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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Springdale Residents Safe After Early Morning Basement Fire

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

“Laws We Can Live With”

Occupants of a Springdale home are safe and their home sustaining minimal fire damage today thanks to laws enacted by County leaders in the 1980’s and 90’s.  At about 1:45 am, 3 occupants were awakened by the piercing warning signal emitted by an activated smoke alarm.  Once alerted they smelled and saw smoke and exited the house to call 911.  A fire of an undetermined cause was burning in the basement.  The smoke caused the smoke alarm to activate and heat from the fire caused the residential sprinkler system to start flowing water in the area of high heat.

Firefighters from the nearby St. Josephs Fire/EMS Station 806 arrived quickly at the 2-story, 3156 sq. ft., single-family home built in 1998, in the 10200 block of Thundercloud Court.  Firefighters located the fire and ensured complete extinguishment.  The area on fire had been held in check by the sprinklers.  Fire loss damage was minimized to $1,000 thanks to the residential sprinklers.  The County Citizen Services Unit and the American Red Cross assisted the occupants and their pet with temporary shelter.  Displacement will be for days instead of months or years.  Another benefit of early awareness of a fire is that there were no injuries to civilians and firefighters.

In 1982, the fire department requested legislation to require a working smoke alarm in existing homes and in all new construction.  This law was passed by the County Council and became law in 1982. 

In late 1980’s, County fire service leaders saw the need for residential sprinklers to be installed in all new construction.  Again, legislation was dratted and received approval from the County Council requiring a phased-in approach to residential sprinklers installation in all new construction built after January 1992.  We were the first County in the Nation to have this type of legislation at that time.

The enactment of these two laws have saved countless lives and limited fire loss to homes equipped with residential sprinklers.  There has never been a fatality in a single family home equipped with a residential sprinkler system since this law was enacted.  Prince George’s County residents and businesses are still reaping the benefits of these laws as was evidenced in this mornings Springdale home fire.

A more recent County legislation requires the installation of a working carbon monoxide (CO) detector on every level of your home.  This law includes all existing residences that have a gas service for cooking, heating and other gas appliances, a fireplace and/or an attached garage.  This law went into effect on July 1, 2014.

Starting January 1, 2015 a Maryland State Law requires a phase-in approach to all homes currently protected by a 9-volt battery powered smoke alarm.  The older alarms have served us well for a long time, however, residents will need to upgrade and install 10-year lithium powered smoke alarms that are tamper proof (can not remove battery) and have a hush feature to silence accidental activations.  The law requires a new alarm on every level of your home and near sleeping areas.  The 10-year smoke alarms will help to reduce the high number of fire fatalities from occurring in homes with no alarms or an alarm with dead or missing batteries.  

The introduction of 10-year smoke alarm is the greatest innovation to these life saving devices since the invention of smoke alarms themselves.

Residential sprinklers, 10-year smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are all laws we can live with.

The Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department highly recommends the use of a 10-year combination smoke/CO alarm where they are appropriate.  Alarms can be purchased at home improvement and hardware stores.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Images from Today's National Firefighter of the Year Awards

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

Prince George's County Fire Fighter/Medic Sara Shaffer was bestowed the honor and distinction of being designated as the American Legion National Firefighter of the Year today.  The award ceremony was held at 96th Annual Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina where President of the United States Barack Obama spoke yesterday.  

Bill Milligan, Adjutant, Upper Marlboro American Legion Post 115 said, "Sara received her Award from National Commander Dellinger at 9:15 a.m. this morning.  She was sponsored by myself and Upper Marlboro American Legion Post 115.  A well deserved award for an outstanding individual and person."

Firefighter/Medic Schaffer was joined by her father, John, a retired Prince George's County Firefighter, Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor and Fire Fighter/Medic Technician Katie Johnson.

Congratulations to Sara and thank you to Bill Milligan and Upper Marlboro American Legion Post 115 for the sponsorship.

