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Monday, June 28, 2010

PGFD PROFILE - Kristines Quiet Place is Award Winning Gardening

Article by Mark E. Brady and Diane V. Cunningham, Photos by Mark E. Brady

An award winning gardening hobby helps this 16-year veteran of the Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department relax and unwind. Kristine J. Ferreira began her career with the Fire/EMS Department as a paramedic in March 1993 and subsequently cross-trained as a firefighter in June 1998. She is currently assigned to College Park Fire/EMS Station 812, located near the University of Maryland. Fire Fighter/Medic Ferreira works a 24-hour shift, wherein she and her partner may respond on as many as10-15 calls. She is responsible to deliver advanced life support in a pre-hospital environment to patients with life-threatening conditions. Sleep, during this time, is often a notion rather than an option.

The three days following her 24-hour shift with the Fire/EMS Department, Fire Fighter/Medic Ferreira works as a Forensic Investigator for the State of Maryland’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME). While her schedule with the OCME varies, there are times when one shift lasts 24 hours. In fact, it’s not unusual for her to log more hours as a Forensic Investigator than as a Fire Fighter/Paramedic. “As an Investigator, I work on call from home,” she says. “An assignment could take me to the scene of an accident, to the hospital or to the home of a deceased person. After being notified of a death, my job calls for me to respond to the location and determine whether the deceased should be autopsied or sent to the funeral home.” Kristine says her decision is based on the guiding principles she learned while in training with the OCME, as well as Maryland state laws.

When she has time off from her two hectic and stressful jobs, Kristine Ferreira enjoys gardening. Tending flower beds gives her a sense of serenity, as well as offers her an escape from the outside world. “I love digging in the dirt,” says Kristine. “I enjoy gardening because so much of what I do is rushed. Everything is an emergency in both of my professions. In gardening it doesn’t matter how much you try to rush things; the plants grow at their own pace. With regard to the growing process, it sometimes takes years for a certain flower to bloom. I agree with the idea that a garden does not reach maturity for at least seven years.”

Kristine, who has been gardening since she purchased her first home at age 24, finds it most rewarding to place a small potted plant in the ground and several years later see how much it has grown and spread. This is truly a hobby for her, and she does not accept pay to help others with their gardens. “I wouldn’t want gardening to feel like a job,” she says.

She began gardening because of her love of flowers, their colors and the joy of putting something into the ground that beautifies her surroundings. “I think flowers make people smile. I know my neighbors love my yard! I love it!” she says. She also credits her mother’s green thumb, as each year her mom helps clean up the garden in preparation for the spring. Cleaning and preparation is no easy task for one person. It can easily take up to two weeks of working full days to get her garden ready for spring.

For Kristine, gardening is a year-round effort. She claims, “I even have flowers that bloom in the snow.”

Kristine’s neighbors enjoy the beautiful flowers she nurtures on her corner lot in Bowie, Maryland. Some told her they never paid attention to their own yard until she moved in. Most of the yards in her neighborhood now boast of beautiful flowers and grass. “I would like to think I spread something here! I live on the corner lot so I have to make it beautiful!!!” she says.

Kristine Ferreira believes one secret to growing beautiful flowers is to plant them when and where should be planted. Too often she sees plants struggling to survive because people either don’t know when to plant, or they place plants in the wrong light. Not every plant can survive in direct sunlight. She recommends people educate themselves on the types of plants good for their particular environment. She states, “Reading a few magazines definitely helps. The secret to growing award winning gardens is being knowledgeable about the craft. Like a painting, you should have a balance of color, shapes and variety. Maturity helps also—plant maturity, that is.”

Her favorite plants are roses and peonies. “Peonies were at one time sold to only royalty. They bloom once a year, around my birthday (May), and they smell wonderful. I often cut them and bring them into my home!” says Ferreira. She also tries to find interesting plants for her yard every year. In fact, she has a plant she bought back from Hawaii that requires being indoors when it gets cold.

