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Friday, December 2, 2011

New Smoke Alarm Initiative Starts this Weekend - "Safety First, for the Holidays"

Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor
Prince George's County Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor has tasked all personnel with performing additional community outreach efforts during the month of December.  This action comes on the heels of a tragic fire that claimed three lives in Lewisdale last weekend.  Bashoor's direction includes each Fire/EMS Station spending at least 2 hours on Saturdays and Mondays during the month of December going door-to-door in their communities.  Additionally, Fire/EMS crews, as they clear incidents, will go immediately to neighbors homes with a primary objective to ensure everyone has a working smoke alarm.  Firefighters will be providing free smoke alarms and fire safety information to as many homes as possible.  Chief Bashoor has tagged this effort, "Safety First, for the Holidays." 

If any citizens or resident has questions about the validity of someone knocking on your door, please be aware, all firefighter/medics have been instructed to wear a Fire/EMS Department uniform and carry Departmental and personal ID with them.  Concerned residents may call our 24-hour operations center at 301-583-2200 with any questions.

Attached are portions of  the memo that Fire Chief Bashoor has sent to all career, civilian and volunteer personnel in the Department detailing the plans for "Safety First - for the Holidays.".

As many of you already know, a tragic residential fire on Griffen Street in Lewisdale recently resulted in three civilian fatalities. While the operations, rescue, treatment and transport phases of this incident were all performed admirably, the absence of one simple working smoke alarm that could have protected the residents of this house should be extremely frustrating and disconcerting to all of us (firefighters).

On the day of the fire, a Post Incident Neighborhood Intervention Program (PINIP) (smoke alarm check) was carried out with an initial concentration in the community of Lewisdale. The following day, a broader county-wide effort was conducted. After these campaigns were completed and statistics were compiled, we were alarmed to discover that an amazing 25% of the homes we visited did not have a working smoke alarm. We all know the value of a working smoke alarm and we need to do everything possible to ensure every home in our County is afforded that protection. This deficiency strikes at the very core of our mission and we should all feel that this is unacceptable.

That is why I am asking all career, civilian and volunteer members of the Department to incorporate just a few simple and quick tasks into our day-to-day non-emergency activities whenever we interface with the public. In concert with our on-going Proactive Residential Information Distribution Effort (PRIDE), Safety First Program and PINIP campaigns, we will be adding a new multi-faceted program for the month of December. This new initiative is called “Safety First, for the Holidays”, and includes the following:

• Upon clearing every call between the hours of 0900 and 2000, personnel on suppression units are to offer and perform a smoke alarm check on the residence of the call, as well as in the homes to either immediate side and across the street or hallway from the incident location. To prepare, a small quantity of smoke alarms and fire safety literature should be stocked on each unit. On ambulance calls, when time and situation permits, the crew shall offer to check the smoke alarm. Considering the nature of emergency operations, we ask all personnel to exercise situational awareness and good common sense when extending this offer.

• In addition to your contacts during emergency calls, on each Saturday and Monday through the month of December, every work site shall conduct a 2-hour neighborhood canvass (Understanding call volumes, this may be accomplished either through one two-hour block, or any reasonable combination of logged activities totaling two hours of effort). This involves going door-to-door in your community, equipped with a supply of smoke alarms, batteries and fire safety literature, knocking on doors to discuss basic fire safety tips, seasonal safety messaging, home escape planning, offer home safety checks and ensure that all homes we visit have a working smoke alarm.

All personnel are asked to present a professional appearance by wearing turnout gear, a uniform or clothing with identifying patches when conducting these intervention activities. All personnel should also remember to carry Fire/EMS Department and personal identification credentials on their person and be prepared and willing to present these credentials if requested by any resident or homeowner.

To help jumpstart this effort, I will join Bowie, Company 839, on Saturday, December 3, 2011, for their first two-hour neighborhood canvass beginning at 1600 hours. Anyone wishing to participate is invited to meet us in the Bowie High School parking lot just before 1600. Furthermore, the entire Command Staff (both sworn and civilian) will be joining me in partnering with our stations throughout the County during the remainder of December to assist you in conducting your scheduled campaigns. Collectively we will make a difference in the lives of our citizens and visitors through our community outreach. We know that working smoke alarms save lives, our job now is to raise the awareness within our communities to keep everyone safe and free from needless tragedies.

Any Prince George's citizens and residents need not wait for a firefighter to knock on your door and provide you a smoke alarm.  Simply call 301-864-SAFE (7233) and someone will come to your home and install a working smoke alarm, free of charge.

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