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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Beltsville House Displaces Family - No Injuries

A family of six will be displaced until repairs to the second floor of their Beltsville home can be made. At around 10:30 AM, Tuesday, June 30, 2009, Prince George's and Montogomery County Firefighters responded to 12200 block of Torrey Pines Terrace in the Cross Creek subdivision and discovered a small fire in a second floor bedroom. The fire was quickly extinguished and no injuires were reported. The fire was accidental in nature and fire loss estimated at about $10,000. The 3 adults and 3 children are being assisited by the Departments Citizens Services Unit and the Red Cross with temporary shelter.

Small Fire Handled Quickly in Vacant Garage

Just after 1:00 PM, Firefighters from the Lanham area of Prince George’s County Maryland were alerted to a 911 call reporting smoke coming from a garage. Engine 848 and Truck 828, West Lanham Hills #2 and #1 respectively, were the first suppression units to arrive on the scene at 9308 Annapolis Road. They encountered a 1 ½ stories, 20’ X 40’, detached garage located on obviously vacant/abandoned property with smoke showing. First arriving crews stretched hoselines and forced entry into the structure and initiated an interior attack and search of the structure. The fire was quickly contained and extinguished by first arriving units in about 5 minutes. No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire is under investigation.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Employee Recognition Awards

Two employees of the Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department were recognized for their excellence in their respective area of work. Acting Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones presented awards to Major Dennis C. Wood and Administrative Assistant II Spencer Stevenson A. Stevenson at a ceremony in the Office of the Fire Chief on Friday, June 26, 2009. These awards were for their work during the month of April 2009.

Major Dennis C. Wood was awarded the Manger of the Month for his work on the recent H1N1 event. In nominating Major Wood for the award, Lt. Col. Victor Stagnaro wrote, “Dennis Wood was able to draw on his experience as the Major of EMS, and his previous work on planning for a pandemic event, to direct the Department during the recent outbreak. He was able to quickly identify goals and objectives for the Department. Furthermore, he developed a Provider Action Notice that served to help ensure the safety of our personnel, as well as helping to ensure the best possible service was delivered. In addition, he provided lists of needed supplies and was able to tailor the lists based on available funding.”

Ambulance Fleet Coordinator Spencer A. Stevenson was recognized with the Employee of the Month Award after being nominated by his supervisor Daniel F. Benedetti and Lt. Col. Carla D. Blue. Stevenson was nominated for his role as part of a team that oversees the ambulance fleet. His nomination read, “For establishing a routine of checking ambulances in, performing preventive maintenance items, cleaning inside and out, shuttling to/from shops for maintenance, warranty work and recalls. The fleet of 70 ambulances has remained in excellent condition despite the high mileage, multiple drivers and the wear and tear they receive on a daily basis. Typically, at least 6 ambulances are in a state of readiness at any given time.” Fire Chief Jones also noted that Spencer Stevenson alerted personnel on the scene of Penn-Mar explosion to check the dash-cams. His timely alert resulted in the dash-cam video being discovered, released and viewed world-wide just 2-hours after the explosion occurred.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

State Convention Generates Awards for Fire/EMS Departments

Glenn Dale, Bowie and Ritchie Win Top Awards

The Maryland State Fireman’s Association (MSFA) annual convention was held the week of June 14, 2009, in Ocean City, Maryland. Activities at the convention included election of officers, business meetings, elections, training, parade and new products and merchandise displays. Several Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) volunteer stations and units were awarded for fire prevention activities and “best appearing” during the parade.

The Bowie Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad, Inc. were recognized with the two top awards for their excellent Fire Prevention/Open House Day and year round fire prevention activities. The MSFA sponsors an annual contest to recognize fire, rescue, and EMS department’s efforts in promoting fire prevention in their communities. Contest awards are provided for companies who participate in a year-round fire prevention program as well as departments who participate in special projects, such as an open house or other fire prevention activities. An additional category recognizes departments who have shown an outstanding overall contribution to fire prevention and fire safety education activities. Starting in 1977, a seventh class in both Year Round Projects, and Single Projects was added.

A parade of fire/EMS apparatus from across the State of Maryland and some surrounding jurisdictions was held. In addition to fire/EMS units there was fire prevention displays, marching bands, pipe and drums corps and numerous other groups participated in the parade that travelled up Philadelphia Avenue in downtown Ocean City.

The Glenn Dale Fire Association won the top award for “BEST APPEARING SQUAD” for their 2008 Pierce Dash Heavy Duty Walk-In Rescue Squad. Rescue Squad 818 is a 2008 Pierce Dash with a large array of Rescue Tools ranging from a 6 tool Hurst system, Complete 2 car Rescue Jack System, and Large amount of Cribbing, Hand Tools and Rope Rescue Equipment. Rescue Squad 18 was placed into service on Aug. 16th 2008. Rescue Squad 818 and crews were also recently recognized with awards for their work during two separate incidents involving difficult extrications.

The Ritchie Volunteer Fire Department won first place in the “BEST APPEARING EMERGENCY APPARATUS” over 20 years old that is still in-service category. This award was for their entry and display of their 1987 Seagrave pumper. The same 1987 pumper also won an “Honorable Mention” for an engine, 1250 gallon per minute and over pumper category.

