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Monday, May 4, 2015

Temporary Relocation of Firefighters and Apparatus Due to Emergency Plumbing Repairs

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

Staffing and apparatus from one Beltsville Fire/EMS Station have been temporarily relocated to their sister station while emergency plumbing and associated repairs are ongoing.

A broken sewage pipe that drains kitchen waste, not human waste, was found Friday night at the Beltsville Fire/EMS Station 831 located at 4911 Prince George's Avenue.   Working with the volunteer leadership a decision was made, with an overabundance of caution for personnel health and safety, to relocate firefighters and apparatus to the nearby Calverton Fire/EMS Station 841.  The stations are just over 3 miles apart. 

This temporary relocation will continue until repairs are made or it is determined that the interior air quality is safe and healthy.     

When the broken sewage pipe was discovered on Friday approximately 300 gallons of trapped kitchen waste was released from behind interior walls into an area underneath the station.  This kitchen waste product has since been mostly abated.  

In order to make permanent repairs to the cracked iron sewage pipe a section of the stations kitchen floor must be removed.  The flooring contains asbestos so additional abatement must occur first before additional repairs can be performed.   There is no time estimate available for the completion of repairs or test of the interior air quality.

The relocation is expected to have minimal impact on response times and public safety.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Safety First Day of the Month of May - Make it a Habit

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

Today is May 1, 2015, the Safety First Day of the Month.  Having a working smoke and CO alarm could be the difference in life or death - yours and your family.  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, congratulations, 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 your alarms are at about 10 years old or you don't remember if you ever replaced the alarm, do it today!!!  Smoke and CO alarms work all day - every day and will wear down over their 10 year service life.
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.

Have you ever noticed that it is sometimes a challenge to reach your alarms installed on your ceiling or high on the wall.  Perhaps you use a step-ladder or stand tall on your toes to reach the test button.  Think about your senior citizen neighbors and relatives that may have difficulty even reaching a light switch.  Test their alarms for them every month, change their batteries at least once-a-year and contact 311 for them if they need a new 10-year smoke alarm installed by firefighters, free of charge.
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.

This month we will also highlight Arson Awareness Week and EMS Week.  We will provide additional information about these programs later this month.

A personal note, on this Safety First Day of the Month of May I changed my 30-day furnace filter, cleaned out lint from my dryer exhaust pipe and gave my dog her monthly heart worm pill and flea and tick ointment.  Safety First Day of the month is a convenient time to do all those 30 day projects that sometimes are forgotten.  Safety First Day of the Month - Make it a Habit!!!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Photovoltaic Systems and Firefighter Safety

All Fire/EMS Personnel,

I’d like to thank all those that attended Arrive Alive & Survive 2015 last weekend.  On Saturday, there was a presentation on Photovoltaic (PV) Systems.  A PV system consists of photovoltaic solar panels, and other electrical components, used to capture solar energy and convert it to electrical power.  Many systems are roof mounted and may present hazards to firefighting operations.  As these systems become more prevalent in our area, it is critical that responders are aware of the dangers associated with these systems and how to properly disable them.  Firefighters can be sure that at some point in the future they will encounter a fire involving a structure with a PV system.

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) has an excellent training video available on Photovoltaic Systems at: http://content.learnshare.com/courses/73/352901/player.html

As indicated on the MFRI website, UL has a number of other free, on-line training courses for fire fighters. These courses cover a range of important topics which are critical to fire fighter safety. Whether it's understanding a comprehensive fire approach, learning the hazards of lightweight construction, the impact of horizontal ventilation, or how special extinguisher agents perform, these courses will provide the firefighter with an education on various fire behaviors, risks and codes. Click on the links below to access these training modules.

Please take some time to review these important training materials with your personal.

Sayshan L. Conver-White, Safety Battalion Chief
Prince George's County Fire/EMS Dept.

Risk Management & Safety Office

Monday, April 27, 2015

Two Departmental Crashes Remain Under Review

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 in conjunction with the County Police Department are reviewing and investigating two Departmental crashes occurring on Sunday morning, April 26, 2015.

