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Sunday, November 29, 2009

No Injuries at Woodmore House Fire Despite "Backdraft"

Conditions on Arrival. Heavy fire consumes the garage and extends towards attic.
Photo by Firefighter/Medic Joseph A. Gegor, Paramedic 846.

Conditions on Arrival. Heavy fire consumes the garage and extends towards attic.
Photo by Firefighter/Medic Joseph A. Gegor, Paramedic 846.

Conditions on Arrival. Heavy fire consumes the garage and extends towards attic.
Photo by Firefighter/Medic Joseph A. Gegor, Paramedic 846.

Front side of the house after the fire was extinguished. Photo by Mark E. Brady, PGFD PIO.
Vinyl siding was left to flap in the breeze after a "fire-ball" was seen blowing 10 feet out of the attic area. Photo by Mark E. Brady, PGFD PIO.

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930

Firefighters battled a house fire and were fortunate to have escaped without any injuries after a “backdraft” occurred. At about 8:45 PM, Sunday, November 29, 2009, firefighter/Medics from the Glenn Dale and Landover areas were alerted to a house fire with a report of three occupants possibly trapped inside. Firefighters arrived at 2304 Prima Way and encountered a large 2-story, sprinklered, single-family home with fire showing from the garage. Firefighters initiated a simultaneous interior attack on the fire and searched for trapped occupants. The fire was quickly extending towards the second floor and attic area as firefighters continued their efforts to extinguish the fire. Search teams and ventilation crews opened windows to allow for better visibility and heat removal while the search for occupants continued. After operating on the scene for about 8 minutes an explosion occurred that the incident commander, Tony Kelleher, Volunteer Chief of the Kentland Fire/EMS Station, described as a “backdraft.”

A backdraft occurs when an oxygen-starved fire suddenly receives oxygen. The sudden rush of oxygen causes all of the super-heated gases to ignite at the same time, which causes an explosion. Firefighters standing at the front door of the house were blown 15-20 feet into the front yard, firefighters performing exterior ventilation reported their helmets being blown off, windows were blown out and Volunteer Chief Kelleher described a “fire-ball” that blew out of the attic area on the opposite side of where the fire had originated.

Not immediately knowing the status of all firefighters, Incident Command requested additional resources to the scene and ordered the evacuation of all personnel from the house. Paramedics tended to two firefighters that were blown into the front yard and a personnel accountability check was performed with all personnel being accounted for.

The fire was extinguished in about 30 minutes and all searches were negative. There were about 60 personnel that were dispatched to the fire.

A family of three normally resides at the house. An adult female and her young son were out of town and an adult male was not at home. The fire appears to have originated in the area of the garage with the cause being under investigation. A preliminary fire loss is estimated at $250,000. A backdraft often results in serious and fatal injuries, miraculously, no injuries were reported at this incident.

This house is located in the Country Club Estates sub-division of Woodmore. Relatively new homes that are fully sprinklered, by law, in all living areas. The garage and attic are not sprinklered and are the only areas of the home that sustained significant fire damage.
The Secret List - Firefighter Close Calls

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

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Show Must Go On - Firefighters Make ICE Happen

Typically; when a firefighter utilizes a hydrant with the end result being the large formation of ice you would expect that a fire occurred on an extremely cold winter day. The temperatures were above normal and there was no fire the day firefighters helped to tap into a hydrant that would flow water to form tons of ice at the National Harbor. These actions occurred recently to help construct a part of the “Gaylord’s Christmas on the Potomac,” an attraction that includes a walk-through winter wonderland carved entirely of ice. To begin forming this winter wonderland attraction production crews required water and a lot of it.

The show producers had difficulty in figuring out the on-site hydrant and the configuration of the hydrant and their appliances to make a secure connection. Mr. Robert Keith from Willy Bietak Productions of Santa Monica, California, contacted several sources attempting to remedy his delimia. With no resolution and no where else to turn he contacted the firefighters at Oxon Hill Fire/EMS Station #821 – D Shift.

The officer-in-charge of Station #821, Fire Lieutenant Michael Marshall, described their encounter, “Upon arrival Mr. Keith showed us his problem and we connected a couple adapters and secured his water issue. We were advised by Mr. Keith that everything works well and they have the ice rink up and running.” The firefighters took the opportunity to conduct a walk-through review of the area being utilized which is sure to attract thousands of visitors.

Mr. Keith followed-up with a letter of thanks, writing, “From all of us here at the Holiday Ice Rink in National Harbor, many thanks for you and your Stations help with the water source. Without your assistance we would have not been able to do what we do. Firefighters know fire hydrants better than Hotel Technicians. All the best, Happy Holidays.”

Friday, November 27, 2009

Neighbor Helping Neighbor - Bladensburg Volunteers Deliver the Goods

MEDIA CONTACT: Randy S. Kuenzli, VP and Chairman of the Board of Directors, 301-883-7709

Firefighters from the Bladensburg Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad Inc. not only spend their holidays protecting the community, but go steps beyond to take part in making the holiday a little brighter for others, maybe not so fortunate.

Under the direction of Chief Matthew Fowler, the volunteers teamed up with Brandywine Costco to distribute large Turkeys, danishes, desserts, rolls and other meal trimmings.

Bladensburg is an all Volunteer department, operating within the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department combination system, answering over 5000 fire and EMS calls per year in the metropolitan Washington DC area. When not providing emergency service we are usually found asking the community for donations towards our operating expenses. These operational funds allow us to continue to provide the highest level of professional fire, rescue and EMS service available.

