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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Safety First Day of the Month - March 2015

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

Today is March 1, 2015 and is the Safety First Day of the Month.  Today is the day that the Prince George's County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department has designated for everyone to test their smoke and CO alarms.  It's simple:

Push the TEST button on the front cover of your smoke and CO alarm.

An audible beeping noise SHOULD sound.  If it does - your done until next month.

If it does not sound an audible alarm - replace the battery.  Push the TEST button again - still no alarm?? - remove the alarm and immediately replace with a new 10-year, tamper proof, with hush feature smoke or CO alarm or better yet a 10-year combination smoke/CO alarm.

If you are still using a 9-volt battery powered alarm you may want to use this time to provide a fresh battery in your alarm and detectors now.  The bi-annual Change Your Clock - Change Your Battery campaign starts at 2:00 am on Sunday, March 8.  This is the time we ask everyone to provide a fresh battery to keep your alarm working.  Remember that when you move your clocks forward 1-hour to start Daylight Saving Time you need to provide a fresh battery in your alarms and detectors.  Safety First - Everyone Goes Home.

County Law requires a working smoke alarm in your home.  Over the next two years the law will continue to evolve to require a working 10-year smoke alarm on every level of your home, primarily outside of sleeping areas.

County Law currently requires a working CO detector on every level of your home, primarily, outside of sleeping areas.  This law includes all homes with a gas service (natural, propane, oil, etc), a fireplace or an attached garage.  This law also requires that all hotels, motels, dormitories and all apartments and condos have working CO alarms.

Prince George's County Firefighters will be going door-to-door on Wednesday, March 3 checking for working smoke and CO alarms.  They will have a supply of batteries and new smoke alarms to install to ensure a home has a working alarm.

On Saturday, March 7, the American Red Cross - National Capitol Region will join firefighters at the Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Department to canvass the community checking smoke alarms and providing a new alarm if needed.

Don't wait for a firefighter to knock on your door.  If you need a working smoke alarm and can not afford to purchase one, call 311 and ask about the free smoke alarm program.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Snow and Freezing Temperatures May Create Problems for the Morning Commute

Snow and Freezing Temperatures May Create Problems for the Morning Commute

For immediate release:
2/25/2015 2:45:00 PM

For more information, contact:
Carol Terry, Public Information Officer, DPW&T, 301-883-5600

LARGO, MD –Once again, the forecast of snow and freezing temperatures for the Washington Metropolitan area may create problems for the morning commute.  Prince George’s County will activate a full deployment of personnel and resources on Thursday morning at 2:30 a.m. to treat and clear the primary and major collector roadways and then move into the residential areas.   Crews will also be monitoring and treating the overpasses, bridges, hills and ramps.

Forecasters are predicting a light snow will begin in our area early Thursday morning with a possible accumulation of a trace to 2 inches of snow before ending around noon.  Temperatures are expected to remain below freezing for this snow event. 

“Prince George’s County warns drivers to be prepared for the possibility of delays during their commute on Thursday morning,” said Darrell Mobley, Director of the Department of Public Works and Transportation.  “Motorists are encouraged to add extra travel time, drive slowly and use caution when driving on the overpasses, ramps and bridges as they tend to freeze first.” 

County residents are asked to park on the even-numbered sides of residential streets or in their driveways.  Residents are also asked to shovel their driveways after plowing has occurred and to remove snow/ice from the sidewalks abutting their homes and businesses. 

To report road conditions, residents are encouraged to wait 12 hours after the precipitation has stopped before calling CountyClick at 311, the Snow Information Center at 301-350-0500 or going to the Snow Request Form on the County’s website at www.princegeorgescountymd.gov.

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Monday, February 23, 2015

House Fire 12800 block of Princeleigh Street in Kettering

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

At around 4:45 pm, Monday, February 23, Prince George's County Firefighters were alerted to a house fire in the 12800 block of Princeleigh Street in Kettering (Upper Marlboro mailing address).  Firefighters from Largo Fire/EMS Station 846 and Battalion Chief 881 were the first to arrive and found a 1-story single family home with smoke showing from the front door and roof with fire showing from a kitchen window in the rear.

