Thursday, July 30, 2009
Upgrading Advanced Life Support at the Chillum Fire/EMS Station #844.
A Paramedic Unit will now respond from this location.
Re-deploying suppression resources from Chillum Fire/EMS Station.
Firefighters will be relocated to provide additional staffing at the Chillum-Adelphi Fire/EMS Station #834 and Bunker Hill Fire/EMS Station #855.
Upgrading staffing levels at Calverton Fire/EMS Station #841.
Daily staffing at this station will be between 4 to 6 personnel.
Calverton Fire/EMS Station #841 will provide Fire/Ambulance-BLS/Haz Mat Unit.
This station will no longer provide a paramedic engine company.
The excellent relationship and mutual aid response between the two jurisdictions will continue as they always have. There are no plans to disrupt or alter the excellent mutual aid response between the two jurisdictions. Fire Chief Jones and Bowers discussed other items of mutual interest and agreed to continue an open dialogue between the two Departments. One important policy was established; a meeting of the Department’s Operational Commands will meet on a monthly basis to discuss the progress of these changes and the need for any additional actions. If there are any “red flag” issues that develop as a result of these changes both Fire Chiefs agreed to meet and discuss the issues as soon as possible.
Two adult females sustained traumatic injuries in a head-on crash on rain slickened roads. A 2-vehicle head-on crash occurred at about 8:15 PM, Wednesday, July 29, 2009, on Powder Mill Road near Center Road on the Beltsville Agriculture Research Center. The driver of each vehicle sustained multi-system trauma and were treated on the scene by paramedics and transported to a nearby trauma center on-board the US Park Police Helicopter. One of the female patients, approximately 50 tears of age, was trapped within her mini-van for about 10 minutes before firefighters had her extricated. The other female is approximately 30 years of age. There injuries are serious, however, appear to be non-life threatening.
Firefighters, EMT’s and Paramedics from Beltsville, Greenbelt, Berwyn Heights and College Park were on the scene. The US Park Police will be investigating the crash.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
The Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department, in cooperation with the County Office of Homeland Security, is currently conducting training for teenagers to be certified as members of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). The curriculum for Teen CERT is the standard national CERT training with an emphasis on student service and on hazards unique to the Fire/EMS Department and disaster management. Eleven Prince George’s County teenagers consisting of Fire/EMS Department Explorers and members of the County Summer Youth Program are participating in the Teen CERT training curriculum.
Teen CERT is a National Training Initiative that prepares youth to “mitigate, prepare, respond and recover” themselves, their families and their school in the event of a disaster. The program covers the areas of fire safety and basic fire combating techniques; recognizing injuries and basic first aid, CPR, basic team building and emergency communications systems.
Certificates will be provided upon completion of the three day course. After receiving their certification for Teen CERT, students are enabled to assist members of their community in an event where public safety officials are responding and are able to assist in various volunteer roles.
The training has been administered by instructors from the Fire/EMS Training Academy and held at the Fire Services Building in Landover Hills.
Prince George’s County Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones, a CERT advocate and organizer for Fire/EMS Explorers program, stated, “Students will learn life skills, fulfill community service requirements, give back to the community, build self esteem and receive the satisfaction that comes from helping others.” He summarized the program saying, “The teaching and the training of our youth will have a tremendous impact on how well we mitigate, prepare, respond to, and recover from technical and natural disasters both today and in the years to come.”
For more information and anyone interested in participating in the CERT training and becoming certified should contact the Prince George’s County Office of Homeland Security, Ernest E. Walker, at 301-883-3300.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Faced with the prospect of receiving additional career staffing at the expense of the Calverton community, Beltsville Volunteer Chief Al Schwartz called a meeting of his membership to discuss their options. The volunteer membership wanted to become part of the solution and have clearly demonstrated that they have the leadership and resources to help. The membership at the Beltsville Volunteer Fire Department, Inc. has opted to reduce a portion of their complement of career staffing and increase the amount of time that the station is staffed by volunteer firefighters and EMT’s at the Beltsville Fire/EMS Station #831. This decision by the volunteers equates to the Calverton Fire/EMS Station #841, scheduled to become a haz-mat only station, to continue to provide fire suppression and EMS services.