Prince George’s County Acting Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones stated, “Congratulations to Bowie, Glenn Dale and Ritchie for being recognized with awards in competition with other departments across the State. This recognition demonstrates the hard work and dedication of the volunteer membership of these corporations.” He also thanked the many members of the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department that assisted in the planning, coordination and execution of the MSFA Convention week’s activities. “This was my first year where I saw first-hand the amount of work it takes to make this convention a success. I congratulate and thank our membership, volunteer/career/civilian, which worked together in this effort.”

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Heat and Humidity Safety Tips

Heat and humidity are in the forecast for the upcoming days in Prince George’s County and the men and women of your Fire/EMS Department want you to stay informed and take precautions to stay safe and healthy. Temperatures in the nineties, combined with high humidity may create a dangerous situation for children, the elderly, and those who suffer from chronic heart or lung conditions. The National Weather Service is forecasting temperatures will hit the nineties on Thursday and last throughout the weekend.

This is the current forecast from the National Weather Service for Prince George’s County:

10 MPH.







Your best protection is to stay well hydrated. Sweat, or water, allows heat to evaporate from your skin’s surface. If you become dehydrated, it is more difficult for your body to maintain an acceptable temperature. The best thing to drink is water. Gatorade or other sports drinks are also good. Avoid drinks containing alcohol or caffeine.

Limit heavy exertion when high levels of heat and humidity are present. High humidity levels make it more difficult for your body to dissipate heat.

At Work

• Avoid the heat
• Reduce activity
• Drink plenty of water


• Wear light colored clothing
• Drink plenty of water
• Take frequent rest breaks in the air conditioning or shade

At Home

• Check on relatives and friends, especially the elderly
• Increase time spent in an air-conditioned environment
• Eat smaller meals, more often
• Take cool baths
• Make sure pets have access to water and shade

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Appointment Hearing For County Fire Chief

The Prince George’s County Council will consider the appointment of Acting Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones to be the Fire Chief for Prince George’s County, Maryland on Tuesday, July 14, at 1:30 pm in 1st Floor Hearing Room of the County Administration Building. The hearing will be immediately followed by a swearing-in ceremony in the County Executive’s 5th floor Conference Room. Family, friends and colleagues of Chief Jones are invited.

PGFD Provides Assistance During METRO Incident

On Monday, June 22, 2009, just after 5:00 PM, the District of Columbia Fire/EMS Department embarked on an incident that resulted in the death of 9 people and injured some 70 others. Two six-car south-bound METRO trains were involved in a collision on a Red Line track just north of the Fort Totten station. A mass casualty incident (MCI) was declared and DCFD operated at a Third-Alarm equivalent while multiple resources from across the region were alerted to the scene or to fill-in at DCFD stations.

The Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department provided several resources to the scene and to fill-ins.

Staging for the METRO Incident:

Paramedic Ambulance 844 (Chillum)
Mobile Ambulance Bus 855 (Bunker Hill)
Engine 809B (Bladensburg)
EMS 801 (Paramedic Supervisor)
Battalion Chief 804 (Suppression Supervisor)

The following units were transferred to fill DCFD Fire/EMS Stations

Paramedic Engine 844 (Chillum) filled in at DCFD Truck 17
Engine 809 and Truck 809 (Bladensburg) to DCFD Engine 826
Rescue Squad 833 (Kentland) to DCFD Engine 6

While the units that were transferred to DCFD Stations responded on various incidents throughout the course of the afternoon and evening, the EMS units at the METRO incident had no patient contact. Truck 809 from Bladensburg, on a DCFD transfer, was dispatched as part of the DCFD Third Alarm and operated for about 5 hours on the crash scene. Once our units were cleared of staging they remained in the District of Columbia and filled-in at DCFD stations.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Kayakers Rescued in Bowie - June 19, 2009

For Immediate Release: June 19, 2009
Contact: Erroll George, Spokesperson, 240-832-5761
www.princegeorgescountymd.gov/FireEMS/ (Homepage)
www.pgfireems.com (Newsroom)

Several Kayakers Rescued from the Patuxent River

At approximately 1100 this morning, Fire/EMS Department units from the Bowie and surrounding areas were alerted to reports of several Kayakers stranded on the Patuxent River near Queen Anne Road. Prince George’s County units, along with Fire/EMS units from Anne Arundel County and the Department of Natural Resources, worked together to make sure that all of the kayakers made it safely to shore. Helicopters from the US Park Police and State Police provided visual support from the air.

Initial reports indicated that approximately 10-20 kayaks with a total of 35 kayakers were stranded in their kayaks along the Patuxent River. It was later learned that there were a total of 45 kayakers, some of whom were guides. Several of the kayakers were able to make it to shore without the assistance of rescue boats, others did not go into the water once they were aware of what was going on. There were approximately 20 kayakers who were assisted from their kayaks to land by boat. Some were taken to Queen Anne Landing in Prince George’s County, and some were taken to the Anne Arundel County side of the river. Those taken to the Anne Arundel County side of the river were then brought to the 4H Club. All of the kayakers were accounted for after being taken to the EMS section at the 4H club to be evaluated. There were no reported injuries to any of the kayakers or the rescuers. The ages of the kayakers ranged from approximately 9 years old to 60 years old.

Because of the combined efforts of the different agencies from various jurisdictions, as well as the expertise of the guides on the kayak trip, this was a potentially tragic situation that had a very positive outcome.

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcwashington.com/video.