Retired PGFD Firefighter pursues second career in communications arena

Telecommunicator Spotlight: Eric Shrader

Retired firefighter pursues second career in communications arena



After 21 years of working in the Prince George’s County (Md.) Fire/EMS Department and retiring as a Lieutenant, Eric Shrader, 42, moved his family to Florida to reside in Ft. Meyers. Following a year of living the retired life and relaxing, Shrader found himself wanting more.

“I had to go back to work,” Shrader said. “I still wanted to be involved in public safety.”
When he discovered an opening for a Fire/EMS dispatcher in Lee County (Fla.), he pursued it and got the job.

“I love what I do,” Shrader said. “It gives me a different perspective. I went in there thinking it would be a piece of cake. It was a lot harder than I thought.”

Though he was accustomed to riding fire trucks and responding on the street to fires and critical incidents, Shrader was now on the other side of the fence in which he had to look after hundreds of ambulances and fire trucks. It took a while for him to become comfortable in the job.

“It was a good couple years before I was fully trained. I love the job now. I still look forward to going to work,” Shrader says.

Shrader’s prior career experience as a veteran firefighter is helpful in his current role as a senior communications operator for Lee County Public Safety Communications because he understands what those in the field are going through. He assists unit officers, paramedics and other emergency personnel with directions, locating hospitals and other duties as he serves on the other side.

“I have an intuition about what they’re going through, and I can anticipate what they need,” Shrader said.
Shrader is well aware of how stressful these various incidents can be when working the radio. He acknowledges that one may need to step out for a breath of fresh air after working a stressful call.
In his jurisdiction, one of the most stressful calls for dispatchers is when a child is drowning. The dispatchers can relate because many of them have children and most everyone in the area has a pool. The dispatcher has to calm the caller to the point where they can receive instructions via phone on how to do CPR.

“We’re relieved when the first unit arrives, and we can hang up. That’s when it all hits you. Especially me, with three kids—I can’t imagine what that mother and father are going through,” Shrader said. He acknowledged that some days there are multiple incidents of this nature.

The dispatch center in which Shrader works has 32 employees that are spread out over four shifts. He ensures everyone works well together.

“Each shift has to be a well-oiled machine, Shrader said. “When we work nights, we have to be awake for 12 hour shifts and get along together.” At times, that can be difficult. However, whenever there is any down time, training drills are utilized to prepare dispatchers for the “what if” situations.

Shrader reveals some important skills necessary to be an effective dispatcher: the ability to multi-task and possessing “great communication skills,” particularly with 9-1-1 calls in which dispatchers must take control of the situation, calm down the caller and ascertain the location of the incident.
Shrader, who builds his own computers as a hobby, is notably tech-friendly, and his skills are suitable on the job. “It is all computerized now, and there are seven monitors we have to look at,” he said.

One of Shrader’s most memorable calls involved an unconscious woman on her honeymoon. In the background of the call, he could hear the best man screaming. Shrader gave instructions on how to administer CPR to the female. When paramedics arrived and took over, they were able to bring her back to life. It was subsequently learned the victim had an undiagnosed heart condition.

Having made an impact in the fire/EMS service in Prince George’s County, and now utilizing his skills and knowledge to enhance public safety in Lee County, Shrader seems to have the best of both worlds.

“I consider myself one of the luckiest persons in the world. I’m blessed to have had two careers I loved,” Shrader said. Meanwhile, he continues to make a difference.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Contents of Gift Bag Exceed Cost of Registration for 9-11 Memorial Stair Climb and 5K

The National Capital Region 9-11 Memorial Stair Climb and 5K walk/run will be on Saturday, September 13, 2014, at the Gaylord National Resort in the National Harbor.  The event, sponsored by the Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services, is held in honor of the 343 firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice on 9-11-01. 

The first 343 people to register will receive a gift bag containing a Special Edition challenge coin, commemorative shirt designed by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF), and a voucher for lunch inside the Gaylord at the Pienza—“A place where bursting flavors and the overflowing abbondanza (generosity) of the Mediterranean are well represented.”  There will also be a 50/50 raffle for cash prize of close to $2,000.  The drawing will be at the event, and the winner does not need to be present.  

All proceeds from registration and raffle go to benefit the NFFF.

