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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

2005 College Park Arson/Homicide Documented in Upcoming Cable Program

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

An early morning off-campus house fire on Saturday, April 30, 2005 claimed the life of one of the occupants.  Just steps away from the campus of the University of Maryland in College Park a well-advanced fire consumed the 2-story rental house. 

A party the night before left many possible causes of the fire for the talented and experienced Prince George’s County Fire Investigators that conducted a very through investigation ruling out one possible cause after another.  However, one key piece of evidence could not be explained, the presence of gasoline in the area of origin; the front porch.  This incident would prove to be one of the most challenging and perplexing Arson/Homicide investigations in the history of the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department in identifying a suspect.

After hours of interviews of witnesses and review of forensics the cause of the fire was determined to Arson.  Fire Investigators and County Police Homicide worked jointly to find out who was responsible.

For more details about the promising college senior that perished in the fire and how a suspect was identified read the Cindy Rich story in a 2008 WashingtonianMagazine story. 

Now, a cable TV show documents the case 11 years after its occurrence.  The show titled “Burning Down the House” will premiere on Investigation Discovery channel on Wednesday, May 11 at 9:00 pm.  The scheduled date and time are subject to change.

Investigation Discovery describes the show as; “With college graduation on the horizon, an exceptional group of students face a terrifying turn of events. Graduation and celebration is replaced with death as these college friends try to make sense of an unexpected and brutal murder.

Investigation Discovery can be found in Prince George’s County on Comcast/Xfinity Channel 111 and Verizon FIOS on 623.  This show is slated for 60 minutes and has a rating of 14 (LV).

Additional background on this incident can be found in this 2007 Washington Post article.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


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

The Prince George's County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department is celebrating National EMS Week in a special way.  On Tuesday, May 17, the Fire/EMS Department will participate in festivities at Prince George's Stadium during a Bowie Baysox game.

Members of our Department will receive their Excellence in EMS Medals for their actions on incidents in 2015.  These members were not able to attend the awards luncheon last week and will enjoy receiving their medals during a pre-game ceremony plus throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

This game will feature many PGFD members.  Our very own Bridgette Wilson will sing the National Anthem while our Honor Guard presents colors.  A PGFD ambulance/medic unit will be on display in front of the stadium before the game and an information table will be located on the concourse during the game displaying some of our tools of the trade.

We will also have a moment of silence for Fire Fighter/Medic Lieutenant John "Skillet" Ulmschneider.

The Bowie Baysox are offering a ticket purchase whereas $5 from every $15 box seat purchase will be donated to Skillets family.  In order for this to happen, you must purchase your game ticket online and use the special offer code of PGFD (all caps).  To be eligible tickets must be purchased by midnight May 16.  To purchase your game day tickets please click here and remember that $5 from every box seat ticket will be provided to Skillets family.

The Bowie Baysox are also providing the following promotions for the evenings game.

  • Dollar Dog Night
    Enjoy $1 hot dogs from the time the main gates open through the 7th inning stretch! Limit 2 hots dogs per person, per transaction
  • Tailgate Tuesday
  • All fans with tickets to a Tuesday Night Baysox Home Game are invited to come out to the ballpark a little early and enjoy $2.00 12 oz. Drafts from 5:00 until the start of the game - Proper I.D. Required. Live music by Terry Glaze.

Blood Drive at Laurel High School Thursday, May 5

Prince George's County Firefighter/Medics recently participated in a Career Day at the Laurel High School.  As part of an excellent marketing program, Laurel HS officials asked each Career Day presenter to help spread the word of a blood drive the school is hosting.  

Brian F. Dougherty, Fire Fighter/Paramedic Captain, was tasked with this project and will be  reaching out to members of the Department and asked the Department's Office of Public Information to help him spread the word.

We are glad to assist in such a worthwhile cause.

