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Friday, July 13, 2012

Fire/EMS Department Safety and Staffing Enhancements

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930, mebrady@co.pg.md.us

The Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department has made and is preparing to make several enhancements to improve service delivery to the citizens, businesses and visitors and improve the safety and health of our membership.  These enhancements are in part a result of an agreement between Prince George’s County and the Firefighters and Paramedics Association, International Association of Firefighters Local 1619.  “The increased staffing and additional emergency medical services will improve response times, provide a wider coverage area of advanced life support services and reduce stress placed on our busiest Fire/EMS Stations,” said Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor.  “I applaud Local 1619 leadership for working with myself and the County in reaching this agreement,” concluded Bashoor.

One of the enhancements is the addition of four dedicated career Safety Officers.  These Safety Officers will be assigned to each of the four shifts and assist incident commanders on operational matters.  Additionally, they will provide a resource to assist members with training and when an injury or illness occurs while on duty.  The four career safety officers have been selected and have gone through additional training and an orientation period and are assigned and working on their respective shifts.  The career safety officers will join an already established and on-going safety program operated by a career Battalion Chief and volunteer members who have successfully met the criteria and training requirements to be a safety officer.  Volunteer Safety Officers are selected by the Fire Chief.  “The career safety officers will work along with the successful on-going volunteer safety officer program,” said Fire Chief Bashoor.  “The experienced eyes and ears of career and volunteer safety officers on incident scenes serve to improve overall safety of our personnel.”

Another enhancement will place additional EMS units in service and up staff fire apparatus.  These changes will improve EMS response times to areas that have the highest demand for service and place additional advanced life support (ALS) paramedics on the street.  Additional EMS units, with dedicated staffing, are being placed in service in areas, or adjacent areas, where the call volume exceeds a 4,150 incident threshold.  Currently the District Heights, Suitland and Oxon Hill areas meet the criteria.

The up staffing enhancement will ensure that fire apparatus in some stations will have dedicated staffing of four personnel. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) conducted a 2010 study on staffing levels that showed that the size of firefighting crews has a substantial effect on the fire service's ability to protect lives and property in residential fires.  Performed by a broad coalition in the scientific, firefighting and public-safety communities, the study found that four-person firefighting crews were able to complete 22 essential firefighting and rescue tasks in a typical residential structure 30 percent faster than two-person crews and 25 percent faster than three-person crews.  Fire Chief Bashoor commented, “The addition of a dedicated fourth firefighter on-board fire apparatus has been proven to improve safety, accountability and overall fire service delivery.  It is my intention to continue in this direction to ensure everyone goes home after every call.”

The following is a breakdown of Fire/EMS Stations receiving additional staffing and new EMS units.  These changes will go in service on Sunday, July 15, at 7:00 am.

The Silver Hill Fire/EMS Station #829 will receive an additional 3 personnel per shift and will operate the following Fire/EMS units:

Engine/Truck – 4 personnel
Ambulance 829 – 2 personnel
Paramedic Unit 829 – 2 personnel
Paramedic Ambulance 829 (new unit) – 2 personnel

The District Heights Fire/EMS Station #826 will also receive an additional 3 personnel per shift and operate with the following Fire/EMS units:

Engine/Truck 826 – 4 personnel
Ambulance 826 – 2 personnel
Ambulance 826B (new unit) – 2 personnel
Paramedic Unit 826 – 2 personnel

St Josephs Fire/EMS Station #806 in addition to providing Fire/EMS services also provides the staffing and resources for technical rescues (high-angle, trench, confined space, water rescue, etc) will receive an increase of 3 personnel per shift. The St. Joseph Fire/EMS Station will operate with the following Fire/EMS units:

Engine/Squad/Technical Rescue – 4 personnel
Ambulance 806 – 2 personnel
Paramedic Ambulance (new unit) – 2 personnel

The Chillum-Adelphi Fire/EMS Station 834 will have 1 additional personnel assigned to day work, 7:00 am to 3:00 pm.  The addition will enable the Engine/Truck and Ambulance to each respond with full staffing during these hours.  Station #834 has a strong volunteer membership that provides additional staffing during the evenings, weekends and holidays.

“Overall, these additions provide improved Fire/EMS service delivery as well as improving the safety of all of our career and volunteer members,” stated Chief Bashoor. 

The Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department responded to nearly 130,000 calls for service in 2011.  FIREHOUSE MAGAZINE ranked the Department as the 13th busiest Department in the Country based on a recent survey.  Based on the survey, the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department is the largest and busiest combined; career, civilian and volunteer, Department in the Country.

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