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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Recruits Run for Fallen Firefighter

By: Ashley D. Mansfield, College Intern, Fire/EMS Department Public Information Office

The recruits run across the
Woodrow Wilson Bridge (Training Academy Photo)
On June 10, Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department Career Recruit Schools (CRS) 42 and 43 undertook yet another valiant effort, this time for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF). Forty-two recruits, along with two Fire/EMS Training Academy staff members and three of the staff’s family members, participated in a run across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. The group ran 4.39 miles from Maryland to Virginia and back.

Career Recruit School 43 organized the run to honor fallen Volunteer Fire Fighter Mark Falkenhan, who had been a career member of the Baltimore County Fire Department from 1990 to 2006. On the evening of Wednesday, January 19, 2011, Falkenhan was a member of the crew that responded to an apartment fire. The fire was knocked, and crews moved to the second and third floors to search for possible victims. In an article by WBAL TV.com, Baltimore County Fire Chief John J. Hohman stated “A flashover occurred. One firefighter escaped successfully, while Falkenhan was injured. He was transported to the hospital, where, tragically, he succumbed to his injuries.” The 43 year-old father of two was most recently employed with the U.S. Secret Service, where he helped train agents in search and rescue techniques.

Fire/EMS Department Training Academy instructors initially became aware of the philanthropic spirit of their recruits when they donated blood for an injured firefighter. The recruits also researched and wrote a paper on cancer among firefighters, which was picked up by an established firefighter’s cancer research center. Academy instructors, learning of the recruit’s plan to run across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, challenged them to turn their effort into a fundraiser. Each student raised at least $20 and participated in a food drive that generated over $500, totaling their earnings to $2,000.

In a ceremony that was held at the Fire/EMS Training Academy on Monday, June 13, the recruits presented the NFFF with a monetary donation, which was accepted by Volunteer Fire Fighter Falkenhan’s wife, Gladys. During the ceremony, the recruits revealed that they had purchased a brick at the National Firefighters Memorial Walk of Honor, which was inscribed “In memory of Mark Falkenhan, P.G.F.D. C.R.S. #43.” In addition, they read Mrs. Falkenhan and Cathy Hedrick, a representative from the NFFF, a letter they had written detailing what they had learned from their experience. “Through recruit school we are taught so many things not to do, but while learning about the man your husband was, we have learned what to do,” Recruit Basset read.

Career Recruit School 43’s philanthropy, hard work, and commitment to the NFFF touched everyone attending the ceremony. Their efforts prompted Gladys Falkenhan to say “As hard as it was, he died doing what he trained for all of those years.” Speaker Cathy Hedrick addressed the recruits, stating, “No other fire department has made the commitment or has been as dedicated to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and safety as you have.” The heartfelt presentation revealed the frightening possibilities of a career as a firefighter. It also taught the recruits how to be safe and to always remember Prince George’s County Fire/ EMS Department’s motto “Safety First! Everyone Goes Home.”

The recruits cross the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, showing their pride by carrying a flag
representing Career Recruit School 43. (training Academy Photo)

Recruits on the run. (Training Academy Photo)

Career Recruit School number 43 presenting their donation to Gladys Falkenhan and
NFFF speaker Cathy Hedrick. (BRADY)

The Prince George’s County Fire/ EMS Department runners. (Training Academy Photo)

Cathy Hedrick speaking to the recruits at the Fire/EMS Training Academy about her personal experience of losing her son to a line of duty death. (BRADY).


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