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Monday, October 31, 2011

Radio Switchover Date Nears for PGFD

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

The Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department is very close to switching over to the County’s upgraded radio system. Over the past several months Fire/EMS apparatus have had the new radios installed and portable radios distributed to stations and support personnel. The Fire/EMS Department has been simulcasting over both the old and new frequencies during the transition period and this practice will cease at switchover. The Fire/EMS main dispatch channel will be the only channel that can be monitored on conventional scanners on VHF 155.685. The Department will soon join our public safety partners that have been operating on the new radio system for over a year. The total switchover to the 700 MHZ public safety communications radio system is anticipated to occur on November 7, 2011.

Monitoring of the 700 MHZ frequencies is capable only on a GRE PSR-800 scanner that is available at select retailers. Please keep in mind that this not an endorsement of this particular scanner, however, it is the only commercially available scanner capable of monitoring our new frequencies.

The 700 MHZ radio system and public safety communications are part of the County Office of Homeland Security. Prince George's County Public Safety Communications Center (PSC) is the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) for Prince Georges County. This means that all 911 calls in Prince Georges County are routed to the center for dispatching of proper emergency personnel. PSC consists of approximately 190 authorized personnel that are responsible for all aspects including call taking, dispatching, technical support, radio system, and personnel functions.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Berwyn Heights Resident Injured in House Fire

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

A Berwyn Heights resident is hospitalized after sustaining burn injuries during a fire inside of her house.  At about 4:45 pm, Sunday, October 30, Fire/EMS units from the Berwyn Heights and the College Park area were alerted to a house fire in the 8500 block of 58th Avenue.  Berwyn Heights firefighters arrived to find fire coming from the 1-story single family home and an adult female just exiting her home. Paramedics tended to the injured adult female as firefighters worked to extinguish the fire.  The adult female resident was transported by paramedics to a Burn Unit in fair condition.  It appears that she was the only person at home when the fire started.

There were about 35 firefighters and medics that required about 10 minutes to extinguish the fire.  Fire Investigators believe the fire started in the master bedroom located in the rear of the house.  The cause of the fire remains under investigation until Investigators have an opportunity to interview the resident, however, they believe the fire to be accidental.  Fire loss is estimated at $80,000 for the structure and contents.

Two dogs belonging to the resident were not found during searches of the house and remain unaccounted for.  Firefighters noted that smoke alarms were present in the home and sounding when they arrived.  Citizens and residents should ensure their smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working and provide a fresh battery in their alarms and test alarms monthly.  Prince George’s County residents can request a smoke alarm installed in their homes, free of charge, by contacting our Safety First smoke alarm hotline by calling 301-864-SAFE (7233).

Friday, October 28, 2011

Cold Weather Coming - Stay Warm Safely with Space Heaters

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

The Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department (PGFD) is joining the United States Fire Administration (USFA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to remind everyone that home fires are more prevalent in cold weather than in any other time of the year. This is due in part to an increase in cooking and heating fires. Holiday decorations and winter storms that can interrupt electrical service and cause people to turn to alternative heating sources also contribute to the increased risk of fire in winter.  This reminder involves the safe use of space heaters and general heating safety tips.

The USFA, NFPA and the PGFD want to remind everyone that fire safety and prevention are especially important during times of cold temperatures.  “Temperatures drop and fires increase,” said Prince George's County Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor.  According to NFPA statistics space heaters account for about one third of the home heating fires yet more than 80 percent of the home heating fire deaths. 

The Winter Residential Building Fires (PDF, 1Mb) report released by USFA in 2010, reports an estimated 108,400 winter residential building fires occur annually in the United States, resulting in an estimated average of 945 deaths, 3,825 injuries, and $1.7 billion in property loss.  

Cooking and heating are the top causes of fires during cold weather. 