Her awards are plentiful but unlike her flowers, they are not springing up as fast as they used to. The reason for this is she’s won so many she’s not permitted to compete anymore. Her goal, which she concedes is yet a few years a way, is to win a “Golden Shovel Award.” Her awards include:

City of Bowie All Star Garden Award 2009

Prince George’s County Beautification Award 2008

City of Bowie Distinguished Pool Garden 2006

Maintenance Award from City of Bowie for 2003, 2004, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008

Maintenance Award from Prince George’s County for 2009

Kristine Ferreira has an extremely demanding schedule, juggling two professions. Both jobs require a great deal of education and respect for life; and she manages each professionally and with the utmost passion. More important, however, she has found what many of us search for—a place to escape from the stresses of her jobs and day-to-day life in general. Gardening…it is Kristine’s sanctuary.

State Firemen's Convention Nets Leadership Role and Awards for PGFD

The Maryland State Firemen’s Association (MSFA) and Ladies’ Auxiliary to the Association (LAMSFA) held their annual convention in Ocean City, Maryland, the week of June 13th. Prince George’s County was well represented by firefighter/EMT’s, volunteer and career, and civilian members. Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones attended the entire convention and was present during several significant presentations to members of the Fire/EMS Department. Several volunteer members received significant awards, with some being voted into prominent positions.

Sandi T. Lutz was elected President of the LAMSFA, where she has been a member since 1977. She is also a Past President and has been a member of the Auxiliary of the Glenn Dale Fire Association, Inc. since 1974, having attained Life Membership status in 1994. Sandi is also an administrative member of the Glenn Dale Fire Association., Inc., which she joined in 1998 and attained Life Member status in 2009.

In addition to her duties at Glenn Dale, Sandi has been a member of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Prince George’s County Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association (LAPGCVF&RA) since 1976. She served as President of this organization in 1999.

Despite all of her aforementioned duties and responsibilities, Sandi still finds time to be a member of the Pierce M. Damewood Fellowship of Christian Firefighters, since 1999; Secretary for the Glenn Fire Association, Inc., 2001-2003; Board Member of the Pierce M. Damewood Fellowship of Christian Firefighters since 2001; member LAPGCVF&RA Hall of Fame, 2001; member of the Auxiliary of the West Lanham Hills Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association since 2004; and the Ways & Means Chairperson for the PGCVF&RA since 2007.

Sandi has been married to Lee Lutz for 38 years. Lee Lutz is a member of the Glenn Dale Fire Association, where he currently serves as President. They have two grown children and a granddaughter. Sandi and Lee reside in Lanham, Maryland.

As President of the LAMSFA, Sandi hopes to increase membership by recruiting new member auxiliaries throughout Maryland and continuing to support the member auxiliaries. The LAMSFA and the MSFA share a great partnership; and her intentions are to work closely with the MSFA officers and membership.

Jeff Dickey, Assistant Chief of the Branchville Volunteer Fire Company and Rescue Squad, was honored with the prestigious “2009 Francis L. Brannigan Instructor of the Year Award.” The award was presented to Jeff by the Chesapeake Society of Fire and Rescue Instructors.

Jeff Dickey is presented with the Francis L. Brannigan Instructor of the Year Award

Tom Collins, formerly of Beltsville and currently residing in Ocean City, was awarded the “Marbury F. Gates Service Award,” in recognition of his contributions and commitment over 50+ continuous years of service. This is the highest award given by the MSFA.

Robert W. Ryan, College Park Volunteer Fire Department, was inducted into the MSFA Hall of Fame. Elaine Huttenloch of Forestville and Flo Collins of Laurel and Beltsville, respectively, were made honorary/special inductees into the MSFA Hall of Fame.

Elaine Huttenloch of Forestville

In what seems like an annual award, the Bowie Volunteer Fire Department was awarded a MSFA Certificate of Recognition for Fire Prevention and Life Safety. This honor was bestowed on them in the single project category for their outstanding Open House activities.