Chief Jones, upon hearing of the decision, stated, “I commend Beltsville Volunteer Chief Schwartz and his membership for making this decision that will allow us to continue to staff the Calverton Station. This decision is just another example of how the volunteers from around the County have been contributing during these tough economic times and ensuring that the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department continues to provide the best possible services to our citizens and residents.”
The staffing of the Beltsville Fire/EMS Station #831 will change effective, Sunday, August 2, 2009, to day work only staffing. One fire officer and three firefighters will work Monday through Friday from 7:00 am until 3:00 pm. At all other times the station will be volunteer staffed. As stated in the original press release; the staffing plan is a fluid document that is subject to change just about any time.
The Knights of Columbus Hall in Oxon Hill suffered a total loss from a fire that consumed the structure early this morning. Just after 2:00 AM, Tuesday, July 28, 2009, the District of Columbia Fire Department Office of Unified Communications notified Prince George’s County Public Safety Communications of the building fire. Initial reports from DCFD reported that fire had already extended through the roof of the Knights of Columbus Hall at 1501 Southern Avenue in Oxon Hill.
Prince George’s County Firefighters arrived and encountered a 1-story commercial structure with heavy fire showing from the first floor and through the roof. Firefighters immediately went into a defensive operation battling the blaze from the safety of the exterior of the well involved structure. It required 90 minutes for 40 firefighters to bring the fire under control. Fire Investigators have initiated their search for the cause and origin of the fire and have estimated fire loss at $1 million. There were no civilian or firefighter injuries reported.
Knights of Columbus Bishop Patrick J. Byrne Council #3877, “Byrne Manor,” was a popular community social hall that had hosted countless party and social events.
Monday, July 27, 2009
W. Derrick Lea promoted to Fire Major
Seat Pleasant, Tuxedo-Cheverly, Forestville and Allentown Road will have career staffing re-deployed for a 24 hour shift starting at 7AM.
Hyattsville and Berwyn Heights will have their career day crews re-deployed.
The VSU plan will continue, on a reduced basis, when the new staffing plan goes into effect on August 2, 2009.
A piliot program will evaluate the adjusting the number of Fire units dispatched on incidents that, initially, do not require a full box assignment. An assignment of 2 engines, 2 special services and a Battalion Commander will be dispatched to investigate citizen reports of smoke odors, appliances, etc. A full box assignment of 4 engines, 3 specials serices and a Battalion Commander will continue to be dispatched on incidents reporting an actual fire or high-life safety structure. The assignments may be upgraded by the Public Safety Communications Supervisor or the command officer on any given incident.
The new Staffing Plan has been released. These changes will take place on Sunday, August 2, 2009.
LARGO, MD – Prince George’s County Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones today announced redeployment of suppression forces in two Fire/EMS stations and reduced staffing at two other stations as part of a restructured staffing plan.
The new staffing plan was a result of state and county budget cuts, which is reflective of the national economic climate, which has impacted all county agencies.
Jones said he has been working with the leadership of the labor force and volunteer command since March 2009 to develop a staffing plan that will have the least amount of impact on public safety.
Historically, Prince George’s County has staffed the second highest number of stations of any other jurisdiction within the Baltimore-Washington area, Jones said. In addition, 22 Fire/EMS Stations are within 1.5 miles of each other, he said.
“In light of that fact, we have sufficient coverage to allow us to reduce the number of stations we staff with career personnel,” Jones said. “We have response areas that overlap each other which are not necessary. Redeploying personnel makes sense. It reduces costs, improves efficiency and effectiveness. Crew safety is increased for all those affected by the moves reducing the number of two person responses. The Fire/EMS Department has taken great efforts in continuing to provide the best possible fire and emergency medical services.”
“We can no longer continue to operate as we have in the past,” Jones said. “Financial challenges will affect many facets of our organization and require alterations to the manner by which we prepare and respond to calls for service.” He concluded by saying, “We have paid millions of dollars in overtime over the years and we must be more responsible with the tax revenue the citizens provide us to respond to calls for service.”
