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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"It's Not Easy" - Firefighter/Medic Suicide Prevention - New Material from NFFF

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


The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) released this information today.

Suicides are preventable: Reaching out to those most vulnerable
NFFF issues new report to address suicide among firefighters

Did you know a fire department is three times more likely in any given year to experience a suicide among its membership than a line-of-duty death? Fortunately, suicide is preventable and help is available. The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) has made suicide research and awareness a priority and released a new report, Confronting Suicide in the Fire Service: Strategies for Intervention & Prevention to address the growing issue and need for further research and funding.

A summary of the report, which you are welcome to use and share, is available here:  

You can also read the full report and share the link.

Original PGFD Article

I sometimes add a statement to a news release that would indicate some experiences of firefighter/medics "are not easy."  My hope is that the public and our personnel recognize that it is okay to see and feel the vulnerability of our personnel after witnessing what no human should ever have to witness or experience and there is a personal impact on us.  "It's not easy" and we must learn to cope with incidents from the most challenging to the simplest of incidents.  Incidents affect each one of us individually and need to learn on how to handle our feelings.  Is the coffee table critique enough?  Do you share your feelings with co-workers??

Prince George's County Fire/EMS (PGFD) Safety Battalion Chief Sayshan L. Conver-White stated, "Firefighter suicide may seem like a taboo topic for some, but if it saves even one life, it's worth talking about. This recent release from Firefighter Closecalls (below) has some excellent resource material that can be used as a conversation starter. Take the time now to remind your crews of the various resources that are available to them, and their family members."  She concluded, "Let's talk about it...you may save a life."

Teresa A. Meunier, PGFD Office of Risk Management, added, "It is important to remember that if you are in a crisis and need immediate assistance, you should contact a mental health professional such as the Fire/EMS Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Counselor at (301) 883-6270, or, the County’s EAP program, (APS Healthcare), at 1-(877) 334-0530."

Meunier added, "Fire/EMS Stations should post the National Suicide Prevention Hotline number,  1-800-273-TALK, and firefighter/medics should know when to use or encourage others to use this number. You can also visit the following website for very valuable information that may help you to recognize warning signs of suicide in yourself and others." 

 Many thanks to Chief Billy Goldfeder for compiling this list of valuable information.  As Battalion Chief Conver-White stated, "Let's talk about it...you may save a life."
Out of respect to the families and members of those affected, we won't share names or the departments-but once again, two of "our own" have taken their lives in just the last few days, One FF in South Florida and the other in the Tampa Bay area.
In addition to the "awareness" of the two losses, we wanted to share
the leadership shown
by a Chief of Department:

It is with deep regret that I must inform you of the untimely death of Firefighter who took her own life this morning.  Words cannot express the profound sadness that we all feel.  I am at a loss as to how to make sense of her death, many of you have expressed the same sentiment.   We may never have an explanation that makes sense to us.  I have no words to offer that will make this right, or even bearable.  I can only say that I am both saddened and sorry that she did not feel like she had another option.  Our grief cannot compare to what Toni's family is going through so I ask you to pray for those she loved..  These next few weeks will be trying for everyone.  Look out for each other and please reach out if you need to talk.  Take care of each other. 

Suicide continues to be a constant in the profession of fire, rescue and EMS. Please take time to review these links-and have the info on hand.











Take Care. be Careful. Pass It On.
The Secret List 11/20/2014-1700 Hours

Thanksgiving Safety Tips - Cooking and More

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 offers the following safety tips, to ensure that all citizens and residents will enjoy a safe and festive Thanksgiving holiday. Unfortunately, fire safety and injury prevention guidelines are often overlooked during the holidays. Prince George's County Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor stated, "Everyone needs to keep Safety First and by doing so our citizens, visitors and businesses can avoid tragedy and disruption of their holiday festivities."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) United States Fire Administration (USFA) issued a special report recently examining the characteristics of Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings. The report, Thanksgiving Day Fires in Residential Buildings, was developed by USFA's National Fire Data Center.

The report is based on 2006 to 2008 data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS). According to the report, an estimated 2,000 Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings occur annually in the United States, resulting in an estimated average of 5 deaths, 25 injuries, and $21 million in property loss. The leading cause of all Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings is, by far, cooking. Additionally, smoke alarms were not present in 20 percent of Thanksgiving Day fires that occurred in occupied residential buildings.

If your Thanksgiving plans include a Turkey Fryer, this is a  another whole story by itself,click here for Turkey Fryer Safety Tips.

While these safety and cooking tips may not make Thanksgiving dinner taste any better--they will help to avoid potential disaster;
  • Keep your family and overnight guests safe with a working smoke alarm on every level of the house, in each bedroom and in the halls adjacent to the bedrooms. Test smoke alarms monthly, and replace batteries at least once a year.
  • Overnight guests should be instructed on your home’s fire escape plan and designated meeting place for your family.
  • Have a fire extinguisher available not more than 10 feet from the stove, on the exit side of the room.
  • A standard Class ABC multi-purpose dry chemical extinguisher is recommended. Know how to use your fire extinguisher.
  • Start holiday cooking with a clean stove and oven.
  • Keep the kitchen off limits to young children and adults who are not helping with food preparations. This will lessen the possibility of kitchen mishaps.
  • When cooking, do not wear clothing with loose sleeves or dangling jewelry. Clothing can catch on fire and jewelry can become entangled with pot handles, causing spills and burns.
  • Cook on the back burners when possible, and turn pot handles inward so they don’t extend over the edge of the stove.
  • Never leave cooking unattended. If you must leave the kitchen while cooking, turn off the stove or have someone else watch what is being cooked. Unattended cooking is the number one cause of home fires and fire-related injuries in Prince George’s County.  According to the USFA; cooking is the leading cause of all Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings at 69 percent. Nearly all of these cooking fires (97 percent) are small, confined fires with limited damage.
  • If you use a deep fryer, please, exercise extreme caution and follow manufacturer instructions.  The report from the USFA found that these cooking devices accounted for about 1% of Thanksgiving Day fires.
  • Keep Thanksgiving decorations and kitchen clutter away from sources of direct heat.
  • Candles are often part of holiday decorations. The Fire/EMS Department strongly encourages the use of battery powered candles and discourages the use of candles with an open flame.  If you use candles; they should never be left burning when you are away from home, or after going to bed. Candles should be placed where children will not be tempted to play with them, and where guests will not accidentally brush against them. The candleholder should be completely non-combustible and difficult to knock over. The candle should not have combustible decorations around it.
  • If smoking is allowed inside, provide guests with large, deep ashtrays and check them frequently. After guests leave check inside, under upholstery, and in trash cans for cigarette butts that may be smoldering.
  • Overnight guests should be briefed on the home escape plan and designated meeting place outside.

Working smoke alarms are required in all residences in Prince George's County.  Consider upgrading to a 10-year tamper proof with hush feature smoke alarm and never change a battery again.  If you can not afford to purchase an alarm you can call our Safety First Smoke Alarm program at 301-864-SAFE (7233) or call 311.  A firefighter will install a working smoke alarm in your home; free of charge.

The men and women, career, civilian and volunteer, of the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department wish everyone a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving!!!