In the parade competition, the Riverdale Volunteer Fire Department was awarded an Honorable Mention for Best Appearing Pumper in the 1500 GPM category. Glenn Dale Fire Association was awarded an Honorable Mention for Best Appearing Pumper in the 1250 GPM category.

Congratulations to everyone on receiving your awards and recognitions; and best wishes to Sandi Lutz in her position as President of the LAMSFA.

Photo credit - Jennifer Wilbanks, MSFA Photographer.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Hot Outdoors-Be Cool Indoors!!!

Very hot and humid conditions are expected in the Prince George's County MD, today. The high temperature is forecast to be 99 degrees, and the heat index could rise to 103 or 104. Air quality is Code Orange (unhealthy for sensitive groups). Citizens and residents be cool indoors and stay hydrated, avoid overexertion, and remain inside in an air conditioned (or shaded) environment when possible. Be watchful for our senior citizens and young children who are showing signs of heat-related illness.
Mark E. Brady

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Seat Pleasant House Fire with Injuries

A teen-aged male suffered serious injuries at an early morning house fire. Just after 3:30 am, Saturday, June 26, 2010, firefighters and paramedics responded to a house fire in the 6200 block of Foote Street in Seat Pleasant. Upon arrival they encountered a 2-story single family home with fire on all levels and an occupant outside that sustained burn injuries. The bulk of the fire was extinguished in about 20 minutes by 30 firefighters. A firefighter from the Seat Pleasant Fire/EMS Station sustained a minor burn injury and was treated and released from a Burn Unit.

The teen-aged male sustained serious burn injuries as well as smoke inhalation and transported by paramedics to a Burn Unit. Fire Investigators continue to investigate the cause and origin of the fire. Fire loss is estimated at $200,000.

Friday, June 25, 2010

SUV Crashes Through Store Front Injuring 3 Inside

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

The lunch hour at a Beltsville restaurant came to a sudden closure when a vehicle crashed through the front of the store injuring 3 patrons. At about 12:30 pm, Friday, June 25, 2010, almost 2 dozens patrons and employees of PHO 88 Restaurant, part of a strip shopping center, in the Chestnut Hill Shopping Center were horrified when a Honda Pilot SUV came crashing through the brick and glass store front. Three patrons, adult males in their 30’s, sustained minor injuries and were transported by paramedics to an area hospital. The two adult female from the Honda were not injured.

The PHO 88 restaurant, 10478 Baltimore Avenue, sustained significant damage. Firefighters shut off the utilities to the store and inspected the structural integrity for possible collapse. A building inspector officially declared the structure uninhabitable and closed the store until repairs could be made.

It is unfortunate that 3 patrons sustained injuries and the structure suffered damage, however, we are fortunate that only 3 minor injuries occurred. The potential for serious or fatal injuries was a possibility. The Prince George’s County Police Department is conducting an investigation into how and why the vehicle suddenly accelerated into and through the front of the store.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fireworks Amnesty Program - All Consumer Fireworks are Illegal in County

The Prince George’s County Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department responds to several calls for injuries related to fireworks each year. The Fire/EMS Department is concerned about the potential for injury and property damage from fireworks. Every year, near the Fourth of July we see and hear of thousands of people injured and sometimes killed due to accidents involving fireworks in the United States.

Sadly, many of these injuries and deaths involve children.

Prince George’s County has a law that is meant to protect you.

The Law in Prince George’s County

Plain and simple - ALL consumer fireworks from the smallest to the largest are illegal.

• It is illegal for any person to manufacture, possess, store, offer for sale, sell, discharge, use, burn, or explode any fireworks in Prince George's County, Maryland, except that an authorized display may be conducted by a licensed pyrotechnic professional. Penalties for violations of the law include a fine of up to $1,000 and/or six months in jail.

