@PGFDPIO Twitter

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

PGFD Fire Investigator Graduates Police Academy with Distinction

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

A Prince George's County Firefighter/Medic joined the County Police Basic Training Academy Class 138 in order to qualify for the position of Fire Investigator.  Fire Fighter/Medic Andi Inez Villasenor graduated today with her class and did so with distinction.

Villasenor was presented with three top honors during the ceremony including; Sergeant Robert J. Talbert Memorial Award for Physical Fitness, Sergeant F. Gaughan Memorial Award for Achievement in Criminal Law and the Sergeant Joseph K. Brown Memorial Award for the Highest Academic Class Average (97.8%).   "I am impressed and honored to have a Fire/EMS Department member graduate with such high accolades," said Fire Chief Benjamin M. Barksdale.  

Joining Fire Chief Barksdale at the graduation ceremony in Largo were Deputy Fire Chief Alan Doubleday, Assistant Fire Chiefs BJ Harris and Gary Krichbaum as well as the majority of the personnel from the Fire/EMS Department's Office of the Fire Marshal.

"I could not be more proud of Fire Investigator Villasenor.  Her achievements during her time at the Police Academy reflect favorably upon her as an individual and on the Fire/EMS Department as a whole," said Fire Chief Barksdale.

Deputy Chief Alan Doubleday who oversees the Office of the Fire Marshal said, "Fire Investigator Villasenor is joining a talented group of personnel.  Her skills and talents will be put to good use as a member of the Office of the Fire Marshal." 

Fire Investigator Villasenor has the honor to present the class flag of Police Basic Training Class #138.

Monday, March 11, 2019

PGFD Haz-Mat Team Train for Weapons of Mass Destruction Detection

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

Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department Hazardous Materials Technicians participate in sampling training conducted by the Department of Homeland Security Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office.  PGFD and DHS operate a novel collaborative agreement which helps to build local capacity to respond to high threat incidents.  PGFD operates a fulltime Hazardous Materials Response Program that has multiple capabilities to respond to a myriad of event types.  Building relationships during training events such as this maximizes efficiency and effectiveness during response to emergency situations.  Assistant Chief Marino stated, “we are grateful to our federal partners for providing this opportunity.  We look forward to continue to leverage these opportunities to share our resources and maximize the safety of the citizens and residents of Prince George’s County.”

Picture Credit:  Assistant Fire Chief Mike Marino, PGFD

Friday, March 8, 2019

IAFF Local 1619 Peer Support Program Awarded Unit Citation.

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

The IAFF Local 1619 Peer Support program received the highest award the Department bests upon a group on March 7th, 2019 at 1619 office in Bowie.  Fire Chief Benjamin M. Barksdale joined by Chief Deputy Tiffany Green presented a unit Citation to IAFF 1619 President Andrew Pantelis and members of the group.  

In 2016, the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), Local 1619, created a “Peer Support” program.  This program is a process for giving and receiving non-clinical assistance to achieve long-term recovery from behavioral health challenges.  Assistance is provided by peer supporters who have what is referred to as “lived experience”.  These individuals are also trained to assist others in initiating and maintaining long-term recovery and enhancing the quality of life for individuals and their families.  

March 7thwas intentionally chosen as the day for presentation of this award.  Two years ago, on this date, Bridgette P. Wilson, a longtime employee of the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department, friend to many, and civilian member of the Peer Support Team departed this life.  So, today, we honor Ms. Wilson and remember the dedication and commitment she demonstrated in helping to bring about advancement of the Peer Support Program.  

"To the entire Peer Support Team, thank you for selflessly giving of your time and expertise on the behalf of public safety members throughout the country," stated Fire Chief Barksdale in making the presentation. " The Team, under the leadership of past and present coordinators, Battalion Chief Grady Valencis and Fighter Michael Wells, respectively, has become invaluable not only to the membership of Local 1619, but the entire International Association of Fire Fighters."       

All images by Mike Yourishin

Christine Barker accepted Bridgette Wilsons recognition on her behalf. 

