Friday, October 29, 2010

Have a Safe and Spook-tacular Halloween

With Halloween quickly approaching, the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service offers residents some safety tips to help prepare for a safe Halloween:

Plan a safe route.

Children are four times more likely to be hit by a car on Halloween than any other night of the year. Accompany children and remind them to stop at all street corners, cross only at intersections and crosswalks. Teach them to look left, right and left before crossing the street and to continue looking both ways as they cross. If you’re a motorist, please slow down and be prepared to give trick or treaters a brake.

Stay in familiar neighborhoods and have an adult accompany trick or treaters. Visit only those houses where the lights are on. Accept treats only in the doorway and NEVER go inside a house.

Secure emergency identification (name, address, phone number) discreetly within Halloween attire or on a bracelet.

Safety in numbers. If they’re old enough to trick-or-treat without an adult, designate a route before the kids go trick or treating, tell your kids to stay in a group, avoid taking short cuts through backyards and alleys and ask them to check in regularly.

Have an adult inspect treats BEFORE eating anything. Do not eat any unwrapped, partially wrapped, or homemade-looking treats.

Ensure trick-or-treaters stay away from open flames or jack-o-lanterns with candles burning.

Stay on the sidewalk. Don't walk or run in the street.

Be a good neighbor.

Keep your porch lights on and eliminate tripping hazards on your porch and walkway. Remove outdoor safety hazards such as toys, bicycles and lawn ornaments. Make sure the driveway and steps are cleared of leaves, which can be a slipping and falling hazard. Make sure that the driveway and walks are well lit for incoming trick-or-treaters. Replace burned-out or broken light bulbs.

Pets get frightened on Halloween. Confine your pets for their safety and for that of trick or treaters.

Be Safe – Be Seen.

Encourage kids to follow all the rules for pedestrian safety. That includes obeying all traffic laws, looking both ways before crossing, using crosswalks, crossing at intersections and corners and never darting between parked cars.

Consider adding reflective tape or decals to costumes. Be sure kids carry a flashlight and use glow sticks for extra visibility.

Decorate Safely.

Illuminate your jack-o’-lanterns with flashlights or battery-operated candles instead of real ones. You won’t have the worries of an open flame coming in contact with anything . . .or anyone.

If you do use candles, keep them well away from where trick or treaters will be walking or standing.

Review with your children the principle of “stop, drop and roll” should their clothes catch fire.

When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories, purchase only those with a label indicating they are flame resistant. Shorter IS safer. Ensure costumes are not so long that children could trip and shoes should fit - - - even if they don’t go with the costume.

Have a happy and safe Halloween.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ambulance Reimbursement: An Important Message from County Executive Ike Leggett to County Resident's

Dear County Resident:

I want to inform you of an important issue facing the County that could have an adverse impact on every County resident.
Many of you are aware that the November ballot will contain County Question A. The Question gives voters the opportunity to decide whether County Council Bill 13-10: Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Transport Fee, which passed in May, should remain law.
Under the law, the County would be allowed to recover ambulance transport costs from premiums already paid to insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid -- $14 million this year and $170 million over the next 10 years. All revenues would be dedicated, by law, to strengthen our Fire and Rescue Service. No County resident will ever get a bill for ambulance transport, co-pays or deductibles -- whether they have insurance or not.

The Montgomery Fire and Rescue Service will continue to serve anybody in need, regardless of ability to pay – whether rich or poor or in-between, whether County resident or not. Just like now. Nothing will change – except that our Fire and Rescue Service will have more resources in meet critical future needs for staffing, equipment, and to improve EMS response times.