• Each year, thousands of people are injured and some killed in accidents involving the use of fireworks. These primarily involve those fireworks classified as 1.4g explosives by the U.S. Department of Transportation, commonly referred to as "consumer fireworks." Prince George’s County has banned the sale, use and possession of these fireworks based on the danger to our citizens caused by the misuse of these products.

What’s it all about…PGFD Fireworks Amnesty Program

In Prince George’s County, citizens may turn in fireworks without fear of being arrested or fined. Those desiring to take advantage of this amnesty may contact the County's Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department Operations Center at 301-583-2200. A member of the Fire/EMS Department will come to your home or business and remove your fireworks, without you risking arrest and/or fine.

• The amnesty will remain in effect from today until July 14, 2010. Citizens may also call the same number to report illegal use of fireworks in Prince George’s County.

This is the eighth year that the Fire/EMS Department has offered an Amnesty Program.

Thousands of pieces of dangerous fireworks have been turned over to authorities during this period.

Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones stated, "I encourage everyone to take advantage of the numerous public fireworks displays offered throughout the County on this festive and patriotic day. Celebrate safely and within the law."


Note - some venues have admission charges


Granville Gude Park, Laurel Lake, Laurel, Maryland. (301) 725-5300 ext. 44.

Parade at 11 a.m. Car show following and Fireworks at dusk.


Buddy Attick Park, 555 Crescent Rd., Greenbelt, Maryland. (301) 397-2200.

Entertainment begins at 4 p.m. Fireworks at dusk.


Allen Pond Park, Bowie, Maryland. (301) 809-3078.

Entertainment, food and fireworks from 3-10:30 pm.


Prince George's County Stadium, 4101 NE Crain Hwy, Bowie, Maryland. Fireworks display after the game.

For additional information and tickets, call (301) 464-4865.


University of Maryland, College Park. Parking Lot 1,

off Campus Drive near the University Boulevard/Adelphi Road entrance.

(301) 864-8877. Food and music start at 7 p.m.,

with fireworks around 9 p.m.


Mitchellville, Maryland. (301) 249-1500.

The amusement park sponsors a spectacular fireworks display.

Enjoy a full day of family entertainment.


6901 Ames Street, Morningside, Maryland (301) 736-2300.


First Baptist Church of Glenarden, 3600 Brightseat Road, Landover, Maryland (301) 773-3600.


Starts at dusk in the athletic fields of the E. Michael Roll Municipal Center,

located at 2000 Marbury Drive in District Heights.


Spirit of Faith Church, 14107 Gibbons Church Road, Brandywine, Maryland (301) 630-3733.


Gaylord National Resort, National Harbor, Maryland. Fireworks and summer festival,

beginning at 5 p.m., tickets are required.

Fire/EMS Department Operate Under a "Heat Stress Watch"

Prince George’s County, Maryland, is in the midst of a string of days with temperatures in the unhealthy levels and a forecast of daytime temperatures remaining in the 90’s. Firefighters and paramedics have handled an increased number of responses since the June heat arrived and continue to deal with the responses and coping with the heat themselves. The Fire/EMS Department has been operating under a “Heat Stress Watch” whereas the Risk Management office has prepared a safety message to keep personnel of safety measures to remain healthy and injury free.

Dispatchers at Public Safety Communications broadcast a prepared message every two hours while under the Heat Stress Watch reminding personnel of the dangerous and unhealthy conditions. Throughout the course of the day dispatchers provide the following information over the Fire/EMS Departments radio system:

“A heat stress watch is in effect for emergency operations.

Incident Commanders; heat stress injuries to fire service personnel are likely.

Consider limiting active work periods to 2 breathing air (SCBA) bottles or 40 minutes before directing crews to rehab.”

Crews, maintain pre-incident hydration by drinking eight ounces of water every hour throughout your shift.”

“Prevention before response ensures everyone goes home.”