After careful consideration and examination of these factors, the resulting changes have been recommended: Career staffing at fire/EMS stations will be redeployed according to the areas that demand coverage, as well as to the demand for services.
This is an overview of the consolidation of the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department. These are fluid changes that are subject to adjustment and will be effective Sunday, August 2, 2009.
The following Fire/EMS Stations will have adjustments made to their present staffing levels:
Calverton Fire/EMS Station #841 - The staffing will be moved to provide additional staffing to the nearby Beltsville Fire/EMS Station #831. This will allow the same number of Fire/EMS personnel to run multiple units with sufficient staffing out of one station and reducing the need for overtime when someone takes off on leave. Calverton Fire/EMS Station #841’s central focus will be running the Hazardous Materials resources currently assigned there.
Chillum Fire/EMS Station #844 - The career staffing will be moved to provide additional staffing to the nearby Chillum-Adelphi Fire/EMS Station #834 and the Bunker Hill Fire/EMS Station #855. Emergency Medical Services provided from Chillum Fire/EMS Station #844 will be enhanced by placing an Advanced Life Support Paramedic Unit in service.
Capitol Heights Fire/EMS Station #805 - Will remain open and their response level will be based on volunteer participation. The career staffing will be moved to the District Heights Fire/EMS Station #826.
Riverdale Heights Fire/EMS Station #813 - Will remain open and their response level will be based on volunteer participation. The career staffing will be moved to the Landover Hills Fire/EMS Station #830.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Silver Hill #829 - 7 AM to 7 AM
Bunker Hill #855 - 7 AM to 7 AM
Laurel Rescue #849 - 7 AM to 3 PM
Accokeek #824 - 7 AM to 3 PM
West Lanham Hills #828 - 7 AM to 3 PM
Chapel Oaks #838 - 3 PM to 7 AM
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Fire and emergency medical services are provided through 44 stations that combine 37 volunteer corporations and a career department that combined in 1970 under a Charter form of Government to become the Prince George’s County Fire Department. "EMS" was later added to our official title to appropriately reflect our primary services. Traditionally, a combination of career and volunteers staff the fire/EMS stations located throughout Prince George’s County. In comparison to other area jurisdictions, the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department ranks second in the number of stations, yet, rank last in the number of career staffing and next to last in volunteer participation. Currently, the combined volunteer and career staffing are meeting the challenges in day-to-day staffing. However, overlapping coverage areas, the high number of stations to staff and not enough personnel to continually staff these stations are of a primary concern as we look forward in the operations of this Department.
The volunteer components of our Fire/EMS Department have provided staffing to their respective station and have never been involved in the day-to-day staffing equation by the County. A downturn in the nationwide and county economy has certainly caused Fire/EMS management to make a fiscally responsible review of our staffing. Volunteers have been asked to assist in the daunting task of continuing to provide the best possible fire and emergency medical services to our citizens and residents. Fire Chief Eugene Jones has worked with the volunteer leadership to meet the challenge of providing one of our most valuable resources – staffing of fire and EMS units on a daily basis. “In a time of great financial pressure the chief has shown great leadership to the department. Chief Jones has opened his office to all segments of the department. He will be a great leader with his openness,” said John Alter, Chairman, Prince George’s County Fire Commission.
During the past five months, Chief Jones has joined with the Prince George’s County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association (PGCVFRA) and the Fire Commission to rally volunteers to improve public safety. During this time, volunteers cover day in and day out above the normal coverage patterns. Chief Jones stated, “I am extremely pleased that the volunteers have consistently served the citizens of this County. We have asked them to serve above and beyond their normal response patterns and they have responded well. I appreciate their service.”
