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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Fire Victim Meets Rescuer 58 Years After Fire is Out

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

A reunion 58 years in the making occurred today, January 31, not far from where this group first met, although under different circumstances.  On a hot summer day in August 1959, a fire erupted on the first floor of a two-story, with basement, single family home in the 7600 block of 25th Avenue in Hyattsville.  

Two sibling children, ages 2 and 3, were napping upstairs while mom was doing laundry in the basement.  Upon returning upstairs the fire was discovered and she went outside to seek help.

An off-duty Prince George’s County Police Officer (currently unidentified), believed to have been living in a house in the rear of the house on fire, either saw the house on fire and/or heard the screams for help and immediately provided assistance.  He secured a nearby ladder and positioned it against the house, up to a second floor window.  By doing so saved valuable seconds as Fire Sergeant Hartman and Fire Fighter Newman arrived and quickly ascended the ladder.  The firefighters entered the home, where they began searching for the children.  Newman located 2-year-old Linda Hart and carried her to the window where the police officer was waiting at the top.  Newman handed off Linda to the officer who immediately provided her to EMTs in the front yard.

Fire Fighter Newman continued his search and quickly located 3-year-old Michael Hart.  Newman removed his breathing air face piece and placed it over the face of the young child to provide fresh breathing air.  Newman exited the house by way of the interior stairwell as other firefighters had extinguished the first floor kitchen fire.

Both children were transported to a hospital, where they were treated and released.

Siblings Michael and Linda Hart reached out via Facebook, in an effort to meet their rescuers.  This day marks the successful outcome of their quest.  Nearly 58 years later, Retired Battalion Chief Stu Newman was reunited with the brother and sister. 

During the reunion, Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Chief Deputy Benjamin M. Barksdale spoke of the differences between then and now, with regard to protecting families from fire and other hazards.   In 1959, heavyweight home construction allowed time for rescues such as this.  Fires now burn quicker due to lightweight construction and the toxicity level of smoke is higher, the result of materials used in furnishings.  Chief Barksdale emphasized that very few homes in 1959, if any, had the protection of residential sprinklers and smoke alarms.  These potentially life-saving devices, which were cost prohibitive and bulky, were mainly used in commercial construction.  Today, homes in Prince George’s County are built with residential sprinklers, as well as 10-year smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

Linda and Michael Hart each spoke about their personal memories about that day and what they have been told by family members.  The pair likewise shared how the incident has played a major role in their lives.  This was, however, the first time the Harts heard an actual firsthand account of that day from one of their rescuers, as Newman shared his recollection of the incident. 

As a result of this event and a review of Stuart Newman’s records, the Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department discovered that he was never properly awarded his retirement credentials.  He was presented his Retired Battalion Chief badge and identification card by Chief Deputy Barksdale.  

Inside Edition Coverage

FOX 5 DC Coverage

WJLA 7 News Coverage

NBC 4 News

WUSA 9 News

WTOP Radio Coverage

Participant Bios

Linda Hart, who was two years-old at the time of the incident, grew up in Rockville where her brother Michael still lives.  She currently resides in Tumwater, Washington with her husband Peter Teets and 16-year-old daughter Claire.  She is a Unitarian Universalist minister and has served congregations in Vermont, Connecticut, Spokane, London (England) and presently serves a congregation in Tacoma, Washington. 

Michael Hart, who was three years-old when the incident occurred, lives in the same home his family moved into in 1960.  He is currently a Tour Guide with Old Town Trolley in the District of Columbia.  On Tuesday evenings he plays music from and about Louisiana on station WOWD-FM.  He is also a promoter, Cajun and Zydeco dance teacher, a Geochacher (geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity, in which participants us a GPS receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers called “geocaches” or “caches”, at specific locations marked by coordinates all over the world.  Michael has one daughter, Sarah, who resides in Laurel.

Edwin Stuart “Stu” Newman, Jr., age 84, was born in Oakland, California.  After serving four years with the USMC Reserve, he joined the Tuxedo-Cheverly Volunteer Fire Department.  In 1955, after moving to Adelphi, he became a member of the Chillum-Adelphi Volunteer Fire Department.  Stu was hired as a career firefighter with the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department in 1959.  He received a medal in 1975, for actions taken at a structural failure on Metzerott Road. The following year after starting his career with the Fire/EMS Department, Stu began teaching for the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute.  Currently, he is on sabbatical due to a shoulder reconstruction.

