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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Arson Fire Under Investigation at 2020 Brooks Drive


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

911 calls were plentiful at Public Safety Communications with callers describing being trapped in their apartment condos and some trying to escape through smoke filled hallways by holding towels against their face.  It was around 10:15 pm, Friday, February 28, when firefighters and paramedics were dispatched to 2020 Brooks Drive, District Heights, an 8-story mid-rise building at the Oakcrest Towers Complex. 

Fire/EMS units arrived quickly having been informed by dispatchers of the situation they were about to face; heavy smoke on the 5th floor and above with residents trapped. An initial interior update provided by firefighters indicated heavy smoke conditions on the 5th floor.  Additional updates included moderate to heavy smoke on upper floor hallways as well.

Some residents continued to evacuate, however, the incident commander ordered residents to “shelter-in-place” allowing firefighters an opportunity to locate the source of the smoke and only evacuate those residents in immediate danger.

A precautionary Second Alarm was sounded bringing in additional resources to the scene.  The majority of the units on the 2nd Alarm were not utilized.

The fire and source of the smoke was soon located in the 5th floor hallway.  It appears a fire was intentionally set at a door of a unit.  The fire was easily contained and extinguished with smoke removal initiated through roof vents and the use of fire department fans.

A firefighter and one resident were treated on the scene for smoke inhalation and transported to a local hospital for treatment.  It was anticipated that they would be treated and released.

Fire Investigators have classified the cause of fire as incendiary.  Fire loss is estimated at $10,000.  There were no displacements.

Prince George’s County Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor stated, “If someone thinks they can commit a heinous act of arson in an occupied multi-occupancy building and get away with it in Prince George’s County is wrong.  Rest assured that I will not tolerate this type of activity and have authorized our talented and experienced Fire Investigators to do everything they can to thoroughly investigate this incident and arrest the person responsible.”

Anyone with information about this crime of arson that occurred on the 5th floor of 2020 Brooks Drive on Friday evening at about 10:15 pm should contact our Arson Tip Line at 301-77-ARSON (301-772-7766).  Tips may be left anonymously.

Photos of Fire/EMS units operating on scene are provided courtesy of Assistant Fire Chief Paul Gomez




Staying Healthy and Safe During a Winter Storm


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

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch for Prince George's County for Sunday evening into Monday. The men and women of your Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department want you to help us by staying safe yourself.  

FROM THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE 

Winter Storm Watch


URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON DC
959 AM EST SAT MAR 1 2014

...WINTER STORM WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM LATE SUNDAY NIGHT
THROUGH MONDAY AFTERNOON...

* PRECIPITATION TYPE...FREEZING RAIN...SLEET...AND SNOW.

* ACCUMULATIONS...POTENTIAL FOR FIVE OR MORE INCHES OF SNOW AND
  SLEET WITH SOME ICE ACCUMULATION FROM FREEZING RAIN ALSO
  POSSIBLE.

* TIMING...FREEZING RAIN AND SLEET LOOKS TO BEGIN OVERNIGHT
  SUNDAY WITH SNOW...HEAVY AT TIMES...LATE SUNDAY NIGHT THROUGH
  MONDAY.

* TEMPERATURES...IN THE LOWER 30S OVERNIGHT SUNDAY...MID TO
  UPPER 20S FOR MONDAY.

* WINDS...NORTH 5 TO 15 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 25 MPH.

* IMPACTS...POTENTIAL FOR HAZARDOUS TRAVEL OVERNIGHT SUNDAY FROM
  ICY ROADS...BECOMING SNOWY FOR MONDAY.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A WINTER STORM WATCH MEANS THERE IS A POTENTIAL FOR SIGNIFICANT
SNOW...SLEET...AND ICE ACCUMULATIONS THAT MAY IMPACT TRAVEL.
CONTINUE TO MONITOR THE LATEST FORECASTS.

While most roadways will be pre-treated and snow plows working to clear roads it is expected that driving conditions will deteriorate as the storm wears on. 

Some of the Fire/EMS Department's highest concerns during a winter weather event is everyone staying healthy and safe.  


Heavy snow and ice presents:

Health Concerns - for those trying to clear snow from sidewalks and driveways.

Shoveling snow has been known to cause cardiac emergencies.

  • Take your time and frequent breaks
  • Limit exertion
  • Dress warmly in layers
  • Stay hydrated - limit coffee, caffeinated drinks and alcohol 
  • Lift with your legs not your back
  • If you aren't healthy enough, have a known cardiac condition or age 50 or over, please, seek help from your friends and neighbors

Health Concerns for Dialysis patients

  • Road condition could be dangerous to travel to your appointments on Monday and Tuesday.  Dialysis patients please contact your centers and discuss your access to the center on Monday and Tuesday.  You might arrange for a treatment early or delay your treatment until after Tuesday afternoon.  Consult your center as soon as possible. 

