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Thursday, October 23, 2014

PGFD Praised for Role in Federal Investigation Involving Heroin, Oxycodone and an Explosive Device

October 23, 2014                               


www.justice.gov/usao/md  MARCIA MURPHY at (410) 209-4885


Greenbelt, Maryland – Benjamin K. Bray, age 30, of Davidsonville, Maryland, pleaded guilty on October 21, 2014, to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin and oxycodone and to being a felon in possession of an explosive device. 

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge William P. McMullan of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives - Baltimore Field Division; Chief Mark A. Magaw of the Prince George’s County Police Department; and Deputy Fire Chief Scott K. Hoglander, Acting Fire Chief for Prince George’s County Fire/EMS.
According to Bray’s plea agreement, from at least January 2011 through December 2012, Bray conspired with John Frank Jenkins and others to distribute oxycodone.  Bray and his co-conspirators presented forged prescriptions for oxycodone pills to different pharmacies approximately twice a week from the spring of 2011 through the summer of 2012.  Bray and his co-conspirators consumed some of the pills and sold the rest. During the conspiracy, Bray began to use and distribute heroin as a cheaper substitute for the oxycodone, selling heroin to pay for the heroin he used.

In November 2012, Jenkins refused to sell oxycodone to one of his drug customers, resulting in an argument.  After the argument, Jenkins built two pipe bombs, which he intended to use to blow up the drug customer’s vehicle. Bray supplied the black powder for the pipe bombs.  Another drug customer owed Jenkins $50 for oxycodone that Jenkins had supplied to the customer in June 2012.  On December 18, 2012, Bray and Jenkins were out of heroin and needed money to purchase heroin. As a result, Jenkins contacted the customer and attempted unsuccessfully to collect the debt.  After the call ended, Bray and Jenkins carried one of the pipe bombs to the home of the customer who owed Jenkins money.  Bray placed the pipe bomb on the front porch and lit the fuse.  The bomb exploded, damaging the front door.  The drug customer was sleeping in the bedroom adjacent to the door at the time of the explosion.

Bray and the government have agreed that if the Court accepts the plea, Bray will be sentenced to 96 months in prison.  U.S. District Judge Paul W. Grimm has scheduled sentencing for January 12, 2015, at 9:00 a.m.

John Frank Jenkins, age 30, of College Park, Maryland, was previously sentenced to 121 months in prison, followed by 14 months of home detention as part of three years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin and oxycodone and to 10 years in prison for making an explosive device and being a felon in possession of an explosive device.  The sentences are to be served concurrently. Judge Grimm also ordered Jenkins to pay restitution of $475. 

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the ATF, Prince George’s County Police Department and Prince George’s County Fire/EMS for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Deborah A. Johnston and Leah J. Bressack, who are prosecuting the case.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Public Safety Grill Competition is Saturday

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

The Third Annual Public Safety Grill-Off will be held at the Boulevard at the Capital Centre in Largo, Maryland on Saturday, October 25th, from noon until 4:00 p.m.  The event will be located between the Golden Corral and Kobe Steak House. 

Last year, the Fire/EMS Department overwhelmingly claimed the title of Prince George’s County BBQ Grill Masters.  We will once again square off against the Police Department, which received top honors the first year of the competition.

We encourage everyone to stop by and enjoy what promises to be a “lip-smacking, finger licking good” match between the County’s bravest and finest.  The Fire/EMS Department looks forward to winning again this year.

For the second consecutive year, reigning champion Kirk Ingram is exchanging his Chief’s helmet for a chef’s hat.  His tender, fall-off-the bone ribs are so delicious that he is heavily favored to win again.

Barbecue ribs will be available for sale during the event, and the public is invited to vote for their favorite.  However, a panel of judges will make the final decision.  

We would like to thank EXIT Landmark Realty in Clinton for sponsoring the Fire/EMS Department this year.  Any proceeds from this BBQ will be donated to the PGFD/SPCA Sparky FireFund, a charity that ensures immediate emergency care for pets rescued from structure fires with no owner available.

We look forward to our Fire/EMS Department members coming out to support our effort and be part of the “bragfest,” as we defeat the police!!!