It is however, important to remember that we are a neighbor within the community. During the holidays, the volunteers take great pride in being able to give back to the community by helping out our more elderly residents or those a little less fortunate. It is a great feeling to greet our neighbors, to see a smile on there faces with out the needs of an emergency to bring us together. Neighbors helping neighbors. We wish everyone a wonderful and safe thanksgiving and holiday weekend. Our thanks goes out to Costco as well, for helping us bring the smiles to so many faces today.

Additional information and pictures can be found on Bladensburg's web site at www.bv9fd.com.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Fort Washington Fire Ruled Arson - Investigators Seek Information

Prince George’s County Fire Investigators are seeking information about a set fire that occurred on November 15, 2009. At about 2:15 AM, firefighters from the Fort Washington area and surrounding communities were alerted to a possible house fire. Fire/EMS units arrived at 1216 Sandy Bar Drive to find a 2-story detached garage in the rear of the house well involved with fire. The fire was extinguished and investigators from the Office of the Fire Marshal were called to the scene to determine the cause and origin of the fire.

After a through investigation it was determined that the fire was incendiary in nature and ruled Arson. Estimated fire loss to the structure is in excess of $25,000. No injuries to civilians or firefighters were reported.

Anyone with information about the person(s) responsible is urged to call the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department’s Office of the Fire Marshal 301-77-ARSON (27766). Callers wishing to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477) or text “PGPD plus your message” to CRIMES (274637) on your cell phone or go to www.pgpolice.org and submit a tip online.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Glenn Dale Crash Seriously Injures Three Teens

Just before 2:00 PM, Thursday, November 19, 2009, a single vehicle roll-over crash occurred involving a mini-van. The crash occurred at the intersection of Quarterhorse Road and Fletchertown Road in Glenn Dale. Three occupants were trapped within the wreckage of their vehicle and had to be extricated by firefighters using heavy-duty hydraulic tools (Jaws-of-Life). One patient, a 17 year-old-male, has been classified as Priority 1 Trauma (life threatening injuries) and the other two patients, a 14 year-old-female and a 19 year-old-male, sustained serious, non-life threatening injuries. Paramedics transported by ground to two separate trauma centers.

There were 35 firefighters and paramedics that worked on the scene of this incident. They were on-board 1 Engine Company (Bowie-Old Town), 2 Heavy-Duty Rescue Squads (Glenn Dale and Berwyn Heights), 2 BLS Ambulances (Glenn Dale and West Lanham Hills), 2 Paramedic Units (Northview and Glenn Dale), 2 EMS Supervisors and several command officers. The three patients were extricated and on the way to trauma centers within 30 minutes of arrival of fire/EMS units. The Prince George’s County Police Department was on the scene and handling the crash investigation.

As Temperatures Fall the Risks of Fire and CO Rise

Above average temperatures can only last so long and colder weather is on the way. Colder temperatures will mean that citizens and residents will start using their heating devices to stay warm. Along with these devices come the danger of fire and carbon monoxide (CO). Prince George’s County Firefighter/Medics have already operated at two incidents involving carbon monoxide (CO) that have sent 20 people to the hospital.

The leading causes of fires during this time of year are related to citizens and residents trying to stay warm at home. An additional concern for firefighters is that the high financial cost to heat your home might drive you to use supplemental heating sources more frequently. That equates to a busier than normal season for firefighters. Fireplaces and space heaters can make a room toasty, but the Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department urges citizens and residents to “think fire-safety first,” and exercise caution when using these devices. Prince George’s County Fire Chief Eugene a. Jones stated, “The most effective way to fight a fire is to prevent it from ever happening. We need our citizens and residents to practice fire-safe habits everyday of the year.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), nationally, fireplaces and chimneys were involved in 43 percent of all home heating fires and 11 percent of the associated deaths. Fixed and portable space heaters, including wood stoves, were involved in 25 percent of the home heating fires, but 74 percent of the associated deaths. Central heating was involved in 19 percent of home heating fires and 10 percent of the associated deaths.
Most fireplace and chimney fires were caused by creosote build-up. The leading cause of space heater fires was combustibles too close to the heaters. Central heating fires are primarily caused by mechanical failures or malfunctions.

Winter also brings an increased response to cases of Carbon Monoxide exposure. CO is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas. It results from incomplete oxidation of carbon in combustion and/or the inadequate ventilation of CO after normal combustion. Sources of CO are unvented kerosene and gas space heaters; leaking chimneys and furnaces; back-drafting from furnaces, gas water heaters, wood stoves, and fireplaces; gas stoves; generators and other gasoline powered equipment; automobile exhaust from attached garages; and tobacco smoke. Incomplete oxidation during combustion in gas ranges and unvented gas or kerosene heaters may cause high concentrations of CO in indoor air. Worn or poorly adjusted and maintained combustion devices (e.g., boilers, furnaces) can be significant sources, or if the flue is improperly sized, blocked, disconnected, or is leaking. Auto, truck, or bus exhaust from attached garages, nearby roads, or parking areas can also be a source.

We have recently seen two potentially tragic reminders that CO can be found anywhere that heat is being generated; home, work and public places. On Saturday, November 7, 2009, 13 people were transported to a hospital suffering from CO exposure after a furnace at St. Bernard’s Church in Riverdale malfunctioned. On Wednesday, November 18, 2009, a Landover family, 3 adults and 4 children, were rushed to the hospital after being exposed to high level of CO from a charcoal grill that was being used inside the home located in the 9100 block of 91st Place.