Blood Drive
In Honor of Laurel Resident 
Marisol Ramirez J
5/5/16 2-8pm
Laurel High School
8000 Cherry Lane
Laurel, MD 20707

Contact Aubrie Santuccio-Wever to schedule an appointment!


1.  Do you know anyone who is 16 years old or more, who weighs a minimum of 110lbs that is willing to donate blood?

2.  Can you share this information, via email, FB, Twitter, etc…..

3.  Can I count on you to donate blood? If so, please email me….

4.  Can you hang this flyer at work?


Mark E. Brady
Chief Spokesperson
Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department

Monday, May 2, 2016

Working Smoke Alarm and Residential Sprinklers Save Lives in Laurel Assisted Living Home

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

A working smoke alarm and residential sprinkler system are credited with alerting residents of a fire in an assisted living home and extinguishing the fire. 

Just 12:00 pm, Monday, May 2, Fire/EMS units were alerted to the 11200 block of Snowden Pond Road in Laurel for a fire in a house with people trapped.  Firefighters arrived at the 2-story single-family home with no smoke or fire evident, however, senior citizen residents were being evacuated with the assistance of others.

It turns out the location is an Assisted Living residential facility with four residents.  Four workers were the ones assisting residents out of the house. 

A fire started on the stove of the first floor kitchen.  A smoke alarm sounded a warning and staff went to investigate and quickly discovered the fire.   As smoke and heat started to build, workers went to assist patients out of their beds and to evacuate.  Before a caregiver could reach any patient, a residential sprinkler system head activated and quickly doused the fire. 

With smoke and heat receding, three of the four patients were safely evacuated without injuries. A fourth patient, on a ventilator, was carried out by firefighters while being tended to by medics.  That patient and two others were transported to a local hospital for evaluation and safe-keeping.  A fourth resident patient remained at the location.  The four staff/caregivers also made it safely out of the house without injury.

The cause of the fire was unattended cooking and fire loss is estimated at $5,000.  No injuries and minimal fire loss can be directly attributable to an early warning by working smoke alarms and a quick extinguishment of the fire by sprinklers.

The assisted living residence had a permit to operate, however, it had expired just last month.  A Prince George’s County Fire Inspector issued the facility a correction order for the expired permit and other violations that must be corrected to bring the home up to code.  Fire Inspectors will follow-up before the home is allowed to conduct assisted living operations.

Owners of the Laurel assisted living home will temporarily move residents and staff into a hotel until repairs can be made and code violations corrected at the house on Snowden Pond Road.

A firefighter stands with one of evacuated residents of an assisted living home.

A Fire Investigator talks with one of the staff from the home.

Fire Investigators discuss their findings.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Ambulance Crew Assaulted by Patient

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

The very patient they were trying to help assaulted an ambulance crew assessing the medical needs of a teen-aged patient.  Fortunately, the crew was able to remove themselves from the situation and radio for police assistance.

At around 5:30 am, Sunday, May 1, 2016. A Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department ambulance and medic unit were alerted to a “sick person” call in an apartment in the 8100 block of 15th Avenue in Langley Park.  The ambulance arrived first and family members let the 2-crew members into the apartment.  The family members thought that the teen-aged male “had too much to drink” and required medical assistance.

The crew started to evaluate the patient when suddenly and without warning he grabbed a female crewmember and assaulted her with his fist.  The quick thinking crew was able to maneuver themselves away from the combative patient and made their way out of the apartment.  The medics were just arriving and alerted by the ambulance crew to stay outside.  Police were immediately dispatched and arrived quickly.

The teen-aged male, still combative, was subdued by police and restrained with handcuffs.  A new ambulance crew transported the patient, with police on board, to an area hospital for evaluation and treatment.

It is not known at this time if any charges will be placed against the teen-aged male.

The female crewmember was shaken over the incident but is remaining on-duty.