Nearly every jurisdiction in the Washington region collects millions of dollars in ambulance reimbursements from insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid – with no adverse effects. (Click here to see the Washington Post story on Thursday, “Area Fire Chiefs Back Ambulance Fee: 911 Calls Unaffected”)
Our neighbors are using those resources to save lives – and Montgomery County should do the same. We cannot afford to leave this money on the table.
The League of Women Voters of Montgomery County agrees. So too does the Montgomery County Fire Fighters and Paramedics, Local 1664. Click here to see editorials in The Washington Post and in The Gazette newspapers supporting County ambulance reimbursement.
There are basically three choices:

1.  Approve ambulance reimbursement from insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid to bring in $14 million this year and $170 million over the next ten years;

2.  Reduce critical County services, including public safety; or

3.  Increase taxes.
I choose the first option. It just makes sense.

As I travel around the County, I meet many residents who have asked for facts and accurate information on the EMS Transport Fee. For more information, you can go to

Whatever your perspective, please vote in the upcoming general elections as they are critical to our ability to maintain Montgomery County as the special place it is today to live, work, play, and age with dignity. In addition to voting in person on Tuesday, November 2 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at your polling location, you may vote by absentee ballot. Absentee ballot request forms can be downloaded here and must be returned by October 26, 2010.

This year, for the first time, you may cast your vote at any one of the Early Voting Centers inthe County between Friday, October 22 and Thursday, October 28 from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. (except Sunday, October 24). I urge you to consider joining the thousands of County voters who will be taking advantage of this highly efficient means of carrying out our civic duty.


Ike Leggett
County Executive

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Listen to Fire Chief Bowers discuss the Ambulance Reimbursement Program

Fire Chief Bowers discusses the Ambulance Reimbursement program on our Blog Talk Radio program.  This show originally aired on October 14. 

Listen to internet radio with Bill Delaney on Blog Talk Radio

Monday, October 25, 2010

Clothes Dryer Fires

Yesterday, Sunday, MCFRS personnel responded to two separate fires in clothes dryers in local homes. Over the last several months, MCFRS has responded to a noticeable number of this type of home fire.

As I mentioned in a Blog Posting on May 13, 2010 (read here) a vast majority of these fires are not due to an electrical malfunction of some sort but by actions we take or FAIL to take. A lack of maintenance, buildup of lint, placing inappropriate items in the dryer and inadequate venting are frequently cited as contributing factors.

Preventing this type of fire from starting in your home is relatively simple. Please take a moment to go to our web site and learn some “Do’s” and “Don’ts” as it relates to dryers: Clothes Dryer Fire Safety Tips

In addition, please take a moment to read an interesting document from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission regarding Clothes Dryer Maintenance.

Please spread the word, and these safety tips, to all friends and family!

As always, please stay safe!


Friday, October 22, 2010

Daniel The Intern Returns!

Despite my lack of blog articles over the past month, I have continued my internship into the school year. Here are a few interesting things I have done since my last post:

The Montgomery County Agricultural Fair is always a great opportunity for the Fire & Rescue Service to teach the public about fire safety and their services but it takes weeks of hard work to make it run smoothly. The firefighters and engines that attend have to be coordinated so there are still plenty dispersed around the county to run calls and that is no easy feat. My job was to help move box after box of literature and handouts to the fair. Once it was all set up though, it was worth it. The fair was very busy and we taught many people about fire safety. We also had informational fliers about the relatively new MC311 service in Montgomery County which people learned about. In addition to the information, we also drew out home evacuation plans with kids and practiced calling 911 on a simulator.

I took a break from the fair one day to do a ride-a-long with Assistant Chief McAdams who oversees the county during his shift, including personnel and significant incidents. Although the day started out slowly, we hit the road around lunch. After spending a few minutes at Fire Station 31, they got a call and we left too. Shortly after that, we went to a car collision and luckily there were only minor injuries.

This reminded me of the SGA's project last year at my high school about drunk driving and its consequences. It involved a scenario where a drunk driver had crashed his car and the jaws of life were used to extract him and his friends. They broadcasted the scene from the parking lot over all the TVs so we got to watch. Although they did not have to use the jaws of life in this collision, it immediatley reminded me of the SGA's spring project last year.

I also went to the Office of the Fire Marshal and learned about what they do, such as checking to make sure fire codes across the county are being followed in new buildings, old buildings, and in new communities. As a High School senior, I am applying to colleges this fall and the University of Maryland, College Park, is on my list. I have heard all about their Fire Protection Engineer program from many people in the Fire & Rescue Service and am looking into it myself. Another interesting day was spent with a Fire Inspector. Even though the follow-up visits to various small buildings in the morning were quick and easy, we did spend some time inspecting houses in a new community that was mainly not furnished or bought yet. With the increase in new regulations regarding sprinklers, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors, it is important to make sure they are being followed. Often times, a builder will try to get around something, such as not putting another sprinkler or smoke detector in a room.

