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Wednesday, March 25, 2009


A Riverdale neighborhood convenience and grocery store has been declared a total loss after a late morning fire. At about 11:15 AM, Wednesday, March 25, 2009, Firefighters and Paramedics from the Riverdale/Bladensburg area were dispatched to a 911 report of smoke coming from the roof the LA Consentida Grocery Store at 5401 Kenilworth Avenue in Riverdale. The store was open, operating and occupied. Firefighters arrived and encountered a 1-story, approximately 100’ X 50’, stand-alone commercial structure with heavy smoke issuing from the roof. Firefighters evacuated all employees and patrons of the store and advanced handlines into the structure and started to attack the fire in the ceiling and roof structure.

The fire proved to be a challenge and difficult to access as two layers of suspended ceiling and three layers of roof structure provided large void spaces for the fire to extend horizontally and eventually burning through the roof. Approximately 15 minutes into the fire-fight, amid concerns for Firefighter safety, all personnel were ordered withdrawn from the interior of the building. Master stream, large diameter hoselines, were set up on the exterior of the building and on aerial ladders to provide large volumes of water to extinguish the fire.

A 2ND Alarm was sounded bringing 65 Firefighter/Medics to the scene. The fire was controlled and extinguished in about an hour.

No civilian or firefighter injuries were reported, however, several firefighters were treated in a rehab area established by paramedics after experiencing signs and symptoms of exhaustion.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation and preliminary fire loss is estimated at $500,000.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Greenbelt Apartment Fire - 172 Westway

Just after 12 Noon on Tuesday, March 24, 2009, Firefighters and Paramedics from Greenbelt and surrounding communities were alerted to an apartment fire. Fire/EMS units arrived within minutes at 172 Westway, a 3-story garden style apartment building, to find heavy smoke coming from the top floor and roof. An aggressive interior fire attack was established in concert with fellow Firefighters performing vertical ventilation on the roof. An electrical malfunction in a terrace level apartment ignited a fire that extended to the upper floors by way of the interior of the walls within the building. A 2ND Alarm was sounded bringing a total of nearly 60 firefighter/Medics to the scene; some units staged a short distance from the fire in the event they were needed but were not used. Approximately 45 firefighters worked for 30 minutes to extinguish the fire and spent another hour ensuring the fire was completely extinguished. Fortunately there were no injuries to civilians or firefighters.

Acting Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones was on the fireground and impressed with the operations of the Fire/EMS Department. He stated, “I commend the firefighters that worked extremely hard on this very challenging fire. Their hard work resulted in limiting the amount of fire damage to the building. I also acknowledge the efforts of our Incident Commanders for their forward thinking in the deployment of resources to extinguish the fire and in keeping everyone safe.”
The Fire/EMS Departments Citizens Services Unit provided assistance to 5 families, consisting of 7 adults and 8 children, which are displaced from their apartments. These 15 residents will be placed into temporary shelter by apartment management.

Fire Investigators determined the cause of the fire to be accidental and attributed to an electrical malfunction. Fire loss is estimated at $75,000.
Silver Hill Fire/EMS Station was the busiest Prince George's County
station in 2008 with 17, 318 responses.

Each year the Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department participates in FIREHOUSE National Run Survey. Being as we are a combination, career and volunteer, we fall into the paid department category.

Statistics information is compiled by Christine Barker, Manager, Information Management. Once complete the report is sent to me for submittal to FIREHOUSE Magazine and to the Fire Chief for his review.

The 2008 PGFD National Run Survey

Department Total Fire Calls: 18,274
Department Total EMS Calls: 103,638
False Alarms: 12,063
Total Calls for Department: 133,975

Busiest Fire Station: Station 829 – Silver Hill 17,318 responses
(engine, ambulance, medic)

Busiest Engine Company: Engine 833 – Kentland 5043 responses
Busiest Ladder Company Truck 814 – Berwyn Heights 935 resp.
Busiest Battalion Chief Battalion Chief 803 1337 responses
Busiest Ambulance A829 - Silver Hill 5477 responses
Busiest Rescue Squad Rescue Squad 849 – Laurel 2728 responses
Busiest Haz-Mat Unit HM 830 – Landover Hills 464 responses
Busiest EMS Officer EMS 814 2118 responses
Busiest Medic Unit Medic 829 – Silver Hill 6659 responses

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Highly Decorated Fire Major Retires