This assault on Firefighter/Medics and EMTs come on the heels of an incident just over 2 weeks ago where Fire Fighter/Medic Lieutenant John “Skillet” Ulmschneider was shot and killed and another member shot and seriously wounded as they were trying to check on the welfare of the very man that shot them.  Two other members were injured while pulling an injured firefighter out of the line of fire.

A Safety Investigative Team (SIT) is being assembled to review the shooting incident.  The SIT could make recommendations on how to improve the safety of firefighters, medics and EMTs compared to how we have traditionally responded to incidents.   

Safety First Day of the Month - May 2016

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

Today is May 1, 2016, the Safety First Day of the Month. The month of May features Mothers Day and Memorial Day.  Two festive occasions that include members of the family.  Perhaps the greatest gift anyone can provide mom is to make sure she is safe.  When you visit on Sunday, May 8, test her alarms and even better bring new 10-year alarms with you and install them in her home.

Having a working smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarm could be the difference in life or death - yours and your family.  Today is the day that the Prince George's County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department has designated for everyone to test their smoke and CO alarms.  It's simple:

Push the TEST button on the front cover of your smoke and CO alarm.

An audible beeping noise SHOULD sound.  If it does, congratulations, your done until next month.

If it does not sound an audible alarm - replace the battery.  Push the TEST button again - still no alarm - remove the alarm and immediately replace with a new 10-year, tamper proof, with hush feature smoke or CO alarm or better yet a 10-year combination smoke/CO alarm.

If your alarms are about 10 years old or you don't remember if you ever replaced the alarm, do it today!!!  Smoke and CO alarms work all day - every day and will wear down over their 10 year service life.

County Law requires a working smoke alarm in your home.  Over the next two years the law will continue to evolve to require a working 10-year smoke alarm on every level of your home, primarily outside of sleeping areas.  We also recommend having a working alarm in every bedroom and to sleep with your doors closed.

County Law currently requires a working CO detector on every level of your home, primarily, outside of sleeping areas.  This law includes all homes with a gas service (natural, propane, oil, etc), a fireplace or an attached garage.  This law also requires that all hotels, motels, dormitories and all apartments and condos have working CO alarms.

Have you ever noticed that it is sometimes a challenge to reach your alarms installed on your ceiling or high on the wall.  Perhaps you use a step-ladder or stand tall on your toes to reach the test button.  Think about your senior citizen neighbors and relatives (MOM) that may have difficulty even reaching a light switch.  Test their alarms for them every month, change their batteries at least once-a-year and contact 311 for them if they need a new 10-year smoke alarm installed by firefighters, free of charge.

Don't wait for a firefighter to knock on your door.  If you need a working smoke alarm and can not afford to purchase one, call 311 and ask about the free smoke alarm program.

This month we will also highlight Arson Awareness Week and EMS Week.  We will provide additional information about these programs later this month.

Memorial Day is celebrated on May 30.  This is the traditional start of summer with many swimming pools opening and BBQ grills fired up for the big day.  It could be very festive as long as everyone keeps Safety First!!!  Please click here and visit our Memorial Day Safety Tips to help ensure everyone goes home.

A personal note, on this Safety First Day of the Month of May I changed my 30-day furnace filter, cleaned out lint from my dryer exhaust pipe and gave my dog her monthly heart worm pill and flea and tick ointment.  Safety First Day of the month is a convenient time to do all those 30 day projects that sometimes are forgotten.  Safety First Day of the Month - Make it a Habit!!!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Candlelight Service Held for Fire Fighter/Medic Lieutenant "Skillet" Ulmschneider

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

Two weeks to the minute a moment of silence was held during a Candlelight Service for Fire Fighter/Medic Lieutenant John "Skillet" Ulmschneider.  Two weeks ago at 7:51 pm is when a radio transmission was made calling for help and that shots were fired.

The Candlelight Service was conducted at the Firefighter Memorial located at the Cranford-Graves Fire Services Buildig in Landover Hills.

The name of John E. Ulmschneider was etched into the memorial earlier Friday and unveiled for the family at the conclusion of the service.