the media are encouraged to attend and cover the stories of our Valor and Excellence in EMS recipients.

WHAT:     Public Safety Valor Awards

WHEN:     Wednesday, April 23, 2014
                  Doors Open at 11:30 am, lunch at 12:00 noon (reserved seating), awards program at 12:45 pm

WHERE:   Martins Crosswinds, 7400 Greenway Center, Drive, Greenbelt, Maryland 20770


WHO:        County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III, Elected and Community leaders, DCAO for Public
                  Safety Barry Stanton, Public Safety Agency Heads, Valor Recipients with family and 
                  co-workers.


Smoke Alarms Continue to Sound a Warning in County Homes


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

For the 11th time over the past 3 months a family in Prince George’s County was alerted to a fire in their home by a working smoke alarm.  Not just any smoke alarm, it was a working smoke alarm installed by a firefighter just last year.

At about 7:45 pm, Tuesday, April 15, an electrical event occurred which started a fire inside the wall of a
1-story, 1300 sq. ft. single family home in the 2500 block of Booker T. Drive in Upper Marlboro.  The fire continued to burn and remained hidden behind the interior wall.  Smoke and flames extended up the walls in between the studs until it hit the attic where the fire grew rapidly.  Smoke and heat started to bank down from the attic into the living space below.  The occupants remained unaware of the fire.
Smoke pours from roof of home on Booker T. Drive in Upper Marlboro.
Photo courtesy of Kentland VFD Facebook.

Within moments of smoke making it’s way into the living portion of the house two smoke alarms emitted a warning of fire.  The occupants heeded the alarms warning and escaped safely.

Firefighters arrived quickly to find smoke coming from the house.  A through search of the house confirmed no one was inside.  Firefighters spent about 15-20 minutes extinguishing the fire.  The fire was declared “accidental” and attributed to an electrical malfunction.  Fire loss is estimated at  $30,000.

No civilian or firefighter injuries were reported.  Four adult occupants will be displaced and are being assisted by the American Red Cross with temporary living arrangements.  The family told personnel on scene that firefighters had installed the smoke alarms in their home last year.

The Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department has an extensive array of programs designed to improve the number of working smoke alarms in homes.   Long-standing and successful smoke alarm programs including Post Incident Neighbor Intervention Program (PINIP) and Pro-Active Residential Information Distribution Effort (PRIDE) are now joined by the Departments Safety First Day of the Month and Neighbor Helping Neighbor programs.  Our efforts will continue to be ensuring homes and families are protected by working smoke alarms.  The Departments focus is the promotion and use of 10-year, tamper proof, with hush feature smoke alarms that are sure to reduce the number of fire fatalities across the Country.

This home marks the 11th time a smoke alarm has sounded alerting occupants of the home of a fire.  Having a working smoke alarm in your home increases your chances of survival by about 50%.  Home occupants also should develop a home escape plan, identifying two ways way out of every room in your house and designate a safe meeting place outside.  Practice the plan often but at a minimum of twice a year.

Firefighters go door-to-door asking to check smoke alarms.  If one is found to be 10 years or older, not working or absent, firefighters will install a new smoke alarm at no charge to the homeowner.  The Department also accepts requests from citizens for new smoke alarm installation by calling 311 or 301-864-SAFE (7233).  Citizens may also request on-line by clicking here.

The free smoke alarm programs offered by our Department are made possible by the generosity of PEPCO, IAFF PGFD Local 1619, 1-800-BOARDUP and most recently the Ladies Auxiliary of the Prince George’s County Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association.  Despite the generous donation of smoke alarms the Department has challenges in meeting the current demand and our supply of smoke alarms is extremely low.  Any corporation, company, individual or group that is interested in donating smoke alarms so we can continue to save lives like Tuesday in Upper Marlboro is asked to contact the Office of the Fire Chief at 301-883-5200.







Monday, April 14, 2014

Turning Misfortune Into a Fire Safety/Injury Prevention Message - Celebrities Included

BY: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930, mebrady@co.pg.md.us
Twitter @PGFDPIO


The fire service utilizes many training methods and visual demonstrations during community outreach events while providing public education for fire prevention and injury safety.  At times we use the negative event as a teachable moment that helps to drive the fire service message home, literally, home.