The first crash occurred when firefighters were alerted to a possible building fire.  One of the dispatched units was an engine from the Morningside Fire/EMS Station #827 just before midnight Saturday.    Road conditions were wet from a recent rain.  Just minutes past midnight, Sunday morning, Engine 827 was responding on Branch Avenue approaching the intersection at Curtis Drive in Temple Hills.  A preliminary investigation indicated that the engine took defensive maneuvers to avoid a civilian vehicle that pulled into their right-of-way.  Engine 827 ultimately overturned and impacted a utility pole.

There were seven volunteer members of the Morningside Volunteer Fire Department on-board the unit.  All seven firefighters were transported to area hospitals where they were eventually treated and released Sunday morning. 

The Prince George’s County owned engine, a 1995 Seagrave, is considered a total loss.  Estimated loss of the engine and equipment is valued at $200,000.  Replacement cost of the engine is $650,000.

Another reserve engine was placed in service at Morningside later that day.

The investigation into the crash remains open and on-going by both Fire/EMS and Police Departments.

Later that morning at around 7:30 am, a heavy-duty rescue squad from the St. Joseph’s Fire/EMS
Station #806 was responding on a call.  Rescue Squad 806 was responding on Largo Road (Route 202) and approaching the intersection of Arena Drive in Largo.  The squad and a civilian vehicle were involved in a T-bone crash in the intersection. 

Two career firefighters and one civilian were transported to area hospitals.  All injuries are non-life threatening.

The rescue squad damage appears repairable, although will be out of service for a period of time.  Squad damage is estimated at about $8,000 and the civilian vehicle is considered a total loss.

The investigation into this crash is also open and on-going.

Standard procedure for the Fire/EMS Department requires that any driver involved in a crash resulting in excess of $2,000 in damages or when an injury occurs will undergo post-crash testing for drugs and/or alcohol.  This testing took place in both instances on Sunday. 

No charges were filed at the scene.

In response to the two incidents, Prince George’s County Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor sent an Email to members of the Department stating, in part, “As you are likely aware, the Fire/EMS Department experienced two significant and similar apparatus accidents in the past 24 hours.  Although a total of 9 firefighters were transported to area hospitals, I am pleased to report all of our personnel have been released from the hospitals.”  He continued to write, “It is incumbent upon each driver to ensure they use lessons learned from these and other incidents to establish a culture of safe driving.”

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department Medal Day

Media Contact: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 301-883-7154
Assistant Fire Chief Alan C. Doubleday, 202-480-4776

The Prince Georges' County Public Safety Awards Luncheon was held on Wednesday, April 22.  The event, full of pomp and circumstance, was well attended by elected officials, sponsors, agency heads, family and co-workers.  The luncheon was held at Martins Crosswinds in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department would like to acknowledge our sponsors that without their financial assitance we would not be able to hold this event.

National Harbor
Washington Redskins
International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 1619
MGM Resorts and Casino

Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department


Presented to


On a warm summer afternoon, these firefighters, all members of the Fire/EMS Department Technical Rescue Team, operated at the scene of a stalled roller coaster ride at Six Flags America in Largo.

There were 24 passengers aboard the ride that had stalled in a turn at the top of the metal structure 85 feet above the ground.  Apparatus, emergency medical resources, and Incident Command were established on the ground, as these nine individuals ascended to the top rail of the roller coaster.  After ensuring the coaster cars were stable, they checked on the medical status of the ride’s passengers.  A plan was developed to secure each rider in place with safety harnesses, which was done so that no one would be in danger of falling to the ground upon releasing the safety bar.  Once the bar was released, the passengers were transferred to a ladder truck and removed from the coaster to the ground and into the care of waiting medics.

After nearly two hours, the 24 roller coaster riders were safely on the ground and without any documented injuries.  During that time, these firefighters operated 85 feet above ground on the greasy rails to bring this event to a successful conclusion.

Therefore, for great personal risk and ingenuity, Volunteer Deputy Fire Chief Chase J. Fabrizio, Volunteer Captain Michael G. Stevenson, Fire Fighter/Medic Joseph C. Ford, Fire Fighter/Medic Owen G. Hardy, Fire Fighter Joseph W. Allen-Baker, Fire Fighter Walter J. Balma, Volunteer Fire Fighter Everett J. Hoffman, Jr., Fire Fighter Michael J. Tomasi, and Fire Fighter Timothy C. Vanderhoff are hereby awarded a Silver Medal of Valor.


Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department


Presented to


Presented to

These two firefighters arrived first on the scene of a house fire in Bowie, where an occupant was reportedly trapped on the upper floor.   

Engine 819 arrived on scene within two minutes of dispatch and provided an initial size up, to include "smoke showing” from the house.  Receiving instructions from his officer, Fire Fighter Burneson, extended a hose line into the structure and started to extinguish the fire located on the stairway, which was the primary means of egress.  Despite the severe heat and smoke conditions and without regard for his personal safety, Lieutenant Angell immediately ascended to the second floor and passed through the seat of the fire to begin an intensive search for the trapped occupant. 

After a quick primary search, Lieutenant Angell located an unconscious adult male and transmitted that he needed assistance with removing the victim.  Fire Fighter Burneson immediately reported to his officer’s location. 
The pair of firefighters moved the victim to the first floor, where other firefighters assisted them with getting the patient outside.    

Paramedics aggressively treated the patient and transported him to a local hospital.  Tragically, he succumbed to smoke inhalation injuries a short time after his arrival

For their quick thinking and immediate actions in the removal of the trapped occupant, Lieutenant Robert J. Angell, Jr. is hereby awarded a Silver Medal of Valor and Fire Fighter Charles L. Burneson is awarded a Bronze Medal of Valor.

Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department


Presented to


Presented to

A heavy summertime thunderstorm rolled into the College Park and Berwyn Heights Communities and remained there for an extended period of time.  This storm dumped copious amounts of rain, overwhelming systems and waterways and causing widespread flash flooding.  One of the hardest hit areas was Berwyn Heights, where dozens of homes and even the fire station were flooded.  Many residents were at a loss for what to do.

Crews from the Branchville Volunteer Fire/EMS Station operated in the area of the floods along the 8900 block of 59th Avenue in Berwyn Heights.  The staffing aboard Engine 811 split up into teams of two, in an effort to speed up the search process.  Captain Dimakas and Fire Fighter Celii, with water rushing around their ankles, proceeded to check on a female stuck in her vehicle.  Indicating that she was okay, the woman pointed them in the direction of her neighbors who were frantically waving for help.    

Upon reaching the home, the pair was met by an adult male banging on a basement window from the inside.  The water level was already up to the occupant’s chest and steadily rising.  Captain Dimakas smashed open the window, cleared the glass, and, with the help of Fire Fighter Celii, lifted the man out of danger.    

As Dimakas and Celii continued to check other homes, they discovered that an adult female, initially evacuated from her home, had returned to her basement to retrieve personal items. The water outside in the street was now at knee level, and basements were filling quickly with rapidly moving water.  The female, now in waist deep water and entrapped in her basement was unable to exit the home under her own power.  Captain Dimakas, knowing it would take only moments for the basement to fill with water, entered the flooded area where he reached the woman and carried her to the safety of her home’s exterior.  Fire Fighter Celii had been advised to stay on high ground and remain in contact with Public Safety Communications, in the event something went wrong. 

The pair continued going door-to-door, checking to ensure everyone was out of their homes and safe.

Once the storm passed, the crew returned to the homes where these two rescues were made.  They discovered that floodwaters had reached the ceiling in both homes.

Therefore, for great personal risk and ingenuity, Volunteer Fire Captain Spiro W. Dimakas is awarded a Silver Medal of Valor.  For personal risk, Volunteer Fire Fighter/EMT Danielle M. Celii is awarded a Bronze Medal of Valor.

Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department


Presented to


Presented to

These firefighters were part of an assignment, which was alerted to a three-story apartment building fire on 23rd Parkway in Hillcrest Heights.  Several 911 calls were received by Public Safety Communications, reporting the fire and advising that residents were trapped on the second and third floors.  As units arrived, crews discovered there were multiple rescues to be made from the top floor balconies where residents had retreated from the smoke and heat.    

Lieutenant Burton, who was aboard the first arriving ladder truck, instructed his crew to take ladders to the rear of the building and begin initiating rescues.  Without fear for his personal safety, Lieutenant Burton moved into the building ahead of the hose line.  Running past the second floor apartment that was on fire and had zero visibility and high heat, he made it up to the third floor apartments to search for trapped occupants. 