An avid roller skater, Stu began skating in at the Bladensburg Skating Rink in 1949.  He began competing in roller dance competitions in 1978 and skated in his last dance competition in 1997.  He continued to figure skate until January 2016.

Stu currently enjoys a blended family with 10 children; 16 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren, with two more expected this year.  His favorite vacation activity is cruising, especially in Alaska.

A young Michael Hart

Michael and Linda Hart

Edwin Stuart “Stu” Newman, Jr.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Firefighters awarded by Knights of Columbus in Bowie for life-saving actions

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 is pleased to announce that Retired Deputy Fire Chief Tyrone Wells and Assistant Fire Chief Darren O. Ware were recognized as The Knights of Columbus “Career Fire Fighter of the Year."

        The award presentation was made on Saturday, January 28th, at the  Knights of Columbus Sacred Heart Council No.  2577 in Bowie, Maryland.  Tyrone Wells was unable to attend the event due to previous commitments.  Darren Ware was well represented with members of his family and co-workers including Chief Deputy Benjamin Barksdale.

         Ware and Wells were selected for their actions in saving the life of a female that occupied a burning vehicle.  The following account was read while making the award presentation.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016, was challenging from its onset—first and foremost because the Prince George’s County Fire/ EMS Department was conducting funeral services for one of its members killed in the line of duty.  Secondly, Assistant Fire Chief Ware was tasked with coordinating mutual aid resources and ensuring that personnel who don’t work in our system or typically work together would be able to do so safely and efficiently.  Then, upon concluding his shift and en route home, he noticed smoke on the road ahead of him and suspected it was a vehicle fire.
As Chief Ware neared the incident, his suspicion of a vehicle fire was confirmed.  He was surprised to discover that an adult female driver was inside.  He quickly radioed Public Safety Communications for resources, after which he attempted to remove the victim from the vehicle.  His attempt was unsuccessful, as all four doors were locked; and the woman was unresponsive to his instruction to unlock her door.  With the fire beneath the vehicle growing larger and progressing into the free burning phase, Chief Ware realized the increasing urgency of the situation.  He hurriedly returned to his vehicle and surveyed the surrounding area, hoping to find something that could be used to gain entry into the vehicle.  Everything was happening so fast; yet, it seemed like eternity in the face of the life-threatening situation confronting the victim.    

Retired Deputy Fire Chief Tyrone Wells, also returning from the funeral and traveling along the same route as Ware, spied the incident and stopped to provide assistance.  A male bystander retrieved a construction tool from his vehicle, to assist with a second attempt to access the vehicle.  Forcible entry was in progress when the victim inadvertently stepped on the gas pedal, driving the vehicle down the slope off the shoulder of the road.  The fire was now at a difficult angle with extension into the engine compartment, which posed greater peril in an already challenging situation.  Time was of the essence, and it was imperative to affect this rescue immediately to prevent a tragic outcome.  Wells and Ware managed to get down the slope and access the passenger side of the vehicle.  The new position of the vehicle had rendered the driver’s side inaccessible. 

Deputy Chief Wells used the construction tool to break the passenger side window, at which time Chief Ware reached inside the vehicle and manually unlocked the door.  Smoke was rapidly filling the vehicle, and the engine compartment was fully involved.  It was just a matter of time before fire reached the passenger compartment.  He reached over the front passenger seat accessed the unresponsive victim and lifted her from the driver’s seat to the passenger side of the car.  This was by no means easy, but it was the only option.    

After successfully rescuing the patient from the passenger side, Chief Ware carried her up the hill and across the street.  Barrier protection had not yet been established; but, traffic had fortunately stopped.  Other Fire/EMS personnel returning from the funeral had arrived by then, and the patient was placed in their care for further medical evaluation and treatment.

Chief Ware immediately repositioned his vehicle to use as barrier protection.  Within moments following the rescue, the woman’s vehicle was fully involved.  An engine company and ALS unit from a nearby fire station arrived on the scene a couple of minutes later.  The fire was extinguished, and the patient was transported to a hospital.  Chief Ware then made radio notifications and terminated command per Departmental protocols.

Congratulations to Darren Ware and Tyrone Wells on this well-deserved recognition!!!

