MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
Fire Chief Returns from Fire Service Mission to Brazil
Prince George’s County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor recently returned from a one-week fire service mission to the City and State of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Accompanied by Chief Philip Stitleburg the two-person delegation represented the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) assisting the Sao Paulo Fire Department (SPFD) with planning and implementation of a volunteer fire force. The current all-paid military fire department of Sao Paulo provides fire and basic EMS service to the third largest city in the world with a metropolitan region of 42,000,000 inhabitants.
The SPFD has an authorized strength of 10,000, however like many fire departments around the world they have struggled to continue hiring in large numbers under shrinking budgets. The SPFD asked the NFPA for assistance with a plan to recruit volunteers to augment their staff, ultimately creating a three-tiered approach to staffing. The end-state would create a mixture of all paid, all volunteer, and combination stations – similar to the structure that exists in Prince George’s County currently. With the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department (PGFD) recognized as the largest combination Fire/EMS Department in North America, the NFPA requested Chief Bashoor provide coordination for the discussion of forming what would ultimately and arguably become the largest combination Fire Department in the world. Chief Stitleburg is the immediate past Chairman of the National Volunteer Fire Council, past Chairman of the NFPA, and currently Chief of the LaGrange Volunteer Fire Department in Whitewater Wisconsin. Chief Stitleburg provides valuable insight into recruitment and retention of volunteer membership. The delegation was accompanied for a portion of the trip by NFPA Executive Director for International Operations Olga Caledonia as well as a local translator Anderson Queiroz.
The State of Sao Paulo currently has over 400 cities with populations between 5,000 and 25,000 where there is no fire protection services located. Current strategies for response result in hour-or-longer response times. Over a course of time, Chief Bashoor and Chief Stitleburg will be assisting the SPFD with not only a plan for volunteers but also a plan for facility and resource deployment in these cities. The relationship will be reciprocal, with a Brazilian delegation to visit Prince George’s County in the near future.
Over the past 60 days, the PGFD has hosted fire service delegations from Africa and South Korea. These delegations requested information about training, budgeting, facility deployment, volunteer services, and many other topics. We are honored to play a significant role assisting our fire service partners around the world solve problems, serve people, and keep everyone safe.