Meanwhile, Fire Fighter/Medic Monn, who was at the rear of the building, threw a ladder to the third floor balcony where residents were surrounded by thick smoke and needed to be rescued. 
Monn ascended the 35-foot ladder and made contact with two females, both overcome by fear.  Upon entering the smoke and heat-filled apartment, he closed the door to the main hallway to limit the flow path of the fire.  Fire Fighter/Medic Monn met up with Lieutenant Burton at the door way, relaying that he had located two occupants trapped on the balcony and that he was sheltering them in place.  Burton continued his search for trapped occupants on upper floors and not finding anyone, eventually cleared the area.  He then met his crew downstairs where they persisted to work on extinguishing the fire. 

Monn advised the frantic residents that the fastest way down was to climb over the third floor balcony railing and descend the same ladder on which he had climbed up.  However, this only created more fear and panic in the two female residents.   

Smoke and fire continued to issue up to the top floor where Fire Fighter/Medic Monn was sheltered in place with the two residents who were refusing to climb over the balcony.  Realizing that time was of the essence to exit the area, he called for assistance from a ladder truck that was positioned on the rear of the building.  The ladder truck’s driver, Fire Fighter/Medic Holbert, found a power saw and ascended the ladder to the third floor.  He then cut off the balcony railing, which allowed for easier egress.  Assisted by both Fire Fighter/Medics Monn and Holbert, the first female was brought down and placed in the care of awaiting EMS personnel.  The second female was brought down the same ladder by a fellow firefighter.  Had it not been for Fire Fighter/Medic Monn’s patience and quick thinking of Fire Fighter/Medic Holbert, this incident could have had a tragic outcome

For his great personal risk in running past a burning apartment to reach possibly trapped victims, Fire Lieutenant Jeffrey A. Burton is hereby awarded a Silver Medal of Valor.

For their personal risk and ingenuity, Fire Fighter/Medic Antwan D. Holbert and Fire Fighter/Medic Brian M. Monn are hereby awarded a Bronze Medal of Valor.

 Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department


Presented to

Volunteer Deputy Fire Chief Saputo was returning to the County from Maryland Shock Trauma in Baltimore when he was flagged down by bystanders, who were requesting his assistance for a motor vehicle accident.  The incident had occurred on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, just outside of the city.  

Upon his immediate response to their call for help, he encountered a male driver trapped inside a pickup truck that had veered off the road and into some trees.  Time was of the essence, as a fire erupted in the engine compartment and was spreading into the passenger area and the vehicle’s undercarriage. 

Quickly donning his personal protective equipment and self-contained breathing apparatus, Deputy Fire Chief Saputo approached the truck.  The victim was conscious and able to move his upper body, but his legs were pinned.  The vehicle’s damaged cab prevented Saputo from opening the doors.  Without the protection of a hose line or extrication equipment and operating alone, he placed himself in harm’s way and continued efforts to rescue the victim.  However, the now fully engulfed passenger compartment forced him to retreat.  Sadly, despite his valiant efforts and the fire department’s quick response and knockdown of the fire, the victim was declared deceased on the scene. 

Therefore, for placing himself in harm’s way in an attempt to save a life, Volunteer Fire Deputy Fire Chief Christopher M. Saputo is awarded a Bronze Medal of Valor.

 Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department


Presented to


This team of medics was dispatched on a call for chest pains.  As the crew was about to transport to the hospital, the patient suddenly went unconscious, stopped breathing, and experienced a lethal cardiac arrhythmia.  Without rapid intervention, more likely than not, the patient would not survive.  The medics quickly recognized the urgency of the situation and began to administer cardiac defibrillation, which resulted in the return of the patient’s respirations.  

During the transport to the hospital, the patient lapsed into a lethal cardiac arrhythmia a number of times and was repeatedly intervened with defibrillation, medication, and CPR.  Following a total of 10 defibrillations, the patient was delivered to the hospital and quickly taken to the catheterization laboratory.  The patient remained conscious during the cardiac procedure and was subsequently transferred via helicopter to another medical facility for additional cardiac care.

