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Friday, November 17, 2017

Thanksgiving Week Safety Advice from PGFD

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 Benjamin M. Barksdale 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 2011 to 2013 data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS).  For each year, an estimated 2,100 residential building fires were reported to fire departments in the U.S. on Thanksgiving Day and caused an estimated 10 deaths, 50 injuries and $28 million in property loss.  The leading cause of 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 another whole story by itself, click here for Turkey Fryer Safety Tips.

These safety tips work for every day of the year, however, home fires increase dramatically, twice as many, on Thanksgiving Day.  While these safety and cooking tips may not make Thanksgiving dinner taste any better--they will help to avoid potential disaster;

    Overnight guests should be instructed on your exit drill from the home and designated meeting place for your family.  Sleep with bedroom doors closed.

    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.

    10-year smoke alarms will soon be required on every level of your home, in hallways just outside of sleeping areas and in every bedroom.  Sleep with your bedroom door closed and test smoke alarms on the Safety First Day of every month.

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.  The 10-year alarms and placement in your home will become law effective January 1, 2018.  If you can not afford to purchase an alarm you can call 311.  A firefighter will install a working smoke alarm in your home; free of charge.

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

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Temple Hills House Fire with 2 Fatalities - Lorraine Drive

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

Firefighters removed 2 occupants from their burning Temple Hills home on Wednesday afternoon.  Just before 12:30 pm, November 15th, firefighters were alerted to a reported house fire with two occupants trapped in the 5200 block of Lorraine Drive.  First arriving units found a 1-story brick rambler, with basement, with fire showing from the front.

Two neighbors had attempted entry into the structure to assist the occupants, initially at the front door and then the rear door but each time they were forced to retreat due to high heat and thick smoke.  Another neighbor called 911 and provided valuable information as to the possible location of the occupants.  This information was relayed to responding firefighters by dispatchers.

First arriving crews initiated a simultaneous search for the trapped occupants and stretched hose lines into the structure to extinguish the fire.  An adult female and adult male were quickly located and brought to the exterior where medics initiated treatment.  Both patients were found to have no pulse and not breathing and quickly transported to a nearby hospital while life support measures were being administered.

The fire was extinguished within 12 minutes.

Tragically, despite the very best efforts of firefighters, medics and hospital staff both patients succumbed to injuries a short time after arriving at the hospital.  While we will await confirmation from the Medical Examiner of the identity it is believed the deceased are the normal occupants of the house: a female, 80ish years of age, and her son, 60ish year old male.

Two of the first arriving firefighters sustained 2nd degree burns to a small area of their body.  Both were taken to the Burn Unit at Medstar Washington Hospital Center.  The firefighters were treated and released.

Fire Investigators believe the fire originated in the basement and extended to the first floor.  Fire loss to the structure and contents is estimated at $80,000.  The status of a smoke alarm and exact cause of the fire is undetermined.

Firefighter/Medics will return to the community Thursday morning around 10:00 am going door-to-door and asking if they can check on residents smoke alarms.  If they find an alarm not working or none present they will install one for them free of charge.  Any Prince George’s County resident can call 311 and ask for a similar service.  On January 1, 2018, a law will require that all homes in the County that use a battery operated smoke alarm to upgrade to a 10-year smoke alarm on all levels of their home and inside every bedroom.  Current law only requires 1 smoke alarm for the entire house.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Change Your Clock - Change Your Battery or Upgrade Your Alarms

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

Spring Forward and Fall Back.  Sunday, November 5th, we will bring Daylight Saving Time to a close and adjust our clocks back 1-hour to Eastern Standard Time.  The fire service uses this time of year to remind Prince Georgians that when they change their clock to also change the batteries in their smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms as well.  Is this the last year we need to remind everyone to change the batteries??
Change your clock and change your battery in your alarms is a nationwide theme from firefighters that you will be hearing this week and for good reason.  66% of fire fatalities occur in homes found with no smoke alarms or non-working smoke alarms due to a lack of batteries or dead batteries.  Colder weather means there will be more fires so it is important to ensure you have working alarms. Working smoke alarms increase the chances of surviving a fire in your home. 