Despite the heavy workload, personnel have remained healthy. Attention to the health and wellness of firefighters and paramedics is of the utmost concern at all times and particular care and precautions are administered during periods of high temperatures and unhealthy air. After being involved in firefighting operations all personnel must report to a rehab area. Water and ice packs are provided for hydration and to help the cooling process.  Paramedics monitor vital signs and have personnel remain in the rehab area until vitals are documented as being within normal limits. Incident commanders are quick to request additional resources based on incident status. These resources include; Paramedics, air conditioned buses, additional staffing and a canteen unit.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

County Building Evacuated

Just after 2:00 pm, Wednesday, June 23, 2010, firefighters were alerted to investigate an automatic fire alarm sounding at 5000 Rhode Island Ave in Hyattsville. Upon arrival it was discovered that a HVAC unit malfunctioned and released a small quantity of freon. As a precaution, the District I Police Station was evacuated while the haz-mat team secured the effected HVAC unit.

The County Services Complex has several buildings and police operations were temporarily relocated to a nearby building. Police operations were not been impacted as a result of this precautionary evacuation.
Firefighters and haz-mat team members ventilatilated building whereas the building resumed normal operations at about 4:00 pm.

Branchville Volunteers PT for Health and Fitness

In early April 2010, several members of a volunteer fire station sat in the dayroom discussing getting in shape. Cardiac-related incidents are among the leading causes of firefighter deaths in the United States. Over the past two decades, statistics show that 50 percent of firefighter fatalities are attributed to poor health conditions. A small group of volunteers began meeting at the fire station three times a week to workout with station-provided free weights. The number of members participating in the workouts increased rapidly, and the Branchville Volunteer Fire Company and Rescue Squad’s leadership took note of their commitment. Michael Burrier, Volunteer Chief at the station located in North College Park, Maryland, mentioned this effort to a friend who is a personal trainer. Aaron Foster, a firefighter and National Registered Emergency Medical Technician with the District of Columbia, offered to come to the workout sessions and design a program specific to the needs of firefighters. Foster is a well qualified Fitness Trainer for recruit members of the District’s Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department.

In late April, Aaron Foster observed a workout session at the Branchville Station. Subsequently, he offered his expertise and demonstrated exercises beneficial to the member’s overall health and wellness. His primary focus was core strengthening movements specific to emergency operations tasks. Foster’s program provides an opportunity to combine fitness training with heavy exertion skills. What was initially intended to be a “couple of visits” evolved into Aaron Foster regularly visiting the Branchville Volunteer Fire/EMS Station during their 3 per week fitness sessions. Workout participant and Branchville Volunteer Captain Lani Lindsey stated, “We enjoy working with Aaron, and it seems he really enjoys working with us. He saw our commitment and the progress we were making. He kept coming back, and even now continues to guide and motivate us through our workouts.” Workouts are held every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 5:00 pm.

The workout sessions, conducted at the fire station, last an average of 1 to 1 ½ hours. Exercises include hose pulls and tire rolls, with a heavy concentration on cardiovascular training. Foster observes and supervises members through their workouts, all the while shouting out direction and motivation. He stated, “My goal is to improve health and wellness with a focus on core strengthening. Since working with the members at Branchville I’ve seen improvement in both stamina and strength. Several members have experienced weight loss, which is an added benefit to their heath and wellness.”

Volunteer Captain Lindsey is one of several members who regularly participate in the workouts. When asked to share her thoughts on the program, she said, “I really like the workouts and have gotten very excited about getting in shape. We work hard, but it’s so worth the pain and sweat.” She concluded by talking about the additional benefits, “The workouts are also a great team building experience that has brought us closer together as a company.”

Through this firefighter physical fitness program, Aaron Foster and the Branchville Volunteer Fire Company and Rescue Squad are doing their part to help reduce preventable firefighter fatalities and ensure everyone returns home after every call.