The quick thinking and swift response of these providers are commendable.  They did not have the normal complement of personnel on-scene to assist with patient care on this particular call, as the patient’s condition began to deteriorate after the additional units had already cleared the call.  Even so, the pair was able to overcome the challenges presented on this call and ultimately save a life.  Therefore, Fire Fighter/Medic Edward G. Aldaco and Fire Fighter/Medic Justin W. Chong are hereby awarded a Bronze Medal of Excellence in EMS care.

Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department


Presented to


This team of paramedics was responsible for saving two lives through aggressive pre-hospital treatment of cardiac arrest victims.

These medics were in quarters when they were summoned to the Bingo Hall adjacent to the station.  Upon reaching the hall, they found a 46 year-old male lying on the floor.  He was not breathing and did not have a pulse.  The pair conducted a quick assessment, after which they defibrillated the patient.  They proceeded to rapidly establish an IV line and place an ET tube, while other providers performed CPR.  Recognizing the urgency and need to provide additional lifesaving interventions, multiple medications were administered to the patient.  A total of nine defibrillations were administered, which resulted in the return of his pulse and cardiac activity.  The patient survived the experience and eventually was discharged from the hospital with the prognosis of a good quality life.   

The quick thinking and swift response of the providers is commendable.  Calls involving persons needing CPR require proper crew resource management and a strong working knowledge of Maryland protocols.  Calls which involve multiple defibrillations are uncommon, and can often tax resources to their limits.   Carter and Bascom were able to overcome the challenges presented on this call.   

For their second save, the pair responded to the home of a patient who was in cardiac arrest.  After a quick assessment, immediately established an IV line and placed an ET tube while other providers performed CPR.  Having recognized the urgency and need to provide additional lifesaving interventions, they administered multiple medications that resulted in a return of the patient’s pulse and cardiac activity. 

For their quick thinking, swift response, and a strong working knowledge of Maryland protocols, Fire Fighter/Medic Lester H. Bascom and Fire Fighter/ Medic Regan M. Carter are hereby awarded a Bronze Medal of Excellence in EMS. 

Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department


Presented to


This team of paramedics was responsible for saving two lives through aggressive pre-hospital treatment of cardiac arrest victims.

Miller and Garrett were aboard the medic unit from Fire/EMS Station 810, when they were dispatched for the report of a person in cardiac arrest.  Upon arrival and after quickly assessing the patient, the pair rapidly established an IV line and placed an ET tube, while other providers performed CPR.  The urgency of the situation again called for additional lifesaving interventions.  Multiple medications were administered, after which the patient regained both a pulse and cardiac activity. 

Just four days later, this same team responded to a call for a person who had stopped breathing.  Again, the medical care provided to the victim enabled the resumption of cardiac activity prior to reaching the hospital.    

A “save” is always the ultimate goal of the Fire/EMS Department.  Unfortunately, in too many instances the outcome is tragic.  However, the cohesive efforts of these two paramedics and the rapid prehospital care they provided in the aforementioned incidents saved the lives of both patients. 

For their quick thinking, swift response, and a strong working knowledge of Maryland protocols, Fire Fighter/Medic Shawn C. Miller and Paramedic Amanda H. Garrett are hereby awarded a Bronze Medal of Excellence in EMS. 

Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department


Presented to


This team of medics was responsible for saving a life through aggressive pre-hospital treatment of a cardiac arrest victim, when they were dispatched on a call for an unresponsive person with CPR in progress. 

Upon arrival, the medics suspected that the patient had a lethal arrhythmia of the heart.  Fire Fighter/Medics Harris and Rush conducted a quick assessment that confirmed their initial suspicion.  Recognizing the graveness of the situation, the pair immediately established an IV line and placed an ET tube while other providers performed CPR.  Harris and Rush defibrillated the patient and administered multiple medications, which ultimately resulted in a return of a pulse and cardiac activity. 

For the quick thinking and swift actions of these providers, as well as their zeal and strong working knowledge of Maryland protocols, Fire Fighter/Medic James A. Harris and Fire Fighter/Medic Jason M. Rush are hereby awarded a Bronze Medal of Excellence in EMS.