See original PGFD Press Release here.

Images of AFC Darren Ware receiving award and with family by PGFD Chief Deputy Ben Barksdale


Sunday, January 29, 2017


Maryland State Police Headquarters
1201 Reisterstown Road
Pikesville, Maryland


(OXON HILL, MD) – A man is being treated at a nearby hospital after an apparent bomb threat and attempted suicide today, closing the Woodrow Wilson Bridge in both directions.

The man is not being identified at this time. He is being guarded by troopers at George Washington Hospital, where he is undergoing treatment currently.  Charges against him are pending. 

At 2:00 p.m. today, Virginia State Police received a 9-1-1 call from a motorist, reporting a man who was getting ready to jump off of the southbound side of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.  Maryland State Police from the Forestville Barrack were immediately dispatched to the location.

Upon their arrival, the man had already jumped over the bridge. Shortly after he jumped into the Potomac River, emergency responders from the Metropolitan Police Department’s D.C. Harbor Patrol rescued him. He was transported to the hospital by an Alexandria Medic Unit ambulance.

The preliminary investigation indicates the man was driving a tan 2016 Toyota Corolla around 2:00 p.m. today on the inner loop of I-495 in Prince George’s County.  When he arrived at the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, he pulled over about one half of a mile onto the bridge and parked his car on the right shoulder.  

Witnesses tell police he made mention of having a bomb inside his vehicle as he approached the edge of the bridge.  Police believe he also called 9-1-1 prior to jumping, stating he had a bomb in his vehicle.  

Lanes on both sides of the bridge were shut down for about ninety minutes, while personnel from the Prince George’s County Fire Department’s Explosive Ordinance Disposal searched for the presence of any hazardous explosive devices. Once the area was rendered safe, lanes were reopened for traffic.

Personnel from the Virginia State Police and U.S. Park Police responded to the scene for assistance.  Maryland Department of Transportation personnel also responded to assist with lane closures.

Investigators from the Maryland State Police urge anyone with information relevant to this case to contact Forestville Barrack at 301-568-8101.  There are no further details at this time. The investigation continues…

CONTACT:Elena Russo
Office of Media Communications

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

MEDIA ADVISORY - Reunion of Rescued and Rescuer from Incident 58 Years Ago

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

With the assistance of FACEBOOK and relentless effort to meet the heroes that saved them, a brother and sister rescued by public safety personnel nearly 58 years ago will reunite with at least one of their rescuers.  The siblings, ages 2 and 3, were pulled to safety from the second floor of their burning home by an off-duty police officer and arriving firefighters.  The children survived their injuries and went about their lives.  Now, after talking about the incident throughout their adult lives they will reunite with one of the firefighters that pulled them to safety.

WHAT:               Reunion of rescued siblings with their rescuer from a fire that occurred 58 years ago

WHEN:              Tuesday, January 31, 2017, 11:00 am

WHERE:            Chillum-Adelphi Fire/EMS Station 834, 7833 Riggs Road, Adelphi, MD 20783

WHO:                 Siblings rescued from fire with family and friends, a retired firefighter that assisted       in the rescue and current members of the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Dept.

Parking available in the rear of the station.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Guilty plea entered on weapons charge in fatal shooting of Prince George’s County Fire Fighter.

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

John "Skillet" Ulmschneider
A Temple Hills man that shot 3 people entering his home to check on his welfare pled guilty to one felony charge on Friday, January 20, 2017.  The man shot and killed Prince George’s County Fire Fighter John “Skillet” Ulmschneider, critically wounded Volunteer Fire Fighter Kevin Swain and wounded his own brother on April 15, 2016.

While no charges were placed against the man for the assault and death, a Grand Jury did indict him on several charges related to possessing a weapon while having a previous felony charge on his criminal record.

In an Upper Marlboro Court Room on Friday with Skillets wife; Dawn, family members and friends, Chief Deputy Ben Barksdale, Assistant Fire Chief Alan Doubleday, IAFF Local 1619 President Andrew Pantelis as well as Morningside Volunteer Fire Fighter Kevin Swan and family members present, the accused pled guilty to a single felony count of weapon possession which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in jail.  Sentencing is set for March 31 at 1:30 pm.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Addison Road Church Fire - 1-12-2017

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

Prince George’s County Firefighters battled a fire at a Capitol Heights Church that caused significant damage.  Just before 12:30 pm, Thursday, January 12, 911 callers reported smoke was coming from a church in the 5900 block of Addison Road.  Firefighters arrived to find smoke showing and initiated a search of the structure for occupants as well as the source of the smoke.  No one was found inside and firefighters narrowed their search for the fire to the basement of the structure.