Branchville Volunteer Chief Burrier, says, “I believe we are the county’s only volunteer station to provide an organized group physical training program of this intensity. I welcome others to become involved and participate.”

“Being physically fit firefighter/EMT is beneficial to the individual, fellow firefighters and every citizen and resident, for whom we strive to provide quality fire and emergency services,” says Prince George’s County Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones. “I am impressed by the initiative our volunteers have taken to participate in physical fitness programs and encourage others to become involved.”

Active Shooter Exercise at the University of Maryland

The Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department participated in an Emergency Response Full Scale Exercise at the University of Maryland, College Park, this morning. The exercise scenario involved an active shooter that entered the University Health Center and opened fire on four individuals. Firefighters and Paramedics, volunteer and career, from College Park Fire/EMS Station #812, Paramedic Ambulance #855 from Bunker Hill and a host of Fire/EMS Incident Commanders simulated their response to the scene after the University of Maryland Police Department had located and arrested the shooter and secured the building.

Paramedics encountered four semi-moulaged patients suffering from a variety of gunshot wounds located throughout the building. Personnel found victims being assisted by Health Center medical professionals and received updates before taking over patient care.

Overall, the exercise was a tremendous success. The drill demonstrated the excellent working relationships and interoperability of multiple agencies. Goals and objectives were accomplished and a critique provided a format for evaluators to discuss procedures that proved to be positive and areas were improvement is needed.

Fire/EMS Department Promotions

Crippen, Sarra-Hinkson and Goff

Prince George’s County Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones notified three personnel today of their official promotion. The following promotions were made:

Bobbi C. Sarra-Hinkson promoted to Fire Major

Brandon M. Goff promoted to Fire Fighter/Medic Lieutenant

Derek P. Crippen promoted Fire Fighter/Medic Lieutenant


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Firefighters Battle House Fire and the Heat

A firefighter has his vital signs monitored after entering a rehab area
after battling a Beltsville house fire.

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

Firefighters fought a well involved house fire in the midst of the heat of the day. After water was used by firefighters to extinguish the fire, water was then used to hydrate the firefighters to prevent heat related illnesses.

At about 4:15 pm, Tuesday, June 22, 2010, Prince George’s and Montgomery County, Maryland, firefighters were alerted to a house fire after several 911 calls were received from members of the community. Firefighters and paramedics arrived quickly to the 11400 block of Allview Drive in Beltsville with the first arriving engine reporting heavy fire was showing from the 2-story, split level, single family home.

Additional resources, including EMS units, were summoned to the scene. The temperature was 96 degrees with humidity at about 40%. Firefighters worked quickly to advance hoselines into the burning structure and search for trapped occupants. The fire grew in intensity, as well as the associated heat, and the fire consumed the interior of the house. The fire was knocked down in about 30 minutes.

Paramedics had established a rehab area for all firefighters. Water was provided and vital signs were monitored. Personnel were ordered to stand-down and rest while consuming water before going back to work to clean up and ready their units for the next call.

An adult female working in the home sustained minor burn injuries and refused assistance from paramedics. Despite extreme heat and unhealthy air quality there were no firefighter injuries or illnesses and everyone went home after the call.

The cause of the fire remains under investigations and fire loss is estimated at $150,000. The house was reported to have been under renovation so there was no occupant displacement.

The Department was operating under a “Heat Stress Watch” whereas personnel are reminded by a broadcast message from Public Safety Communications when temperatures reach unhealthy levels. Throughout the course of the day all personnel hear the following safety message from dispatchers:

“A heat stress watch is in effect for emergency operations.

Incident Commanders; heat stress injuries to fire service personnel are likely.

Consider limiting active work periods to 2 breathing air (SCBA) bottles or 40 minutes before directing crews to rehab.”

Crews, maintain pre-incident hydration by drinking eight ounces of water every hour throughout your shift.”

“Prevention before response ensures everyone goes home.”