To be one of the first 343 to register, click here.

Monday, August 25, 2014

"Pinky" "Hope" and ?? - Third Pink PGFD Unit Needs a Name

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

The Prince George's County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department is preparing to accept the final addition to our cancer awareness campaign, “Proud to be Pink.”  In October 2012, Pinky, an engine wrapped in pink, was introduced to the public.  Just shy of 2 years later, Hope—a painted pink paramedic transport—made her debut.  Soon the Department will place in service a 2014 Pierce Velocity pumper, also painted pink but with a lavender strip around it.  Each of these pieces of apparatus was designed to raise Breast Cancer Awareness; however, the lavender strip on the pumper represents every type of cancer. 
The 2014 Pink Pierce Pumper needs a name. (photo by Paulwall Hawkins)
 The Pierce pumper will be housed at Capital Heights Fire/EMS Station 805, where Pinky currently resides.  Croom Fire/EMS Station 845 in Upper Marlboro is slated to become Pinky’s new home, with Hope remaining at College Park Fire/EMS Station 812.

The nickname Hope was selected from over 200 entries submitted through a social media promotion.  The same process will be used to name the pumper, and, once again, everyone is invited to submit a nomination.  When choosing a name, keep in mind that while the new Pierce engine is predominately pink, its lavender-colored strip represents all cancers.  Also, your choice should be in good taste and demonstrate a positive outlook.  One or 2 words are preferable, but all nominations will be considered.  In the event the Fire/EMS Department receives multiple entries for the winning selection, the person whose entry was received first will get an official PGFD pink uniform shirt that is worn by our personnel during the month of October. 

The winning entry will be announced on September 30, 2014, at 11:00 a.m., during the dedication ceremony for the new pumper at the Capital Heights Fire/EMS Station.   

Entries can be sent via Twitter to @PGFDPIO  and Facebook at Facebook.com/PGFDPAGE , and should include #PGFDPINK.  If you do not have a social media account, nominations may be submitted via email to mebrady@co.pg.md.us.  The deadline for submissions is September, 28, 2014. 

2014 Fire Prevention Week

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

4 Juveniles Charged with Crime of Arson

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

Personnel from the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department Office of the Fire Marshal have charged 4 individuals with setting fire to a temporary classroom in Laurel, Maryland.

At about 6:10 pm, Monday, June 30, 2014, firefighters responded to a report of a temporary classroom on fire in the 13000 block of Laurel Bowie Road in Laurel, Maryland. Fire/EMS units arrived to find a fire in a classroom trailer at Deerfield Run Elementary School. The fire was extinguished shortly after firefighters arrived on the scene.

Fire Investigators examined the scene and determined the cause of the fire to be incendiary.

On August 15, 2014, personnel from the Office of the Fire Marshal charged (3)13 year old juvenile males and (1) 15 year old juvenile male with 1st Degree Arson, 2nd Degree Arson, 1st Degree Malicious Burning, and 2nd Degree Malicious Burning among other charges that stemmed from the incident.

If found guilty, the charges listed above carry maximum penalties that could potentially keep these individuals in a juvenile facility until their 21st birthday.

In general, this calendar year’s arson crimes have displayed an overall decrease of approximately 8% compared to the same time frame of calendar year 2013 (January-July).  Additionally, case closure rates are well above National levels (15% National average closure rate versus 24%) for the same time period.  Arson arrests are up approximately 50% compared to last calendar year (January-July).

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Residents Rescued from Temple Hills Apartment Fire

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

Two residents of a Temple Hills apartment required assistance in escaping a fire this morning.  At around 12:15 am firefighters were alerted to an apartment fire in the 4500 block of 23rd Parkway.  Fire/EMS units arrived at a 3-story garden style apartment building with smoke coming out of a 2nd floor apartment.  Two residents of a third floor unit could not escape by way of the stairwell due to the high heat and thick smoke so they retreated to their exterior balcony.

As one crew of firefighters went to locate and extinguish the fire on the 2nd floor another crew used ladders to remove the 3rd floor occupants to safety.  A complete search of the building determined all other occupants were able to escape safely before the Fire Departments arrival.  The fire was extinguished within 8 minutes of arrival.

