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Monday, September 1, 2014

Safety First Day of the Month - September

Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
Mebrady@co.pg.md.us.    @pgfdpio

September 1 is our Safety First Day of the Month.  It is the day we have designated for everyone to test the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and ensure they are working.  This includes 10-year alarms, you still need to test them once a month.

Push the test button the the cover of your alarm.

If you hear an audible warning than you are done until next month.

If you do not hear the warning beeps after pushing your test button, replace battery and re-test.  Still no warning beeps heard than replace the entire alarm with a 10-year, tamper proof, with hush feature alarm.

If your current smoke/CO alarm is 10 years old or more.  Replace the old alarm with a new 10-year alarm.

Remember to place an alarm on every level of your home and make sure an alarm is located in sleeping areas.

Our law requiring 10-year alarms to replace 9-volt battery powered alarms goes into effect January 1, 2015.

Finally, it is difficult for some of our neighbors to reach up high enough to test or change their smoke alarms.  Be a good neighbor and offer to help neighbors test their alarm.

Smoke Alarms Save Lives!!!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Springdale Residents Safe After Early Morning Basement Fire

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

“Laws We Can Live With”

Occupants of a Springdale home are safe and their home sustaining minimal fire damage today thanks to laws enacted by County leaders in the 1980’s and 90’s.  At about 1:45 am, 3 occupants were awakened by the piercing warning signal emitted by an activated smoke alarm.  Once alerted they smelled and saw smoke and exited the house to call 911.  A fire of an undetermined cause was burning in the basement.  The smoke caused the smoke alarm to activate and heat from the fire caused the residential sprinkler system to start flowing water in the area of high heat.

Firefighters from the nearby St. Josephs Fire/EMS Station 806 arrived quickly at the 2-story, 3156 sq. ft., single-family home built in 1998, in the 10200 block of Thundercloud Court.  Firefighters located the fire and ensured complete extinguishment.  The area on fire had been held in check by the sprinklers.  Fire loss damage was minimized to $1,000 thanks to the residential sprinklers.  The County Citizen Services Unit and the American Red Cross assisted the occupants and their pet with temporary shelter.  Displacement will be for days instead of months or years.  Another benefit of early awareness of a fire is that there were no injuries to civilians and firefighters.

In 1982, the fire department requested legislation to require a working smoke alarm in existing homes and in all new construction.  This law was passed by the County Council and became law in 1982. 

In late 1980’s, County fire service leaders saw the need for residential sprinklers to be installed in all new construction.  Again, legislation was dratted and received approval from the County Council requiring a phased-in approach to residential sprinklers installation in all new construction built after January 1992.  We were the first County in the Nation to have this type of legislation at that time.

The enactment of these two laws have saved countless lives and limited fire loss to homes equipped with residential sprinklers.  There has never been a fatality in a single family home equipped with a residential sprinkler system since this law was enacted.  Prince George’s County residents and businesses are still reaping the benefits of these laws as was evidenced in this mornings Springdale home fire.

A more recent County legislation requires the installation of a working carbon monoxide (CO) detector on every level of your home.  This law includes all existing residences that have a gas service for cooking, heating and other gas appliances, a fireplace and/or an attached garage.  This law went into effect on July 1, 2014.

Starting January 1, 2015 a Maryland State Law requires a phase-in approach to all homes currently protected by a 9-volt battery powered smoke alarm.  The older alarms have served us well for a long time, however, residents will need to upgrade and install 10-year lithium powered smoke alarms that are tamper proof (can not remove battery) and have a hush feature to silence accidental activations.  The law requires a new alarm on every level of your home and near sleeping areas.  The 10-year smoke alarms will help to reduce the high number of fire fatalities from occurring in homes with no alarms or an alarm with dead or missing batteries.  

The introduction of 10-year smoke alarm is the greatest innovation to these life saving devices since the invention of smoke alarms themselves.

Residential sprinklers, 10-year smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are all laws we can live with.

The Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department highly recommends the use of a 10-year combination smoke/CO alarm where they are appropriate.  Alarms can be purchased at home improvement and hardware stores.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Images from Today's National Firefighter of the Year Awards

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

Prince George's County Fire Fighter/Medic Sara Shaffer was bestowed the honor and distinction of being designated as the American Legion National Firefighter of the Year today.  The award ceremony was held at 96th Annual Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina where President of the United States Barack Obama spoke yesterday.  

Bill Milligan, Adjutant, Upper Marlboro American Legion Post 115 said, "Sara received her Award from National Commander Dellinger at 9:15 a.m. this morning.  She was sponsored by myself and Upper Marlboro American Legion Post 115.  A well deserved award for an outstanding individual and person."

Firefighter/Medic Schaffer was joined by her father, John, a retired Prince George's County Firefighter, Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor and Fire Fighter/Medic Technician Katie Johnson.

Congratulations to Sara and thank you to Bill Milligan and Upper Marlboro American Legion Post 115 for the sponsorship.

Retired PGFD Firefighter pursues second career in communications arena

Telecommunicator Spotlight: Eric Shrader

Retired firefighter pursues second career in communications arena



After 21 years of working in the Prince George’s County (Md.) Fire/EMS Department and retiring as a Lieutenant, Eric Shrader, 42, moved his family to Florida to reside in Ft. Meyers. Following a year of living the retired life and relaxing, Shrader found himself wanting more.

“I had to go back to work,” Shrader said. “I still wanted to be involved in public safety.”
When he discovered an opening for a Fire/EMS dispatcher in Lee County (Fla.), he pursued it and got the job.

“I love what I do,” Shrader said. “It gives me a different perspective. I went in there thinking it would be a piece of cake. It was a lot harder than I thought.”

