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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Coldest Temperatures in 20 Years Forecast Tonight and Friday

Cold Weather Coming - Stay Warm Safely

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

The Coldest temperatures in 20 years are in our immediate forecast and the men and women of the Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department (PGFD) want you to stay safe while staying warm.  We are joining the United States Fire Administration (USFA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to remind 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 USFA, NFPA and the PGFD 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.  

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

“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.” 

The men and women, career and volunteer, of 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.

General Heating Tips

  •  Furnaces, fireplaces and Chimneys should be cleaned and checked each year by an appropriate professional prior to using.
  •  Only use seasoned wood in fireplaces and never use ignitable liquids to start a fire.
  • The 3-foot rule 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.

Colder weather also increases the potential to carbon monoxide (CO) exposure.  To help prevent illness and possibly death from exposure to CO:

  • Have a certified technician inspect all heating related equipment, kitchen appliances and vent pipes.
  • Purchase and install a CO alarm that has a 10-year battery.
Finally, having a working smoke alarm dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. Remember to practice a home escape plan, including 2 ways out of every room,  frequently with your family. 

Residents of Prince George’s County can contact 311 and request a smoke alarm or battery.  A firefighter will install a working smoke alarm in your home; free of charge. 

For additional information from the USFA and NFPA on Winter Fire Safety; click here.

PGFD Firefighter/Medic Presented With Honeywell Scholarship to Attend FDIC

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
mebrady@co.pg.md.us     @PGFDPIO
Honeywell, in personal fire protective equipment industry, and UL, whose Firefighter Safety Research Institute (FSRI) is dedicated to reducing injuries and deaths in the fire service, announced Wednesday, February 18 they are awarding a financial scholarship to Prince George's County Fire Fighter/Medic Sara A. Shaffer to attend the 2015 FDIC trade show.

"The FDIC Trade Show is the industry's most important North American training event and trade show, yet fire departments often simply cannot afford to send as many firefighters as they would like to the show," said Jeff Morris, president of Honeywell First Responder Products.

"Honeywell and UL want to help by creating an easy contest, allowing firefighters to nominate a deserving colleague with a short video, taken with their phone, explaining why they are nominating a fellow firefighter for the program."  Fire Fighter/Medic Shaffer was nominated by Fire Fighter/Medic Technician Katherine "Katie" Fisher.

The FDIC scholarship program prize includes:

      • Round-trip airfare
  • Accommodation
  • Passes to attend all classes and FDIC exhibits
  • Breakfast voucher
  • Invitation to inauguration dinner

The Honeywell-UL scholarship program is an effort to address the challenge fire departments face, with tight budgets, to send firefighters to the industryĆ¢€™s premier safety and training event. Shaffer will receive admission to FDIC classroom training, seminars, and exhibits, along with travel and accommodation expenses for the entire event.
Fire Fighter/Medic Shaffer was presented her scholarship at a surprise visit to a 12-lead ECG class being held at  the Firefighters and Paramedics Association, IAFF Local 1619, Headquarters in Bowie, MD.  Honeywell Sr. Regional Manager Chad Sears made the presentation and stated, "Sara is one of 17 firefighters selected to receive this scholarship from over 1,100 nominations. Congratulations!!!"

You may recognize Sara Shaffer as she was the Gold Medal recipient and Fire Fighter of the Year for Prince Georges County in and the American Legion National Fire Fighter of the Year in 2014.

L to R - Fire Fighter/Medic Sara A. Shaffer, Chad Sears/Honeywell, Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor, IAFF Local 1619 President Andrew Pantelis, Battalion Chief Charles Waggoner