The Fire/EMS Department, faced with a reduced staff from retirements, reduced funds to pay overtime and a mandate to fall within its budget, have turned to volunteers in an effort to continue to provide the best fire and emergency medical services possible. A program entitled: Volunteer Staffing Utilization Plan (VSU) identifies dates that volunteers would be required to staff their stations while the career firefighters are re-deployed to cover vacant positions in other stations. The stations are selected so as not to burden any one community on any given day. As of July 1, 2009, the VSU calendar was expanded to include up to eight stations per day that career staff would be re-deployed and the frequency of days also increased placing additional responsibilities on volunteers.
The President of the PGCVFRA, who is also the Volunteer Fire Chief of the Silver Hill Volunteer Fire Department, William “Buddy” King, stated, “I appreciate the cooperation we have been receiving from Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones. The past five months have certainly been challenging for the volunteers. I am extremely proud that the volunteers from many of the stations in the County have been stepping up to staff their stations during these difficult times. Fire Chief Jones’ leadership is a refreshing change to the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department and the Volunteer Fire Departments that serve this County.” He concluded by stating, “I hope the cooperation and leadership style continues and that the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS System will soon be recognized as the premiere combination career/volunteer fire department in the nation.”
The transition in deploying firefighter staffing has not been without issue. Some of the challenges include timely communications and some stations not being able to muster enough volunteers to cover a complete shift. To face these challenges, Fire Chief Jones has opened up direct lines of communications and has provided the volunteer leadership a seat at the decision making table. As we move forward, there will be additional issues as well as accomplishments and with the continued cooperation of career and volunteer leaders, the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department will weather the storm and continue to provide the best possible fire and emergency medical services available. Any negative impacts on public safety have been and will continue to be reduced by the number of volunteers that are providing staffing. While it is a challenge to provide total coverage on a daily basis, the VSU has been a great success and volunteer leadership and rank and file members are to be congratulated for their dedication and commitment to the citizens and residents of Prince George’s County.
Prince George’s County Fire Investigators continue to investigate a Bowie house fire that occurred in mid June. Fire Investigators are being assisted this week by an Anne Arundel County Fire Accelerant Detection/Arson dog, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) as well as officials from Nationwide Insurance Company. Officials from the County Department of Environmental Resources are also on-site to assist with examining the fire protection system. The investigation centers on a house fire that occurred at about 2:30 A.M., June 15, 2009, in the 100 Block of Stan Fey Drive.
The investigation is moving forward as a large crane and small bull dozer were brought on site to remove debris from the basement of the house to allow personnel an opportunity to continue their search for a cause and origin of this fire. The fire loss is estimated at $1.5 million.
Fire Investigators worked throughout the day on Monday, July 20, 2009 and will continue their work today.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Chapel Oaks #838 – 0700 to 0700
Bunker Hill #855 – 0700 – 0700
Riverdale #807 – 0700 – 1500
Boulevard Heights #817 – 0700 – 1500
Forestville #823 – 0700 – 1500 (crew up staffs Morningside #827)
Clinton #825 – 1500 – 0700
Paramedic Ambulance #840 went in-service today at 0700 replacing Medic 840
Staffing converted from dedicated to non-dedicated. Additional changes in the 7th Battalion will lead to enhanced ALS.
Tk829 will go in service at some point today. This truck was previously assigned to Boulevard Heights Station #817.
The children sustained injuries during a fire in their apartment at 5417 56th Place in Riverdale. Firefighters located the unconscious victims in a back bedroom and transported them to the hospital. The fire has been ruled “accidental” and attributed to unattended cooking. The relatively small fire caused an estimated $5,000 in fire loss.
The deceased are identified as:
Jordan Xavier Farrell, DOB 10/23/03, deceased Friday, July 17, 2009.
Jai Alexander Farrell, DOB 7/5/02, deceased Sunday, July 19, 2009.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
A hard-wired smoke alarm was found in the apartment, however, fire investigators could not determine if it was working. The fire originated in the kitchen and caused an estimated $5,000 in fire loss. The fire has been ruled accidental and attributed to unattended cooking. There were no other apartments displaced.
The Fire/EMS Department would like to remind citizens and residents of these fire safety and injury prevention tips:
Citizens and residents are encouraged to contact 911 in the event of an emergency and not complex management – an odor of smoke inside an apartment building would be considered an emergency.