The fire was quickly contained and extinguished.  Fire loss is estimated at $100,000 with 2 adults and 3 children being displaced.

The fire started in the kitchen and the exact cause is under investigation.

One firefighter sustained a shoulder injury and transported to a local hospital for treatment.

Friendly Female Competition in PGFD St. Baldricks Hair-Cutting Event - Donate Today!!!

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

The competition to raise fund for childhood cancer is on!!!  Captain of Team PGFD 2015 Rob Kight has found a challenger, Rebecca Richardson, for the St. Baldricks event to be held on March 15 in Annapolis.  Which one will raise more money??  Will either one beat the rest of the Team??  Will a newly appointed Deputy Fire Chief raise more friendly funds??

Let's be honest, which one of the below would you rather see have their locks cut???  Rebecca or Rob??  Rebecca is no stranger to raising funds for charity.  Just two of the charities Rebecca has been involved in are "PGFD Proud to Wear Pink Campaign" and "Wounded Warrior Project."  She was also part of the team that was successful in PGFD having PINK Fire/EMS units.  Our newest Pink Fire Engine "Courage" will be at Fados for the St. Baldricks event.

Make your vote in the form of a donation today.  Yes, we felt sorry for Rob and gave him a "head" start in raising funds.

You should also join in the fun at Fados Pub on West Street in Annapolis and cheer on and take pictures and videos of Team PGFD 2015 as they work to beat their goal of $10,000.  Rumor is that recently appointed Deputy Fire Chief Dennis Wood will be there to shave his head with 14 other members of the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department and family.

To see the 15 members and to donate to an individual member, click here.

Fire Fighter/Medic Technician Rebecca Richardson

Fire Fighter/Medic Lieutenant Rob Kight

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Carbon Monoxide Overcomes Beltsville Homeowner - Kills Family Dog

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

At about 4:30 pm, Sunday, February 22, 2015. A family member arrived at her mother’s house in the 4900 block of Powder Mill Road in Beltsville.  She found her mother lying unconscious on the floor and immediately called 911.  While on the phone with the 911 call taker she found the family dog unconscious as well. 

Firefighters and Medics arrived and believed CO maybe involved due to the unconscious person and dog.  The assignment was upgraded to a carbon monoxide (CO) incident bringing additional medics, haz-mat team and incident commanders to the scene.  Medics evaluated and treated the unconscious adult female while firefighters searched for the possible source of CO.

Using gas tracking meters firefighters found 1000 parts per million (PPM) of CO in the homes interior atmosphere.  Anywhere from 0 to 35 ppm is considered normal, any reading over 35 is considered unhealthy.  1000 ppm of CO is extremely high and lethal with a very short exposure time.  At that level of CO, I believe that if the daughter had not arrived and found her mother, the female occupant would have succumbed to CO within a short period of time.

Firefighters located a malfunctioning natural gas water heater in the basement, which appeared to be the source of the high CO.  The appliance was turned off as well as the natural gas to the entire house.  The Washington Gas officials were made aware of the incident.

The adult female was transported by medics to a hospital with a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, the preferred medical treatment for CO exposure.  Her condition is serious.  Tragically, the dog was declared deceased.

CO is called the “Silent Killer” by firefighters and medics because you cannot smell, see or taste the toxic gas.  With unhealthy levels of CO going undetected, home occupants will start to feel sick with flu like symptoms.  The higher the level of CO the shorter amount of time it takes to start making people sick.  CO is a by-product of fossil fuel combustion and can be problematic when over combustion occurs at the appliance or the product is not properly vented outside.

The only way homeowners can detect the presence of unhealthy CO in their home is to purchase and install a carbon monoxide detector.  County law currently requires a working CO detector on every level of your home, primarily, just outside of sleeping areas.  This law also applies to all apartments, condos, hotels, motels and dormitories in Prince George's County.