Fire Investigators believe the fire originated near a basement wall unit space heater with fire extension to the first floor within the confines of the walls.  To extinguish the fire firefighters had to   There were 55 firefighter/medics on the scene.  It took about 50 minutes to completely extinguish the fire.  Firefighters remained on the scene after the fire was out performing extensive overhaul.

The accidental fire caused an estimated $20,000 in fire loss.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Recognizing the 25th Anniversary, LODD Kenny Hedrick

Portion of Email from Chief Bashoor to Department today.

Good Morning All:

January 12, 1992 marked a tragedy that will forever live with our fire service family.  Morningside Volunteer Fire Department member, Firefighter Kenny Hedrick made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our community, 25 years ago today.  As our Department experienced again in 2016, it is never easy when we lose one of our own.  While we continue to analyze and work through the after-actions, it is our duty to ‘Never Forget’, especially our own.  Kenny’s sacrifice is forever enshrined and memorialized at station 827, at the Fire Services Building, and Nationally in Emmittsburg - yet enshrinement and memorialization is not enough.  We owe it to Kenny, and to each other to always strive for improvement and ultimately towards an environment where everyone will go home.

Les and Cathy Hedrick along with the rest of the family have dedicated their lives to sharing Kenny’s story and urging firefighters to take safety seriously.  Their unwavering support and work with the PGFD, the MSFA, and The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation is my inspiration and should be an inspiration for us all.  Cathy has announced she will step down from her employment with the Foundation this year, however I suspect she and Les will continue to advocate for the 16-Life-Safety Initiatives and the other work of the NFFF.

Thank you to the Hedrick family for sharing Kenny with us.  Your sacrifice is not taken lightly and will be forever etched in our collective history and memory.

Marc S. Bashoor, Fire Chief
Prince George’s County Fire/EMS
9201 Basil Court, Suite 452
Largo, Maryland 20774

Safety First, Everyone Goes Home!

Check a smoke alarm today, you might save a life tonight!

Friday, January 6, 2017

County Fire Chief Bashoor Announces Retirement

Fire/EMS Department Accomplishments
During Tenure of Fire Chief Marc S, Bashoor

Prince George's County Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor joined County Executive Rushern L. Baker III in announcing the Chiefs retirement after over 6 years on the job.  During a press conference at the St. Joe's Fire/EMS Station in Springdale County Executive Baker and Fire Chief Bashoor reflected on the accomplishments of the Department under Bashoor. 

Bashoor notified members of the Department via an Email on Thursday evening.  Chief Bashoor wrote:

Good Evening PGFD Family:

I have notified County Executive Baker of my intention to retire effective March 1, 2017.  It is, and has been my distinct honor to serve you and Prince George’s County as Fire Chief for the past 6+ years.

Please accept my thanks and appreciation for everything each of you has contributed to our Department.  Joining as a volunteer firefighter with the Bowie VFD in 1981 through my experiences as a union shop steward and at every rank up to Chief of the Department, which has included regional leadership with the Council of Governments and international travel for NFPA, I have served with some of the finest our service has to offer.  Thank you.

From hiring and volunteer recruitment, to ambulance billing and apparatus replacement, to community participation at many levels including on the Fire Commission,  to the high school cadet program and our new Leadership Academy effort, we have met our challenges head-on, and I believe the organization as a whole, is better for it. We have a solid platform from which the Department will continue to grow.  

Work on a seamless transition plan is ongoing - except for some time off in a couple weeks, I will continue to serve through the end of February.  County Executive Baker will officially announce my departure at a press conference scheduled for 11:00 a.m. Friday January 6 at station 806.   The Department will be notified via email as expected changes are revealed.

Thank you once again for everything you do everyday for this Department and for the community of Prince George’s County, which I have called home for over 45 years.  Stay smart and stay safe!