Cooking, primarily, unattended cooking, is the number one cause of fires and fire related injuries in Prince George’s County. When you are cooking and you must leave the kitchen – turn off the stove and oven, otherwise, never leave the kitchen while food is cooking.
Always ensure you have a working smoke alarm. Test your alarm monthly and replace the batteries at least once a year. Citizens can contact our Smoke Alarm Hotline at 301-864-SAFE and have one installed in your home free of charge.
Have your family plan and practice a home escape plan to include two ways out of every room and a designated meeting spot outside.
As is standard procedure whenever a death occurs at a fire incident, the County Police Department Homicide Unit assists Fire Investigators with the investigation.
The combined personnel of the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department including volunteer, career and civilian members will return to the Oak Ridge apartment complex on Saturday morning. The crews will be conducting the Departments Post Incident Neighborhood Intervention Program (PINIP) whereas we return to the scene of a tragic incident and go door-to-door providing citizens and residents with fire safety and injury prevention materials. Smoke alarms can be checked by firefighters and if needed a fresh battery or a new alarm will be installed; free of charge. Personnel will also discuss the planning and practicing of home escape plans.
This PINIP will be performed starting at about 10:00 AM, Saturday, July 18, 2009 in the 5400 56th Place in Riverdale.
There is no new information, at this time, about yesterday’s tragic fire. Updated information will be provided as soon as it is available.
Friday, July 17, 2009
At about 9:53 AM, Prince George’s County Firefighters, Paramedics and Collapse Team were alerted to a vehicle crash into a house in Upper Marlboro. Fire/EMS units arrived at 10400 Croom Road and discovered a two-story farm house with a vehicle that had crashed into the front porch of the house and caused a structural collapse trapping the driver inside the vehicle. The porch roof and other debris collapsed on top of the vehicle and trapped the driver inside. Firefighters and the Collapse Team had to shore up and support the collapsed section of the porch roof and then remove portions of the porch roof and other debris from around the vehicle before completing patient extrication at 10:36 AM.
The lone vehicle occupant, 30ish year old male, experienced a loss of consciousness and medics could not determine if the patient experienced a medical emergency resulting in the crash or if the patient sustained trauma injuries from the crash. As a precaution, the adult male will be treated as a trauma patient and flown by a Maryland State Police Trooper to an area Trauma Center.
A Building Inspector from the County Department of Environmental Resources has been called to the scene to inspect the damage to the house and determine if it safe to occupy.
The County Police Department will be investigating the crash.
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Thursday, July 16, 2009
Firefighters and paramedics typically see these types of injuries during the spring and fall seasons, however, with a recent run of beautiful weather over the past week, many homes have their windows open. While supervision of young ones is the best line of defense to prevent injuries, injury prevention advocates understand that it is not always possible to maintain 100% vigilance over children, especially as they grow through the toddler years. There are some basic safety tips parents, caregivers and homeowners can take to help prevent these types of injuries. Safe Kids USA is an organization whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury, a leading killer of children 14 and under.
They offer the following safety tips to prevent childhood falls:
All windows above the first floor should be equipped with window guards –o preferably guards with emergency release devices in case of a fire.
Open windows that are not protected by a window guard, at the top only; or use window stops so they can only be opened a few inches.
Never rely on window screens to prevent falls. “Window screens are designed to keep bugs out – not children in.”
Supervise children at all times around open windows.
Move furniture away from windows and keep windows locked when they’reo closed.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
An activated smoke alarm was the first indication of danger at a Clinton home this morning. An alarm monitoring company contacted Public Safety Communications at 2:41 AM, Thursday, July 16, 2009, and advised dispatchers that they were receiving a smoke alarm signal from a home at 11201 Tippett Road. As Engine 825 from the Clinton Fire/EMS Station was being notified to respond and investigate the alarm, additional calls were received reporting a fire. The call was upgraded and a full assignment was dispatched which included 30 firefighters and paramedics on-board nine fire/EMS units and numerous command officers.
