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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.”

Fire Chief's Statement Concerning Guilty Plea in Arson Case

The Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department was made aware earlier today that a former member plead guilty to second degree arson in connection with a fire that occurred in March 2008. The press release from the States Attorney Office is listed below.

Prince George’s County Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones stated,

“As the Fire Chief of this Department, I fully support the work of the States Attorney’s Office in reaching a guilty plea in this case of arson. I commend their staff as well as the Fire/EMS Department’s Fire Investigators for their due diligence in compiling evidence and building the case. I also want to acknowledge the volunteer leadership of the Riverdale Fire/EMS Station for their support and cooperation during this difficult period.

To the citizens and residents of Prince George’s County; this heinous act is a result of the actions of individuals and should not be a systemic assessment of our Department. Our combination, volunteer and career, Fire/EMS Department strives to provide the very best in fire and emergency medical services possible and are dedicated and committed to keeping our County safe from the perils of all hazards.

One person has been deemed guilty for his actions and a second person is soon to have his day in court. “

Office of the State’s Attorney for Prince George's County

Glenn F. Ivey

14735 Main Street, Suite M3403, Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20772


Contact: Ramón V. Korionoff 301-952-3675

240-832-6111 rvkorionoff@co.pg.md.us or


UPPER MARLBORO, MD – Prince George’s County State’s Attorney, Glenn F. Ivey announced today that volunteer firefighter, Jerome Engle*, 46, of Bowie, pleaded guilty to second degree arson in connection with setting fire to a building located at 5413 Riverdale Road, Riverdale, MD on March 17, 2008.

Mr. Engle was a firefighter with the Riverdale Volunteer Fire Department.

As part of the plea agreement Engle faces up to 10 years in prison but could receive the guideline recommendation from the sentencing commission of 1 year in jail. The State’s Attorney will seek $200,000 restitution from Mr. Engle on behalf of the property owners.

“We expect our firefighters to battle blazes not burn buildings. Mr. Engle not only violated the public trust but also put property and people at risk. We are holding him accountable with today’s conviction,” said Glenn F. Ivey.

A sentencing and restitution hearing is set for July 1, 2010 in front of Judge Graydon McKee who oversaw today’s proceedings.

The co-defendant in the case James R. Martinez of Damascus is set for trial on July 22.

Investigation of this and similar incidents is on-going; anyone with information should contact the Prince George’s County Fire Department at 301-77ARSON.

For more information, please contact Ramon V. Korionoff in the Office of the State’s Attorney.

*Photo available upon request.

Physiological Status Monitoring Tested by Firefighters

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

The Prince George’s County, Maryland Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department recently had an opportunity to use and evaluate Physiological Status Monitoring (PSM), real-time visibility into the physical status of personnel operating in high stress. The Zephyr PSM Responder system was used during training evolutions in field testing of “Flat-Pack” Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), as well as in the training of recruit firefighters participating in the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Fire Ground Survival Class. Both events took place at the Department’s training academy in Cheltenham.

The PSM Responder system monitors vital signs and posture, relaying data via a wireless harness to a 2-way radio onto a laptop PC. The data is interpreted and displays information, which helps determine whether personnel are fatigued, dehydrated, injured or healthy. The system is made up of three parts, including a BioHarness Sensor, 2-way portable radio and PC application software. The BioHarness is an easily donned “smart fabric” strap that calculates status and measures heart rate, breathing rate, skin temperature, activity and posture. The wireless design does not interfere with the wearer’s activities; is reported to be comfortable over long periods of time; and it is washable. The PSM is available in three styles—the BioHarness; shoulder harness to ensure proper position; and the PSM enabled shirt. All are equipped with a wireless transmitter that sends data to the firefighter’s portable radio.

The PSM Responder system is compatible with the radio equipment typically used by personnel. It operates within the established communications infrastructure, thereby eliminating the need for additional equipment. In addition, the transmission of data over the radio does not interfere with voice communications.

The OmniSense Application Software, capable of simultaneously monitoring up to 64 personnel, is proprietary and therefore part of the package. Its ability to display the status of each crew member enables the Incident Commander to make quick decisions concerning their personnel’s health and safety. The software also makes available post-incident analysis of an individual’s physiological condition, permitting both Command and Safety Officers to be more proficiently trained and better prepared for future incidents.

During both training sessions, team members were randomly selected to put on the BioHarness. Those selected were provided a portable radio capable of receiving wireless transmission from the harness and sending the data to the PC. Equipped with the PSM and wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including SCBA, the teams completed a training evolution. Each firefighter’s vital signs and posture (standing, lying down, etc.) were closely monitored while undergoing the session.