Power Outages

 Heavy snow accumulation on trees and on utility lines could result in power outages.
  • If you see a downed utility line - consider it LIVE.
  • Call 911 or your utility company if you see a downed utility line or a tree branch on power lines
  • Keep phones and tablets fully charged before the storm
  • A yellow caution tape on downed utility lines indicates that situation has already been checked by public safety and there is no immediate danger.  These areas should not be approached until repairs have been completed.
  • In the event of a power outage - never use a generator indoors or in an attached garage - the carbon monoxide (CO) that it generates will kill you and anyone else in the house - USE ONLY OUTDOORS
  • Test your smoke alarm and CO alarms to ensure they are working before the storm.
  • Do not use candles - use flashlights or battery powered lanterns.

Stay Informed, Stay Ready, Stay Safe

• Stay prepared by bringing out your emergency preparedness kit and having a supply of essential items (food, water, warming items, radios, batteries, flashlights, etc.) available.


• Stay informed by monitoring TV news, news radio, National Weather Service radios and the Internet. Important information may be broadcast that could affect you and your family. Ensure your cell phones and lap top computers are fully charged now – before the storm occurs.  Sign up now for Notify Me - Prince George's for weather updates, closings and other important information right from your cell phone, laptops, desktop computers and more.

• Stay safe by keeping fire safety and injury prevention a priority in your activities. It is important to remember that fire apparatus and ambulances will be slower to respond to your emergencies due to the weather and hazardous driving conditions. Check your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms now to ensure they are working. In the event of an emergency, have an escape plan and call 911 immediately from a safe location.

• If possible, stay indoors and off the roads at all costs. Reduced traffic on roadways will allow public works crews an opportunity to clear a path that can be used by first responders to handle emergencies. If you must venture outdoors, dress warm and in layers, wear a hat and gloves, and cover your face with a scarf.

• Speaking of calling 911 – please – only call 911 for emergencies. Activity for Fire and EMS service could be high. If you do not have an emergency you should call 311 for assistance.

• Give space heaters space – keep space heaters at least 3-feet away from anything combustible like bedding, furniture, paper, etc.

• Use only seasoned wood products in your fireplace and use extreme caution when disposing of fireplace ashes as they can remain hot for days after the fire is out. Dispose of ashes in a metal container outside and away from the house.

• Some winter storms produce enough snow and ice that will make it difficult to shovel, especially for those that have an existing heart condition or anyone over the age of 50. Limit shoveling to only a few minutes at a time, shovel smaller amounts, and take frequent breaks.

• It is time to be a good neighbor – check on your senior citizen neighbors and ensure they have heat and food. Shovel their sidewalks and check on them frequently.

• Clear away snow from the fire hydrant on your street. If the fire hydrant is on your property; you are required to clear away the snow.

• If you must drive – reduce your speed, increase the distance between you and the car in front of you, turn on your headlights, and do not be distracted by texting and cell phones. Keep an eye out for pedestrians as they will venture out into the streets as sidewalks disappear.This information especially applies to 4-wheel drive SUV operators.

Finally, please keep pets indoors during the storm!!!

The Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Fire Department stands ready and prepared to provide the best emergency and non-emergency services available. We ask you to help us by preventing emergencies from ever occurring to avoid the need for us to have to respond to that emergency.

Remember, Safety First ensures Everyone Goes Home.

SAFETY FIRST DAY OF THE MONTH of MARCH - A MONTH of CHANGE

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

March is a month of seasonal transition, a time of CHANGE.  We will hopefully see a change from Winter to Spring, we will change out time and hopefully change our life saving alarms.  First and foremost - we remind everyone that the first day of every month is our "Safety First" Day of the Month."  Take just a minute to push the test button of your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms today.  If your alarm emits a loud audible warning - you are good until next month.  

How important are working smoke alarms??

Just this past month we have had three families awakened by a fire in their home by a working smoke alarm.  Had it not been for these life saving alarms it is very possible that we may have had needless tragedy.  The County also experienced its first residential fire fatality this past month.  This occurred in the Brandywine area on February 11.  The fire claimed the life of a 75-year-old resident.  It was impossible to determine if a smoke alarm was present or not.