Monday, February 25, 2019

Laurel Couple Rescued From House Fire - Updated - Male Dies from Injuries

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

Prince George's County Firefighters responded to a house fire this morning and rescued two occupants from inside their burning home.  At around 9:45 am, Monday, February 25th, firefighters arrived at a 2-story, split-foyer, single family home in the 15400 block of Laurelton Drive in Laurel.  Dispatch personnel from Public Safety Communications advised responding units the 911 caller reported someone, an adult mobility-limited male, was trapped in one of the bedrooms.  The first arriving unit advised of smoke showing and immediately went to work to initiate an interior attack on the fire and search for the trapped occupant.

The fire was located on the top floor kitchen area.  As it turns out there ended up being 2 occupants located by firefighters.  It is believed the couple to be husband and wife.  An adult female, believed to be the initial 911 caller, was found unconscious by firefighters from Laurel Fire/EMS Station 810 and Laurel Rescue Fire/EMS Station 849 and removed outside by way of the interior stairs.  Searches continued with an adult male located in a top floor bedroom by Firefighters from Beltsville Fire/EMS Station 831 and removed by a window and down a ladder.  Both occupants were suffering from smoke inhalation and treated on scene by medics before being transported to area hospitals in serious condition.

The fire was quickly extinguished and caused an estimated $50,000 in fire loss.  The cause of the fire was accidental and attributed to cooking.  Smoke alarms were present and working.  A firefighter sustained a leg injury and transported to a local hospital for treatment.  It is anticipated this will be a treat and release today.

Fire and EMS units from Howard County, Montgomery County and Anne Arundel County assisted on this incident.

Updated at 9:00 pm EST Monday, February 25, 2019

The adult male occupant rescued by firefighters from his 2nd floor bedroom has succumbed to his smoke inhalation related injuries earlier today at the hospital.  The man is identified as:

John Henry Karwoski, 91 years-of-age, of Laurel, MD.

The adult female rescued by firefighters that was believed to be Karwoski's spouse is actually his caretaker.  She remains hospitalized in critical condition.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Couple Saved by Firefighters from Burning Boulevard Heights Home

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

Firefighters rescued a couple from their burning Boulevard Heights home Sunday evening.  

Just before 10:00 pm, Sunday, February 17th Prince George’s County Firefighters were alerted to a house fire with 911 reports of occupants trapped inside.  The first arriving unit was an engine from District Heights Fire/EMS Station 826.  They arrived at a 2-story single family house in the 4000 block of Byers Street and reported heavy fire showing.

The fire appears to have started in a detached shed next to the house with fire quickly extending into the house through the windows.  The fire officer-in-charge was informed by a member of law enforcement, that had arrived moments before, that he could hear 2 occupants yelling for help from the second floor.  The police officer had attempted entry but was forced back by the thick smoke and intense heat inside the house.  The fire extended inside through the windows and directly impinged on the stairs leading to the top floor where the trapped occupants were awaiting rescue.

The crew knew that time was of the essence as heat and smoke continued to build up in the house.  The crew split up and deployed a charged hose line to initiate extinguishment of the fire and allow access to the interior stairwell.  Two other crewmembers, including a firefighter and the crew officer, in full personal protective equipment, ascended the stairwell following the screams for help.  

An adult male occupant was found near the top of the stairwell and immediately removed by way of the interior stairwell.  The remaining firefighter on the 2ndfloor continued his search and quickly located an adult female in a bedroom.  The firefighter carried her out to safety, again, by way of the interior stairwell.  Both rescues were made possible due to the stairwell being made tenable by the firefighter operating the initial hose line.

Once outside the two civilians were treated by Firefighter/Medics from District Heights and transported to a Trauma Center that specializes in burns and smoke related injuries.  Injuries sustained by the couple were serious, however, appeared to be non-life threatening.

Additional firefighters arrived and continued to work on extinguishing the fire which had now fully extended into the 2ndfloor and attic area. It required about 20 minutes to completely extinguish the fire.