Carbon Monoxide Safety

• Keep gas appliances properly adjusted.
• Use proper fuel in kerosene space heaters.
• Install and use an exhaust fan vented to outdoors over gas stoves.
• Open flues when fireplaces are in use.
• Have a trained professional inspect, clean, and tune-up central heating system (furnaces, flues, and chimneys) annually. Repair any leaks promptly.
• Do not idle the car inside garage and never use a charcoal grill indoors.
• Install a working CO alarm.

The fire service has labeled CO as the “Silent Killer.” Because the properties of CO (colorless, odorless and tasteless) make it nearly impossible to detect without monitoring equipment. A working CO alarm is the best method citizens and residents can use to detect the presence of CO. CO alarms are inexpensive and can be purchased at hardware and home improvement stores.

Fire Safety and Injury Prevention

When buying a new space heater make sure it carries the mark of an independent testing laboratory, and be sure to have fixed space heaters installed by a qualified technician, according to manufacturer’s instructions or applicable codes. Or, make sure a qualified technician checks to see that the unit has been properly installed.

• Keep or maintain a 36-inch clearance between space heaters and anything that can burn. “Give Space Heaters Space.”
• Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, chimneys, chimney connectors and all other solid-fueled heating equipment inspected annually by a professional, and clean as often as inspections suggest.
• Use only wood that is properly seasoned to reduce creosote build-up.
• Make sure your fireplace has a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room.
• Allow fireplace and woodstove ashes to cool before disposing in a metal container.
• Test smoke alarms monthly; install a carbon monoxide alarm in a central location outside each sleeping area.

As temperatures continue to fall there is the potential for increased fires, injuries and deaths associated with heating equipment. “Every home needs to have a working smoke alarm, a working Carbon Monoxide alarm, and a home escape plan should be in place and practiced,” says Fire Chief Jones. A working smoke alarm increases your chances of surviving a home fire by about 50 percent. Prince George’s County citizens and residents may receive a working smoke alarm, free of charge, by calling our Livable Communities Smoke Alarm Hotline at 301-864-SAFE (7233).

Louie's Holiday Hope Project

BOWIE, Md. – The Bowie Baysox and their lovable mascot Louie have recently announced today the return of Louie's Holiday Hope Project for the third consecutive year. With the help of the Bowie Police Department and Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department, the Baysox will brighten the holiday season for local families in need.

Prince George’s County Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones stated, “We are pleased to help in such a worthwhile, community-based, effort to make the Holidays a little brighter for families in need. Our combined volunteer and career personnel from Bowie are proud to be involved once again with Louie’s Holiday Hope Project”

Fire Captain Thomas “TJ” James, Commander of the Northview Community Fire/EMS Station, stated, “Our Fire/EMS personnel are looking forward to doing whatever we can to help and encourage our citizens and residents to the same.”

Fans can nominate deserving families for Louie's Holiday Hope Project by e-mailing Louie at louie@baysox.com with the family's name, contact info and the family's situation. The team will not be able to help everyone that is nominated, but will consider multiple options to help several families. A Baysox staff member may contact the submitter for additional details or clarification, but all submissions remain confidential. Entries must be received by 3 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 14.
The Baysox encourage other local groups and organizations to participate in Louie's Holiday Hope Project. Local organizations that would like to make a contribution to the program can e-mail Louie at louie@baysox.com or call the front office at (301) 805-6000.

Citizens and residents may drop off new and unwrapped toys at the Northview Community Fire/EMS Station, 14901 Northview Drive that will be distributed to families identified by the Louie’s Holiday Hope Project.

Car Crash Forces Evacuation of Two Apartment Buildings

Just after 1:00 AM, Thursday, November 19, 2009, Firefighter/Medics from the Largo/Kettering area were alerted to an incident that involved a vehicle striking an apartment building. Firefighters arrived to find a Jeep Cherokee had, for whatever reason, left the roadway and struck a utility closet attached to an apartment building at 69 Harry S. Truman Drive. The natural gas main was damaged during the collision and allowed release of the product into two buildings. Unable to secure the flow of natural gas at the damaged meter, firefighters evacuated apartment buildings at 69 and 71 Harry S. Truman Drive. Washington Gas Company officials arrived on the scene and secured the flow of natural gas at about 2:15 AM. The majority of occupants were allowed to return into their buildings after firefighters ventilated and ensured the buildings were safe.

A total of seven occupants, 4 adults and 3 children, will be temporarily displaced and were assisted by the American Red Cross. There were no injuries during the course of this incident. The Prince George’s County Police Department was on-site conducting an investigation.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fire Chief Awards Deserving Personnel

Lieutenant Colonel Victor Stagnaro, Emergency Operations Commander, was presented with a Distinguished Service Award by Fire Chief Jones.
Major Rudolph “Rudy” Thomas was selected as the Manger of the Month of October 2009 for his work as the Special Events Commander.
Fire Captain Thomas “TJ” James was designated as the Employee of the Month for his role in the opening of the Northview Fire/EMS Station #816.
Fire Lieutenant John Lazo recognized for his due diligence and professionalism during recent changes within the Fire/EMS Department.
Fire Captain Michael Stavely was recognized for his due diligence and professionalism during recent changes within the Fire/EMS Department.
Fire Fighter/Medic Lieutenant James Key was recognized for his role at a hazardous materials incident at TASCO Water Works in Capitol Heights.

