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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Safety First Day of the Month - May - A Message from Fire Chief Bashoor

The first day of the month of May has arrived.  While May 1 has many different intentions for people, it is the day we ask you to simply test your smoke and CO alarms to ensure they are working.  Push the test button on the face of each alarm.  You should hear an audible beeping sound.  This indicates your alarm is good until next months test.  If there is no audible warning, provide fresh batteries, or consider replacing your alarm with a new 10-year, tamper proof, with hush feature smoke and/or CO Alarm.

This month we are including a message from Marc S. Bashoor, Fire Chief, Prince George's County.

In the past year there have been significant enhancements in both the State and County Fire codes, which will soon mean new things for Prince George's County residents.

Effective July 1, 2014 Carbon Monoxide detectors will become a new requirement for Prince George's County residents who have gas service or attached garages.  

In the past 3 years at least 6 residents of the Prince George's County have lost their lives to carbon monoxide poisoning.  This legislation gives our residents 1 more chance to get out of their homes alive in times of danger.

The other important legislative effort on the horizon will require smoke alarms with sealed 10-year lithium batteries.  This law takes full effect in January 1, 2015 for 1 nd 2 family residential homes.  These units will provide a significant enhancement in alarm reliability that will undoubtedly save lives.

Our Safety First Day of the month program meets public information tips and firefighters with County residents in an electronic and door-to-door foot campaign.  We provide fire safety tips and check for working smoke alarms.  That efforts combined with our Neighbors-Helping-Neighbors program have shown dramatic results in our residents’ safety.  We recognize as a fire service, we cannot do this alone.  At every community event, homeowners association meeting, and at any other event we can - including today, we ask out residents to check their own smoke alarm, and then go next door and check their neighbors and those less able to help themselves.

The Safety First Day of the month and Neighbors Helping Neighbors programs are being credited today with lowering our residents fire deaths to record lows, with only 1 fire death recorded so far this year in Prince George's County.  A total of 13 were recorded in 2013.

Those results are indeed dramatic, and as demonstrated by 11 recent smoke-alarm-saves, I submit to you today that 11 families are alive and well because their working smoke alarm gave them time to get out of their homes before fire took hold.  Several of these saves were installed by our firefighters as part of the Safety First program.

We depend on donations to fund these efforts, including recent donations of 83 alarms by the PGCVFRA Ladies Auxiliary for the Christmas in April program, 150 alarms by the IAFF, and annual donations from our corporate partner, PEPCO.  PEPCO alone has contributed over 10,000 alarms to the PGFD since they began partnering with the Fire Service.  

I want to thank KIDDE, the manufacturer of many home safety products, for continuing to partner with us and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.  Today, KIDDE is donating 50 combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to our Safety First program.

We will be going door-to-door on Wednesday, May 7 and I want to remind our residents that fire is everyone's problem.  Together we will continue to drive down fire fatalities and improve our communities’ safety.

Marc S. Bashoor, Fire Chief, Prince George's County, MD

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