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Friday, August 26, 2011

Fire/EMS Department Prepares for Irene

The Fire/EMS Department Command Staff met with their counterparts from other County agencies in a planning meeting to discuss preparations for the arrival and recovery from Hurricane Irene.  The meeting was held at the Cranford-Graves Fire Services Building in Landover Hills with coordination by the Office of Homeland Security Director Brian Moe and Public Safety Director Barry Stanton as agencies discussed their action plans.  The Office of Homeland Security will take the lead in the activation of the County Emergency Operations Center throughout the weekend.  Prince George's County is currently under a Tropical Storm Warning and a Flash Flood Watch.

After the planning meeting concluded, Fire Chief Marc Bashoor conducted a 4:00 pm conference call to discuss preliminary information about the Departments action plan.  Key points from both meetings are detailed below.

All non-essential Fire/EMS Department activities for Saturday and Sunday August 27 & 28 are hereby canceled.  All Volunteer Departments are urged to similarly cancel any non-essential activities – including securing all outside materials or equipment and taking down of all temporary structures/tents/etc…


Clearly, our largest threats from Hurricane Irene will be sustained winds and heavy rain (current forecast for 2” to 6” of rain or more), along with the resulting impacts.  Colonel Barksdale and staff are currently working on the Incident Action Plan, which will be available electronically when complete.  All planning with respect to resource allocations, reassignments, and/or staffing must ultimately be funneled to the Planning Section for inclusion in the IAP

There will be various centers in place to deal with this emergency - the terminology can be confusing so here is the explanation:

County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) - Set-up by the County Office of Homeland Security, Office of Emergency Management, in the multi-purpose room at the Fire Services Building at 1200 Noon on Saturday.  The EOC will operate with an Emergency Support Function (ESF) setup, with Fire/EMS staffing the ESF 4/8 table.  The ESF 4/8 desk phone number will be transmitted when available, however this will not be a public contact number.

Department Operations Center (DOC) - Will be set-up in the training room of the FSB beginning 0700 on Saturday.  This will operate under a 12-hour operational period, under an ICS format, with Command and the Operations and Planning Sections activated initially.  Contact numbers will be provided when available, however these will not be  public contact numbers

Fire/EMS Department Call Center (FECC) – Normal day-to-day FD Operations Center at the Fire Services Building, with public contact at 301-583-2200.

Please be sure to reference the appropriate term and numbers when relaying information, etc.


All members are reminded to take care of themselves and their family/neighbor needs now so that they may be available if needed.  Please prepare yourself for extended working operational periods if necessary (i.e. - food, drink, flashlights, change of clothes, phone chargers, rain gear, etc.)


We are working with PSCC to develop a plan in the event of any type of radio failure.  Field and office personnel should keep in contact with their supervisors to ensure a continuity of contact and operations.  The DOC will ensure a FD Command officer coordinates activities from the PSCC,  once call volumes increase significantly – you should anticipate reduced assignments and potential lengthy response times depending on conditions.  The problems with Channel 3 from the past couple weeks has been repaired.  We will also be incorporating the International Association of Fire Chiefs recommendations for hurricane response into our IAP, which includes but is not limited to, cessation of response activity when there are sustained winds over 50 m.p.h.  Field commanders can make that unilateral decisions based on conditions on the ground, however an area or system-wide decision will only be made by the DOC.


The Department is working with the  Volunteer Association and the Volunteer Majors to coordinate volunteer staffing and assets.  We will be up-staffing several units/stations, not exclusively – but primarily in the areas of Technical Rescue and Swift Water Rescue.  The Technical Rescue Companies will most likely be pulled from standard EOC responses at the height of the anticipated events.

Fire Chief Bashoor leads a 4:00 pm conference call with the Departments Command Staff on
preliminary preparation plans for Hurricane Irene.