One day I enjoyed was the one I spent at the Emergency Communication Center (ECC) – the place where our 9-1-1 calls go. Being able to sit amidst the computer monitors and see everything happen was very interesting, especially because I did not think I would be able to spend time with them like I did. Back in August, Bill Delaney and I went to a house fire with extraordinary circumstances and it took a lot of coordination from the people at the ECC keep everything running smoothly.

As the first quarter of the school year comes to a close, my friends with internships and I are now settled into our internships. In the second quarter of the school year, I hope to learn more about the different jobs in the Fire Marshall's office and to continue doing more ride alongs.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

MEDIA ADVISORY: Regional FIRE CHIEFS to Discuss Benefits of EMS Fee in Their Jurisdictions


Thursday, October 21, 2010
12:30 p.m.

Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments
1st Floor Training Room
777 North Capitol Street, NE
Washington, DC

Montgomery County Fire Chief Richard Bowers will be joined by Prince George’s County Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones, Fairfax County Fire Chief Ronald Mastin, Frederick County Fire Chief Thomas Owens; District of Columbia Chief of the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department Dennis L. Rubin; Arlington County Fire Chief James Schwartz and other regional Fire Chiefs to discuss the success of their Emergency Medical Services (EMS) revenue recovery programs. Montgomery County voters will decide on November 2 whether to approve County Question A, which will allow County Council Bill 13-10: Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Transport Fee to become law.

The chiefs will discuss how long their EMS revenue recovery programs have been in existence, how they have worked over the years and why the programs make sense, particularly in these times of budgetary challenges.

The EMS fee is a critical issue for Montgomery County and particularly for the Fire & Rescue Service (FRS). Without the transport revenue, Montgomery County will have to cut an additional $14 million from the current year’s operating budget. On October 5, County Executive Isiah Leggett sent proposed cuts to the County Council that would reduce FRS’s operating budget by $6 million and could mean a loss of 89 career firefighter paramedic positions.

Under the EMS Fee, FRS will continue to serve anybody in need, regardless of ability to pay. The County would be allowed to recover ambulance transport costs from premiums already paid to insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid that amounts to $14 million this year and $170 million over the next 10 years. All revenues would be dedicated, by law, to strengthen the Fire & Rescue Service. Under the law, no County resident will ever get a bill for ambulance transport, co-pays or deductibles -- whether they have insurance or not.

# # #

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

An Important Budget Message from the County Executive to County Employees

Dear Fellow County Employee:

I want to inform you of an important issue facing the County that could have an adverse impact on every County agency and employee.

Many of you are aware that the November ballot will contain County Question A. The Question gives voters the opportunity to decide whether County Council Bill 13-10: Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Transport Fee, which passed in May, should remain law.

Under the law, the County would be allowed to recover ambulance transport costs from premiums already paid to insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid -- $14 million this year and $170 million over the next 10 years. All revenues would be dedicated, by law, to strengthen our Fire & Rescue Service. No County resident will ever get a bill for ambulance transport, co-pays or deductibles -- whether they have insurance or not.

The County’s current year budget includes $14 million in revenue from the EMS Transport Fee. Two weeks ago, I forwarded a list of $14 million in proposed budget cuts (see link) to the Council. These reductions are unfortunate, but will be necessary if the EMS Transport Fee is not approved.

Council President Nancy Floreen said it well: “Given our already tight budget, any further cuts will echo across the County. Our obligation is to maintain a balanced budget. If residents vote against the ambulance fee, they will be voting for $14 million in cuts to services."

Nearly every jurisdiction in the Washington region collects millions of dollars in ambulance reimbursements from insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid – with no adverse effects. They are using those resources to save lives – and Montgomery County should do the same. We cannot afford to leave this money on the table.