The Fire/EMS Department highly recommends the purchase of 10-year, tamper proof, with hush feature detector that can be purchased at home improvement and hardware stores.  Test your smoke alarm and CO detector on the first day of every month to ensure they are working.  CO detectors have a active life of about 7 years and should be upgraded to a 10-year detector as soon as possible.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Coldest Temperatures in 20 Years Forecast Tonight and Friday

Cold Weather Coming - Stay Warm Safely

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

The Coldest temperatures in 20 years are in our immediate forecast and the men and women of the Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department (PGFD) want you to stay safe while staying warm.  We are joining the United States Fire Administration (USFA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to remind 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 and general heating safety tips.

The USFA, NFPA and the PGFD 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 Marc S. Bashoor.  According to 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 USFA in 2010, reports an estimated 108,400 winter residential building fires occur annually in the United States, resulting in an estimated average of 945 deaths, 3,825 injuries, and $1.7 billion 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 Bashoor. “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.” 

The men and women, career and volunteer, of 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.

General Heating Tips

  •  Furnaces, fireplaces and Chimneys should be cleaned and checked each year by an appropriate professional prior to using.
  •  Only use seasoned wood in fireplaces and never use ignitable liquids to start a fire.
  • The 3-foot rule 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.

Colder weather also increases the potential to carbon monoxide (CO) exposure.  To help prevent illness and possibly death from exposure to CO:

  • Have a certified technician inspect all heating related equipment, kitchen appliances and vent pipes.
  • Purchase and install a CO alarm that has a 10-year battery.
Finally, having a working smoke alarm dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. Remember to practice a home escape plan, including 2 ways out of every room,  frequently with your family. 

Residents of Prince George’s County can contact 311 and request a smoke alarm or battery.  A firefighter will install a working smoke alarm in your home; free of charge. 

For additional information from the USFA and NFPA on Winter Fire Safety; click here.

PGFD Firefighter/Medic Presented With Honeywell Scholarship to Attend FDIC

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
mebrady@co.pg.md.us     @PGFDPIO
Honeywell, in personal fire protective equipment industry, and UL, whose Firefighter Safety Research Institute (FSRI) is dedicated to reducing injuries and deaths in the fire service, announced Wednesday, February 18 they are awarding a financial scholarship to Prince George's County Fire Fighter/Medic Sara A. Shaffer to attend the 2015 FDIC trade show.

"The FDIC Trade Show is the industry's most important North American training event and trade show, yet fire departments often simply cannot afford to send as many firefighters as they would like to the show," said Jeff Morris, president of Honeywell First Responder Products.

"Honeywell and UL want to help by creating an easy contest, allowing firefighters to nominate a deserving colleague with a short video, taken with their phone, explaining why they are nominating a fellow firefighter for the program."  Fire Fighter/Medic Shaffer was nominated by Fire Fighter/Medic Technician Katherine "Katie" Fisher.

The FDIC scholarship program prize includes:

      • Round-trip airfare
  • Accommodation
  • Passes to attend all classes and FDIC exhibits
  • Breakfast voucher
  • Invitation to inauguration dinner

The Honeywell-UL scholarship program is an effort to address the challenge fire departments face, with tight budgets, to send firefighters to the industryĆ¢€™s premier safety and training event. Shaffer will receive admission to FDIC classroom training, seminars, and exhibits, along with travel and accommodation expenses for the entire event.
Fire Fighter/Medic Shaffer was presented her scholarship at a surprise visit to a 12-lead ECG class being held at  the Firefighters and Paramedics Association, IAFF Local 1619, Headquarters in Bowie, MD.  Honeywell Sr. Regional Manager Chad Sears made the presentation and stated, "Sara is one of 17 firefighters selected to receive this scholarship from over 1,100 nominations. Congratulations!!!"

You may recognize Sara Shaffer as she was the Gold Medal recipient and Fire Fighter of the Year for Prince Georges County in and the American Legion National Fire Fighter of the Year in 2014.

L to R - Fire Fighter/Medic Sara A. Shaffer, Chad Sears/Honeywell, Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor, IAFF Local 1619 President Andrew Pantelis, Battalion Chief Charles Waggoner