“The winter season brings the highest number of home fires than any other time of year,” said Fire Chief Bashoor. “Each winter season, home fires increase in part due to cooking and heating fires. Fire safety and injury prevention must not be lost in an effort to stay warm. Stay warm and do so safely.” 

The men and women, career and volunteer, of the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department recommend the following safety tips for space heaters. 

Electric Space Heaters

• Buy only heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). 

• Check to make sure it has a thermostat control mechanism, and will switch off automatically if the heater falls over. 

• Heaters are not dryers or tables; don't dry clothes or store objects on top of your heater. 

• Space heaters need space; keep combustibles at least three feet away from each heater. 

• Always unplug your electric space heater when not in use. 

  Turn off at night or whenever you sleep.

General Heating Tips

  •      Furnaces, fireplaces and Chimneys should be cleaned and checked each year by an appropriate professional prior to using.
  •      Only use seasoned wood in fireplaces and never use ignitable liquids to start a fire.
  •     The 3-foot rule applies to furnaces and fireplaces.  No combustibles items within 3 feet of these heating appliances.
  •      Dispose of fireplace ash into a metal container and store outdoors away from structures on a concrete surface.  Fireplace ash can ignite a fire days after they have been discarded.

Finally, having a working smoke alarm dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. Remember to practice a home escape plan frequently with your family. Residents of Prince George’s County can contact our "Safety First" smoke alarm hotline at 301-864-SAFE (7233).  A firefighter will install a working smoke alarm in your home; free of charge. 

For additional information from the USFA and NFPA on Winter Fire Safety; click here.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Forestville Apartment Fire with Rescues and Great Job by Young 911 Caller

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
Copy of 911 Call is Available

Firefighters safely removed three occupants sheltered on their third floor balcony while a fire burned a floor below this afternoon in Forestville.

It was just before 2:00 pm, Thursday, October 27, when 12 year old Chyna Campbell thought she heard alarm bells ringing in the building behind hers. She looked out her balcony and saw people standing on the balcony of their top floor apartment in the building behind hers in obvious distress and screaming for help. The incident involved a 3-story garden style apartment building at 2718 Lorring Drive in the Doral Apartment complex. Chyna did what she had been taught to do by her parents while practicing what to do in an emergency. The young student from the Drew Freeman Middle School picked up the phone and called 911. She calmly described to the call taker what she was seeing and provided all the required information needed to dispatch firefighters and medics to the scene. Firefighters were alerted, based on the information provided by Chyna, that occupants were trapped on their balcony. Rosemary, Nneka Elemihe and her 2-year-old son Aidan retreated to the safety of the balcony after finding the enclosed stairwell charged with smoke and heat making their primary means of egress unusable.

After receiving as many details as possible about the fire, 911 call takers in turn gave instructions to Chyna about what to do and what to say to the trapped occupants and she did.  She yelled out that the fire department was on the way and for everyone to stay outside of the building.

Firefighters arrived quickly and immediately went to extinguish the fire and search for the occupants. The first arriving engine crew from Seat Pleasant advanced hose lines into the building and firefighters from District Heights ascended a grounder ladder to the third floor exterior balcony and assisted the occupants safely to the ground. There were 35 firefighters, paramedics and incident commanders on the scene of this incident.

A kitchen fire was located in an apartment on the second floor. The fire was knocked down in about 10 minutes and contained to the apartment of origin. The cause of the fire is unattended cooking and fire loss is estimated at $20,000. No injuries were reported. Two apartments will be displaced from damages. This includes a total of 8 adults and 3 children. The County Citizen Services Unit and the American Red Cross will be providing assistance to those displaced.

Copies of the 911 call made by Chyna Campbell are available by contacting Mark E. Brady at 240-508-7930.