CPR Save in Laurel, MD

Monday, June 15, 2009

Two-Alarm Apartment Fire in Forestville

Story by Major Erroll George - Acting PGFD PIO

At approximately 9:45 AM, Monday, June 15, 2009, Fire/EMS units from the Forestville and surrounding areas were alerted to a reported house fire in the 6400 block of Pennsylvania Avenue. Upon arrival, units encountered an apartment building with smoke and fire showing from the second floor and roof. A second alarm was sounded and additional units were alerted to assist with the large fire. It took approximately 30 to 45 minutes for the 65 firefighters to bring the fire under control.

Residents of the apartment building will be displaced and will be placed in other units by the Property Management Company. A preliminary fire loss is estimated at $200,000 and the cause is under investigation. One civilian was evaluated on the scene by Paramedics but did not require further medical attention.

Early Morning House Fire on Stan Fay Drive

Story by Major Erroll Geroge, Acting PIO
Photos by Jim Davis pgfdfire.com

At around 2:30 AM, Monday, June 15, 2009, Fire/EMS units from the Upper Marlboro and surrounding areas were alerted to a reported house fire in the 100 block of Stan Fey Dr. Upon arrival, units encountered a single family home with fire showing from the second floor and roof. There was a collapse of the second floor and it took approximately 30 to 45 minutes for firefighters to bring the fire under control using an exterior attack.

Residents of the home will be displaced and are making their own arrangements for housing. A preliminary fire loss is estimated at $800,000 and the cause is under investigation. There were no injuries.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Insulator Fire in METRO Tunnel

Just after 11:00 AM, Friday, June 12, 2009, Prince George’s County Firefighters responded to the Addison Road METRO Station located at 100 Addison Road South in Seat Pleasant. METRO Control reported smoke in the tunnel on the in-bound tracks. Firefighters arrived and found a moderate amount of smoke in the tunnel with smoke being effectively removed by the ventilation systems that are part of all METRO tunnels. The smoke was ejected by way of the activated fans at the Yost Place Shaft located at East Capitol Street. Firefighters quickly determined that an “insulator” was burning on the track bed. Typically, these overheated insulators generate a large amount of smoke and are normally easily contained and extinguished.

At about 11:30 AM, firefighters did confirm the insulator fire was extinguished and that the ventilation system had removed the majority of the smoke. No injuries reported.

Firefighters returned to service at about 11:40 AM and turned the operations over to METRO Management.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Dear Friend and Colleague:

I would like to invite you to Firehouse Expo, July 21-26, 2009, at the Baltimore Convention Center. I’m teaching this class with Pete Piringer and Dave Statter at the conference and thought you might be interested in attending:

New Realities: Community and Media Relations and the New Media - Maintaining Your Reputation
Thursday, July 23rd
Room # 337-38

This class digs into media relations and customer service (internal and external); best practices and lessons learned; managing change; using new technology & techniques; and managing change.

If you’re not able to attend the conference, please be my guest and visit the East Coast’s largest combined exhibit hall of fire, EMS and rescue products. Over 450 exhibitors will be on display. Register online with the Promo Code 104SFP and you’ll receive FREE ENTRANCE TO THE EXHIBIT FLOOR as well as the opening ceremony and keynote presentation being held on Thursday, July 23 at 10:15 AM. This year’s opening ceremony includes a special presentation with a video you can back to your department.

Visit www.FirehouseExpo.com for all the event details.

I’m looking forward to seeing you!

Best Regards,
Mark Brady
Chief Spokesperson/PIO
Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department


Plenty of "Hits" in Detroit
Firefighters Softball Team Travels to Detroit to play ball for chairity.

Glenn Dale Personnel Recognized with Jaws of Life Award and Emergency Services Award

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

College Park area hit by heavy rains and lightening

College Park and nearby communities experienced flash flooding after a slow moving thunder storm passed through the area. In addition to heavy rain, lightening is believed to have ignited two house fires. About a dozen vehicles stalled in high swift moving water with the occupants requiring assistance from firefighters to reach higher ground. The intersection of Route 1 (Baltimore Avenue) and Guilford Road had 5 vehicles stranded in high water; two occupied vehicles were stalled in high water at Pine Way and Clagett Pine Way in University Park and the 5200 block of Paint Branch Parkway was closed temporarily as flash flooding occurred.

Lightening is believed to have ignited a house fire at 4308 Van Buren Street in University Park. A fire was ignited on the upper floors causing about $10,000 in estimated fire loss. There were no injuries, however, the family will be displaced and staying with other family members. A lightening strike is also blamed for a house fire at 6808 Randolph Street in Landover Hills. Firefighters arrived to find fire in the attic of this single family home. A cat perished in the fire and a firefighter sustained minor burn injuries. Fire loss is estimated at $40,000. This family will also be displaced and making their own arrangements.

Dispatchers at the County Public Safety Communications Center handled 200 calls for service for firefighters and paramedics in a 2-hour period starting at 6:30 PM. The majority of these calls involved floods, electrical wires down, transformer fires and activated fire alarms. A typical 2-hour period would generate about 30 calls for service.

The National Weather Service called for additional rain in the College Park area later this evening. A Fire/EMS Department Command Post is established at the College Park Fire/EMS Department with swift water, rescue boats and additional Fire/EMS resources standing by.



Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Silver Spring Man Charged with Arson

Prince George’s County Fire Investigators have charged a Silver Spring man with Arson to a vacant structure. Fire Investigators issued an arrest warrant for Anthony John Sellers, 26 years of age, charging him with Second Degree Arson for a fire that occurred in June 2008. Second Degree Arson is a Felony that carries a maximum penalty of $30,000/20 years in jail. He was arrested in Montgomery County without incident on June 3, 2009.

The charges stem from an incident that occurred just before midnight on June 18, 2008. Firefighters responded to a house fire at 6701 Greenland Street in Landover Hills and arrived to find a single family home with heavy fire coming from the second floor and roof of the vacant structure. The fire was extinguished and Fire Investigators were called to the scene. The cause of the fire was determined to be “set” and fire loss was estimated at $150,000. One firefighter sustained burns to his leg while battling this fire.

Additional charges are pending against this individual for set fires that occurred in vacant structures in Laurel (construction trailer) and Riverdale (temporary classroom) during June and July 2008. Sellers was released on a $25,000 Bond on June 5, 2009. He is a former volunteer firefighter within Prince George’s County, however, was not on any membership roles when these crimes were committed. Additionally, there is no information, at this time, that connects this individual with a number of set fires currently under investigation in the Riverdale area.

Arson is a serious crime which receives serious attention from our experienced and talented group of Fire Investigators. Any and all crimes of arson that occur within Prince George’s County will be thoroughly investigated and when you are caught; we will assist in your prosecution to the fullest extent of the law. Anyone with information about a crime of arson is encouraged to contact our ARSON TIP LINE at 301-77-ARSON. Callers may remain anonymous.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Volunteers Conclude Successful Year of State Leadership

The reigning President’s of the Maryland State Fireman’s Association (MSFA) and Ladies Auxiliary to the MSFA (LAMSFA), are celebrating their last week in this leadership role. Frank Underwood and Lois Hetz are both volunteer members within the Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department. Frank Underwood is a member of Branchville Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad, Inc. in College Park and Lois is a member of the Beltsville Volunteer Fire Departments Ladies Auxiliary.

Having been elected into these leadership roles at last years MSFA Convention in Ocean City, MD, Frank and Lois have represented Prince George’s County and their respective volunteer departments extremely well. Their 1-year term will end with the election of new officers at this year’s MSFA Convention held in Ocean City, MD, starting Sunday, June 13, 2009. Numerous volunteer and career members of the Fire/EMS Department will travel to the Eastern Shore for this week that will include, among other festivities, training, meetings, displays, parades and to congratulate our very own Frank Underwood and Lois Hetz for a job well done.

Both Frank and Lois have similar perspectives about their time spent as the leader of their respective memberships. When asked about his time as the President of the MSFA, Frank Underwood stated, “I most enjoyed traveling around the state meeting people from all facets of the fire service. I made many new friends as I attended banquets, dedications, retirements, parades, meetings and conferences. I also thoroughly enjoyed working hand-in-hand with our partners in Annapolis.” Lois Hetz reflected on her year by saying, “Traveling across our great State and meeting the many dedicated people who support their communities through local fire departments and auxiliaries. As I've traveled, it's been exciting for the Ladies Auxiliaries to the Maryland State Firemen's Association to have been afforded the opportunity to recognize and honor auxiliaries and auxiliary members that have achieved milestone in their commandments to their communities. There are auxiliaries that have 50, 60, 70 and 80 years of service, with members of similar tenure: this shows the true commitment of our auxiliary members to their departments and their communities. These auxiliaries have raised significant amounts of moneys contributing to the purchase of buildings, equipment and apparatus for their respective fire departments.”

As far as accomplishments while serving as President each shared these thoughts; Underwood stated, “My biggest accomplishment this year was rallying the troops to defeat the bills in Annapolis that would have abolished the excellent Fire and EMS system that we have today.” While Lois Hetz felt her biggest accomplishment was, “Expansion of our membership with thee new auxiliaries added to our rolls; increased support from our Bessie Marshall Benefit Fund for non-line of duty injuries and disabilities of fire and emergency services personnel; and providing administrative and lobbing support for the MSFA's Legislative activities in Annapolis, part of which resulted in the funding for three new MSP helicopters.”

After this year both Frank and Lois will have time to reflect on their time in office and offered their thoughts on their legacy within the organization. Lois Hetz feels, “The LAMSFA for me is a family commitment. My mother, Elda Schell, was LAMSFA President in 1955-56 and my sister, Peggy Zembower, was LAMSFA President in 1986-87. My mother represented LaVale Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary in Allegany County, and Peggy and I both represent the Beltsville Auxiliary in Prince George's County. I believe, I leave behind a strong auxiliary association that works cohesively with the MSFA to support state-wide, the interests and missions of the fire service and its auxiliaries. Frank Underwood stated, “My legacy will be that I put my whole heart into my presidency. Every move that I made this year was for the good of the MSFA and reflected my deep love and commitment to the organization. I put the needs of the MSFA above my own.”

As far as their continued participation at the State and County Level both Lois and Frank will continue to participate to some degree with the MSFA and LAMSFA. Frank will chair two committees while serving as the immediate past-president and Lois will continue to be active by attending conferences and conventions, as well as participating in committees and activities. As far as their volunteer activities back in Prince George’s County; Frank will continue to be an active member and the Treasurer at Branchville. Lois, the thirteen years process of stepping through the State Auxiliary offices to become President, she has never failed to support both the Beltsville Auxiliary and the Ladies Auxiliary to the Prince George's County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association. She currently hold the office of Chaplain and Fire Prevention Chairperson in the Beltsville Auxiliary, and the office Color Bearer in the County Auxiliary as well as supporting the auxiliary's fire prevention and other activities. In addition, she is the Secretary for the Pierce M. Damewood Memorial Chapter, Prince George's County Maryland Fellowship of Christian Firefighters.