Information about personnel is pre-loaded into the system that matches a firefighter’s name and team, or unit number, to a corresponding BioHarness. The data received from the system then identifies the individual’s name and team; activity level; and vital signs, i.e. heart rate, respiration and skin temperature. A color-coded warning system, also part of the software, changes color when any of the individual’s monitored items goes from “Normal” to “Elevated” to “Of Concern.”

Throughout multiple days of training, Fire Instructors were impressed with the insight the PSM system provided, i.e. general fitness and levels of exertion candidates experienced during the practicum. Prince George’s County Fire Captain Grady Valencis stated, “I believe the PSM is a valuable tool to monitor the effects our job-related tasks have on our workforce. It could also be utilized to make a case for additional staffing, in order to assist us in our performance on emergency scenes.”

Steven Small, Vice President of Business Development and Sales at Zephyr Technology, explained that the physiological status sensors improve decision making and remote triage. “It’s designed so Incident Commanders have insight into the vital signs of their personnel,” said Small. “If it looks like personnel are getting into trouble, they can get them out to rehab.”

While the PSM is effective for all emergency personnel, it may be best used where deployment is in high-stress and high-exertion incidents. Hazardous Materials, Bomb Squad, High-Angle and Confined-Space teams require the monitoring of vitals before and after their assigned activity. The PSM would provide real-time monitoring and could enhance the length of deployment and subsequent effectiveness. This would minimize the need to rotate personnel and consume resources for extended periods. Real-time monitoring is also effective in assisting Incident Commanders with making informed decisions on removing deployed personnel in a timely manner, as data dictates.

Local users of the system include Maryland National Guard 32nd CST and Baltimore City Fire and Police Training Academies. Among those across the country who either have units, or will soon receive them, are Sarasota County, Florida; Hall County, Georgia Sheriff; Illinois State Police; Jacksonville Sheriff EOD.

Overall, the PSM appears to be an immensely invaluable addition to the tool boxes of the Incident Commander and the Safety Officer. Stress and cardiac overexertion can easily lead to a heart attack, which remains the leading cause of firefighter’s deaths in the United States. Real-time monitoring of the vital signs of personnel involved in high-stress environments provide insight into hidden dangers and lurking ailments that threaten firefighter safety and survivability. The PSM is an effective weapon for providing protection to our most valuable assets—our personnel. Personal physiological status monitors can help ensure “everyone goes home.”

Career Recruit School #41 Graduates

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

The 41st Career Recruit School of the Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department graduated after 21 intense weeks of training. The recruits graduated on Monday, June 21, 2010, at a ceremony held at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center on Commo Road in Cheltenham. Thirty-four recruits, 3 being EMS only, have a class motto of; “The Only Easy Day, Was Yesterday,” made a dramatic entrance into the auditorium by marching and vociferously chanting in cadence. Candidates successfully completed their respective fire and EMS classroom and physical training in firefighting, hazardous materials, emergency vehicle operations and emergency medical care. Their first day on the job as firefighters and paramedic trainees will be today, Tuesday, June 22, 2010.

The ceremony included the pomp and circumstance afforded such an event including a bagpiper, Honor Guard and personnel in their Class A dress uniforms. Dozens of County Police officials, Fire Chiefs from neighboring jurisdictions and other dignitaries were on hand to celebrate the occasion. Graduation ceremonies included congratulatory comments and words of encouragement from Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones, Public Safety Director Vernon Herron and County Council Member Ingrid Turner. The evening’s keynote address was provided by James E. Brinkley, Director of the International Association of Fire Fighters Occupational Health and Safety Office. An Oath of Office was administered by Honorable Peggy McGee, Clerk of the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County, officially, elevating their status from Recruit up to Probationary.

Career Recruit School #41 Graduates

Christopher John Abbott
Michael Alan Boone, Jr.
Carl William Buchheister, III
Tervel Isaiah Butler
Dalantae Roland Marten Caldwell
Rita Leonor Delaroca
Karrie Diane DeMarr
Alicia Rene Finn
Kristofer Albert Fitze
Patrick Thomas Gallagher
Evan Robert Goodwin
Michael Wayne Higdon
Christopher Michael Hodges
Ezra Matthew Jackson
Joseph Robert Jones, III
Joseph Michael Kemp, Jr.
Brandy Lee Kreitzer
Allen Gregory Marcellas
Jeffrey Michael Mattingly
Christina Marie McNeill
Bradley David Miller
Matthew Lewis Morris
Kevin Lee Mueller, Jr.
Gregory Anthony Powell
David Persaud Ramdial
Ryan James Sekuterski
Johnathan Marcus Sims
Keith Robert Therres
Cameron Wallace Trexler
Matthew Joseph Waters
Kyle David Welch
Brett Randall Wilson
Brandon Kent Wright
Stephen Zamary

In addition to graduation certificates and taking the Oath of Office, several deserving recruits received awards for their achievement while at the Fire/EMS Training Academy.


