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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.