One of our most often used instructional methods is to demonstrate how "not" to do something in the hopes of using a negative and turn it into a positive teaching moment. A moment "burned" into the memory of the public to help them avoid avoid that particular tragedy from ever occurring to them.  A popular landmark burns to the ground, a family is displaced after a home fire or perhaps a fire involving a fatality are all opportunities for teachable moments for Life Safety Educators and Public Information Officers (PIO).

When tragedy strikes a community it provides firefighters an opportunity to help educate.  Consider a  door-to-door campaign within that community including checking smoke alarms, performing safety checks, distributing literature and interactions with citizens are all acts that are appreciated and safety message remembered.  A visit to schools within a grief stricken community to talk about fire safety, smoke alarms and developing a exit drill in the home with 2 ways out of every room in your house is better received by the students who in turn will bring the fire safety message home and discuss with parents and siblings.  Of course, all of these community outreach events are an excellent opportunity for the Departments PIO to invite media to join firefighters on these visits and increase the exposure of the fire safety message.

During planned community outreach and life safety events that don't involve a recent tragedy it's safer to demonstrate the "negatives" by capturing the event on video or using existing video.  A video makes the teachable moment available to play over again and again.  A video can be used by the PIO to post on the Departments website and social media sites expanding the number of people that may be positively impacted with your public safety message.

One of most commonly used live demonstrations and videos is the comparison demonstration between a well-maintained Christmas tree and one that is not properly maintained.  A fire starts out small and within seconds the dried out tree "explodes" with fire.  Watch this powerful public awareness video here.

When tragedy and misfortune strikes a celebrity it provides another opportunity to expand the potential reach up to millions of people with a fire safety message.  Remember, we are turning a negative into a positive.  This is a great moment for a PIO to send a fire safety and injury prevention message especially when no one is seriously injured (must remain respectful) and when the celebrity makes a public disclosure of their own "incident."  Celebrities, by their very nature of being well-known and admired by millions of people, help the fire service with public education messages by them sharing an unfortunate experience.  A vast audience of fans across the world will listen to their story of misfortunes and tragedy and the fire service has the ability to capture the moment with a beneficial message.  It's would be a shame and a missed opportunity if PIO's and Life Safety Educators did not take full advantage of a celebrity misfortune and public disclosure to send a message of fire safety and injury prevention.

For example, Sharon Osbourne shared her story of a candle fire at their Beverly Hills Home.  Carrie Underwood showed it's OK to have a working smoke alarm after she set hers off accidentally.   Remember William Shatners misfortune with a turkey fryer?  He shared his story by producing videos demonstrating what went wrong and spoke of the dangers of a deep fryer.



Country star Trace Adkins Tennessee home was significantly damaged by fire.  His kids got out and
met outside just like they had practiced after Brentwood Tennessee Firefighters had taught them during a school visit.  Trace and his wife both publicly thanked firefighters for their education efforts and for their work in extinguishing the fire at their home.  If the fire service did not take this occurrence and turn it into a positive story about public education and escape planning than it was a missed opportunity.

The most recent video that demonstrates what is an increasing number of home fires caused by candles comes in the form of a music video by Blake Shelton.  Blake's most recent hit song, "Doin' What She Likes," contains the lyrics of;


"Lightin' watermelon candles upstairs, Lettin' them burn and holdin' her all night,
 I like doin' what she likes."


Letting candles burn all night???  Shocking words for any firefighter as we all know that candles should never be left unattended and extinguished if you leave the room and before you go to bed.  I was alarmed by the lyrics until I saw the music video for "Doin' What She Likes."  This music video should be used by firefighters, Life Safety Educators and PIO's to help in our campaign to prevent fires caused by unattended candles.  Well done Mr. Shelton, well done.  You have provided fire services across the country another teachable moment through your video.  Please watch and listen;




By the Numbers from the United States Fire Administration: 

Candle Fires

15,260
estimated number of home candle fires each year
166
estimated number of home candle fire deaths each year
1,289
estimated number of home candle fire injuries each year
55%
of home candle fires start because the candle is too close to combustible materials
20%
of candle fires begin when candles are unattended or abandoned
36%
of home candle fires begin in the bedroom, more than in any other room
½
of candle fire deaths occur between Midnight and 6 am
Celebrities and professional athletes have a tremendous opportunity to save lives by their mere mention or tweet of a safety message.  For example, "Smoke Alarms Save Lives - test yours today to ensure it is working."