After 26 years of dedicated services, one of the most highly decorated members of the Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department is retiring. Major Victor N. Ferreira, Jr. has announced his intentions to retire at the end of March 2009. Major Ferreira, who currently serves as a Commander of the Fire/EMS Training Academy, has previously been awarded two medals of valor—a Gold Medal for his attempts in rescuing a family during a house fire, and a Bronze Medal for his skillful operation of the bomb squad robot during a barricade of a murder suspect. Additionally, he has twice been awarded Fire Fighter of the Year, as well as an honoree in five Unit Citations. Throughout his career, Major Ferreira has earned close to two dozen awards and commendations from various governments and organizations. He is also credited with obtaining National Accreditation for the Fire/EMS Training Academy, which is now a model for fire departments country-wide that are attempting to do the same.

Media may best remember Major Ferreira for his role as a Bomb Technician during the Atlanta Olympics and the explosion in Centennial Park in 1996. He was the first arriving Bomb Technician on location, and was subsequently interviewed by nearly every local and national media outlet in the days that followed.

When asked which memories will follow him when he leaves the Department, Major Ferreira stated, “The house fire on 17th Avenue, where several family members were rescued. Although we had hoped for a better outcome of this incident, I was part of a crew that worked extremely well together and we did everything right. Additionally, I will always remember my work with the Bomb Squad and the advancements made while at the Fire/EMS Training Academy”. He concluded, saying, “Of course, it’s the people of this Fire/EMS Department I will remember and miss the most”.

Major Ferreira, his wife and their four children reside in Tracy’s Landing, Maryland. He has accepted a position with the District of Columbia Government as Occupational Safety and Health Manager.

Acting Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones stated, “On behalf of the entire Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department and the citizens and residents we are sworn to protect, I commend Victor Ferreira on a Job Well Done. He has certainly left his mark on this Department, and his efforts will continue to have an impact for years to come. I wish him much success in his future endeavors.”

Fire Lt. Selected as K of C Career Firefighter of the Year

Fire Lt. Douglas P. Sudik was recently recognized by the Knights of Columbus as the County Career Firefighter of the Year at the Knights of Columbus in Bowie. The Fire/EMS Department has been made aware that he also has been selected at the State level for this honorable distinction.

Lt. Sudik was part of a crew from District Heights Fire/EMS Station 826 that operated at the scene of a house fire in the 4100 Block of 24th Street in Temple Hills on September 19, 2008. A kitchen fire on the first floor generated thick black smoke and high heat. The conditions inside the house were deteriorating rapidly and one of the occupants discovered that she could not escape with her great grandson from the second floor. A 911 call-taker helped the victim by providing pre-arrival instructions until firefighters arrived. As one team of firefighters extinguished the fire, Sudik and crew went to search and rescue operations. The couple was located in a bedroom above the room that was on fire. Sudik provided each of them with fresh breathing air from his face piece until they were successfully removed from the structure. The child was handed out a second story window to other firefighters that used ground ladders and the adult female was removed by way of the interior stairwell. After a brief stay at an area hospital that treated them for smoke inhalation – everyone was released.

Fire Lt. Douglas P. Sudik will be honored by the Knights of Columbus State Council as their Maryland State Career Firefighter of the Year on Sunday, March 29, 2009, at 3:00 PM. The awards ceremony will take place at St. Johns Church, 689 Ritchie Highway, Severna Park, MD. A reception will immediately follow at Knights of Columbus #3413, Holy Trinity Council, 335 N. Ritchie Highway, Severna Park, MD.

Fire Lt. Sudik is still assigned to the District Heights Fire/EMS Station.

Victim Saved From Burning Vehicle by Maryland State Police

Two Maryland State Police Troopers are credited with rescuing a female from her burning vehicle this morning in Upper Marlboro. At about 6:30 AM, Wednesday, March 11, 2009, an adult female driver experienced a medical emergency related to low blood sugar while driving on Route 301 near Leeland Road.

Her car ran off the roadway and into a wooded area and caught fire. She was not injured from the crash, however, was incoherent and non-responsive from her medical condition and was not aware of the imminent danger of the fire, heat and smoke. Just moments after the incident occurred, two Maryland Police Troopers happened upon the scene and without hesitation or fear of their own safety rushed to the aid of the victim.

By this time the fire had spread from the engine compartment and was now extending to the underside of the vehicle as well as the surrounding brush and trees. One of the Troopers realized that the victim was non-responsive and was unable to unlock the car doors. Using his police baton the Trooper broke out a window, unlocked the doors, and removed the victim to safety.