The front side of 2718 Lorring Drive with ladders extended to third floor where firefighters assisted the occupants down to safety. (Mark Brady)

The occupants that were assisted off of the third floor balcony were Nneka Elemihe holding 2 year old son Aidan and her mother, Rosemary, in the background. (Mark Brady)

12 year old Chyna Campbell, standing behind rescued occupant Rosemary, made the 911 call and did an excellent job. (Mark Brady) 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Firefighter Performs Successful Heimlich Maneuver on Choking Firefighter

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

A member of the Forestville Volunteer Fire Department recognized right away she needed help when she was began choking on a piece of food. Being trained as an Emergency Medical Technician she recognized the food lodged in her throat was blocking her airway and she needed help and quickly.

The 42 year old female volunteer was setting up the banquet area for a funeral luncheon to be held later in the day, Wednesday, October 26, at the firehouse located in the 8300 block of Old Marlboro Pike in Forestville. After eating a piece of food, she felt it lodge in her throat and she made several attempts to cough. Her attempts were unsuccessful and she immediately sought help. She could not breath.

Firefighter/Medics had just returned from a call around 10:30 am and were in the firehouse kitchen when the female entered and displayed the universal sign for choking with her hands clutching her neck. The first firefighter she came in contact with was Fire Fighter/Medic Technician Sean Roth. He recognized the female was choking and instinctively moved behind her and applied an abdominal thrust, a Heimlich maneuver, which dislodged the obstruction. He evaluated the now breathing female and determined she was OK. She declined to be transported to the hospital and returned to her work in setting up the luncheon.

To learn the Heimlich maneuver, CPR and how to operate an external defibrillator call our CPR Hotline at 301-864-LIVE (5483).

View more videos at: http://nbcwashington.com.

Vehicle Damages Fast Food Restaurant

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

Vehicle travelled about 2 feet inside the structure.
(photo by:Joe Cardello)
At around 8:30 am, Wednesday, October 26, Firefighter/Medics from Berwyn Heights were alerted to a motor vehicle crash in the 6200 block of Greenbelt Road in Berwyn Heights.  Upon arrival Fire/EMS units found a single vehicle, for whatever reasons, had left the roadway driving into the parking lot of a fast food restaurant and penetrating the glass enclosure.  Fortunately no one was in the area at the time of the crash.  No one inside the store was injured, however, the senior citizen female driver was transported to a local hospital for evaluation.

No additional assistance from the Fire/EMS Department was required and a building inspector was summoned to the scene.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

PGFD in the Community

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

Prince George’s County career, volunteer firefighters, medics and EMT’s as well as civilian members of the Fire/EMS Department participated in several community events today.  Hundreds of positive contacts were made with members of communities across the County.  Fire Safety and injury prevention information and smoke alarms were distributed.

The Marlboro Fire/EMS Station #820 visited their local Home Depot Store on Route 301 for their fire prevention activities. 

Firefighters from District Heights and surrounding communities participated in the East Colony Square Townhomes Clean Up, Green Up and Community Day. 

The Hyattsville Volunteer Fire/EMS Department held an Open House and 5K run. 

Branchville Fire/EMS Station #811, College Park Fire/EMS Station #812, Fire/EMS Department Bomb Squad and Homeland Security’s Fire Safety House were at the College Park Day.

For additional information on the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Departments Community Outreach Programs call 301-883-5250.

Friday, October 21, 2011

PGFD and Lowe's Partner for Fire Safety

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

The Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department partnered with Lowe’s of Largo, Maryland, today to promote safety for local homeowners.  Firefighters/Medics and employees of the Lowe's Home Improvement store on Campus Way South teamed up to check smoke alarms, provide fire safety and information prevention material.  Lowe's also provided reflective mail box numbers for homeowners that will assist first responders with a quick and easy location of exact address.

Sixteen Fire/EMS Department personnel and Lowe's employees went door-to-door on Kettering Drive Friday morning providing this valuable life saving information to very grateful members of the community.  Lowe’s of Largo provided smoke alarms and address numbers at no cost. 

