Chief's Blog

Monday, July 28, 2014

Cooking Safety Tips

As part of our Summer of Safety outreach, this week's theme is Cooking Safety.  Cooking related fires are the number ONE cause of fires locally and nationally!

Below, please find some important tips to help prevent this all too common cause of fire!

Never leave cooking food on the stovetop unattended, and keep a close eye on food cooking inside the oven. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home cooking fires. Three in every 10 reported home fires start in the kitchen - more than any other place in the home.

* Keep cooking areas clean and clear of combustibles (i.e. potholders, towels, rags, drapes and food packaging).

*Keep children and pets away from cooking areas by creating a three-foot (one-meter) "kid/pet-free zone" around the stove.

* Turn pot handles inward so they can't be bumped and children can't grab them.

* Clean cooking surfaces regularly to prevent grease buildup which can ignite.

* Wear short, close fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch fire.

* Never use a wet oven mitt, as it presents a scald danger if the moisture in the mitt is heated.

* Always keep a potholder, oven mitt and lid handy. If a small grease fire starts in a pan, put on an oven mitt and smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan. You may also use baking soda. Turn off the burner. Don't remove the lid until it is completely cool. Never pour water on a grease fire and never discharge a fire extinguisher onto a pan fire, as it can spray or shoot burning grease around the kitchen, actually spreading the fire.

* If there is an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames from burning you and your clothing. Call 9-1-1 from a safe location.

* Never leave a child unattended in the kitchen. Close supervision is essential, whether children are helping an adult cook or simply watching.

* If there is a microwave fire, keep the door closed and unplug the microwave - If safe to do so. Call 9-1-1 from a safe location. Remember that food cooked in a microwave can be dangerously hot. Remove the lids or other coverings carefully to prevent steam burns.

* Double-check the kitchen before you go to bed or leave the house. Make sure all other appliances are turned off.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Recently Retired Battalion Chief Named New Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal

PIKESVILLE, MD (July 23, 2014) – Today, the State Fire Marshal announces the appointment of our new Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal.  Michael D. Hanson has been appointed to the position of Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal.  He replaces Deputy Chief State Fire Marshal Joseph Flanagan, whoafter nearly eight years of outstanding leadership took the open supervisory position in the Lower Eastern Shore Region.  


The role of Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal is a Field Operations Division management function involving the supervision and coordination of the agencies law enforcement activities in the field of fire prevention, fire safety inspections, fire investigations and explosives control.  Chief Deputy Hanson is responsible for supervising five regions, the bomb squad and the accelerants/explosives detection canine unit.   He serves as second in command to the State Fire Marshal and oversees various administrative programs for the agency.


Hanson has been in the fire service for over 35 years.  He is a 30 year veteran of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Department. He retired in July of 2014 serving as a Battalion Chief for the last 4½ years of his serviceHanson worked in numerous fire stations throughout the county as a Lieutenant and Captain and also served with the counties Hazardous Materials Response Team, USAR Team and as an Instructor at the Public Safety Training Academy. Hanson graduated number one in his Firefighter 1 class in 1984.


In 2003, Hanson was chosen to transfer to the Fire and Explosion Investigation Section. He graduated from Session 43 of the Montgomery County Police Academy and graduated with honors receiving the James Daley Award, an award for the candidate who has demonstrated the greatest individual efforts and standards of excellence. Hanson has been investigating fires and explosions for over 12 years. He is a certified fire investigator with the International Association of Arson Investigators and the National Association of Fire Investigators. He is a member of the National Fire Protection Association, and was a member of International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators.Hanson graduated from the FBI Hazardous Devices School in 2005 as a certified bomb technician.  He has attended numerous training sessions taught by the FBI, BATF, NFPA and the IAAI. He has also attended numerous national and local conferences on determining the origin and cause of fires and explosions.


As a fire investigator in Montgomery County Hanson worked on several high profile and complex arson cases working with various federal and local law enforcement agencies which concluded with arrests and convictions. As a bomb technician, Hanson responded to numerous explosive investigations in Montgomery County, including being part of the bomb squad component that operated at the Discovery Channel Building Hostage event in Silver Spring in 2010.


Hanson graduated from Beall High School in 1975 and received an Associate of Arts Degree from Allegany Community College. He graduated from the University of Maryland University College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fire Science with a certificate in Systems Approach to Fire Safety. Hanson also has worked as a private fire investigator for Fire and Arson Investigations Consultants Inc. in Pasadena, Maryland for 5 ½  years investigating fires and explosions for the insurance industry. Hanson remains an active and life member of the Frostburg Fire Department with 35 years of experience.  He is also a field instructor with the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute with more than 18 years of teaching fire service members.