When you pressed the alarms test button and your alarm did not emit a warning - replace the batteries and re-test.  Still no sound??  It's time to purchase and install a new alarm.  Smoke and CO alarms have an effective life of between 8 to 10 years.  Additionally, please visit your senior citizen neighbors and offer to test their alarm as well.  Many members of our senior community can not reach their alarm to test it, change a battery or upgrade to a new alarm.  Neighbors Helping Neighbors could save a life!!!  Do it today.


Now, back to the subject of CHANGE.  Sunday, March 9 is when we Spring Forward and adjust our clocks one-hour forward for Daylight Saving Time.  We also will remind you to change the battery in your smoke and CO alarms and to consider instead of changing your battery - change your alarm.  Purchase and install the 10-year, tamper proof, with hush button smoke and CO alarms.  Never change a battery again with these new alarms that are designed to a have a life of 10 years with never having to change your battery.  We still recommend testing your alarm on the Safety First Day of every month.

A new law in Prince George's County will require residents to add CO alarms if your homes use a fuel to heat and cook, have a fireplace and/or have an attached garage must install a CO alarm.  This law takes effect on July 1, 2014.  Purchase and install CO alarms now and install one on every level of your home.

At the end of 2014 a State law will require residents to upgrade to the new 10-year smoke alarm.  If your home and loved ones are currently protected by a battery operated smoke alarm, you are mandated to purchase and install the 10-year smoke alarm on every level of your home.

These are laws we can live with!!!


Firefighters will be going door-to-door on the first Wednesday of every month reminding our residents to test and replace their alarms.  We will also open up our Fire/EMS Stations for anyone that would like to stop by.  We have have personnel available to take blood pressures and discuss fire prevention and developing an escape plan with 2 ways out of every room in their house.

Weather forecasts for the first week of March contain cold winter temperatures and a possible snow storm.  This winter has contained some very cold temperatures with plenty of winter precipitation.  March apparently is coming in like a 'Lion."   Because winter temperatures and storms remain in our forecast and because we continue to experience fires caused by unattended cooking we will be leaving our "staying warm" safety tips in our March - Safety First Day of the Month.


Unattended cooking is the leading cause of fires and fire related injuries in Prince George's County.  Never leave the kitchen when you have food cooking on the stove top.


The Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department (PGFD) is reminding everyone that home fires are more prevalent in cold weather than in any other time of the year. This is due in part to an increase in cooking and heating fires.  This reminder involves the safe use of space heaters and general heating safety tips.


The civilian, career and volunteer men and women of the Fire/EMS Department want to remind everyone that fire safety and prevention are especially important during times of cold temperatures.  “Temperatures drop and fires increase,” said Prince George's County Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor.  According to NFPA statistics space heaters account for about one third of the home heating fires yet more than 80 percent of the home heating fire deaths. 


The Winter Residential Building Fires report released by USFA in 2010, reports an estimated 108,400 winter residential building fires occur annually in the United States, resulting in an estimated average of 945 deaths, 3,825 injuries, and $1.7 billion in property loss.  


“The winter season brings the highest number of home fires than any other time of year,” said Fire Chief Bashoor. “Each winter season, home fires increase in part due to cooking and heating fires. Fire safety and injury prevention must not be lost in an effort to stay warm. Stay warm and do so safely.  Safety First ensures everyone goes home.” 



Cooking and heating are the top causes of fires during cold weather. 



The Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department recommend the following safety tips for space heaters. 





Electric Space Heaters




• Buy only heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). 



• Check to make sure it has a thermostat control mechanism, and will switch off automatically if the heater falls over. 

• Heaters are not dryers or tables; don't dry clothes or store objects on top of your heater. 

 • Space heaters need space; keep combustibles at least three feet away from each heater.

• Always unplug your electric space heater when not in use. 

  Turn off at night or whenever you sleep. - - Never use an extension cord with space heaters - plug directly into wall socket.

Using a kerosene heater???  Never refuel indoors.  Remove the kerosene heater outdoors, turn off and wait for it to cool down before refueling and only use the correct type of fuel.


General Heating Tips 
    
    Furnaces, fireplaces and chimneys should be cleaned and checked each year by an appropriate professional prior to using.  Clear away any clutter from these heating devices, at least 3 feet away.
    Only use seasoned wood in fireplaces, never use ignitable liquids to start a fire and do not overload your appliance.    The 3-foot rule also applies to furnaces and fireplaces.  No combustibles items within 3 feet of these heating appliances.    Dispose of fireplace ash into a metal container and store outdoors away from structures on a concrete surface.  Fireplace ash can ignite a fire days after they have been discarded.



Change Your Clock - Change Your Battery or Change Your Alarm