The fire appears to have originated in an apartments living room.  The cause of the fire remains under investigation.  Fire loss is estimated at $10,000.  Occupants of 2 apartments are displaced as a result of the fire.  A total of 5 adults and 3 children did not require assistance of the Citizen Services Unit or the Red Cross and made their own temporary living arrangements.

Remember to plan an escape from your home that identifies 2 ways out of every room.  Practice your plan several times a year and include a safe meeting place outside.  Once outside - stay outside.

Retreating to the balcony in an apartment building is certainly an acceptable means of egress.  If you need to use your balcony remember to close the door behind you and do everything you can to catch the attention of someone on the ground by shouting or waving.  Await the fire departments arrival for rescue.  If you have your phone with you, call 911 and inform call takers of your exact location.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Video Account of 57th Avenue Report

WUSA 9 News Coverage of Six Flags Incident of August 10

Please click here to view story and images.

NBC 4 News Raw Video of Six Flags Incident of August 10

FOX 5 Coverage of 6 Flags Incident of August 10


WJLA/News Channel 8 Coverage of Six Flags Incident of August 10

Firefighter Throwdown from IAFC - "These ladies are true athletes, happy they let me tag along."

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

Results are in from Dallas, Texas where the "Firefighter Throwdown" was held last week during the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) - Fire/Rescue International (FRI) Annual Convention.  All we can say is that the entire Department is "PGFD PROUD" for Prince George's County Fire Fighter/Medic Technician Katie Johnson.  She placed a respectable 7th position overall against some pretty fierce competitors.

Katie Johnson commented on her competition, "Great group of female firefighters in competition. These ladies are true athletes, happy they let me tag along." (Johnson in green shirt)
Katie, perhaps the fittest female member of our Department competed in the physically challenging “Firefighter Throwdown” competition.  The Firefighter Throwdown combines firefighters with the Sport of Fitness in a challenging athletic competition that requires overall strength, endurance and a tough spirit.  The competition was held August 15-16.  

There are more images and comments from Katie on her Facebook page.

The short movie clips by Ben Barksdale, Deputy Fire Chief

These images were captured by Chief Billy Goldfeder

Unidentified photographer from Katie's Facebook page.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

9-11 Memorial Stair Climb and 5K Walk - PGFD Info

PGFD Chief Comments on Upcoming 9-11 Memorial Stair Climb and 5K Walk

Good Morning All

The PGFD Saturday September 13th fundraiser for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation is quickly approaching.  Dave Statter and Hillary Howard have once again agreed to emcee the days events for us.

For the 2nd year, the event will be held at the beautiful Gaylord Resort at the National Harbor on the Potomac River.

Remember – for those who are unable to climb, there is an alternative 5K fun walk along the water and across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. You can easily register for either the climb or walk, or simply make a donation, at the following link...

Your support is critical in our efforts to raise funds supporting the NFFF.  There are currently just over 100 registrants.  We hope to reach at least 443, which represents ALL of the emergency responders who perished on Sept 11, 2001.

The first 343 (the # of FF's killed) who register will receive the limited edition event challenge coin AND complimentary lunch at the Pienza Cafe inside the Gaylord Hotel.

Please join me and my family climbing (or walking) on September 13, 2014 - take a moment now to make a difference.  Thank you.

More information in the PGFD climb, and all of the NFFF events is available here:  

Marc Bashoor, Fire Chief
Prince George's County, Maryland
Fire/EMS Department
9201 Basil Ct, Suite 452
Largo, MD 20774

Friday, August 8, 2014

Watch Office Backpack Drive 2014

Last week personnel staffing the Watch Office were challenged to come up with an idea to develop a relationship with a school in our County to work with students in need and perhaps get involved in a mentorship program.  