What will the two immediate past-presidents do with extra time on their hands after next weeks convention; Frank is looking forward to spending more time with his family, Frank proclaimed, “Particularly with my beautiful little Granddaughter.” Lois plans to keep her schedule open to be available to assure a smooth transition and lend support where needed with the new LAMSFA officers.

Prince George’s County Acting Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones stated, “Frank Underwood and Lois Hetz are extremely hard working and dedicated individuals that do everything they do, without compensation, as volunteers. Their actions are based on the love of the job, tradition and the assistance that they generate for the citizens and residents of this County and State.” He concluded by saying, “While they had successful year as leaders of the State Fireman’s Association and Ladies Auxiliary, I am truly blessed to have them back in Prince George’s County. They are true examples of volunteerism and their actions are held within the highest regard of the Fire/EMS Department.”

College Park House Fire Displaces Four Students

At around 9:10 AM, Monday, June 8, 2009, a fire erupted in the basement of a 2-story Cape Cod single family home in College Park. Contract workers were using a hand-held blow torch fueled by a small acetylene tank to remove old adhesive material from the basement floor. The heat from the torch ignited combustible materials and the fire rapidly spread throughout the basement. The privately owned house is rented out to four students that attend the University of Maryland-College Park; two students were at work and two students were at home when the fire started. A combination of the contractors warning of “fire”, a neighbor banging on doors and windows and the activation of smoke alarms alerted the two male occupants to exit the house. They did so safely prior to the Fire Departments arrival.

Fire/EMS units arrived at the house at 7507 Hopkins Avenue and encountered heavy smoke coming from all levels of the house and fire showing from the rear basement windows. The fire was advancing to the upper floors by way of the interior walls as a well coordinated and managed aggressive interior attack on the fire was initiated. The fire was contained and extinguished within 15 to 20 minutes after the arrival of firefighters.

Residents of the home will be displaced and are making their own arrangements for housing. A preliminary fire loss is estimated at $200,000 and the cause is listed as accidental – caused by the work being performed in the basement. There were no injuries.

Fire/EMS Station and Administrative Offices Locked Down During Police Activity in Area

A Fire/EMS Station and a Department administrative office building were closed down for a short period of time this morning as police searched for suspects in the area. The Landover Hills Fire/EMS Station #830 and the Cranford-Graves Fire Services Building (FSB) were locked down just before 7:30 AM, Monday, June 08, 2009. The police had been involved in a chase of 4 robbery suspects in a vehicle. The chase ended up with a crash at 68th Avenue and Annapolis Road and the suspects fled on foot into the community with police officers close behind. Fire/EMS Station #830 is located at the same intersection as the crash and was a convergence point for a large number of police vehicles and officers and as the situation developed, a prudent decision was made to keep firefighters and paramedics inside the station. Within the short period of time they were locked down Paramedic Unit 830 did not respond on one incident that they normally would have in the Tuxedo area. Another Paramedic Unit, Bunker Hill #855, immediately replaced them and responded to the incident which ended up not needing advanced life support intervention and handled by a basic life support ambulance.

The Cranford-Graves Fire Service Building, 6820 Webster Street, located 1 block away from the Fire/EMS Station, was also locked down as police activity moved in that direction. Due to the early hour, only a handful of employees were affected.

Fire/EMS Station #830 resumed normal dispatch operations about 10 minutes after the lock down while personnel from the station and the FSB remained inside their facilities while the police search continued.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

11200 Westport Drive - Townhouse Fire - Glenn Dale, MD by Tom Yeatman

A fire in a Glenn Dale townhouse caused an estimated $500,000 in fire loss, injured an adult male occupant, several pets being unaccounted for and three families are displaced from their homes.

At about 8:15 PM, Sunday, March 1, 2009, firefighters and paramedics from Glenn Dale, Kentland, West Lanham Hills, Bowie and Tuxedo were alerted to a fire with a report of an adult male trapped in the basement of a townhouse in the 11200 Block of Westport Drive.

Firefighters arrived and encountered a 2-story with basement, non-sprinklered, middle of the row townhouse, with heavy fire showing from every level of the home. The intense fire initially prevented firefighters from entering the home to search for the trapped occupant. Firefighters knocked down enough of the fire from an exterior position before they were able to enter the structure. After a short period of time on the interior searching and attacking the fire, crews were evacuated from the structure when a partial collapse occurred. Fortunately, all firefighters escaped safely and there were no reported injuries.

Unknown to the firefighters was that the adult male occupant that had been reported trapped had escaped along with his family prior to the arrival of the Fire Department. The adult male sustained burns to upper body after attempting to extinguish the fire rather then exiting the structure. He was transported to a Burn Unit where it is expected he will be admitted for treatment of 1st and 2nd degree burn injuries to his upper body. His condition is serious. Two attached townhouses on either side of the townhouse of origin also sustained significant fire damage and are uninhabitable.