Unfortunately, all of you have felt the impact of the County’s increasing resource demands and decreasing revenue due to current fiscal constraints. To keep our emergency services strong and not adversely affect other critical services and programs and our overall workforce further, we need the additional revenue that the ambulance reimbursement will provide.

Many of you have asked for facts and accurate information on the EMS Transport Fee. For more information, you can go to

As always, thank you for all you continue to do every day to serve this County and help us weather the challenges we face.

Ike Leggett
County Executive

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Blood Drive in Memory of Carlos Alfaro, Jr. and Carlos Alfaro, Sr.

Please come out and support this great cause in memory of Montgomery County Father and Son Firefighters who have benefited from countless blood transfusions over the years.

Sunday, October 24, 2010 8:00 AM-2:00 PM

To make an appointment call Steve @ 301-440-9294

Your donation and support is appreciated!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Home Fire Prevention: It’s Not Rocket Science

I live in a fairly fire-safe home. That is, I had residential fire sprinklers installed in it when it was built in 1998, long before there were tax incentives or regulations requiring them. But I did that to “walk the talk,” as a safety professional. Safety education is what I do for a living, though my specialty is with natural hazards. I can’t forget, however, that home fires remain the #1 killer of people where they feel safest, in their own homes.

During Fire Prevention Week 2010, which was October 3 – 9, I did some things that demonstrate my concern for my home, my family, and my friends. It’s not rocket science – most of these activities take a few minutes, and can engage the whole family for some interactive fun.

On the first day of FPW, I had a home fire drill. Studies have shown that only about 16% of American households have fire drills. Kids are accustomed to having fire drills in school, and drills are not uncommon in workplaces. But at home? Easy! One evening after dark, I brought everyone upstairs to bedrooms. We put blindfolds on each other. I turned off the lights in the whole house, then put on my own blindfold.Then I yelled “Fire!” We practiced crawling low toward our primary exit. We felt the door with the back of our hand, and since it wasn’t hot, we slowly opened it, then crawled down the hall, down the steps, and felt our way to open the front door. When we were outside, we could take off our blindfolds and meet at the mailbox, which is our designated meeting place. If we actually had a fire, we then would have called 9-1-1 and waited for the fire department to arrive. No going back inside for anything, even the pets or a “can’t live without” iPhone. While there, we discussed our second way out should the primary exit be blocked by fire, heat, or smoke.

On the second, third, and fourth day of FPW, I visited 50 of my senior pals who live alone, and who don’t have the agility they once did. During the visit, I replaced the battery in their smoke alarm, using a gift of donated batteries from a local retailer from whom I had made the request a month ago. I found a few of these smoke alarms were more than ten years old. In that case, I replaced the entire smoke alarm, as recommended by the CPSC, NFPA, and other professional organizations. I showed my pals how to test their smoke alarm using a broom handle, and also taught them what a “silence” button was – in case they set the alarm off while burning the morning toast. Most new smoke alarms come with that feature, which makes it less likely that someone will disable a smoke alarm due to frequent nuisance alarms.

On Day 5 of FPW, I tested all of my own smoke alarms – all nine of them. I have one inside every bedroom, and in each hallway, as well as two in my basement. All of my alarms are interconnected. Seven of them came that way when the house was built. Two additional alarms in the basement (finished after the house was built) are interconnected wirelessly. There are some new smoke alarms that are designed now to be interconnected without having to run wires. And they integrate with the wired system that I have. Easy!

Note, I didn’t say that I changed batteries in my own smoke alarms. I actually do that on my birthday, which is in August. Okay, I’m a geek, and my family knows to give me batteries as birthday presents (smile.) Smoke alarm batteries only have to be replaced once each year in alarms that use regular alkaline (not Lithium) batteries – not more often. The old saying “change your clock—change your battery” isn’t in sync with recommendations from the fire safety experts. Once a year is adequate, and less damaging to the environment.

On Day 6 of FPW, I arranged for visits from a chimney sweep and an HVAC technician to do their respective jobs at my home. I know that creosote built up in my chimney when I used it during all those big snows (and power outages) this past winter. Time to have the chimney professionally cleaned! I also had the HVAC tech make sure our gas-fueled furnace was in working order for the upcoming winter heating season.