Bowie Volunteer Fire Chief Lee Havens was the Fire/EMS Departments on-scene Incident Commander and credited the Troopers with saving the life of the female, he stated, “Without any doubt, the incoherent and non-responsive female would have sustained fatal burn injuries if it had not been for the immediate actions of the Maryland State Police. The fire had well extended beyond the engine compartment when they approached the burning vehicle and they placed themselves in harms way to save a life.”

Firefighters and paramedics arrived a short time later and extinguished the fire that had totally consumed the car. Paramedics tended to the victim and after a short period of treatment she became coherent. She became coherent enough that she refused any transport to the hospital and remained to assist the Maryland State Police with their investigation. The Maryland State Police, Forestville Barracks (301-568-8101) are handling the investigation.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009



Program Starts April 1, 2009

The Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department’s Office of the Fire Marshal will begin charging for fire inspections, effective April 1, 2009. County occupants who are required to show proof of a fire inspection in order to operate as a business, educational facility, health institution or as necessary to become a licensed board and care facility or other licensed facility, will be required to pay nominal fees for inspectional services. This is per amended Prince Georges County Fire Safety Law Subtitle 11 (Section 11-163). The Fire/EMS Department plans to work with residents to ensure no one suffers financial hardship as a result of the imposition of new inspectional fees.

Prince George’s County Fire Inspectors will continue conducting fire inspections with the same high quality our citizens and residents have grown to expect. The Department is diligently working to fully automate the Office of the Fire Marshal’s administration and code enforcement program. These efforts will allow Fire Inspectors to expedite service, thereby increasing the level of quality customer service.

Charges for services are as follows.
Assembly (a) 1,001 or more individuals, $300.00
Assembly (b) 301 – 1000 individuals, $200.00
Assembly (c) 50 – 300 individuals, $100.00
Family or Group Day Care Homes (a) initial inspection, $45.00
Family or Group Day Care Homes (b) Renewal Inspection, $30.00
Residential (f) Foster Care Homes, $25.00

All fees for services are outlined in the Prince Georges County Fire Safety Law Subtitle 11, which is found on the Prince George’s County Website.

For questions concerning fee implementation or to schedule an inspection, contact the Fire/EMS Department’s Fire Prevention office at 301-583-1830. You may also send an e-mail to fireprevention@co.pg.md.us.

GAZETTE ARTICLE: Retired Public Servant Still Giving Back

by Timmy Gelles GAZETTE NEWSPAPER Staff Writer

It's a cold Saturday evening in late February and 50 firefighters have been battling a blaze at a single-family home for over an hour. Nearby, a large RV is parked and helping the effort, not by providing water to battle the fire, but to stave off dehydration.

And inside, helping firefighters and paramedics is H. Edward "Eddie" Ricks. "I can't do heavy lifting or fight fires, but this I can do," Ricks, 64, said. "When you hydrate somebody, it's as important as fighting the fire, or anything else at the scene of an emergency."

The Laurel native operates Laurel's Rehabilitation/Canteen Unit. The 44-foot long vehicle provides free beverages, food, restroom facilities and shelter during emergencies or festivals. It includes grilles, microwaves, coolers and other amenities. Ricks is a former city councilman from the 1980s, firefighter and director of the Family Court Operations Division of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Three years ago at a fire on Route 197, Ricks said he saw the Laurel Volunteer Fire Department's Ladies Auxiliary Unit providing food and beverages out of the back of a pickup truck.

Knowing Bowie and Prince George's County had their own canteen trucks and heeding Mayor Craig A. Moe's desire for the city to be self-sufficient, he said he was inspired to find ways for the city to have its own. Ricks said Moe had him search for a vehicle that could provide rehabilitation services, including provisions and minor medical care like triages. Since purchasing the $35,000 1989 canteen truck from the Anne Arundel County Alarmer's Association in August, Ricks said he and 23 other volunteers have replaced the sinks, microwaves, grilles, refrigerators and coolers to meet health codes and allow for quicker cooking times, all while remaining well under the $70,000-plus operating budget provided by the city.

"That's a major commitment of tax dollars for something you don't use everyday," he said. "But when you need it, you need it." Ricks added that a new canteen vehicle would have cost the city at least $175,000. Ricks is currently a member of the city's Emergency Services Commission and, when not responding to an emergency or attending a festival with the canteen, finds ways to replace or update the vehicle's cooking and cleaning amenities.