Additional resources were required to assist the units on the initial alarm and a Task Force was sounded bringing Fire/EMS units from Landover Hills, Bowie (Free State), Berwyn Heights and Seat Pleasant. Firefighters entered the townhouses on either side of the burning townhouse and stopped the extension, thereby limiting damage to additional townhomes. There were about 50 firefighter/EMT’s and paramedics that worked for about 30 minutes to knock down the bulk of the fire.

The family was at home when the fire started and was alerted when a smoke alarm provided an audible warning of the fire. A cat, Noel, was removed from one of the damaged townhouses and returned to the owner; however, 3 dogs remain unaccounted for.

Three families from the three damaged townhouses, 8 adults and 3 children, will be displaced and are being assisted by the Department’s Citizens Services Unit and the American Red Cross with temporary shelter. Fire Investigators believe the fire started in the basement and blame an unattended candle for starting the fire.

This incident could have had an even more tragic ending if it had not been for the warning emitted from a working smoke alarm. Having a working smoke alarm provides you with a 50% better chance of surviving a fire in your home. Citizens and residents are urged to have a working smoke alarm on every level of your home, test your alarm once-a-month and change the batteries at least once-a-year. A natural reminder to change your battery will be next weekend when we adjust our clocks to Daylight Savings Time. Change your clock – Change your battery. Citizens and residents can obtain a smoke alarm installed in their home, free of charge, by contacting the Fire/EMS Department's Smoke Alarm Hotline at 301-864-SAFE.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Engine Involved in Crash with Civilian Vehicle - 5 Injured

Paramedic Engine 842 from Oxon Hill was involved in a motor vehicle crash involving minor injuries. At about 11:15 AM, Friday, June 05, 2009, while en route to a crash on the Capitol Beltway with emergency warning devices activated, Paramedic Engine 842 was rear ended by a civilian vehicle at Branch Avenue and Auth Way in Silver Hill. The four firefighters on-board the engine will be transported to an area hospital for a check-up, however, injuries appear minor. The civilian involved in the crash has also been transported to an area hospital for a check-up with injuries that appear to be non-serious.

The engine will be placed out-of-service until the unit can be inspected. Additional firefighters will be called into work to cover for the injured firefighters.

The Prince George’s County Police Department is investigating the crash. It is unknown what caused the crash and if any charges will be placed.

Natural Gas Leak at Census Bureau HQ

At about 10:00 AM, Friday, June 05, 2009, Prince George’s County Firefighters were alerted to a release of natural gas at a large government campus. Fire/EMS units responded to the Census Bureau Headquarters at 4600 Silver Hill Road in Suitland and discovered a piece of construction equipment operating in the area of the North Garage struck and broke a 4-inch natural gas line. The site is a secure federal property and houses several buildings of various sizes and occupancies. Firefighters are checking nearby buildings and taking atmospheric readings and have determined that the product is not entering the federal office buildings. The employees are not in any danger and have been instructed to “shelter-in-place” until the release of natural gas is contained. One building near the release site has been evacuated of the 30 employees and they have moved over to another building.

The Washington Gas Company is on location and should have the gas line crimped momentarily. At that point the emergency will be over and operations at the facility will return to normal.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Forestville Strip Mall Explosion May 7, 2009

At 12:54 PM on Thursday, May 7, 2009, Prince George’s County Firefighter/Medics were dispatched on a call that no one is soon to forget. Firefighters were alerted to respond to the Penn-Mar Shopping Center, a large 1-story strip mall, in the 3400 Block of Donnell Drive in Forestville and arrived at 12:59 PM. First arriving crews initiated an investigation into a strong odor of natural gas inside the businesses. Firefighters evacuated 5 of the 6 stores that were in the area of the odor, a sixth store was vacant. Forty-five people were evacuated from the 5 stores and firefighters then started ventilation efforts and called for assistance of the Washington Gas Company. Firefighters discovered natural gas bubbling up from the ground on the exterior rear of the vacant store and minutes later reported that there was a fire on the interior. Within a minute, at about 1:20 PM, a massive explosion occurred. A MAYDAY call was sounded and additional resources including paramedics and a second alarm of firefighters were summoned to the scene.

Large plate glass windows blew shattered glass and other debris 60-70 feet into the front parking lot, the roof assembly appeared to have been lifted up and then fell back into place and the rear brick and block wall was completely blown out. Firefighters were in the direct line of the explosion and suffered burns and injuries from flying debris. Firefighters were wearing their personal protective gear which is believed to have minimized injuries. They quickly gathered themselves and checked on other crew members and civilians that may have been injured. A total of eight firefighters sustained a variety of injuries ranging from lacerations to second degree burns. Four Firefighters were transported to the Washington Hospital Center Burn Unit where two were treated and released and two were admitted for additional treatment. While initially transported with serious injuries, the firefighter’s conditions have been upgraded to “good.” Four other firefighters were transported to other area hospitals and were treated and released. One civilian, an employee of the Washington Gas Company was also treated and released from an area hospital. There were no injuries to any of the 45 evacuated civilians.

A small fire resulted from the explosion that was quickly contained and extinguished. The investigation so far has determined that the release of natural gas occurred in the vacant store and reached an ignition point that resulted in the explosion. The Fire/EMS Department’s Technical Rescue Team completed a through secondary post-blast search of the damaged stores confirming that everyone heeded the orders of first arriving firefighters to evacuate. Prince George's County Acting Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones arrived on the scene and surveyed the devastation and remarked, "As a Department we are thankful that the injuries our crews suffered are recoverable. As a community, we are fortunate that 45 lives were saved by firefighters doing their jobs. Overall, in consideration of the devastating destruction we are extremely fortunate that this was not a disaster."The exact cause of the release of natural gas and the source of ignition remain under investigation. The circumstances are said to be accidental and damage to the 6 stores is estimated at $2.5 million.