- 693 to 884 today (an amazing 28% staffing increase, achieved in just 5 years)
- Highest sworn strength ever, expect to be over 900 by Spring of next year
- Hired volunteer recruiter, averaging over 300 new volunteer recruits                                 fulfilling entry training requirements each year

·         12 Fire Recruit Classes containing a total of more than 420 new hires (that’s nearly half of the department) have been hired.  Classes 13-14 approved under budget
-3 SAFER Grant Recruit Classes have been hired – 72 Personnel

·         High School Cadet Program - in year 4, Flowers HS and Gwynn Park HS: 
- 17 College credits
- FF1 & 2
- Hazmat
- 102 hours of community service
- One cadet in CRS 53
- 14 applied for process of CRS 54 & 55

·         In Year 5 of 10-yr, $20M+ strategic County-Owned apparatus replacement and reinvestment plan 
- 44 Ambulances/Medic transport units
- 10 engines
- 4 trucks/tower
- 1 Squad
- New Rehab and Rehab support units – essential to on-scene personnel  safety
- Scores of support vehicles

·         Volunteer Apparatus
-9 ambulances
-7 engines
-2 trucks/towers
-multiple support vehicles

·         Placed 19 new (new staffing or dedicated) ambulances in service

·         Placed 5 paramedic ambulances and 5 paramedic engines in service

·         Budget enhanced 30% from FY11 $130,922,300 to over $170M in FY17.  A $39M increase.

·         Ambulance billing initiative w/shared revenue program for volunteer corporations

·         Reorganization of the Fire Commission to include Sworn & community representation

·         Enhanced around-the-clock coverage:

o   Safety Officer
o   2nd EMS Duty Officer
o   Doubled the number of stations with at least 4 career staffing  from 10 to 20

·         Initiated the process to obtain Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE) accreditation 

·         Secured funding and began $12M Replacement of entire self-contained-breathing-apparatus infrastructure.

·         Secured over $3.7 million of  funding to replace the entire defibrillator fleet

·         Secured funding to implement the PulsePoint app – 1st in NCR

·         Established Mobile Integrated Health program – 1st in NCR, only 2nd certified program in state of MD (Queen Anne Co).

·         Established the M.H. Jim Estepp Leadership Academy

·         Built and opened new Brandywine Community Fire/EMS Station

·         Recently broke ground on two new Fire/EMS Stations - Shady Glen and Oxon Hill

·         New Public Safety Pier project at National Harbor

·         Formed Community Advisory Council

·         Established Adopt-A-Neighborhood program, where businesses contribute to the purchase of smoke alarms and CO detectors - over $60,000 raised to date. Nationally recognized, award winning program (NACO) 

·         Formed Fire & EMS Foundation

·         Implemented system-wide Mobile-Data-Terminal use and Automatic Vehicle Locator dispatch protocols – both supporting measurable reductions in critical service delivery times

·         Initiated first Insurance Service Organization (ISO) rating in over 20 years 

- downgraded in urban 
- upgraded in rural tier
- downfalls; training records (purchased Target Solutions); ability to guarantee staffing (improved staffing at 24, 40, & 45 - 36 on board 2/18); ability to deliver minimum sustained water flow in rural tier (moved tanker to 40, purchased super-pumper)
- Urban improvements in staffing with 4-person minimums at 15 stations


·         2nd longest serving Fire Chief (Estepp longest at 14 years)

·         2-year Chair of COG Fire Chiefs - secured funding and regional agreement to address significant safety concerns in the Rail Operations Center - ROC Liaison has been very successful 

·         Strongly supported legislation to consolidate what had been two separated agency budgets into one, streamlining reporting, accountability and functional responsibility 

·         Aggressively lobbied for legislation requiring carbon monoxide detectors in all homes with gas service, attached garages, or fireplaces.

·         With many others, successfully fought legislation at state level to weaken residential sprinkler requirements

·         For NFPA, traveled to Sao Paulo Brazil and Beijing China on fire service expeditions

·         Served on IAFC Affordable Care Act Task Force (birth of our Mobile Integrated Health)

·         Laid wreath at Tomb of the Unknown, with full diplomatic honors 

·         Delivered programs and spoke at various conferences and venues across the country; CA, TX, FL, GA, NV, MD, DC, as well as Veterans Administration ICS in WV, DC, & ; FL

·         Became contributing editor to Firehouse Magazine