Fire Lieutenant Eric Hurt from the Department’s Facilities and Resource Planning office coordinated today’s event with Lowe’s.  He stated, “We are appreciative of our partnership with Lowe’s in providing the resources and staff to help us keep Safety First.”

Staff from Lowe’s of Largo included:
Jonathan Stern, Human Resources Manager  
Ted Sligh, Assistant Store Manager
Kwessi Annor, Department Manager  
Aaron Allen, Customer Service Associate
Isaac Holdbrook, Customer Service Associate
Earlene Mayo, Customer Service Associate
Shonta Holmes, Customer Service Associate

In addition to Fire Lieutenant Eric Hurt the following Fire/EMS Department personnel participated in the door-to-door campaign:

Tommy (TJ) James, 1st Battalion Chief
Gus Yates, Acting Fire Captain, Largo/Kettering Fire/EMS Station 846 
Josh Reedy, Firefighter/Medic Lieutenant, Station 846 
Jameson Scarlata, Fire Technician, Technical Services
Mathew Kershaw, Firefighter/Medic, Station 846  
Damien Reid, Firefighter/Medic, Station 846   
Andrew Mika, Firefighter/Medic, Station 846  
Robert Herbert, Firefighter/Medic, Station 846   

Prince George's County citizens and residents may request a smoke alarm installed in their home, free of charge, by contacting our Safety First Smoke Alarm number at 301-864-SAFE (7233) or on-line by clicking here.

On Sunday, November 6, 2011, Daylight Savings Time will end and Firefighters will be reminding citizens and residents that when they move their clocks back one hour that it is a good time to replace the batteries in their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.  "Change Your Clock - Change Your Battery"

All photos by Mark E. Brady, PGFD PIO

Fire Technician Scarlata leads a group of happy Lowe's employees to provide fire safety information.

PGFD and Lowe's team up with Darrell Parker at his home on Kettering Drive.

PGFD and Lowe's team up with Ms. Dorothy Ford on Kettering Drive.

PGFD and Lowe's team up on Mr. Baskerville with fire safety info, a smoke alarm and address labels.

Jonathan Stern, Lowe's HR Manager, and Fire Lt. Hurt discuss fire safety with Mr. Ernest Baskerville at his home in the 400 block of Kettering Drive.

PGFD and Lowes greet Mr. McDowell of the 200 block of Kettering Drive with fire safety info, a smoke alarm and address labels that he quickly applied to his mailbox.

Mr. Irzeal McDowell wasted no time in applying his address labels to his mailbox.

Mr. Irzeal McDowell wasted no time in applying his address labels to his mailbox.

Lowes and PGFD team up on a Kettering resident with fire safety info, smoke alarm and address numbers for their mailbox.

Colin Campbell of the 400 block of Kettering Court receives fire safety information from Lowe's Customer Services Assistant Aaron Allen and Fire Lt. Eric Hurt.

Fire Lt. Eric Hurt successfully sounds a smoke alarm during a test. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Departmental Crash with Minor Injuries

Photo of E848 on scene, Photo courtesy of PGFD Staff

Media Contact: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930

Engine 848, West Lanham Hills Fire/EMS Station/Good Luck Road, had just cleared an incident and were returning to quarters when they were involved in a crash with a civilian vehicle at about 8:00 am today.
According to witness's and department resources, as E848 was traveling on Annapolis Road at the intersection of 85th Avenue in Lanham, a civilian vehicle entered the roadway and made contact with the front bumper of the engine. E848 was able to come to a stop, however, the civilian vehicle continued to travel through the intersection and made contact with two other civilian vehicles. Damage to E848 involves the front right hand side bumper and appears to be minimal.

Two civilians were transported by an ambulance to a local hospital with minor injuries. One firefighter was also taken to the hospital for evaluation of a possible injury. All other civilian and firefighters were evaluated but did not require hospitalization.

