MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
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A Prince George’s County Firefighter was injured this morning after falling through a hole in the floor while fighting a fire in Mitchellville. At about 6:30 am, Thursday, March 13, 2014, firefighters from the St. Josephs Fire/EMS Station along with 6 additional nearby stations and incident commanders were alerted to a building fire on the grounds of the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission property in the 2900 block of Enterprise Road. This sprawling complex is occupied by the Enterprise Golf Course, Newton White Mansion and the Maryland Park Police Mounted Unit.
Firefighters from St. Joes were the first to arrive and encountered a 1 ½ story building used as a storage facility and locker room for the Police Mounted Unit Officers with fire and smoke showing from the roof area. With the amount of fire and smoke coming from the relatively small structure, the engine officer, Fire Fighter/Medic Lieutenant Brian M. Gibson, instructed his crew to advance a hand line and start knocking the fire down from the safety of the exterior.
With the majority of the fire visible from the exterior knocked down, Fire Lt. Gibson requested permission to advance into the interior and asses conditions. Having received an acknowledgement from the incident commander, Lt Gibson proceeded inside by way of the front door. Only seconds after receiving an acknowledgement to proceed to the interior and just feet inside the front door Gibson fell through a hole created by the fire and fell into the basement.
In a controlled and calm voice, Gibson used his portable radio to announce a MAYDAY and provided the incident commander of his location, his unit number, name, air supply and resource’s needed. Gibson, remaining calm throughout the entire ordeal, asked for a rope to be dropped down to the basement and he repeated his location. Fellow firefighters immediately responded to his call for help.
There was no exterior door or access to the basement from the outside and finding a stairwell was not an immediate option. A ground ladder off one of the engines was used to drop down the same hole he fell through which provided Gibson a quick means of egress from the basement. Additional firefighters had arrived and continued an exterior extinguishment of the fire while the rescue was in progress.
Within an anxious few minutes Fire Lt. Gibson was rescued and being tended to by paramedics. Complaining of back pain he was transported to Prince George’s Trauma Center.
The fire was extinguished by the 30 firefighters on the scene within 45 minutes from the exterior of the structure. Hand lines and a master stream device from an extended tower ladder completed the extinguishment.
Fire Investigators are still working on the exact cause of the fire, however, they seemed to be focused on a propane heater in the basement. The area of origin is where the heater was hung from the ceiling in the basement. It appears the direct flame impingement from the heater on a metal grate and basement celling created the hole in which Gibson fell through. The fire extended through the first floor, and up into the attic area. The preliminary cause is listed as accidental; however, the investigation remains open. Fire loss is estimated at $25,000.
At the Trauma Center, Fire Lieutenant Gibson was found to have suffered a compression fracture in the T-7 thoracic vertebra of his back. He is currently resting comfortably at the hospital and is surrounded by family, co-workers, personnel from St. Joes Fire/EMS Station, friends and members of IAFF Local 1619.
Fire Fighter/Medic Lieutenant Brian M. Gibson is 39 years-of-age and has been a member of the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department for nearly 14 years.
All images courtesy of Mark E. Brady, PGFD PIO