The challenge posed by Assistant Fire Chief Deeann Drake has certainly provided motivation and is working, but they need some help.  Since last Wednesday, the Watch Office has worked with our County's School Supervisor for student services in conducting a backpack and school supply drive for children who are in need of assistance, from those who are homeless to those in group homes and so on.  The Watch Office has collected 26 backpacks so far and are working hard for more donations.  Consider the donation of backpacks and school supplies in this worthwhile effort by our co-workers.

PINK MEDIC NICKNAME - After All is Said and Done - There is "HOPE"

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

On July 7, 2014, the day the new Pink PGFD Paramedic Unit was placed in-service, the Fire/EMS
Department announced a social media campaign to help select a nickname.  The response was over whelming.  Nickname suggestions poured in through Twitter, Facebook and Email.  There were 230 suggestions submitted with about 40 being eliminated for not meeting our professional standards.

The staff read many compelling and emotional stories behind nickname suggestions.  Many suggestions were based on a loved one’s name.  Names associated with someone currently suffering from breast cancer or had fought a brave and valiant battle but did not survive.  We read many hopeful stories about those that have survived and live to fight the battle for a cure.   We only wish we had as many pink units to name after every one of these people.  However, we think we have selected a nickname that everyone will agree is appropriate for our mission; awareness and a cure for cancer.

There was one nickname that was recommended more often than any other in our social media campaign.  The nickname fit our requirements of being one or two words and related to our efforts in raising awareness of breast cancer and other cancers as well.

In a survey of all nickname suggestions by a cross section of the Fire/EMS Department's career, civilian and volunteer membership one nickname was voted #1 by nearly 50% of the membership participating in the survey.

After reviewing the entire list of suggested nicknames and the resulting data, Prince George’s County Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor declared the official nickname for the Pink Paramedic Unit stationed at the College Park Fire/EMS Station 812 is “HOPE.”

Chief Bashoor stated, “HOPE seems to encompass the mission of our cancer awareness efforts and finding a cure.  I feel the nickname is a perfect fit.”

The social media campaign proved to be very successful and the Department would like to thank everyone that cared enough to think of a name and joined in the competition.  Because there were a large number of people that submitted the nickname HOPE, we will award the official Pink PGFD work shirt to the person that submitted the name first.

The following nicknames were runner-ups to HOPE;





Thursday, August 7, 2014

New Heights for PGFD Golden Girls

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

For the first time in the history of the Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department, two of our female members very deservingly received the Department’s highest award presented to a member of the Department.    

Earlier this year, Fire Fighter/Medic Sara Shaffer and Fire Fighter/Medic Katherine “Katie” Johnson were honored at the Public Safety Valor Awards, with both receiving Gold Medals for life-saving actions performed while operating on separate incidents.  Subsequently, they were recognized as the Fire/EMS Department “Fire Fighter of the Year” and “Paramedic of the Year,” respectively. 

Fire Fighter/Medic Sara Shaffer

This month promises to be yet another significant and exciting period for the dynamic duo, starting with Sara, the American Legion’s selection for “National Firefighter of the Year.”  This comes as the result of her actions on the scene of an incident, which helped save the life of a fellow firefighter.  On August August 27, she will be recognized at the Annual National American Legion Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.   While the Fire/EMS Department has had several American Legion Award recipients at the State level, this is the first time a member of the Fire/EMS Department has ever been awarded at the National level.  County Fire Chief Bashoor plans to be in attendance at this prestigious awards ceremony.

Fire Fighter/Medic Katherine "Katie" Johnson
Katie, perhaps the fittest member of our Department will compete in the physically challenging “Firefighter Throwdown” competition.  The Firefighter Throwdown combines firefighters with the Sport of Fitness in a challenging athletic competition that requires overall strength, endurance and a tough spirit.  The event will be held in Dallas, Texas during the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Annual Convention; Fire and Rescue International (FRI).  The competition will take place August 15-16.  Johnson must pay her own way to Dallas to compete on behalf of Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department.  Family, friends and co-workers donated over $1,200 to help offset Katie's out-of-pocket expenses.  She has vowed that any monetary awards she may receive will be donated to the Burn Foundation.

Congratulations to Sara Shaffer and best of luck to Katie Johnson.  Both represent the very best of the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department.
New Heights