The Prince George's County Police Department is investigating the crash. As is standard operating procedures with incidents such as this, the driver of E848 will undergo post crash testing and analysis.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fort Washington House Fire

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

A Fort Washington family will be displaced after a fire damaged their home this afternoon. Just after 12:30 pm, Tuesday, October 18, 2011, Prince George’s County Firefighters were alerted to a house fire in the 12200 block of Fort Washington Road. Firefighters arrived quickly and encountered a 2-story single family home with heavy fire coming from an attached garage. The fire eventually extended into the home itself before firefighters were able to extinguish it. Nearly 40 firefighters and medics worked for 20 minutes to extinguish the fire. The fire also damaged a vehicle and a boat that were being stored outside of the garage.

Fire Investigators continue to investigate the cause and origin of the fire which caused a preliminary fire loss estimate of $100,000. A family of 2 adults and 1 child will be displaced and are being assisted by the County Citizen Services Unit. No injuries have been reported.

The fire also damaged a vehicle and a boat that were being stored outside of the garage

Fire Investigators continue to investigate the cause and origin of the fire which caused a preliminary fire loss estimate of $100,000

PGFD CARES at work racking hose

Monday, October 17, 2011

"PGFD CARES" Breast Cancer Awareness - Group Raises $10,000 in Donations

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

The Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department (PGFD) has joined with others across the Country in raising the awareness of breast cancer. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and we will help to highlight that one in eight women will develop breast cancer and every three minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. Breast cancer, not only effects women, but a percentage of men as well. Approximately 1,600 men will become breast cancer victims with about 400 diagnoses resulting in death. Though much research and strides have been made to cure the disease, much more research is needed to aid in the education and prevention to help save lives from this type of cancer.

This year the Fire/EMS Department will participate in the nationwide campaign for breast cancer awareness with members having the option of donning pink shirts starting on Sunday, October 16, 2011 through the end of the month. Prince George's County Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor stated, "The color “pink” has become symbolic of breast cancer awareness. I am authorizing the change in work uniforms during this time to help with awareness efforts."

“Prince George’s County is united in our fight against breast cancer, which impacts so many of our neighbors, family members, and friends,” said County Executive Rushern L. Baker. “It is important that we take this time to increase awareness of the effect that this disease has on our community, as well as the importance of finding and beating cancer early while encouraging our residents to get proper screenings.”

A member of our Department has designed T-shirts that reflect our advocacy for breast cancer awareness. The shirts display a symbol of care and compassion for those affected while demonstrating a level of professionalism to be seen by a member of the community.

Chief Bashoor stated, "If not you, we all know someone who has been affected by breast cancer. This is an opportunity for us to show our support and I know that the men and women of this Department will do their part to support this worthy cause."

This initiative, “PGFD CARES,” was organized by a handful of Prince George’s County Firefighter/Medics to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research.  The effort has exceeded all expectations and today is just the second day.  Organizers for PGFD CARES had set a goal of selling 200 shirts to other members of the Fire/EMS Department.  Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor granted an exception to the uniform policy and starting October 16, 2011, Firefighter/Medics had the option of wearing the specially designed pink t-shirt in lieu of their regular work uniform shirt for the week.  The response to participate in the program was overwhelming with nearly 1200 T-shirts sold as of today.  The response has been so overwhelming that Chief Bashoor extended his uniform policy exception until the end of the month. 

The funds raised from the purchase of the PGFD Pink T-shirts have generated an amazing $10,000.  These funds will be donated to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.  A group of PGFD Firefighter/Medics will be participating in the Susan G. Walk for the Cure Walk on October 23, 2011. Fire Fighter/Medic Stephanie Buffum lost her mother to breast cancer, her mother was 38yrs old. This group will be walking for and honoring Anna C. Chafin; Buffum's mother.  The PGFD CARES TEAM will wear the PINK PGFD T’s during the walk.  Anyone interested is welcome to join the PGFD CARES Team.  

