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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

National Media Tap PGFD for Information and Resources

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

The Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department recently played a role in media productions, which will air around the country. It is not uncommon for production companies to contact our Department, seeking assistance with their projects. While their reasons vary, always included is that we are a “media-friendly” department with a diverse roster of personnel, equipment, resources, and incidents.

Over the past several weeks we have worked with nationally-recognized media outlets on two separate projects. A popular cable company is producing a two-hour special that will air in summer 2011. The show will demonstrate how various gadgets have changed our way of life. The Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department was selected to participate in the segment that features smoke alarms and how they have changed since their inception. Acting Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor provided the main commentary, and firefighters from St. Joseph Community Fire/EMS Station brought along the production crew on a neighborhood smoke alarm check.

In May 2009, an explosion destroyed stores and injured several firefighters operating on the scene of a natural gas leak at the Penn Mar Shopping Center in Forestville. A national media outlet interviewed two personnel involved in that incident and will document the Penn Mar incident during a broadcast of this popular show. On Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011, Acting Major Kenneth McSwain and Acting Battalion Chief Grady Valencis were interviewed about their role on the incident. This show will air sometime during spring/summer 2011.

Additional information about the broadcast dates for these two shows will be available when more definitive dates and times are known.

In December 2010, a production crew from The Battalion TV visited Prince George’s County and resided with firefighters for a week. They bunked and rode with Branchville Fire/EMS Station 811 and District Heights Fire/EMS Station 826. This web-based series documents activities they encountered during their stay. There will be a minimum of five episodes involving Prince George’s County that will be posted over the next several weeks. The first production has been posted and can be seen by clicking here or visiting http://www.thebattalion.tv/ .

Information about the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department can be located at:

http://www.pgfireems.com/ - county web site
http://www.pgfdnews.com/ - news blog
Facebook Page

Acting Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor provided the main commentary to a production crew of a popular cable channel. (BRADY)

Firefighters from St. Joseph Community Fire/EMS Station brought along the production crew on a neighborhood smoke alarm check. (BRADY)

Acting Battalion Chief Grady Valencis conducts interview about the Penn Mar explosion to a production crew from a major TV network. (BRADY)
Acting Major Kenneth McSwain conducts an interview at District Heights Fire/EMS Station 826 about the Penn Mar explosion with a production crew from a major TV network. (BRADY)



Haz-Mat Team Mitigates Chemical Leak

At about 12:15 am, Tuesday, February 8, 2011, Prince George’s County Firefighters, Paramedics and the Hazardous Materials Team were alerted to a chemical leak. A pipe leading to/from a 100 gallon container of ANHYDROUS AMMONIA had developed a leak. One hundred employees of the Smithfield Packing Company warehouse at 5801 Columbia Park Road in Cheverly were evacuated during this incident.

Upon arrival of the haz-mat team it was determined that they were dealing with a leak of anhydrous ammonia from a pipe. There was about 100 gallons of the product remaining in the storage tank and atmospheric monitoring and testing equipment indicated that the building’s interior had high levels of the product at 100 parts per million (ppm).

Anhydrous ammonia is widely used in industrial refrigeration applications and is a colorless, highly irritating gas with a sharp, suffocating odor. People will notice the pungent odor at levels ranging from 5 – 50 parts per million (ppm). Irritating effects generally begin at levels between 25-50 ppm. More serious effects generally will not occur until levels are greater than 100 ppm. Exposure to the product include symptoms such as burning of the eyes, nose, and throat after breathing even small amounts. With higher doses, coughing or choking may occur. Exposure to high levels of anhydrous ammonia can cause death from a swollen throat or from chemical burns to the lungs. Immediate first aid includes providing fresh air, oxygen and flushing with water.

There were 70 emergency personnel on the scene that included 25 members of the Department’s Hazardous Material Team. It required four hours to mitigate the situation and at 4:25 am the building was turned back over to building management.

There were no civilian or personnel injured during this incident.