Thanks to the working smoke alarm the family received an early warning of the fire and was able to escape safely prior to the fire departments arrival. When Fire/EMS units arrived the fire had already rapidly extended and consumed the majority of the house. An exterior operation was conducted to knock down the bulk of the fire before firefighters entered the structure to ensure the fire was completely extinguished. It required 45 minutes to an hour to knock this fire down. No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire is under investigation. Fire loss is estimated at $400,000. The family will be displaced and are making arrangements to stay with other family members.
The combined volunteer, career and civilian members of the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department want you to stay safe and offer the following safety tips:
• Install at least one alarm in your home – best location is outside of sleeping areas.
• The Fire/EMS Department recommends at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home and if you sleep with your bedroom door closed – install a smoke alarm in your bedroom as well. It is mandated that every home has at least one working smoke alarm.
• Test that your alarm is working once-a-month by pushing the test button on the cover. If it does not sound an alarm – replace the batteries or the entire alarm.
• Replace the batteries in your alarm at least once-a-year – the best way to remember to do this is when you change your clocks – change your battery.
• Regular maintenance- such as dusting or vacuuming debris from your alarms is recommended.
• Alarms can only protect your family for so long before they wear out – replace CO alarms every 6-8 years and replace smoke alarms every 10 years.
And let’s remember to:
• Plan and practice a home escape plan.
• Designate a meeting place outside of your home and call 911 from a safe location.
Citizens and residents of Prince George’s County can have a working smoke alarm installed in their home free of charge. Call our Smoke Alarm Hotline at 301-864-SAFE and a firefighter will make arrangements to visit your home and install a working smoke alarm – free of charge. The Fire/EMS Department also has a limited number of smoke alarms designed for the hearing impaired that we will provide to you - free of charge.
Read the story here from STATter911.com:
That didn't take long: DC's chief waited two-years before questioning the accuracy of one of our stories. The new PGFD chief waited about two-minutes. In our interview just after he was confirmed by the council, Chief Eugene Jones claimed the STATter911.com story about a volunteer fill-in crew not wanting to run the ambulance was "hearsay" and "inaccurate". We lay it all out for you here.
In the interview, Fire Chief Jones does not intend to question the accuracy of Mr. Statters original story on the incident, Jones questions the internal documentation anonymously provided to Statter that lacks any investigative authority.
An official notation was made by the on-duty Major concerning this matter as was relayed to him by others involved and familiar with the matter. A copy of the notation provided to Statter, provided by unknown sources, is correctly reflected on STATter911.com.
When Fire Chief Jones saw the notation he immediately noticed that an official investigation, including; an on-site visit, interviews and statements with persons involved, were not initiated or completed. This lack of investigative documentation is the reason that Chief Jones stated the premature information provided was based on “hearsay” and may be “inaccurate”.
It is not Dave’s reporting on this matter, simply the information provided to him. A review is still underway of the circumstances of July 8, 2009, concerning this matter and, if needed, appropriate action will be taken if it is discovered that SOP’s and General Orders were violated. It should also be noted that Ambulance 821 was not dispatched on any incidents during this time.
I hope his clears up any confusion about the reporting of this incident.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Monday, July 6, 2009
Furloughed firefighters. Shuttered fire stations. Fewer rescuers on pump and ladder trucks.
And, at the same time, a growing number of fires in abandoned houses and more 911 calls from people too poor to see doctors.
It's all adding up to a two-alarm crisis for the nation's fire services, according to the nation's biggest firefighter union and some prominent government groups.
After cutting money for parks, libraries, recreation and other so-called nonessential services, governments from the East Coast to the West increasingly are cutting public safety budgets -- money considered safe in ordinary times.
But these aren't ordinary times, says the National League of Cities.
In a January survey of member cities, 6 percent said they were making cuts in their public safety budgets, a number that undoubtedly has increased since then, says Chris Hoene, director of research for the league.
"Usually the public safety arena -- police, fire, emergency services -- are sacrosanct. They're options that are last resort when you're facing decisions about cuts," Hoene says. "The fact that you're seeing cities around the country making cuts to these services is evidence of the depth of the current recession."