Fire Chief Awards Deserving Personnel

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930

Prince George’s County Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones presented Letters of Commendation and Awards to several members at the Department’s Staff Meeting. The meeting was held at the Largo Government Center Department Headquarters on Tuesday, November 17, 2009.

Lieutenant Colonel Victor Stagnaro, Emergency Operations Commander, was presented with a Distinguished Service Award by Fire Chief Jones. This prestigious and rarely awarded recognition was accompanied by a commendation letter from Chief Jones that reads:

The Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department has faced many challenges in 2009. From fiscal challenges to large scale emergencies, the Emergency Operations Command has responded to all of them due in large part to your growth as a leader. As the award suggests, you have distinguished yourself as a leader. You have implemented a new patient care reporting system, a billing system, commanded one of the largest rescues in the history of the Department and operated with a reduced complement and budget.
Your actions and efforts as the Emergency Operations Commander have been remarkable. I have seen your growth as a leader and that growth has enabled your command to maintain and, in some areas of the County, enhance the quality of service that the Fire/EMS Department delivers to the public. This Distinguished Service Award is presented in recognition of the meritorious actions you have taken to keep the Emergency Operations Command operating at peak efficiency despite the resource challenges you and your command have faced.

I appreciate all the hard work and dedication you have exhibited. You are growing into the leader I always believed you had the capacity for. Thank you for your distinguished service.

Major Rudolph “Rudy” Thomas was selected as the Manger of the Month of October 2009 for his work as the Special Events Commander. Chief Jones commented, “Major Thomas’ continued display of dedication to service, professionalism and an espirt de corps in ensuring the safety and security for 90,000 Redskins fans have earned him the designation as the Manger of the Month.

Fire Captain Thomas “TJ” James was designated as the Employee of the Month for his role in the opening of the Northview Fire/EMS Station #816. Fire Chief Jones commented, “Through Captain James’ leadership and dedication, Station 816 was prepared for service and through his example the station enjoys some of the highest level of moral. Because of his tireless effort and leadership it is my pleasure to designate Captain James as the Employee of the Month for October 2009.”

The following individuals were presented with commendation awards for their diligence and professionalism during recent changes in the Department:

Fire Captain Michael J. Stavely
Fire Captain John R. Steele
Fire Lieutenant John E. Lazo
Fire Lieutenant Randy D. Ruffin
Fire Lieutenant Douglas P. Sudik
Fire Fighter/Medic Lieutenant Eric V. Reith
Fire Lieutenant Lisa A. Viars

In making the presentations Fire Chief Jones stated, “The professionalism you display and the leadership you provide have been instrumental in ensuring the best service is delivered with the allotted resources. Over the past several months the Department has undergone unprecedented changes. These changes have directly affected many areas of the Department, and some have directly affected your area of responsibility. The ways in which you managed these changes and led personnel through it are exemplary and worthy of recognition.”

Three members of the Hazardous Material Team were recognized for their handling of an incident at TASCO Water Works in Capitol Heights that occurred on September 13, 2009. The recognition and commendation awards came about from a letter from Thomas Shriner, President of TASCO Water Works where he compliments service by Craig W. Black, Haz-Mat Team Coordinator; Phil Baker, Haz-Mat Team Leader; and James Key, Lieutenant from Haz-Mat Company #830. In his letter Mr. Shriner wrote, “The level of professionalism and compassion shown by your staff was unbelievable. I cannot express enough the appreciation we have for them.”

In making the presentation, Fire Chief Jones sated, “This award is in recognition of your handling of a hazardous materials incident on September 13, 2009, at TASCO Water Works in Capitol Heights, Maryland. Without your rapid intervention, the outcome could have been very different. Your actions speak highly of yourself, the Haz Mat Team and the entire Fire/EMS Department.” Fire Chief Jones also acknowledged the many dedicated years of hazardous Materials Team service provided to the citizens and residents of Prince George’s County by Phil Baker with 23 years and Craig Black with 22 years of service.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Administrative Assistant Kova Blake recently graduated with a Master of Science Degree in Management with a concentration in Human Resource Management.
Fire Investigator Robert S. Kaleda and his four-legged partner “Joy” are back to work after successfully completing recertification with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
Several big events for members of our Fire/EMS Department have occurred recently including new additions to families and graduations. Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones extends his congratulations and best wishes to our members and their families.

Masters Degree for Kova Blake

Administrative Assistant Kova Blake recently graduated with a Master of Science Degree in Management with a concentration in Human Resource Management. She graduated from the University of Maryland University College. This degree should come in handy as Kova is currently working as the Administrative Assistant to the Administrative Services Command which oversees the Department’s Human Resources, Risk Management, Training Academy, Administrative Compliance and the call center. Kova has been with the Department for 2 years. When asked if she recommends degrees of higher learning for other members of the Department, Kova responded, “I believe that the knowledge and skills acquired through higher learning degrees can prove beneficial to anyone in any career.” She feels that a degree simply puts her in a position where she has the credentials to move forward in her career, if the opportunity presents itself.

Congratulations for Family Additions

The Office of the Fire Chief has been notified of recent additions to member’s families.

Congratulations and Best wishes to all!!!

Xiomara Lozano-Chevez, Administrative Aide in the Office of the Fire Chief, had a baby girl, Xenia, on May 15, 2009. She weighed 7lbs. 16oz.

Justin & Trisha Case (Trisha works in Apparatus Maintenance) welcomed their new baby girl – Miley Marie Case – on Sunday, June 28, 2009 at 8:51 a.m. Miley weighed in at 8 pounds, 6.3 ounces.

