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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Serial Arsonist Pleads Guilty to 3 Counts of 1st Degree Arson

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

         A 'serial arsonist' arrested in the District of Columbia in July has reached a plea agreement for his crimes committed in Prince George's County.  Maurice T. Dews plead guilty and received 25 years in prison for his crimes of Arson committed in the District of Columbia earlier this month.  Today, he faced charges for 3 counts of First Degree Arson in Prince George's County.  He plead guilty and received 15 years to be served concurrently with his jail term he is serving in the District of Columbia.

         On March 21, 2012, Fire Investigators from the Office of the Fire Marshal for Prince George’s County received custody of Dews from the District of Columbia Jail.  The temporary release was under court order from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.  Dews was transported with assistance from the Metropolitan Police Department and the District of Columbia Fire Investigations Office to Circuit Court in Prince George’s County, Maryland.  The purpose of the temporary release was to allow Dews to appear in court in Prince George’s County in regards to three first degree arson charges.  Upon completion of his court appearance, Dews was returned to the District of Columbia Jail without incident.

          During his court appearance, Dews plead guilty to three counts of first degree arson.  For each count he received a five year sentence to be served consecutively (as related to the charges within Prince George’s County).  This plea was part of a joint plea agreement for cases within the District of Columbia and Prince George’s County.  Dews will receive a total sentence of 25 years imprisonment and five years supervised release for both cases, including a 25 year sentence in the District of Columbia and a 15 year sentence in Maryland, which will run concurrently.  The locations of the three arsons within Prince George’s County are as follows:

•           7640 Allendale Circle (5/1/07)
•           3970 Warner Avenue (12/31/10)
•           3974 Warner Avenue (5/2/11)

As part of Dews’ plea arrangement, he admitted involvement in an additional ten incidents involving arson within Prince George’s County to include a dumpster fire, fires in vacant houses, and several small fires within structures.

Prince George's County State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks stated, "Today we removed a criminal from our streets that had no regard for the lives or property of our citizens,” Alsobrooks said.  “While the properties he set fire to were unoccupied, his disregard for the people in surrounding structures and the fire fighters who must extinguish the flames is reprehensible and I am pleased that he will be off our streets for a long time.”

Through the course of investigation it was determined that Dews applied for membership as a volunteer firefighter for Prince George’s County, Maryland.  His most recent application was denied due to a suspended license.

To reach this conclusion, the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department’s Office of the Fire Marshal participated in a joint investigation with the District of Columbia Fire Department’s Fire Investigation Unit, the Metropolitan Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms & Explosives (ATF)’s Washington Field Office (WFO) and Baltimore Field Office (BFO) and the Prince George’s County Police Department.  Additionally the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia prosecuted this case.

"We have an experienced and extremely talented group of Fire Investigators that have been involved in several serial arson investigations ending with an arrest and successful prosecution", stated Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor.  "I am proud of the work of our Fire Investigators and allied agencies."

Maryland 'Move Over' Law Awareness

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, PGFD Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
Elena Russo, Maryland State Police Media Communications, 410-653-4236

Public Safety leaders are reminding our citizens and visitors about the importance of the Maryland’s ‘move over’ law.  Gathered at the Maryland State Police Barracks in College Park on Wednesday afternoon were State Police Superintendent Marcus L. Brown, Prince George’s County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor, County Police Major Rob Brewer and M. Kent Krabbe; Executive Director of the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund.

Prince George's County Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor 
 “As our highways grow more congested and driver inattentiveness grows due to the advent of handheld communication and information technologies, our concern for responder and worker safety at traffic incidents has never been greater," said Fire Chief Marc Bashoor.  “While secondary incidents involving workers can take many forms, they often occur when our emergency personnel are struck by inattentive or distracted drivers, while we are working at a roadway scene.”

The intent of Maryland’s ‘move over’ law is to provide an extra barrier of safety for firefighters, paramedics and police officers working along the highway.  Drivers approaching from the rear of an emergency vehicle using visual signals while stopped on a highway should, if possible, “make a lane change into an available lane not immediately adjacent to the emergency vehicle.  This movement should only be done if another lane in the same direction is available and the move can be made safely without impeding other traffic.  If moving to another lane away from the stopped emergency vehicle is not possible, the law requires drivers to ‘slow to a reasonable and prudent speed that is safe for existing weather, road, and vehicular or pedestrian traffic conditions.”

Violation of the "move over" law is a primary offense with a fine of $110 and one point.

Fire Chief Bashoor commented on statistics by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) study.  He stated, “Contained in this report in 2005, 390 workers were killed in ‘struck-by’ incidents, up 40% from 2004, and up 15% from the annual average from 2000-2004.  By 2005, ‘struck-by’ incidents accounted for an alarming 7 percent of all fatal occupational injuries in America.”

Any opportunity that the Public Safety leaders standing before you have to enhance the safety of our personnel operating on incident scenes is a high priority for all of us.  The Prince George’s County Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department is proud to join with our emergency service partners in this initiative. 

In conclusion, Chief Bashoor emphasized, “Any time you see an emergency vehicle stopped in the roadway with lights flashing; SLOW DOWN, MOVE OVER, and ABOVE ALL, STAY ALERT! The single most important thing you can do to protect yourself and others is to pay attention behind the wheel. Help us avoid yet another needless tragedy – slow down, move over, stay alert.”

Fire Chief Marc Bashoor MAIF Exec. Dir. M. Kent Krabbe, State Police Superintendent Marcus Brown
and County Police Major Rob Brewer

Fire Chief Bashoor stated, "We are at the point that we feel that we have done everything we can do to protect all of our workers, yet more and more emergency personnel are being injured or killed on emergency scenes each year. We urge travelers to obey the law – slow down and move over any time they see construction or emergency traffic ahead.  Help us protect you and us – help us lower the statistics by respecting everyone’s safety and practicing good driving judgment."

Fire/EMS Department personnel including our four Deputy Fire Chiefs, two Assistant Chiefs and a Battalion Chief

A Worker in a High Place Assited by Firefighters

At around 9:00 am, Wednesday, March 21, Prince George’s County Firefighters were alerted to assist a contract worker that was left in a heightened position after his equipment suffered a mechanical malfunction.  Contractors working along the tree lined driveway of the Glenn Dale Fire/EMS Station #818 at 11900 Glenn Dale Boulevard had one of their elevated work  platforms breakdown leaving a worker elevated about 20 feet in the air.  The worker was not injured and was safe inside his elevated bucket.  Attempts to fix the mechanical problem were unsuccessful and the Tower Ladder Truck from Bowie Fire/EMS Station #839 was brought to the scene.  Tower 839 has a “bucket” which can be elevated and is the preferred unit to effect this type of rescue.  Taking all safety precautions into account, a firefighter ascended in the bucket of the Tower 839 up to the worker and assisted him to safety.  No injuries were involved and everybody was fine.  Just another incident in the day of a  firefighter.

Mark E. Brady