Prince George's County, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, routinely closes four or five stations for a day, a practice known as brownouts, union leaders say. It also has reduced staffing on some fire apparatus to two people, a practice it acknowledges is unsafe and is trying to amend by redeploying people from the closed firehouses.
Atlanta, Georgia, has shut down five firehouses, meaning longer response times in some instances, local union spokesman Jim Daws says.
And in hard-hit Flint, Michigan, and Alameda, California, there are continuing recriminations over the role fire service budget cuts may have played in disasters. In one incident, an Alameda firefighter suffered burns, and in Flint, a 47-year-old man died after he was trapped in a burning home.
Jeff Zack, spokesman for the International Association of Fire Fighters, says communities are playing Russian roulette by cutting fire services.
"It's a bad investment and you need to really look for other ways to make cuts, because what you're doing ... is you're cutting public safety, and it puts lives at risk," Zack says.
Daws, president of the union's local in Atlanta, adds, "It's penny-wise and pound-foolish to make these cuts to fire rescue. You more than pay for it in increased fire insurance premiums and that doesn't even calculate the additional loss of life from fire and medical emergencies."
But local governments, by and large, say cuts have not jeopardized safety.
"The leadership of the fire and EMS department does not feel the actions taken so far is jeopardizing public safety whatsoever," says Mark Brady, spokesman for the Prince George's County Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department in Maryland.
Hoene says public safety cuts are inevitable given that many cities spend upward of 50 percent of their budgets on police and fire services.
Some cities and counties are hurting worse then others, firefighters and officials say.
"The Upper Midwest has suffered, the Rust Belt, manufacturing, industrial bases have gone, and now with the economy even worse, they're having more trouble. Michigan is a great example and Indiana. And the Northeast; Massachusetts has been hit particularly hard," Zack says.
California, which is routinely beset by wildfires, is the best example, he says. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or CalFire, "is facing potentially hundreds and hundreds of cuts," Zack says.
But the state agency disputes that assertion, saying Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has made public safety a priority, and that it has no plans to reduce its about 7,000 firefighters, or the 4,400 inmate firefighters. The state does, however, plan to delay by one year $17 million for vehicle replacement, says spokesman Daniel Berlant.
The governor also has proposed a surcharge on home insurance premiums to raise $150 million for local governments to provide mutual aid, he says.
The California Emergency Management Agency, which coordinates the state's system of mutual aid, says it has heard anecdotal accounts that local budget problems will prevent fire departments from coming to the state's assistance during large-scale events, but has received no concrete evidence that will happen.
"To a large extent, people are still going to do that [help in emergencies], and they're going to worry about the money later," spokesman Jay Alan says. "It's just going to be more money worries later than it has been during the last couple of years."
Making the situation more dire, virtually everyone agrees, is that the number of abandoned homes and buildings is increasing. And firefighters can't assume that burning structures are vacant.
"So they [firefighters] are going into these abandoned structures many times when it's not safe and it's putting firefighters at risk. The people who are staying in these abandoned homes are at risk. So it's a tragic situation," Zack says.
In some cases, budget shortfalls are causing fire departments to look for help.
In Prince George's County, the fire department has gone to volunteer firefighters to ask for additional help, establishing a calendar that looks further into the future, giving volunteers a clearer view of future needs.
It's also taking a closer look at how firehouses are distributed throughout the county.
But few say they believe that there will be any quick fix to the current problem.
Local governments are "not out of the woods," says Hoene of the National League of Cities, pointing out that "2009 will be tough" and that "2010 and 2011 will be equally or more tough."
"What happens in the economy takes 18 to 24 months to affect city revenues," he says.