The officer-in-charge of the first arriving engine, Firefighter/Medic Lieutenant Kris Demattia stated, “All the firefighters did an excellent job on the rescue and extinguishing the fire.  Two more minutes and the outcome could have been very different.”

Personnel from the Office of the Fire Marshal have listed the cause of the fire as undetermined with the investigation open and on-going. The area of origin appears to be in a detached structure immediately adjacent to the house.  The fire loss is estimated at $25,000 and no additional injuries to civilians or firefighters were reported.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Fire/EMS and Police Department Conduct Interagency Initiative

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

The Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department and Prince George’s County Police Department interact daily to solve both routine and complex emergencies for the citizens and residents of the County.  Part of effective operations is setting expectations of the capabilities of each Department and the approach each takes to provide excellent service delivery. Understanding these important facts early on in the careers of firefighters, paramedics, and police officers is critical.  Recently, Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department’s Technical Services Division, led by Acting Assistant Chief Michael Marino and his team, delivered the training course entitled “Fire Operations 101” at the Prince George’s County Police Department’s Training and Education Division for recruit session 139.  Topics discussed included composition of the Department, capabilities of different apparatus and personnel, command structure, basic operations, and common misconceptions. 

“This interagency initiative to educate newly appointed members of the Fire/EMS Department and Police Department provides an opportunity to increase awareness for all public safety responders,” said Fire Chief Benjamin M. Barksdale. “In addition, it also supports many of the recommendations outlined in the newly released Sharon Road Safety Investigation report.”
The training session also focused on the numerous programs where both departments integrate efficiently to share resources.  Instances include the Tactical EMS program, which is one of the busiest in the nation, High Threat Medical Program (TECC) for police, fire, and EMS, and other programs.  In the near future, a reciprocal “Police Operations 101” program with PGPD personnel is planned for the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS recruits covering some of the same basic topic areas.  Assistant Chief Marino stated, “I have had the opportunity to complete both the police and fire academy and work on a number of interagency projects understanding these issues firsthand.  Effectively comprehending each Department’s capabilities prior to an incident, from the beginning of a career, will pay dividends for our community and public safety professionals for many years to come.”

Fire/EMS Department’s Emergency Operations Commander, Deputy Fire Chief Brian Frankel, stated, “By starting our focus at the newest members of our agencies, these programs will ensure that all of our emergency response personnel are better prepared to address the needs of our communities.  We are excited about this program as it will continue to build a stronger and more resilient public safety team.” 

Assistant Fire Chief Marino provides classroom instruction to police recruits on FIRE Operations 101

Monday, January 28, 2019

PGFD Orders New Fire/EMS Apparatus

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

Prince George's County Fire Chief Benjamin M. Barksdale is proud to announce a significant purchase of fire and EMS apparatus. The apparatus purchase has been funded by the County and ordered through Atlantic Emergency Solutions using Certificate of Performance (COP) Funds. 

AES Purchase:
(3) 2019 Pierce Enforcer 107’ Ladder Trucks $3,647,300
(3) 2019 Pierce Enforcer Engines $2,283,000
(1) 2019 Pierce Enforcer “Enhanced” Engine (Rural Water Supply) $892,000
(8) 2019 Type 1 Chevrolet Wheeled Coach Ambulances $2,252,904

(10) 2019 Chevy Tahoe Command Vehicles $564,000 (purchased through Fleet with COP funding).

GRAND Total of $9,639,204 

The new apparatus will upgrade front line units and will enhance our fleet of reserve apparatus.  No word yet on which station is to receive the new units. 