"Press to Test"

It is important to test your alarms to ensure they are working every month. Press the test button on the front cover of your alarm on the first day of every month.  If your alarm sounds you are good until next month.  If your alarm does not sound - replace the battery and "press to test" again.  Still no audible warning - remove old alarm and replace with a new 10-year alarm.

This Sunday, November 5th, we are asking you to replace the battery in your alarm with a new battery. The Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department highly recommends you replace your older 9-volt battery powered alarm with a 10-year alarm.
A new law becomes fully effective on January 1, 2018 involving “battery only” smoke alarms used in Maryland residential properties.  The “battery only” smoke alarms that have protected homes for the past several decades need to be replaced with new long-life, 10-year, sealed lithium battery smoke alarms with silence/hush button features.  The silence/hush button feature temporarily disables the alarm so the occupant can ventilate the space from mild smoke conditions typically created during some cooking operations.  The use of these alarms eliminates the need to replace the batteries during the 10-year life of the alarm. 
The new law also requires homeowners to ensure they have a smoke alarm installed on each floor, outside of each sleeping area and in every bedroom per National Fire Protection Association recommendations.  It is further recommended that bedroom doors are closed while sleeping.  Existing County law requires a working CO detector on every level of your home if you have any gas fueled heating system, fireplace and/or an attached garage.  These are laws we can "live" with.

If your property is protected with 120 volt electric smoke alarms, they also should be replaced every 10 years with new 120 volt smoke alarms w/ 10-year battery back-up to ensure proper and timely operation in the event of a fire.  

NOTE **Manufacturers have available: 120 volt electric smoke alarms with 10-year lithium batteries to eliminate the need to replace batteries during the suggested life of the alarms.

If you need a working smoke alarm and cannot afford to purchase one yourself you can call 311.  A firefighter will visit your home at a mutually agreeable time and install one 10-year smoke alarm in your home, free of charge.  The homeowner is responsible to install additional alarms and detectors per existing County law the new State law effective the first of the year 2018.

A new tool for the PIO toolbox helps keep community & firefighters safe

For Immediate Release
Contact: Donna Clark 240-723-0615 or Amy Tippett 843-300-9327

PIOs: New NFFF app helps keep community & firefighters safe
Share with public as you urge November 5 smoke alarm checks

The new Be a Hero, Save a Hero® mobile app from the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) can help your community stay safe with valuable fire prevention information, special weather and seasonal notifications, and more.  It’s available now for you to share with the public as you remind them to change their smoke alarm batteries and the benefits of 10-year smoke alarms next Sunday, November 5th when Daylight Saving Time ends.

The free app provides the latest information and resources on a wide variety of topics including smoke alarm check reminders, creating escape plans, winter and holiday safety tips, and much more. There are even sections targeted for specific groups, such as children and older adults.

“The goal of our Be a Hero, Save a Hero® program is to encourage the public to be fire safe which in turn saves the lives of firefighters,” explained Chief Ron Siarnicki, Executive Director of the NFFF. “This app is the perfect companion as you spread the word of changing clocks and batteries this week and the importance of home fire safety year-round.”

The safety tips on the app include information from the U.S. Fire Administration, the National Fire Protection Association and other partners working together to help prevent home fires.
Be a Hero, Save a Hero® can be downloaded on the Google Play Store or the App Store with links available on the newly redesigned website, www.beaherosaveahero.org.

Be a Hero, Save a Hero® is part of the NFFF’s Everyone Goes Home® program. The app and the redesign of the website were developed with First Arriving, Marketing and Technology for Fire and EMS.
About the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation

The United States Congress created the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation to lead a nationwide effort to remember America's fallen firefighters. Since 1992, the nonprofit Foundation has developed and expanded programs to honor fallen fire heroes and assist their families and coworkers. The Foundation also works closely with the U.S. Fire Administration to help prevent and reduce line-of-duty deaths and injuries. For more information on the NFFF and its programs visit www.firehero.org.