Fire Fighter Danielle Lewis (Station #841) had a baby girl – Aliyah Monique Lewis on July 29th, at 5:18 a.m. Aliyah weighed in at 7 lbs. 14.5 oz. and is 20.5 inches long.

Acting Battalion Chief Paul Gomez (Office of the Fire Marshal) and his wife Angela (Daughter of Nancy Terracciano in Fiscal Affairs) welcomed their new baby girl – Rachel Marie Gomez – on Saturday, August 7, 2009. Rachel weighed in at 6 lbs., 4 oz. and 18” Tall.

Acting Fire Fighter/Medic Captain John Mack (Station 838) welcomed his baby girl – Julia Alexis Mack – on Saturday, September 19, 2009. Julia weighed in at 8 lbs. 2 ozs. and is 21 inches long.

Fire Fighter/Paramedic Allen Dement (Medic 849 – C Shift) and his wife, Lacey, welcomed twins – Lily and Ely -- into the world on September 30, 2009. Lily weighed in at 6 lbs. 1 oz. and 19 ½ inches long; and Ely weighed in at 6 lbs. and 19 ½ inches long.

Fire Fighter James McDonnell (Station 825) and his wife welcomed their new baby – Mackenzie Leighann McDonnell – on October 8, 2009. Mackenzie weighed in at 8 lbs. 1 oz. and 20” long.

Fire Fighter/Medic Michael T. Brown (Medic 820 – C Shift) and his wife, Karin, welcomed a baby girl – Emma Taylor Brown – on October 20, 2009. Emma weighed in at 8 lbs. 12 oz.

Fire Fighter/Medic Adam Sennett (Station 825 – B Shift) and his wife, Dana, welcomed a baby boy – Max Christopher Sennett – on October 28, 2009. Max weighed in at 7 lbs. 7 oz. and is 20” long.

Accelerant Detection Team Recertified

Canine “Joy” and handler can be found sniffing possible crime scenes again and helping to determine the presence of accelerants. Fire Investigator Robert S. Kaleda and his four-legged partner “Joy” are back to work after successfully completing recertification with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). “Joy” is an 8 year old Golden Retriever accelerant detection canine (ADC) that has been Fire Investigator Kaleda’s partner since 2004. All ATF ADC teams are recertified on a yearly basis.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Recipe for Holiday Safety

The Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department offers the following safety tips, to ensure that all citizens and residents will enjoy a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday. Unfortunately, fire safety and injury prevention guidelines are often overlooked during the holidays. Prince George's County Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones stated, "By using fire-wise common sense, citizens and residents can avoid tragedy and disruption of their holiday festivities. While these tips may not make Thanksgiving dinner taste any better--they will aid in avoiding potential disaster.
  • Keep your family and overnight guests safe with a working smoke alarm on every level of the house, in each bedroom and in the halls adjacent to the bedrooms. Test smoke alarms monthly, and replace batteries at least once a year.
  • Overnight guests should be instructed on your home’s fire escape plan and designated meeting place for your family.
  • Have a fire extinguisher available not more than 10 feet from the stove, on the exit side of the room.
  • A standard Class ABC multi-purpose dry chemical extinguisher is recommended. Know how to use your fire extinguisher.
  • Start holiday cooking with a clean stove and oven.
  • Keep the kitchen off limits to young children and adults who are not helping with food preparations. This will lessen the possibility of kitchen mishaps.
  • When cooking, do not wear clothing with loose sleeves or dangling jewelry. Clothing can catch on fire and jewelry can become entangled with pot handles, causing spills and burns.
  • Cook on the back burners when possible, and turn pot handles inward so they don’t extend over the edge of the stove.
  • Never leave cooking unattended. If you must leave the kitchen while cooking, turn off the stove or have someone else watch what is being cooked. Unattended cooking is the number one cause of home fires and fire-related injuries in Prince George’s County.
  • Keep Thanksgiving decorations and kitchen clutter away from sources of direct heat.
  • Candles are often part of holiday decorations. They should never be left burning when you are away from home, or after going to bed. Candles should be placed where children will not be tempted to play with them, and where guests will not accidentally brush against them. The candleholder should be completely non-combustible and difficult to knock over. The candle should not have combustible decorations around it.
  • If smoking is allowed inside, provide guests with large, deep ashtrays and check them frequently. After guests leave check inside, under upholstery, and in trash cans for cigarette butts that may be smoldering.

Fire Fighter/Medics Receive Awards for Ingenuity

Fire fighter/Medic Keith L. Downing, Fire Chief Jones and
Fire Fighter/Medic Leonard S. Simmons.
Two Prince George’s County Fire Fighter/Medics received Emergency Services Awards for their quick thinking and actions on a recent incident. Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones presented the pair with the awards on Thursday, November 12, 2009, at the Landover Hill Fire/EMS Station #830.

On July 11, 2009, at about 10:15 PM, Fire Fighter/Medic Keith Downing and Fire Fighter/Medic Leonard Simmons, on-board Paramedic 830 from Landover Hills, were dispatched to an emergency medical call involving a diabetic patient. Little did the providers realize that while judiciously treating the patient, a house was on fire on the same street, totally separate from the medical emergency. Unfortunately, both incidents were on a dead-end street and the paramedics were unable to utilize their medic unit to facilitate the transport. Over seven pieces of apparatus, having arrived after the medics, were blocking their means of egress, and it was not possible to move any of the apparatus.