Robert "Pop" Grant, Laurel Volunteer Fire Department vice-president, said Ricks' involvement with the canteen is an extension of his personal goodwill. "He's out to help the community as a whole.

And whenever he can, he does," he said of his colleague of 27 years. Jim Collins, city spokesman, said Ricks remains a public servant, even in retirement. "Some people as they get older slow down but he keeps going like the Energizer Bunny," he said. "The canteen is another extension of what he's done his entire life, and that's take care of people."

E-mail Timmy Gelles at tgelles@gazette.net.

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter, EMT or an administrative member should visit their local Fire/EMS Station or call 301-583-1914.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Firefighters Work Quickly to Save Homes from Brush Fire

At about 3:00 PM, Monday, March 9, 2009, firefighters from the Allentown area were alerted to smoke in the area of the 9200 block of Allentown Road. Firefighters responded and discovered a large, fast moving brush fire along the power lines. The area burning was near two housing communities and the wind was assisting in the rapid extension of fire towards a cul-de-sac of homes in the 3400 block of Wayneswood Road. It became quickly apparent that the fire was spreading so rapidly and consuming such a large area that the incident exceeded the resources available on the scene and additional fire units were called. The fire burned quickly through field brush and wooded areas and was moving into the backyards of the homes on Wayneswood Road. Firefighters worked feverishly to stretch hoselines and cut off the fire before the exposed structures became involved. Sheds, backyard furniture and other yard items stated to be consumed by the fire. The fire came within a few feet of the five homes just as firefighters arrived and contained the fire.

Overall, there was about 6 acres of woods and field brush involved with fire. About 70 firefighters staffing seven 4-wheel drive brush units and eleven engines spent nearly 2-hours battling this blaze before declaring the fire contained. Numerous hot spots remained smoldering as firefighters and units from the Maryland Department of Forestry will remain on the scene into this evening ensuring the fire is completely out.
No injuries were reported.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Article in today's WASHINGTON POST that is about life in Baden. Several mentions of Baden Fire/EMS Station and several of their volunteer members.

Robert Buddy Boswell lives on 30 acres just three minutes away from the Baden Volunteer Fire Department, where he spends hours as a volunteer. (By Jim Brocker For The Washington Post)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Change Your Clock - Change Your Battery

Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones confirms that this smoke alarm is working in a home on Flagstaff Street in Landover, MD this afternoon.
District 5 County Council Member Andrea Harrison and Fire Chief Jones discuss fire safety matters with Landover resident William Lowry.

Prince George’s County Firefighters greeted morning commuters at Metro Stations and went door-to-door as a start to a weekend long campaign to remind citizens and residents to stay safe. With a switch to Daylight Saving Time on Sunday, March 8, 2009, firefighters are reminding everyone that it is also a good time to remember to change the battery in their smoke alarm and carbon Monoxide detector.

Prince George’s County Council Member Andrea Harrison, District 5, joined Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones and firefighters from the 1st Battalion and members of the Community Outreach office as they checked smoke alarms on Flagstaff Street in Landover this afternoon. Firefighters will continue this effort throughout the weekend in all areas of the County.

If you need a smoke alarm, installed in your home, free of charge, contact our Livable Communities Smoke Alarm Hotline at 301-864-SAFE (7233).

Landover House Fire with Fatalities

Just before 3:00 AM, Friday, March 6, 2009, Firefighters and Paramedics from the Landover area were alerted by a 911 caller that smoke was coming from a house in the 7200 Block of Flagstaff Street. Firefighters from Kentland were the first to arrive at this 1-story, with basement, single family home and indicated that they had heavy smoke coming form the house and a fire in the basement. A neighbor advised firefighters that the home is normally occupied by an adult female and a male acquaintance and that their car was still in the driveway. Firefighters initiated an interior attack on the fire with a simultaneous search and rescue for trapped occupants. The basement fire was quickly contained and extinguished within 10 minutes. The search resulted in two occupants being located and removed from the structure. One occupant, a 78 year-old-male, was found in the basement, removed from the house and pronounced on the scene. A 65 year-old-female was located in the 1ST floor living room and transported by paramedics to Prince George’s County Trauma Center in extremely critical condition. She succumbed to her injuries a short time after her arrival at the hospital.