2013 Public Safety Fun

Fire Chef Kirk Ingram holds County Grill Master Trophy from 2013

2013 BBQ Competition Team nervously awaited results from judges

Halloween Safety for Kids, Adults and Pets

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

The fun and excitement surrounding Halloween can suddenly turn to sorrow and misfortune through one careless act. The incidence of fire, accident, and injury often increases during holidays and festive events. Each year, firefighters and paramedics witness incidents on Halloween that could have been prevented had simple safety rules been followed. Among the high-risk activities on Halloween; trick-or-treating is one of greatest concerns to Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department personnel. Between 4:00 PM and 10:00 PM on Halloween, there is a significant increase in falls, burn-related injuries, and pedestrian injuries. Children are four and a half times more likely to be hit by a car on Halloween than on any other night during the year. Falls are the leading cause of unintentional injuries on Halloween. Additionally, many parties and festivities are planned over the Halloween weekend which could result in an increase in adult alcohol consumption with inherent dangers. 

Often, there are safe alternatives to trick-or-treating that can be fun and also risk-free. For example, Council Member Karen Toles will be holding a District 7 Harvest Festival from 6:30 to 8:30 to which members of the community are invited.

Other local places of worship and schools may plan Halloween parties, or families may get together and conduct games and activities instead of allowing young children to engage in trick-or-treating in neighborhoods or along busy streets. Prince George’s County Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor urges adults to take a more pro-active role in activities on Halloween. Additionally, he reminds adults to be vigilant and exercise due caution when traveling to avoid automobile related crashes. Bashoor stated, “Remember Safety First ensures everyone goes home.”

For those who plan to venture out trick-or-treating, the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department would like to offer the following safety tips so that all might enjoy a happy and safe Halloween:

• Costumes should be made of flame resistant light-colored fabric or have reflective qualities. They should be short enough so as not to interfere with walking or become entangled in bicycle chains. Use facial makeup rather than masks so children can see easily. 

• Children should carry flashlights and not use candles or torches. Before leaving the home, children should discuss the proposed route, time of return, and companions. An adult should always accompany younger children. It is advisable to visit the homes of persons you know or local familiar neighborhoods, stopping at well-lit houses only. As a general rule, children should avoid entering homes or apartments and always travel with a companion. 

• Children should avoid busy streets, always use sidewalks, and follow all traffic rules and regulations. Motorists should avoid all unnecessary travel on Halloween evening, and when driving they should drive slowly and be alert to small children crossing streets. Many accidents occur when motorists are backing vehicles out of driveways, unaware of the presence of small children. 

• Halloween treats should be saved until children return home where adults can examine all items closely. Treats that are unwrapped, or show signs of having been opened, should not be eaten. Fruit should be sliced into small pieces and checked for foreign objects. Keep small pieces of candy away from infants and very small children, as they can easily become lodged in the throat and cause choking. 

• Persons receiving trick-or-treaters should keep a light on and pick up obstacles that could cause a child to trip and become injured. Jack-o-lanterns should be kept clear of doorsteps and landings. Consider the possibility of using flashlights instead of candles to light Jack-o-lanterns. Keep dogs and other pets away from doors so children will not become frightened.

A recent trend in celebrating Halloween has been to celebrate as groups at parties or community events in addition to more adult Halloween parties being held. This trend has resulted in fewer door-to-door trick-or-treaters, however, creates additional vehicles on the street. With Halloween falling on Friday, October 31, there are numerous additional Halloween parties planned for both adults and children over the weekend. Traditionally, when festive occasions are celebrated involving adults, the consumption of alcohol goes up. The Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department offer these everyday reminders and safety tips to party-goers:

• Never drink and drive. 

• Always wear your seat belt and ensure everyone in your vehicle is buckled up as well. 

• If you are wearing a costume – vehicle occupants, including the driver, should not wear a mask or head dressing as this may block the view of the driver. 

• Be aware that there are still many trick or treaters walking and crossing streets – slow your speed and use extreme care while driving. 

• Use battery powered illumination instead of candles at your Halloween celebration, including inside of your carved pumpkin.

Trick or Treat (image by Jenna Brady)

Let us not forget our pets during trick-or-treating.  Some pets may suffer undue stress with the ringing of the door bell and knocking on the door -  not to mention the fear of a costumed child with a large barking dog greeting them at the door.  Keep Safety First and take appropriate measures to reduce any chance of an unwanted encounter.