Downing and Simmons quickly realized the predicament, and were creative in developing an alternate method of removing the patient from the scene and transporting to the hospital. Creative, yet not easy. FF/Medic Downing and Simmons took the patient via stretcher over rough terrain, through the patient’s backyard, over a fenced area, and eventually made their way to an adjacent street. Once there, they took custody of another unit which was standing-by for the working fire dispatch, and utilized their unit to complete the transport.

The on-duty Paramedic Supervisor, Paramedic Captain Mary Crampton commended the crew and nominated the team for this award by writing, “Due to their quick-thinking and their ability to think ‘outside the box’, the patient was able to get definitive care in a timely manner.”

Fire Chief Jones presented each of the crew members with an Emergency Services Award and encouraged them to keep up the good work and resourcefulness they displayed on this incident. He stated, “Your actions reflect favorably upon yourself and the entire Fire/EMS Department.”

GAZETTE ARTICLES - November 12, 2009

Firefighters indicted for arson

Upper Marlboro Fire Ruled Arson

CO Leak sends 13 church-goers to the hospital

Woman saved from car fire by two “good samaritans”

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

County Council Issues Proclamation for Clinton MD Rescue

Prince George's County Council Chairperson, Marilynn Bland, presented a Proclamation to the Firefighter/Medics that were involved in the rescue of a drowning pregnant crash victim. Click here for the original story.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mass Casualty CO Incident at Riverdale Church

Fire/EMS Personnel tend to patients while en route to a Baltimore Trauma Center on-board a Medical Ambulance Bus. (photo courtesy of College Park VFD)

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930

Prince George’s County Firefighters and Paramedics were summoned to a church to tend to a sick child and encountered that and many more. At about 6:30 PM, Saturday, November 7, 2009, a 911 call was received from an individual at Saint Bernard’s Church, 5700 St. Bernard’s Drive, in Riverdale, reporting a sick child feeling faint, nausea and dizzy. An ambulance and paramedic unit arrived on the scene, treated two children with the ambulance transporting two females, ages 9 and 10, to an area hospital. It was believed they were suffering from a food related illness after recently consuming a meal from a fast food restaurant.

As the ambulance departed the scene, the paramedics from College Park Fire/EMS Station 812 were packing up their equipment and preparing to leave the scene when they were rapidly presented with several additional sick people exiting the church. Paramedics quickly assessed the patients that were experiencing similar symptoms that the two children had and realized that this was a potential carbon monoxide (CO) emergency. Early arrivals for the 7:00 PM Saturday evening Mass at Saint Bernard’s Church had been exposed to high levels of CO and were displaying the classic symptoms of exposure to the “silent killer.” The paramedics were quickly overwhelmed with patients and called via their two-way radio for additional resources and assistance.

Additional Firefighters, Paramedics, the Departments Hazardous Materials Team, Mass-Casualty Support Unit and Medical Ambulance Bus were called to the scene. Incident commander soon learned that work on the church’s boiler had been performed earlier in the day. A gas meter detecting the level of CO in the atmosphere showed levels at 1300 parts per million (ppm). A normal CO level should be around 0 – 30 ppm. The air you breathe begins to become unhealthy after it rises above 30 ppm and sickness will begin to affect a person based on the level of CO and the amount of time exposed to the unhealthy air. The church was evacuated of about 100 congregants and the utilities were shut off. CO levels started to decrease after the boiler was shut down.

A third patient, 40 year-old-female, was transported shortly after the arrival of additional EMS units as personnel from Medic 812 continued to assess/triage and treat additional patients. Additionally, they had to isolate initial patients into a localized treatment area, while keeping additional civilians out of the treatment area, and preventing civilians from re-entering the building. 10 additional patients were assessed/triaged while receiving oxygen and being monitored by paramedics on the scene. These patients were identified as having mild to moderate CO inhalation injuries. Treatment for these types of injuries are best treated at a hospital with a hyperbaric chamber. Hyperbaric treatment provides oxygen in a high pressure environment to displace CO. These 10 patients were transported to a Specialty Trauma Center in Baltimore that has a hyperbaric chamber on-board the Departments Medical Ambulance Bus. These patients included: a 43/female, 39/female, 34/female, 32/female, 8/female, 23/male, 36/male, 19/female, 39/male, and a 23/female.

Firefighters ventilated the large church and ensured CO levels were at an acceptable level before leaving the scene.

Carbon Monoxide is colorless and tasteless byproduct of combustion. A malfunctioning boiler is believed to be responsible for the build-up of CO in the building. The exact cause of the problem with the boiler will be identified and repaired by a licensed technician. The most effective way of measuring the CO level in your home, business and areas of public assembly are to install and maintain working carbon monoxide alarms. These alarms are relatively inexpensive, about $25, and can be purchased at home improvement stores.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Good Samaritans Save Victim from Burning Vehicle

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930

A two-vehicle crash occurred in Oxon Hill that resulted in one car erupting in flames with the occupant dazed and not getting out of her vehicle. On Thursday, November 5, 2009, just before 7:00 PM a rear-end collision occurred. The vehicle that was struck from the rear was pushed out into the intersection of Wilson Bridge Drive and Indian Head Highway with gasoline spewing from the rear of the vehicle. Witnesses stated that as the vehicle came to a rolling stop, the bottom of the vehicle erupted with fire. Several bystanders that witnessed the crash ran to assist the occupant get out of the vehicle but were unable to approach as the fire, fed by the ruptured gasoline tank, continued to grow in intensity. The adult female occupant was not responding to the shouts of bystanders and appeared to be dazed from the collision. A Fed Ex driver, David Ramadhani of Bowie, retrieved a fire extinguisher from his delivery truck and dispensed the contents in the area of the driver’s door. While he could not extinguish the fire completely, he did knock it down enough that he and another Good Samaritan, Michael Harry of Oxon Hill, were able to access the occupant. The vehicle was unlocked and they opened the drivers door and were met with heavy smoke and high heat. Due to the heavy smoke the rescuers could not locate a seat belt buckle and they wisely used a utility knife to cut the seatbelt and pull her from the burning vehicle.