Fire Fighter/Medic Stephanie Buffum has documented some very personal thoughts about her mother to raise awareness that the devastation goes beyond the cancer itself.  I would like to thank Stephanie for sharing these thoughts and to her husband, Michael, to alerting us of this posting found on FACEBOOK.

As my fellow PGFD comrades wear their pink shirts this month, I can only hope that we all will reflect as to WHY we support breast cancer awareness.  There are a select few that have been directly affected by this "beast" (as it was called in my household).  Wearing pink is more than just breast cancer alone.  It’s the devastating mark it leaves on a family.  It’s the financial, physical and emotional burden it leaves on not only the patient but also their loved ones.  Its organizations like the Red Devils that help families with some of the trivial things you and I may take for granted like house cleaning, transportation to and from appointments and preparing family meals ... just to name a few.  Susan G. Komen, American Cancer Society and Avon have been great as well to spread the word and fight this terrible disease.

September and October are difficult months for me.   September being when I lost my mom to breast cancer and October is just a month of reminders of what she went through. I am only hoping that my story, will help you all put a name and a more concrete reason of WHY we support breast cancer awareness.

My mom was diagnosed at age 38 (I was 6).  One of those days that I can still see and hear so vividly.  My mom had a mastectomy where cancerous nodes were mistakenly left behind.  (Grrrrrrr!!!)  She did chemo and was coming up to her magic 5 year mark when cancer made its way to the other breast.... another mastectomy and chemo.  We were once again close to the magic 5 year mark when we discovered that "the beast" had moved everywhere, lungs, bone and in the end it was in her liver.  She died in 1993, a young mother and wife, an assistant cheerleading coach, friend and a notable name in the community.  She fought this battle with such grace and also working as she could.  She told one doctor along the way that a "Mack truck would take her out before cancer".  Back then, it embarrassed me when she would say that ... now, I am simply amazed!!!

My mom Anna was a non-smoker, didn't drink (with the exception of her beloved Bahama Mama's - in moderation).  She was not to overweight and ate fairly well.  She was active and overall no health concerns prior to this.  No breast cancer history in the family.  Her dad did have a history of colon cancer, diagnosed in 1993 at age 92? and actually dying 3 days before my mom. 

I can say as a family member, this was more than just difficult.  It was the occasional living hell.  Chemo was brutal when she was getting it; she was bald and extremely sick.  She went through multiple admissions at Bethesda Naval Hospital when she became neutropenic, dehydrated etc. My dad continued to work - to pay the bills.  I would care for my mom as needed.  In my senior year of HS, I did work release (half days) both to work a few hours a week and to come home and be the primary care giver for her.  I had to grow up very quick, I didn't go out or to parties and I lost a lot of my childhood.  And lets face it ... kids can be cruel.  I look back and can't believe some of the things said to me about my mother. 

I write this not for any sympathy, but to raise awareness that the devastation goes beyond the cancer itself.  I was very fortunate to have my BFF Jen, Karen, Misty and Rachel (and their families) in my life.  I would spend many a weekend with them.  They would make sure I had rides to cheerleading practice and sometimes to school.  Good peoples.  I (recently) have received criticism and some labeling of who I am and who I have become and I can tell you ... I challenge everyone to walk a few steps in my shoes and see how you turn out.  I know my parents would be very proud of the Woman, Mother, Wife, Friend, FF, Paramedic and RN that I have become.  I gained my strength and stubbornness from my mother honestly and I am so proud to be like her.  I am also very grateful for my husband who continues to keep my mom and dads memory alive.  He is sporting an awesome pink bracelet this month with my moms name on it.... along with his pink T-shirt.

Even after my moms death, she continued her cancer crusade.  In her last 6 months, she did studies with NIH with test chemo.  Some of the chemo she trialed with has proved to be successful in the fight against ovarian cancer and are in use today :-)

So why will you be wearing PINK this month???

I wear pink for my mom Anna Chafin, Carol Shields, Tanya Grace and Tammy Rigoli.