A drive-cam on-board Engine 826-District Heights captured video of the explosion.

Personnel admitted to Washington Hospital Center Burn Unit

Capt. Robert Rouse, Station 823-Forestville, 2nd degree burns to face and hands.

Volunteer Fire Fighter Greg Powell, Station 826-District Heights, injuries from flying debris

Treated and released from Washington Hospital Center Burn Unit

Fire Fighter Kelli Kivett, Station 823-Forestvile

Fire Fighter Rachel Edney, Station 805 –Capitol Heights

Transported to other area hospitals, treated and released

Lt. Richard Anderson, Station 826-District Heights

Capt. John Gatland, Station 805-Capitol Heights

Fire Fighter Curk Smart, Station 823-Forestville

Fire Fighter/Medic William Descutner, Station 805-Capitol Heights

Additional Media





The Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department bestowed the highest level award that can be awarded to a group of individuals that worked together for a common cause. On Thursday, May 28, 2009, Acting Fire Eugene A. Jones presented the Fire/EMS Departments Unit Citation to members of multiple agencies that worked together to bring closure to a serial arsonist.

During a six-month period between March and August of 2007, nine fires were set within the Springhill Lake apartment complex in Greenbelt, Maryland. Prince George’s County Fire Investigators, after conducting a full-fledged investigation, ascertained there was a link between the series of fires. This eventually led to the formation of a Serial Arson Task Force comprised of state, local and federal agencies. The ATF, Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office, Greenbelt City Police Department, Hyattsville City Police Department and personnel from Public Safety Communications were partners in the Springhill Lake Serial Arson Task Force with the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department.

While addressing the award recipients Chief Jones stated, “The professionalism and unrelenting commitment you displayed while serving as a member of the Serial Arson Task Force were outstanding. You worked diligently alongside your fellow task force members, in an effort to apprehend the person responsible for using fire as a weapon to terrorize a community, endanger the lives of the residents and firefighters and cause millions of dollars in property damage.” He concluded by saying, “Your actions, which assisted greatly in the apprehension and successful prosecution of the serial arsonist, are commendable and worthy of recognition.”
Jeremiah Christopher Jones, age 26, of Greenbelt, MD, was sentenced to 97 months in prison for setting nine fires that resulted in over $2 million in damages at the Springhill Lake apartment complex.

FIREHOUSE Magazine also has recognized this extremely talented group with a 2008 Community and Heroism Unit Citation. Many personnel among this group were also awarded a Unit Citation for their work in the DC Area Serial Arsonist Investigation in 2004.

This is a list of personnel recognized with the Fire/EMS Departments Unit Citation for their role in the Springhill Lake Serial Arson Task Force.

Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department: Angela M. Peden, Major Scott K. Hoglander, Battalion ChiefPaul A. Gomez, Captain Dale A. Ednock, Captain Shajahan K. Jagtiani, Lieutenant Yvette M. Virgins, LieutenantNolita K. Proctor, Lieutenant Brian G. Collins, LieutenantChristopher L. Lynge, Lieutenant James L. Sullivan, Fire InvestigatorWilliam A. Murray, Fire InvestigatorGeorge M. Grooms, Fire InvestigatorJohn D. Baione, Fire InvestigatorRobert S. Kaleda & Accelerant Detection Canine “Joy”Roxane Smalls, Special Hazards Inspector Roger A. Leak, Special Hazards InspectorDarryl R. Queen, Special Hazards InspectorMark E. Brady Chief Spokesperson/PIOCharles Fusco, Major and Volunteer Chief, Berwyn Heights Danny McCoy Volunteer Deputy Chief, Berwyn HeightsJohn Thompson, Captain, Berwyn Heights

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives:Theresa Stoop, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Donald Toll,Special Agent (Arson Group Supervisor)Tom Daly, Special Agent Gregg Hine, Special Agent Terry Mortimer, Special Agent Patrick Hoffman, Special Agent Rachel Ehrlich-Ellis, Special AgentLisa Herb, Special Agent Eric Pena, Special Agent Shawn Morrow, Special Agent Ray Kuk, Forensic ChemistAmy Michaud, Forensic Chemist Matthew Farr, Forensic Biologist Alison Rees, Finger Print SpecialistChuck Kubilus, Finger Print SpecialistSonja Fladie, Investigative Assistant Robert Rutten, Captain, ATF Task Force Officer/Montgomery Co. FDGreg Der, Detective, ATF Task Force Officer/Howard Co. PD

Greenbelt City Police Department: James R. Craze, Chief of Police Tom Kemp, Captain Gerald Potts, Sergeant Christopher Bladzinski, Detective Mike Lanier, Detective Craig Rich, Forensic InvestigatorSteve Keller, Forensic InvestigatorJonathan Lowndes, Master Police Officer Tammy Harris, Master Police OfficerYoung Hur, Police Officer

Public Safety Communications: Charlynn F. Flaherty, Director Wayne McBride, Deputy DirectorJames White, Communications Specialist IIIJoel Gough, Communications Specialist IICraig Kelso, Communications Specialist IIDwayne Carter, Communications Specialist II

Hyattsville City Police Department: Douglas Holland,Chief of Police Chris Purvis, Detective

Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office: William Barnard, State Fire Marshal Joseph Flanagan, Chief Deputy State Fire MarshalMatthew Wrenn, Deputy State Fire MarshalBrian Quick, Deputy State Fire Marshal John Tennyson, Deputy State Fire MarshalTim Warner, Deputy State Fire MarshalMark Bilger, Deputy State Fire MarshalBruce Bouch, Deputy State Fire Marshal

Members Attain College Degrees

The Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department is pleased to acknowledge four of our members who recently graduated from schools of higher learning. While obtaining a college degree is not a requirement, it may enhance our personal sense of self-value. Additionally, having a college degree, in most instances, is the gateway to greater opportunity for advancement in our professional life.