Firefighters and Paramedics arrived within four minutes of dispatch and advised of a vehicle fully engulfed with fire. Paramedics tended to the patient, a 30ish year old female, and transported her to a Trauma Center with serious, non-life threatening injuries. The driver of the second vehicle was also transported to a local hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

The on scene Paramedic Supervisor, Fire Fighter/Medic Lieutenant Dale Giampetroni, commended the group of Good Samaritans and told them that because of their willingness to help a stranger in need is the reason she is alive today. She stated, “The immediate removal of the female from the vehicle saved her life. There is no way anyone could have survived the intense fire that firefighters encountered upon their arrival.”

When informed of the incident, Prince George’s County Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones commented, “I am humbled by the brave heroic acts of our citizens that placed themselves in harms way to rescue the life of a stranger. These Good Samaritans should be extremely proud of themselves for saving a life. I commend them and look forward to making a formal presentation to them in the near future.”

The Prince George’s County Police Department was investigating the crash.

GAZETTE ARTICLES - November 5, 2009

County's first all-black fire department remembers founding member

Rural fire stations start to feel the heat

Fire destroys Upper Marlboro house

County firefighters save pregnant woman trapped underwater

SUV hits, kills woman

Thursday, November 5, 2009

States Attorney Announces Indictments for Arson

Prince George's County Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones addresses media at a press conference held at the County Courthouse in Upper Marlboro. States Attorney Glenn F. Ivey had called the press conference to announce the indictment of two former volunteer firefighters.

James Martinez of Damascus, Maryland

Jerome Engle of Bowie, Maryland
MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930

UPPER MARLBORO…The States Attorney for Prince George’s County, Glenn F. Ivey, announced at a press conference today that indictments against two individuals have been returned from a Grand Jury. The indictments stem from an arson fire that occurred at a vacant house in 2008. Jerome “Jerry” Engle and James Martinez are charged with 2nd Degree Arson, 2nd Degree Breaking and Entering, 1st Degree Malicious Burning, Conspiracy to commit 2nd Degree Arson, and Burning with intent to defraud. Martinez faces a seventh charge of Making a False Report. States Attorney Ivey stated, “If convicted of all charges, Engle faces up to 51 years in prison and Martinez faces up to 54 years in prison.”

The individuals that are charged with these crimes have been identified as:

Jerome Engle - DOB 08/15/1963, of Bowie, Maryland
James Martinez - DOB 06/21/1985, of Damascus, Maryland

The accused are former members of the Riverdale Volunteer Fire Department, Inc. On Monday, March 17, 2008, the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department’s Office of the Fire Marshal conducted an investigation of a fire that occurred at a vacant dwelling located at 5413 Riverdale Road, Riverdale Park, Maryland, at 6:43 AM. As a result of a lengthy investigation conducted by the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department’s Office of the Fire Marshal, The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Montgomery County Fire/Explosive Investigators, The Office of the States Attorney and the Greenbelt City Police Department, these individuals were identified as suspects.

Charging documents state volunteer firefighters Engle and Martinez were at the Riverdale Station and left to set a fire in the basement of a vacant home on Riverdale Road. Once the fire had been ignited they returned to the Riverdale Fire/EMS Station and awaited the dispatch of the call. A career firefighter arriving for work passed by the vacant structure and went to the nearby Riverdale Station reporting a house was well involved with fire, at which point, Engle and Martinez and other firefighters responded on fire apparatus to the call.

Martinez and Engle were arrested today by Prince George’s County Fire Investigators and agents from the ATF. They are currently awaiting a bond hearing of which the State will request $100,000 bond.

Prince George’s County Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones stated, “Arson is a heinous crime that is aggressively and thoroughly investigated. We have an extremely talented group of fire investigators that have developed a partnership with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that provide our Department a tremendous amount of resources.” He concluded by saying, “The Fire/EMS Department is an extremely proud organization that provides vital fire and emergency medical services to the citizens and residents of Prince George’s County. The focus should remain on the acts of our nearly 2000 men and women that make up our combined volunteer and career membership. Do not let the actions of a few diminish the acts of an entire organization that strive to provide the very best in fire and emergency medical services on a daily basis. This appears to be an isolated case of members of this Department making poor decisions that they will have to live with for the rest of their lives."

"Public safety is always at the height of our concern," says Acting Special Agent in Charge Sheree Mixell. "We will continue our partnership with the Prince George's County public safety officials to investigate those individuals responsible for endangering our communities."

Even though the two suspects have been charged and arrested in this case; the investigation remains open and on-going. Additional charges and arrests have not been ruled out.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Halloween Was Anything but Scary for Firefighters

The Tavarez family of Beltsville received coupons for popcorn and a soda after their smoke alarm was found to be in working condition.