The Physical Fitness Award is presented to individuals in each Career Recruit School that have demonstrated outstanding physical fitness levels and performances while attending Recruit School. Physical Fitness measurements incorporate aerobic capacity, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility and body mass index. Categories are male and female best overall physical fitness performance.

Best Overall for Male
Recruit Fire Fighter Joseph M. Kemp, Jr.

Best Overall for Female
Recruit Fire Fighter Karrie D. DeMarr


The Emergency Medical Technician Scholastic Achievement Award is presented to an individual who achieved the highest academic average on the emergency medical technician written examinations and practical evolutions.

Recruit Fire Fighter Christopher John J. Abbott


The Fire Suppression Scholastic Achievement Award is presented to an individual in each Career Recruit School who achieved the highest academic average on the fire suppression written examinations and practical evolutions.

Recruit Fire Fighter Christopher John J. Abbott


The Instructor’s Award is presented to an individual in each Career Recruit School who has shown the highest level of personal improvement, development, and dedication during the class. In short, we identify the recruit who has contributed significantly to the success of the class overall either by helping others or through self-improvement. The individual earning this award can be one with no previous experience in emergency services and progresses to an outstanding level of proficiency; or an experienced person who dedicates him or herself to assisting other class members be successful throughout Recruit School.

Recruit Fire Fighter Carl W. Buchheister, III


The Memorial Award is a very special recognition presented to an outstanding recruit from each Career Recruit School who has displayed that rarest combination of professionalism, courage, and "espirit de corps." Such traits serve to honor their fallen comrades, and uphold the highest traditions of the Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department.

Recruit Fire Fighter Jeffrey M. Mattingly


The Fire Chief's Award is the highest recognition for Career Recruit Schools. This award is bestowed on an individual in recognition of achievements that have made significant contributions to the graduating class. Selection criteria emphasize leadership, professional development, integrity, performance, and personal growth. This award is given to the recruit who best exemplifies the conduct required of the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department.

Recruit Fire Fighter Johnathan M. Sims

Auto Fire with Burn Injury and Disabled Commuter Train Incidents

Prince George’s County Firefighters and Paramedics responded on two significant incidents on the evening of Monday, June 21, 2010.

At about 5:30 pm, firefighters from Seat Pleasant responded to several 911 calls reporting an auto fire in the 7200 bock of G Street in Capitol Heights. Upon firefighters arrival they encountered an auto well involved with fire and found an occupant inside. The victim was removed and the fire was extinguished. Paramedics arrived and treated the unconscious adult male patient that suffered from severe thermal and smoke injuries. The critically injured 30ish year old patient was flown to a Burn Unit by way of meda-vac helicopter - Maryland State Police Trooper 2. Investigators from the Fire/EMS Departments Office of the Fire Marshal and the County Police Department are conducting a joint investigation into this incident.

At about 7:50 pm, a 911 call was received reporting a passenger on a disabled MARC Train,an adult female, was experiencing difficulty breathing. The 911 caller described their location as being on the third car of a commuter train on the MARC tracks prior to the Cheverly Station. Firefighters and paramedics arrived and encountered a stalled MARC commuter train with about 200 occupants on-board. For whatever reasons the train had become disabled. The air conditioning was not operating and passengers were subject to uncomfortable heat conditions. Initial crew’s ensured AMTRAK officials were aware of the situation and that they would be operating on the track bed. Taking all safety precautions firefighters and medics started to triage the passengers. Additional EMS resources were summoned to the scene and assisted with the triage, treatment and transport of sick individuals. As many as ten passengers were evaluated and treated on the scene for heat related illnesses. Three passengers required transportation to a hospital; a 50ish year old female and 30ish year old male suffering from heat related illnesses and a 30ish year old male suffering from an asthma attack were transported by paramedics to a nearby hospital. Firefighters and medics remained on the scene until commuter train officials had the passenger situation under control. Fire/EMS units cleared the scene at about 9:15 pm. A total of 22 Fire/EMS personnel on-board 1 engine company, 6 ambulances, 2 paramedic units, 1 EMS command officer and a fire incident commander operated on the scene.