The Office of the State Fire Marshal welcomes Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal Michael D. Hanson to his new position with the agency and looks forward to the continued success with our efforts to protect the citizens of Maryland from the effects of fire and explosives.


Michael D. Hanson


Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Child Passenger Safety

What is Montgomery County's law regarding car seat use?
Montgomery County does not have its own car seat law. We followMaryland law which currently states that children must ride in a child restraint system until they are at least eight years old, unless they are 4'9" before their eighth birthday. Maryland law states that the child restraint has to be federally approved and used correctly. Booster seats are considered child restraints, as well as infant seats, convertible seats and forward-facing seats.
What do I do if I need help getting a car seat?
If you live in Montgomery County and qualify, there is a voucher program that will provide a car seat for your child for $25.00. Call 240-777-2467 for any questions regarding eligibility. Once you have a voucher for a car seat, MCFRS will teach you how to install and use it properly at a scheduled car seat appointment.
When can my child ride in a car and just use the seat belts?
Most children are between 8 to 12 years old before they can safely ride in just a seat belt alone, unless they are 4 feet 9 inches tall. Click here to view PDF and find out if your child properly fits in a seat belt. When a child can safely ride with just a lap and shoulder belt depends on the vehicle. It is not uncommon for children to be able to ride safely in one family vehicle with the seat belt and not in another one.
When is my child allowed to ride in the front seat of my car?
Maryland's law does not state a child can't ride in the front seat (except for rear-facing infants in a car with active airbags-this is against instructions, very dangerous and illegal), however, it is strongly recommended by all safety experts that children ride in the back seat until they are teenagers. Age 12 and under should ride in the back seat. Children are 40% less likely to be seriously injured or killed in the back seat than the front seat.
When should I turn my child forward-facing?
Children should ride rear facing as long as possible, usually up to 24 months. Infant-only seats often are rated for use up to 22 pounds and convertible seats can be used rear facing up to 30 to 45 pounds. The longer a child rides rear facing the safer they are.
How soon can my child use a booster seat?
Children should not ride in a booster seat until they are close to 40 pounds and behave well enough to sit still in a booster seat with a lap-shoulder belt. Generally, children are 4 years old before they can ride in a booster seat.
How does one get certified to be a car seat technician?
In order to become a certified technician one must successfully complete a NHTSA standardized certification class that lasts approximately four days. Contact the program manager at 240-777-2467 for information about upcoming classes in Montgomery County. Classes are held every other month.
Will MCFRS come to my school/church/Day Care Center and organize a car seat check?
MCFRS conducts car seat checks eighteen hours a week among three different locations. Due to limited availability of certified technicians at other times, it is not usually possible to come to additional sites. Contact the program manager if you have specific requests.
Why is there a wait for a car seat appointment?
It is not unusual for MCFRS to receive fifty or more calls in a single day requesting a car seat appointment. With the available technicians, we can only schedule approximately 500 appointments each month. We make every effort to return your calls and meet your appointment needs as promptly as possible. We schedule appointments three weekdays and one evening each week, as well as three Saturdays a month.
What do I do if I need an appointment right away and there are none available for a week or more?
All car seats come with instruction manuals, as well as toll free numbers to reach the manufacturer. If you read and follow the instructions you should be able to safely use the seat until the next appointment is available. Call the MCFRS car seat hotline number (240-777-2222) to find other locations in the area that check car seats.
Is there anything special I need to know if I have a premature or smaller baby?
It is important to read the weight and height requirements on your infant seat. Some infant seats are rated for use from 4 to 22 pounds and others require a child to be at least 5 pounds. If you are anticipating a smaller newborn, get one of the car seats rated for use starting at 4 pounds. Sometimes newborns have a medical need to lie flat. If this is the case, your physician will suggest using a car bed. MCFRS has a supply of car beds for loaner use when this is necessary.
Are there any websites you suggest for additional child passenger safety information?
Do you also install car seats or just inspect them?
Our program wants to educate you about your car seat during your appointment. The more you have done ahead of time to prepare, the better your learning experience will be. We suggest that you try to read your car seat owner's manual and attempt to install your car seat before your appointment. Regardless of how your seat arrives, you will leave with a properly installed car seat and will know how to properly secure a child in it.
Is there a charge for this service?
There is not a charge for your appointment and we want to keep it that way for everyone. The funding for this program is limited due to reduced grant funding and minimal staff, so if you wish to help the program purchase seats for families in need or inspection supplies, donations can be made and are always appreciated. You will receive information about how to make a donation in the packet of materials you receive at your appointment. All donations go directly towards program costs.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fire Chief Lohr Cautions Parents on Dangers of Hot Cars in Summer

A friendly reminder from Chief Lohr on the dangers of hot cars that fits right in with this week's Summer of Safety program theme: Child Passenger Safety.