A smoke alarm was found on the first floor and it appears that it was in working condition. A preliminary indication is that the victims were attempting to exit the house when conditions inside rapidly deteriorated and they were overcome by the intense heat and thick smoke.
Fire Investigators continue to search for the exact cause of the fire, however, they have no reason to believe the fire is suspicious. The basement fire resulted in fire loss estimated at $50,000. There were no firefighter injuries. The identities of the deceased are being withheld pending confirmation of identity and notification of family.

Firefighters throughout Prince George’s County had already been scheduled to go door-to-door and greet commuters at County Metro Stations to remind everyone that when they move their clock forward on Sunday for Daylight Saving Time to also change the battery in the smoke alarm and CO detectors as well. As a result of this morning tragic incident, firefighters from the Landover area will canvass the Flagstaff Street area providing fire safety information, fresh alarm batteries and if needed, a working smoke alarm will be installed, free of charge. This activity is scheduled to occur at 1:00 PM.

Any Prince George’s County citizen and resident can obtain a smoke alarm, installed in their home, free of charge by contacting our Livable Communities Smoke Alarm Hotline at 301-864-SAFE (7233).

Remember these Fire Safety Tips:

  • Have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home and in bedrooms (if you sleep with your door closed).

  • Test your smoke alarm monthly – replace the battery at least once-a-year.

  • Plan and practice a home escape plan in the event an emergency occurs in your home. Ensure you identify two ways out of every room and designate a meeting place outside.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Acting Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones

Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson named Eugene A. Jones, a retired Fire/EMS Department Major, as Acting Fire Chief. Eugene Jones will take over the top spot of one of the largest and busiest combination, career and volunteer, Fire/EMS Departments in the Country. His appointment was effective February 9, 2009. The position became available with the announcement that Lawrence H. Sedgwick Jr. was retiring.

“Eugene Jones has a wealth of experience working in several capacities throughout the Fire/EMS Department and the Office of Homeland Security,” said Vernon Herron, Public Safety Director. “He is currently working on the emergency response plan for all first responders in Prince George’s County. He has tremendous leadership skills and will maintain the high caliber of services our residents have grown to expect.”

Jones, of Beltsville, has 25 years of fire service experience and has a proven record of emergency management and homeland security experience. He will continue to work on projects he was involved with as the Exercise and Training Officer of the Office of Homeland Security. He also served as a Major in the Fire/EMS Department’s Office of Professional Standards and Office of Emergency Management and has more than 10 years of experience as a mediator.

Prince George’s County is located in the state of Maryland immediately north, east and south of our nation’s capital. As of 2007, according to U. S. Census Bureau estimates, it had a population of 828,770 and is the wealthiest county in the nation with an African-American majority. It is part of the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area, with its county seat in Upper Marlboro. It is home to the University of Maryland at College Park; Bowie Baysox, “Class AA” affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles; NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt; Andrews Air Force Base, which houses Air Force One; National Harbor Complex; and Fed Ex Field, home of the NFL’s Washington Redskins. In June of 2008, Prince George’s County received Standard & Poor’s AAA rating which, according to county officials, makes it one of 48 counties in the United States to receive such a rating.

The Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department, under the leadership of Acting Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones, is one of the busiest combination career and volunteer systems in the nation. It consists of 45 fire/rescue facilities and operates under a Charter form of government established in 1970. The Department has a complement of 750 career firefighter/medics, 1100 volunteer firefighters and 80 civilian personnel. Annually, approximately 130,000 calls for assistance are placed by county citizens and residents. Seventy-five percent of those calls are requests for emergency medical services.

I Predict a Busy Weekend for PGFD

The men and women of one of the largest combined; career, volunteer and civilian, Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department’s in the Country will do our part to remind citizens and residents of an important event this weekend.

Firefighters, EMT’s, paramedics and civilian members of the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department will be out in force this weekend to remind everyone that when we adjust our clocks forward for Daylight Saving Time on Sunday, March 8, 2009, it is also an excellent time to change the batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors as well.

Commuters using METRO Stations on Friday morning, March 6, 2009, may be greeted by members of the Department with a reminder that when you Change your Clock – Change Your Battery. Members will also visit communities throughout Prince George’s County over the weekend with an offer to check smoke alarms and if needed; install fresh batteries or a new smoke alarm.

Citizens and residents need not wait for a visit, they may call our Livable Communities Smoke Alarm Hotline at 301-864-SAFE (7233) and make arrangements for a member to visit your home and install a smoke alarm or fresh battery, free of charge.