Prince George’s and Howard County Firefighters and Paramedics worked together to handle a single vehicle crash that resulted in eight injuries this afternoon. At about 3:15 PM, Monday, July 6, 2009, firefighters and paramedics from each jurisdiction dispatched a rescue assignment to the area of Interstate 95 North of the Brooklyn Bridge overpass and before the County line. Fire/EMS units from Laurel arrived first and encountered a Ford mini-van, for unknown reasons, that had left the roadway and travelled into a wooded area on the center median strip. The van impacted with trees causing the ejection of three of the occupants. The Ford mini-van then rolled over, ending up back on its wheels in a grassy drainage ditch of the median strip.
A total of 8 patients were transported to various area hospitals and trauma centers. Four adults went to trauma centers with non-life threatening injuries and four adult patients went to area hospitals with less serious injuries.
The Maryland State Police are investigating the crash.
The Prince George’s County Council will consider the appointment of Acting Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones to be the Fire Chief for Prince George’s County, Maryland, on Tuesday, July 14, 2009, at 1:30 p.m. in 1st Floor Hearing Room of the County Administration Building. The hearing will be immediately followed by a swearing-in ceremony in the County Executive’s 5th floor Conference Room. Family, friends and colleagues of Chief Jones are invited.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
It required 35 firefighters about 45 minutes to extinguish the bulk of the fire. A secondary search of the structure that was accessible to firefighters resulted in the discovery of two civilian fatalities. The age and sex of the individuals and their identities are not available and will not be so until after an autopsy has been conducted.
As a matter of standard procedure, whenever a death occurs at a fire incident, the Prince George’s County Police Department joins Fire Investigators in the investigation which remains open and on-going. Fire loss is estimated at $300,000. There were no other injuries to civilians or firefighters reported.
Two Die in Blaze That Drove Firefighters From House
By Matt ZapotoskyWashington Post Staff Writer Monday, July 6, 2009
Two people were killed late Saturday in a Prince George's County house fire so intense that it sent firefighters scrambling out of the 1 1/2-story building minutes before its roof collapsed, authorities said.
Fire authorities did not identify the two people, saying their bodies were being sent to the medical examiner for autopsies. A police spokesman said the two were believed to be adult men.
Firefighters were called to the 12300 block of Wheeling Avenue in Marlton just before midnight Saturday, said Mark Brady, a spokesman for the Prince George's Fire and EMS Department. When they arrived, the fire was so intense, especially on the first floor, that "it was impossible to go inside," Brady said. He said neighbors reported that people might be trapped in the house.
Crews eventually subdued the blaze enough to do a cursory search, but they were driven from the home just before the roof collapsed, Brady said. When they got the flames under control about 45 minutes later, they found the two bodies -- one on the first floor and one in the basement, he said.
The body on the first floor was burned beyond recognition, Brady said. He said investigators were trying to determine what caused the fire and what killed the victims.
Officer Evan Baxter, a Prince George's police spokesman, said homicide investigators are assisting fire authorities but are taking a secondary role unless evidence emerges indicating that the men were slain.
Latrice Johnson, 25, who lives nearby, said she was standing outside her home Saturday night when she spotted flames that appeared to be coming from her neighbor's back yard. Other residents started banging on the neighbor's door, she said, but no one came out. Within what seemed like seconds, she said, the fire had consumed the whole house. Another neighbor moved a black Mustang in the driveway, and Johnson called 911, she said.
"It was on the trees in the back yard. It was just going crazy," Johnson said. "To actually see it, I was devastated. I'm watching someone lose their house and not knowing if someone's in the house."
The fire caused an estimated $300,000 in damage, Brady said.
Friday, July 3, 2009
A fire was located in a third floor condo and quickly extinguished.
Firefighters soon discovered what appeared to be a PCP lab in the unit of origin. Fire Investigators and the County Police Department were called to the scene. Fire Investigators determined the fire to be suspicious in nature and is under investigation. The Fire/EMS Department Hazardous Materials Team was requested to assist with the documentation and collection of hazardous materials typically associated with a PCP lab. The County Police Department arrived on the scene and worked jointly with fire investigators and the haz-mat team. The Police have opened an investigation and will take the lead on the drug lab while fire investigators continue to investigate the fire.
The fire caused an estimated $25,000 in loss. Two condos are uninhabitable and the families, 4 adults and five children, will be displaced.