Though he was accustomed to riding fire trucks and responding on the street to fires and critical incidents, Shrader was now on the other side of the fence in which he had to look after hundreds of ambulances and fire trucks. It took a while for him to become comfortable in the job.

“It was a good couple years before I was fully trained. I love the job now. I still look forward to going to work,” Shrader says.

Shrader’s prior career experience as a veteran firefighter is helpful in his current role as a senior communications operator for Lee County Public Safety Communications because he understands what those in the field are going through. He assists unit officers, paramedics and other emergency personnel with directions, locating hospitals and other duties as he serves on the other side.

“I have an intuition about what they’re going through, and I can anticipate what they need,” Shrader said.
Shrader is well aware of how stressful these various incidents can be when working the radio. He acknowledges that one may need to step out for a breath of fresh air after working a stressful call.
In his jurisdiction, one of the most stressful calls for dispatchers is when a child is drowning. The dispatchers can relate because many of them have children and most everyone in the area has a pool. The dispatcher has to calm the caller to the point where they can receive instructions via phone on how to do CPR.

“We’re relieved when the first unit arrives, and we can hang up. That’s when it all hits you. Especially me, with three kids—I can’t imagine what that mother and father are going through,” Shrader said. He acknowledged that some days there are multiple incidents of this nature.

The dispatch center in which Shrader works has 32 employees that are spread out over four shifts. He ensures everyone works well together.

“Each shift has to be a well-oiled machine, Shrader said. “When we work nights, we have to be awake for 12 hour shifts and get along together.” At times, that can be difficult. However, whenever there is any down time, training drills are utilized to prepare dispatchers for the “what if” situations.

Shrader reveals some important skills necessary to be an effective dispatcher: the ability to multi-task and possessing “great communication skills,” particularly with 9-1-1 calls in which dispatchers must take control of the situation, calm down the caller and ascertain the location of the incident.
Shrader, who builds his own computers as a hobby, is notably tech-friendly, and his skills are suitable on the job. “It is all computerized now, and there are seven monitors we have to look at,” he said.

One of Shrader’s most memorable calls involved an unconscious woman on her honeymoon. In the background of the call, he could hear the best man screaming. Shrader gave instructions on how to administer CPR to the female. When paramedics arrived and took over, they were able to bring her back to life. It was subsequently learned the victim had an undiagnosed heart condition.

Having made an impact in the fire/EMS service in Prince George’s County, and now utilizing his skills and knowledge to enhance public safety in Lee County, Shrader seems to have the best of both worlds.

“I consider myself one of the luckiest persons in the world. I’m blessed to have had two careers I loved,” Shrader said. Meanwhile, he continues to make a difference.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Contents of Gift Bag Exceed Cost of Registration for 9-11 Memorial Stair Climb and 5K

The National Capital Region 9-11 Memorial Stair Climb and 5K walk/run will be on Saturday, September 13, 2014, at the Gaylord National Resort in the National Harbor.  The event, sponsored by the Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services, is held in honor of the 343 firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice on 9-11-01. 

The first 343 people to register will receive a gift bag containing a Special Edition challenge coin, commemorative shirt designed by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF), and a voucher for lunch inside the Gaylord at the Pienza—“A place where bursting flavors and the overflowing abbondanza (generosity) of the Mediterranean are well represented.”  There will also be a 50/50 raffle for cash prize of close to $2,000.  The drawing will be at the event, and the winner does not need to be present.  

All proceeds from registration and raffle go to benefit the NFFF.

To be one of the first 343 to register, click here.

Monday, August 25, 2014

"Pinky" "Hope" and ?? - Third Pink PGFD Unit Needs a Name

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

The Prince George's County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department is preparing to accept the final addition to our cancer awareness campaign, “Proud to be Pink.”  In October 2012, Pinky, an engine wrapped in pink, was introduced to the public.  Just shy of 2 years later, Hope—a painted pink paramedic transport—made her debut.  Soon the Department will place in service a 2014 Pierce Velocity pumper, also painted pink but with a lavender strip around it.  Each of these pieces of apparatus was designed to raise Breast Cancer Awareness; however, the lavender strip on the pumper represents every type of cancer. 
The 2014 Pink Pierce Pumper needs a name. (photo by Paulwall Hawkins)
 The Pierce pumper will be housed at Capital Heights Fire/EMS Station 805, where Pinky currently resides.  Croom Fire/EMS Station 845 in Upper Marlboro is slated to become Pinky’s new home, with Hope remaining at College Park Fire/EMS Station 812.

The nickname Hope was selected from over 200 entries submitted through a social media promotion.  The same process will be used to name the pumper, and, once again, everyone is invited to submit a nomination.  When choosing a name, keep in mind that while the new Pierce engine is predominately pink, its lavender-colored strip represents all cancers.  Also, your choice should be in good taste and demonstrate a positive outlook.  One or 2 words are preferable, but all nominations will be considered.  In the event the Fire/EMS Department receives multiple entries for the winning selection, the person whose entry was received first will get an official PGFD pink uniform shirt that is worn by our personnel during the month of October. 

The winning entry will be announced on September 30, 2014, at 11:00 a.m., during the dedication ceremony for the new pumper at the Capital Heights Fire/EMS Station.   

Entries can be sent via Twitter to @PGFDPIO  and Facebook at Facebook.com/PGFDPAGE , and should include #PGFDPINK.  If you do not have a social media account, nominations may be submitted via email to mebrady@co.pg.md.us.  The deadline for submissions is September, 28, 2014. 

2014 Fire Prevention Week