Fire Fighter/Medic Anthony Kittrell from the Calverton Fire/EMS Station tests a smoke alarm in the Tavarez home. The alarm sounded beep-beep-beep and the family received coupons for popcorn and soda at AMC movie theatre.

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930

Firefighters across Prince George’s County went trick-or-treating on Saturday, October 31, 2009. They were not seeking any sweet treats as they went door-to-door, they were seeking working smoke alarms and reminding community residents that when they changed their clock – to remember to change the battery in their smoke and CO alarms as well.

Several donations made this effort possible; PEPCO provided smoke alarms to be distributed throughout the community, ENERGIZER provided fresh batteries and AMC movie theatres provided coupons for complimentary popcorn and soda. This public-private partnership enabled firefighters to pronounce, “Trick or Treat – we want to hear beep-beep-beep,” while visiting homes on Halloween evening. When the home smoke alarm was tested and worked – the homeowner got the treat – free popcorn and soda from AMC movie theatres. If an alarm was tested and not working, firefighters would provide fresh batteries or a new smoke alarm.

Dozens of homes were visited by firefighters during the 6:00 PM hour on Halloween. Homes that displayed Halloween decorations and had their welcome lights on were targeted for visits. An overwhelming high percentage, 90%, of homes visited had smoke alarms that worked. Dozens of free popcorn and soda coupons were quickly dispensed as a correlation was noted by firefighters that homes taking the time to decorate and participate in Halloween events also had taken the time to ensure they had working smoke alarms. Previous neighborhood visits normally yield about a 50% compliance with working smoke alarms compared to our “Halloween Trick or Treat – we want to hear beep-beep-beep” campaign yielded 90% compliance.

Prince George’s County Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones stated, “I want to thank and acknowledge the community contribution of Yuni Melak of the Calverton AMC-Center Park 8 theatre for donating the popcorn and soda coupons, PEPCO for the smoke alarms and ENERGIZER for the fresh batteries that made this campaign a success. I encourage everyone to install, inspect and protect their homes and loved ones by installing and maintaining smoke alarms and residential fire sprinklers, practicing home escape plans and performing a home safety walk-through to remove fire hazards from the home.”

All Prince George’s County citizens and residents can receive a smoke alarm installed in their home and fresh batteries, free of charge, by contacting the Fire/EMS Departments Livable Communities Smoke Alarm Hotline at 301-864-SAFE (7233).

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Upper Marlboro House Fire

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
Photo is courtesy of Jim Davis of pgfdfire.com

Firefighters from Upper Marlboro and surrounding communities battled a house fire that burned so intensely; it damaged neighbor’s homes on both sides. Several 911 callers near the burning home reported heavy smoke and fire were visible. Firefighters and paramedics were alerted around 1:45 AM, Tuesday, November 3, 2009, and arrived in the 13200 block of Ailesbury Court to find a 2-story, non-sprinklered, single family home fully involved with fire. Firefighters immediately started to battle the fire from the safety of the exterior of the home as the fire consumed the entire structure. Firefighting was hampered by broken natural gas lines inside the burning structure which had to be secured before the fire could be completely extinguished.

Due to the large amount of fire and intense heat, homes on either side of the burning structure sustained damage before firefighters arrived and stretched hoselines to protect those exposures. The occupants of the home were soon accounted for and no civilian or firefighter injuries were reported. Fire loss is estimated at $300,000 and the cause of the fire is under investigation. This incident had 30 firefighters working for nearly a 1 ½ hours before the fire was declared extinguished. The displaced family will be making their own arrangements for housing.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Citizens Commended for Assisting at Pedestrian Emergency

Prince George’s County Firefighter/Medics credit the assistance of two citizens in the rescue of a neighbor. On Friday, October 30, 2009, at about 3:15 PM, Firefighters from the Northview Fire/EMS Station #816, responded to a reported pedestrian emergency with a victim trapped underneath the rear wheels of a van. Witnesses reported that an adult male, approximately 60 years-of-age, was involved in mechanical repairs of a van and was working underneath the vehicle. The emergency parking brake gave way and the van started to roll dragging the victim with it. Firefighters responded and arrived quickly in the 16300 block of Lea Drive in Bowie. Fire Lieutenant John Lazo describes the events upon arrival, “We arrived on the scene and found a man that had his two legs underneath the rear wheels of a work truck. There were two citizens trying to use a hydraulic floor-jack to raise the vehicle. Fire Fighter/Medic John Ulmschneider went to the rear of the vehicle to assist raising the truck off of the injured man. The floor-jack was just at the limit of lift and Fire Fighter Ulmschneider managed to raise it enough for me to remove the citizen from the underside of the truck.”

The patient was assessed by personnel on the scene and transported by Bowie Ambulance 839 (Free State) to a local trauma center with injuries to both ankles. The Northview Paramedic Ambulance was handling another medical emergency requiring paramedic services at the time of this call and not available to respond, however, the injuries sustained were not life threatening and handled by the basic life support ambulance crew.

The Northview Fire/EMS Station 816 is a new facility and had just celebrated their Grand Opening a week before. The community members on the scene of this incident praised the firefighters for their fast response and quick actions to assist the victim. One citizen stated to the firefighters, “You got here very fast and I am very happy that there was a firehouse close by.”

Fire Lieutenant Lazo also commended the two neighbors that used the floor-jack and initiated the process of lifting the van off of the victim’s legs. Fire Lt. Lazo stated, “The actions of the two neighbors using the floor-jack relieved the pressure of the weight of the van from the victims legs and quite possibly prevented further injury and loss of extremities.”