• Similar in design to recently delivered T821
• Enforcer 70” cab and chassis with flat roof and seating for six
• Detroit Diesel DD13 engine
• Allison EVS 4500 transmission
• Pierce high performance air conditioning system
• HiViz LED Lighting Firetech 12volt LED headlights and scene lighting
• Whelen LED emergency lighting package
• 107’ Ascendant aerial device
• 750 lb tip load dry 500 lb wet
• 1500 GPM pre-piped pinnable waterway
• Pierce aluminum tandem rearmount aerial body
• Side stack and torque box ground ladder storage
• Pierce custom graphics
• 230.5” wheelbase
•OAL 40’ 3.75”

• Similar in design to recently delivered E 841
• Enforcer 70” cab and chassis with flat roof and seating for six
• Detroit Diesel DD13 engine
• Allison EVS 4500 transmission
• Pierce high performance air conditioning system
• HiViz LED Lighting Firetech 12volt LED headlights and scene lighting
• Whelen LED emergency lighting package
• 725 gallon water tank with low rear hosebed
• Pierce aluminum short +5 pumper body
• Hale QMAX 1500 GPM fire pump
• Front intake with swivel
• Pierce custom graphics
• 177.5” wheelbase
• OAL 29’ 4.25”/ OAH 9' 7"

• Similar in design to E845
• Enforcer 60” cab and chassis with 10” raised roof and seating for six
• Detroit Diesel DD13 engine
• Allison EVS 4500 transmission
• Pierce high performance air conditioning system
• HiViz LED Lighting Firetech 12volt LED headlights and scene lighting
• Whelen LED emergency lighting package
• 1500 gallon water tank with low rear hosebed
• Pierce aluminum pumper tanker body
• Hale QMAX 1500 GPM fire pump
• 100 gallons foam cell with Husky 12 foam system
• Front intake with swivel
• Pierce custom graphics
• 211.5” wheelbase
• OAL 35’ 3” / OAH 9' 5"

(Randy Schwartz - Regional Account Manager)

Thursday, January 24, 2019

MEDIA ADVISORY: Prince George's Public Safety Assist in Food Delivery for Furloughed Federal Employees

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

The Prince George’s County Public Safety Assistance Program (PSAP) has accepted a generous donation of food, which will be distributed to furloughed federal employees. Two members of the business community, who wish to remain anonymous, purchased $11,000 worth of non-perishable food products and donated the items to the PSAP. The County’s Department of Social Services, in cooperation with County-based food pantries, will assist in distributing the food. 

The PSAP is a 501c3 organization comprised of County Public Safety agencies. Each year, the group collects food-related items and donations that are delivered during the holiday season to needy families within Prince George’s County. In 2018, the PSAP delivered nearly 3600 food baskets. The PSAP consists of the Fire/EMS Department, Police, Office of the Sheriff, Department of Corrections and Homeland Security.

Prince George’s County Public Safety leadership will meet as the donated food products are being prepared for delivery to food pantries. Media is invited to attend this event.

WHAT:            PSAP Donated Food Delivery for furloughed federal employees

WHEN:           Friday, January 25th 2019, 9:30 am to 10:30 am 

WHERE:         PSAP Warehouse, 4621 Boston Way, Lanham, MD 

WHO:              Public Safety Agencies leadership, PSAP staff, Department of Social Services

Plenty of photo ops and interviews will be available.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Stay Warm Safely - Dangerous Cold Temperatures in the Forecast

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Public Information Officer, 240-508-7930
MEBrady@co.pg.md.us     @PGFDPIO and @PGFDNews

Dangerously cold temperatures are in our forecast and your Prince George's County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department would like to remind everyone that staying warm in your home without keeping "Safety First" is one of the leading causes of residential fires.  Cold weather also could be unhealthy if you venture outdoors unprepared.

We are reminding 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, general heating safety tips, hypothermia and frostbite prevention.

Stay Safe

The civilian, career and volunteer men and women of the Fire/EMS Department 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 Benjamin M. Barksdale.  According to National Fire Prevention Association (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 the United States Fire Administration (USFA) report that from 2013-2015, an average of 45,900 home heating fires occurred in the United States each year. These fires caused an annual average of approximately 205 deaths, 725 injuries and $506 million 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 Barksdale. “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.  Safety First ensures everyone goes home.” 

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. - - Never use an extension cord with space heaters - plug directly into wall socket.

Using a kerosene heater???  Never refuel indoors.  Remove the kerosene heater outdoors, turn off and wait for it to cool down before refueling and only use the correct type of fuel.