We are including pet safety tips from our friends at the ASPCA to keep in mind this Halloween:

Attention, animal lovers, it's almost the spookiest night of the year! The ASPCA recommends taking some common sense precautions this Halloween to keep you and your pet saying "trick or treat!" all the way to November 1.

1. No tricks, no treats: That bowl of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for Scruffy and Fluffy. Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also cause problems. If you do suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.
2. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively nontoxic, but they can produce stomach upset in pets who nibble on them.
3. Wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations should be kept out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your pet might suffer cuts or burns, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.
4. A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise caution if you choose to add a candle. Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.  (PGFD recommends using a battery powered light to illuminate your pumpkin).
5. Dress-up can be a big mess-up for some pets. Please don't put your dog or cat in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it (yup, a few pets are real hams!). For pets who prefer their “birthday suits,” however, wearing a costume may cause undue stress.
6. If you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn't annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict the animal's movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Also, be sure to try on costumes before the big night. If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting him go au naturale or donning a festive bandanna.
7. Take a closer look at your pet’s costume and make sure it does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.
8. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets.
9. When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your cat or dog doesn't dart outside. Keep in mind that your pet may not recognize a familiar person wearing a costume and may become aggressive.
10. IDs, please! Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver, increasing the chances that he or she will be returned to you.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A PGFD Paramedic Supervisors Perspective on Ebola and Frequently Asked Questions Addressed

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

There has been a tremendous amount of information in the media recently about Ebola.  The Prince George's County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department has fielded numerous questions from our citizens, residents and visitors who are fearful about the disease.  In an effort to help alleviate some mis-guided conceptions and rumors, Paramedic Captain Roland Berg answers some of the frequently asked questions we have heard.

We encourage you to continue your research by visiting the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website as well as the County Health and Human Services website for additional information.

Firefighters Rescue Occupant of Burning District Heights Home

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

Firefighters rescued an unconscious occupant of a burning District Heights home on Friday evening.  Firefighters and Paramedics were alerted to a house fire with the possibility of a senior citizen occupant trapped inside on Friday, October 17, at about 7:45 pm.

A passerby witnessed the fire and called 911 using their cell phone.   Firefighters from the Ritchie Volunteer Fire Department and Morningside Volunteer Fire/EMS Department, just 2 of the 7 stations dispatched, were the first to arrive and at about the same time at a 2-story, split foyer, single-family home in the 1100 block of Waterford Drive in District Heights.  Firefighters encountered fire and smoke showing from the upper level and initiated an aggressive interior attack on the fire as well as a search of the structure for the reported trapped occupant. 

Almost immediately an unconscious male was located by firefighters in the foyer by the front door.  He was removed to the front yard where paramedics from the District Heights Fire/EMS Station initiated medical care.  The victim was transported to a nearby Trauma Center in critical condition.

Firefighters made quick work of the fire in the kitchen/dining/living room area and had the fire extinguished within minutes of arrival.  A smoke alarm was found inside the house, however, fire investigators could not determine if the alarm was in working condition or if it played a role in alerting the occupant.

A follow-up report from the Trauma Center indicated the victim displayed rapid signs of improvement,  regained consciousness and was breathing on his own.  His condition was upgraded to fair.

Fire Investigators continue their work to determine the cause of the fire and will wait to talk with the occupant before making a final determination.  Fire loss is estimated at $75,000.

Citizens and residents that are in need of a working smoke alarm and cannot afford to purchase one themselves are encouraged to call our Safety First Smoke Alarm Program.  To initiate this service simply call 311 or 301-864-SAFE (7233) or click here to request one on-line.  A Firefighter/Medic will visit your home and install a new 10-year, tamper proof with hush feature alarm for free.  This also applies if you are in need of a battery.  Energizer Battery recently donated 5000 batteries to the Fire/EMS Department and we will come to your house and install them in your battery-powered alarms at no cost to you.

Remember to test your alarms on the Safety First Day of every month.

Replace batteries when you adjust your clocks. (November 2)

Replace your alarms if they are 10 years old or older.

Consider replacing your battery-powered alarms with a 10-year smoke and CO alarms.