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Friday, October 16, 2015

PGFD Bomb Squad Investigates Suspicious Package on Woodrow Wilson Bridge

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

At around 12:15 pm, Friday, October 16, the Prince George's County Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department Bomb Squad was summoned by the Maryland National Capital Park Police to investigate a suspicious package.  Bomb Squad personnel arrived on the pedestrian walkway that runs along side the Woodrow Wilson Bridge on the Inner Loop of the Beltway.  A large box was observed by a citizen about midway across the bridge.  The unusually large size box and it's location alongside a concrete barrier at the midway point of the bridge seemed out of place and suspicious.

As a precaution for motorists and the bomb squad, the local lanes of the Beltway were closed to allow  personnel to work without moving vehicles nearby and for the safety of drivers that may have been distracted.

Bomb Technicians visually inspected the box interior via X-ray images which proved to be inconclusive.  Data from a shipping label was used to contact the company listed.  Bomb Techs confirmed the contents of the box and were found to be non-explosive.

At about 3:30 pm the All-Clear was given and all lanes were reopened a short time later.

We understand that Interstate 95 is a major North/South corridor for the east coast and we make every attempt to avoid closing this road for any period of time.  The Fire/EMS Department must take every precaution to protect our personnel and civilians from potential harm and we found it prudent to close the local lanes while we investigated this package.

The Fire/EMS Department also believes in "If you see something - say something."  We commend the citizen for seeing something out of place and contacting authorities.  Even though this box was found to be clear of anything sinister it certainly was out of place and warranted a through investigation.  The large box contained HVAC parts.

The Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department was assisted by the County Police Department, Maryland National Park Police, Maryland State Police, Virginia State Police, Maryland State Highway Administration and the Alexandria Fire Department.

Images from scene by Mark E. Brady, PGFD PIO

Laurel Volunteer Chief Awarded for Rescue of Fire Captain After Stairs Collapsed

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

The Volunteer Chief of the Laurel Fire Department was recognized today for his rescue of a Prince George's County Fire Captain that was on a set of steps that collapsed underneath of him while battling a townhouse fire.  The Fire Captain that was rescued was on hand to thank him.  Officials from the City of Laurel, PGFD Command Staff, 6th battalion Commander Phil Bird, Volunteer Fire/Rescue Association President Chuck Walker, Laurel volunteers and 6th Battalion firefighters were on hand for the award presentation held at the Laurel Fire Department on Cherry Lane.

On Sunday, July 12, 2015 firefighters from Laurel and Calverton and Battalion Chief 886 were dispatched for a reported townhouse fire at 9418 Riverbrink Court in Howard County. Volunteer Chief 810 Duane Hull also responded.  Calverton Engine PE841 was dispatched as the 2nd due engine company.  PE841 arrived on the scene and picked up Howard County E111’s supply line at the hydrant in the 9300 block of Harvest Way.  The crew lead by Captain Donald Fletcher, advanced a 400 foot attack line from Harvest Way and was the first attack line inside the building on the front side of the building.

The crew from PE841 extinguished the bulk of the fire on the first floor before they began to advance to the second floor due to vertical extension. Volunteer Chief Hull was operating on the interior and ascended the steps to the second floor to shut the bedroom door to keep fire from extending into the second floor hallway.  Prior to the crew from PE841 beginning to make the climb up to the second floor, Captain Fletcher started up the stairs first to clear some debris from the path for the hose line crew.  Chief Hull felt the stairs were a little spongy as he ascended the steps and feared they may be compromised.  Chief Hull turned to warn the crew from PE841, when he heard Captain Fletcher call out to him saying that he had fallen waist deep into a hole on the stairs and needed help to get out.

As Captain Fletcher reached the top of the stairs, the stairs under him gave way.  He reached out and grabbed a “red hot” metal handrail on the stairs to keep from falling completely through the hole to the floor below, until he could be removed from the hole.  Captain Fletcher was wedged tightly in the hole and was unable to reach his radio to call for a mayday.

Chief Hull grabbed Captain Fletcher by his self-contained breathing apparatus harness and pulled him to safety.  PE841’s hose line crew was able to get the hose line up the stairs over the compromised stair and extinguish the fire on the second floor.  An attic ladder was later brought in to bridge the hole in the stairs.  If it were not for Chief Hull’s quick thinking, Captain Fletcher may have fallen completely through the stairs sustaining more serious injuries.

Prince George's County Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor presented Volunteer Chief Hull with an Emergency Services Award today.  Captain Fletcher was on hand as well during the award presentation.  Chief Bashoor stated, "Chief Hull's actions are in the highest traditions of the fire service and he is hereby commended for his actions.  His actions reflect favorably upon himself, the Laurel Volunteer Fire Department and Prince George's County."

Bashoor is recommending that Hull be considered for a valor award in April 2016.

Fire Chief Bashoor, Laurel Volunteer Chief Hull and Fire Captain Donny Fletcher

Volunteer Chief Hull is congratulated by Fire Captain Fletcher 

Departmental Crash on Beltway Thursday Evening

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

Several units from the Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department were alerted to a motor vehicle crash on the Capital Beltway Inner Loop in the area of Ritchie Marlboro Road in Capitol Heights on Thursday night.  Units arrived on the scene and were checking what appeared to be a relatively minor crash with one person requiring transportation to a hospital.  An engine from the Ritchie Volunteer Fire Department was parked in a barrier position on the beltway, when they were struck from behind about 11 PM.  They had just arrived at the scene of the original crash where a rescue squad and ambulance were already working.  The original accident scene resulted in the transport of one person with a minor injury.

It is standard procedure for a heavy-duty piece of fire apparatus to position themselves across as many lanes of traffic as possible to protect personnel and civilians operating at the scene of an incident on roadways.  The barrier protection has proven to save lives on several occasions in Prince George’s County.

With the engine positioned for barrier protection 2 of the 5 firefighters dismounted to determine whether any additional hands would be needed on the incident. Just after they dismounted, a van struck the rear end of the engine.

The crash resulted in the driver of the van being trapped and significant damage to the rear of the fire engine.  Crews already on the scene from the original crash were used to extricate the van driver.  The adult male was the driver and lone occupant of the van.  He sustained critical injuries and once extricated was transported by medics to a Trauma Center.  The adult male remains in critical and stable condition.

The three members on the engine were transported to a local hospital suffering minor injuries.  All were treated and released.

The Ritchie engine, a 1989 Seagrave, will be inspected today to see if it can be repaired.  A new fire engine if purchased today carries a price of somewhere between $600,000 up to $800,000.

Photo Credit - Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department

PGFD Technical Rope Rescue Class

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

A dozen Prince George's County Firefighter/Medics are currently training to become certified in Technical Rope Rescue.  This Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute (MFRI) class is 2 weeks in length and will be held at various spots throughout the County that offer challenging situations.  Todays location was a heavily wooded area with ravine and steep hills on both sides between Governors Bridge Road and the parking lot of Prince George's Stadium, home of the Bowie Baysox.

Todays exercise involved a rescue of a victim down a moderately sloped terrain.  The exercise included reaching the victim safely, securing him in a stokes basket and lifting him to the top with assistance of ropes and pulleys staffed by other firefighters on the top level.

A critique of the days activities and a preview of whats to come followed the practical evoloutions.