General Heating Tips     

•    Furnaces, fireplaces and chimneys should be cleaned and checked each year by an appropriate professional prior to using.  Clear away any clutter from these heating devices, at least 3 feet away.

•    Only use seasoned wood in fireplaces, never use ignitable liquids to start a fire and do not overload your appliance.

•    The 3-foot rule also 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.

Finally, ensure your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms are working by pushing the test button on the front cover.  If you do not hear an audible warning, replace your alarm with a new 10-year, tamper proof, with hush feature alarm.  Having a working smoke alarm dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. A working CO detector will protect you and your family from deadly "silent killer" fumes that may be building up in your home.  Remember to practice a home escape plan frequently with your family. Residents of Prince George’s County can contact our "Safety First" smoke alarm program by calling 311.  A firefighter will install a working smoke alarm in your home free of charge. 

 For additional safety info from the United States Fire Administration,
Stay Healthy

With colder temperatures in the forecast for this week, Prince George’s County Fire/EMS and Health Department are joining in a common voice to remind our residents to avoid serious health problems that can occur due to prolonged exposure to cold weather. The two most common conditions are hypothermia and frostbite.

 “All residents must take precautionary actions as a primary defense against injuries and illness resulting from extreme cold weather conditions,” said Chief Barksdale. “When exposed to cold weather, our bodies lose heat faster than it can produce it, resulting in bodily injury, illness, and even death.”

The Fire/EMS Department advises all residents to check on your elderly relatives and neighbors to ensure they have adequate heat and protection from the cold.  Limit the amount of time your pet spends outside.  Bring your pets inside when outdoor temperatures are freezing cold; pets can also contract hypothermia very quickly.

Hypothermia is one of the serious health problems that can be caused by exposure during cold weather.  If a person’s body temperature drops below 95 degrees, immediately seek medical attention.

In mild cases the symptoms include:

•    Uncontrollable shivering
•    Pale and cold skin

Other more serious signs include:

•    Confusion or sleepiness
•    Slurred speech
•    Shallow breathing
•    Weak pulse
•    Stiffness in the arms or legs
•    Or, poor control over body movements

In the case of serious symptoms, contact the victim’s doctor or call 911.

The homeless are a particular concern when there are freezing temperatures.  If you know of a homeless person that could use an offer of assistance to protect themselves from hypothermia, consider contacting the Homeless Hotline at 888-731-0999.

In any case where hypothermia is suspected, until help arrives or the person is seen by a doctor, move the person to a warm room, warm the body with dry layers of blankets or clothing, and give warm beverages.

Frostbite refers to actual freezing and subsequent destruction of body tissue which is likely to occur any time skin temperature gets much below 32F.  The areas most likely to freeze are toes, fingers, ears, cheeks and the tip of the nose.

Individual at risk for frostbite include those with impaired circulation, the elderly, the very young and anyone who remains outside for prolonged periods.  The danger increases if the individual becomes wet.

Symptoms of frostbite include:

•    Gradual numbness;
•    Hardness and paleness of the affected area during exposure,
•    Pain and tingling or burning in affected area following warming; and
•    Possible change of skin color to purple


Follow these tips to weather the winter in a healthy way:

•    Cover your head.  You lose as much as 50 percent of your body heat through your head.
•    Wear several layers of lightweight, loose fitting clothing.  The air between the layers acts as insulation to keep you warmer.
•    Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect lungs from direct, extremely cold air.  Cover your ears and lower part of your face as well.
•    Wear mittens rather than fingered gloves.  The close contact of fingers helps to keep your hands warm.
•    Wear warm leg coverings and heavy socks or two pairs of lightweight socks.
•    Wear waterproof boots or sturdy shoes to keep your feet warm and dry.

Finally, areas of water may start to freeze over during this cold spell.  Never venture out onto frozen bodies of water.  Consider these areas to be thin ice and avoid at all costs.  This information includes pets as many humans get themselves into trouble venturing out to retrieve pets that have fallen into freezing water.  All frozen areas of water should be considered “thin ice” and “extremely dangerous.”