Fire Fighter Battalion Chief Corey A. Smedley recently received a Master of Science in Management Degree from John Hopkins University. Upon receiving his degree, Smedley, a 14-year veteran of the Fire/EMS Department, stated, “I want to thank the Prince George's Fire/EMS Department for providing the foundation that has afforded me challenges and opportunities.” He currently works in the office of the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Homeland Security and Public Safety Director Vernon Herron. Smedley feels his successful completion of the two-year Masters program enables him to make better decisions, professionally. He stated, “An institution of higher learning afforded me the ability to understand theory, research empirical evidence and apply those variables into a practical solution that provides for stable decision making.”

Brian J. Frankel, Acting Fire Fighter/Medic Lieutenant assigned to the Fire/EMS Training Academy (FETA), received his Bachelors Degree in Fire Science from the University of Maryland-University College (UMUC). Frankel, who has been with the Department since November 1999, was hired as part of Career Recruit School (CRS) 30. After moving to his current assignment at the FETA in May of 2006, he began his studies at UMUC. Previously receiving his Associates in Applied Health Sciences from the Community College of the Air Force gave him a good start toward earning his Bachelors degree. As an active member of the fire service, Frankel was able to apply for tuition reimbursement through the Charles W. Riley Grant through the State of Maryland. He took courses online at night, while balancing life with his wife and their four children. During this time, he also studied for both the Technician’s exam (promoted in January 2008) and the Lieutenant’s test. While taking these courses and balancing various other responsibilities may seem difficult, he learned that self-discipline and a supportive wife made the experience manageable. In May 2009, Acting Fire Fighter/Medic Lieutenant Frankel graduated with honors.

When asked about balancing his time, Frankel stated, “Although it was difficult to balance family and professional life, the experience has better prepared me to meet and understand the challenges we all face. My hope is to continue and complete my Masters degree, which I hopefully will start in the fall.”

Frankel recommends all members of the Department pursue higher education. He stated, “Classes such as Fire Dynamics, Fire Investigations, Human Behavior in Fire and the various other required courses reinforce our current knowledge and allow us to better understand every aspect of the fire service. This not only benefits us and our Department, but also guarantees that we have marketability in the future.”

Acting Fire Fighter Battalion Chief Denice L. Dickens and Fire Fighter Battalion Chief Sayshan L. Conver-White celebrated together graduation from the College of Southern Maryland.

Acting Battalion Chief Dickens, a 21-year veteran, coordinates the activities of the Department’s Professional Standards Office. She was one of just four female recruits when she attended the Fire/EMS Training Academy, and the second female promoted to the rank of Fire Technician with less than two years on the job. Acting Battalion Chief Dickens, in an effort to enhance her abilities as an officer, began taking college level courses. In 2005, she began coursework that would enable her to complete her degree. She graduated this May with an Associates of Applied Science Degree in Fire Science Technology, and will continue her education with coursework in Criminalistics and Homeland Security. When asked what being a full-time employee and college student entails, she stated, “Taking any type of additional education puts a burden on you and your family, but it is well worth it. I applaud everyone who has obtained any additional education, because to juggle work, family and life it takes a special person with strong values and a stronger family.”

Battalion Chief Conver-White graduated in May 2009, with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Fire Science Technology. She graduated with an impressive 3.8 GPA. Conver-White began her fire service career in November 1991, as a volunteer firefighter in Howard County at the age of 16. She attended the University of Maryland-College Park in the Fall Semester 1993, at which time she joined the College Park Volunteer Fire Department. In June 1995, prior to completing her college classes, she was hired by the Fire/EMS Department as part of CRS 27. January 18, 2009, she was promoted to Battalion Chief, and currently serves as the Department’s Safety Officer.

Battalion Chief Conver-White will continue her education at UMUC, majoring in Fire Service Management with additional coursework in Homeland Security. She is happily married to Steven “Country” White, also a Battalion Chief with the Department. They have two young sons and reside in La Plata, Maryland.

Acting Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones was extremely pleased upon hearing of these accomplishments and stated, “Congratulations to all of our members who achieve higher levels of education. These educational accomplishments translate to being better prepared to perform their jobs and provide the very best service to fellow members and the citizens, residents and visitors of Prince George’s County.”

GAZETTE NEWSPAPER - June 4, 2009, Edition is Wall-to-Wall PGFD

The GAZETTE NEWSPAPER has numerous articles in their June 4, 2009, edition that cover the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department. [

Spring Hill Lake Unit Citation


Brandywine Fire/EMS Station


Hyattsville Fire/EMS Station


Tuxedo-Cheverly Fire/EMS Station


Capitol Heights Teen Rescues Family from Fire