On Day 7 of FPW, I visited my local fire station. I thanked the firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics for their service to our community. These professionals serve tirelessly and are committed to preventing a response, but I know they’re there when we need them. Thanks for all you do!

Throughout this process, I posted status updates on my Facebook page, including photos, reminding my FB friends to test smoke alarms, change batteries, change actual alarms if more than 10 years old, have professional services done such as chimney sweeping and HVAC service, and thanking the trained responders at a local fire station. In return, 29 of my friends told me that they did one or more of these activities… and probably more of them did it, too, but didn’t report. I also saw that my FB status updates were shared with hundreds of others, which was a pleasant surprise.

And best of all, one of my FB friends (Bill Delaney) invited me to write this commentary, which I’m pleased to do, in collaboration with our local Fire Department, and in saving lives and property. That’s what it’s all about. It’s not rocket science. It’s easy, fun, and engaging.

Rocky Lopes
Silver Spring, MD

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pretty in Pink!

Firefighters at Station 22A showed their true colors when they teamed up to show support as October’s 60-mile “Walk for a Cure” efforts were centered in Germantown over the weekend. The event brought in more than $5.3 million for research and community-based health and education programs and culminated in a rally on October 10th in Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

County Executive Isiah Leggett and Fire Chief Richard Bowers Recognize "Everyday Heroes" for Risking Their Lives to Save Others

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett, County Council President Nancy Floreen and Fire Chief Richard Bowers yesterday paid tribute to a group of “everyday heroes” – ordinary people who took extraordinary actions to save lives and help others. In a ceremony in Rockville, six individuals were recognized for their role in four different incidents.

“I am always proud to have the opportunity to recognize our community heroes, and this is no exception,” said Leggett. “The individuals that we are honoring today have all demonstrated courage and quick thinking, and a willingness to risk their own lives to help others. These individuals have made our community a safer place in which to live, and for that we are grateful.”

County Council President Nancy Floreen said, “I’m sure that none of people recognized today woke up in the morning saying ‘I’m going to be a hero,’ but when they were confronted with a life or death situation, they jumped in to do what they could and indeed became heroes. We are truly grateful to them for that. Today’s honorees serve as inspiration to us all. ”

Councilmember Phil Andrews, chair of the Public Safety Committee said, “These heroes inspire us by their actions and remind us that helping people in peril is a responsibility of us all."

Leggett, Floreen and Bowers recognized the following individuals for their heroic actions in the following incidents:

(1) Security guard Nicholas Ayers is hailed as a hero for banging on doors and alerting and evacuating 49 residents to safety during a four-alarm fire at the Manor Apartments on Georgia Avenue in Aspen Hill on the evening of December 29, 2009. More than a dozen families were displaced as a result of the fire, and Nicholas Ayers is credited with helping to save their lives.

(2) Pool operator Tiffany Miles was restocking chemicals at a Burtonsville swimming pool early on Sunday, June 13, 2010 when she noticed a child at the bottom of the pool, which was closed at the time. She immediately pulled the three-year-old child out of the pool, asked a colleague to call 911 and began to administer CPR. The child was transported to Holy Cross Hospital and survived the incident due to Miles’ quick actions.

(3) Dean Haught and Kyle Murphy started cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on a construction worker who was suffering a heart attack at the MedImmune construction site in Gaithersburg on August 27, 2010. Using his paramedic training, Steve Cumpston used an on-site Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and he along with Dean Haught and Kyle Murphy are credited with saving the heart attack victim’s life. The victim has recently returned to work.

(4) FedEx driver Earl Spence was making a delivery in Laytonsville on July 7, 2010 when he noticed a van parked in an embankment and idling on the hot summer day. Deciding to investigate, he discovered three senior citizens inside the locked vehicle. Two were unconscious and unresponsive, and the driver was incoherent and losing consciousness. Mr. Spence immediately called 911 and calmly maintained dialog with the increasingly disoriented driver in an attempt to keep the driver awake. Mr. Spence is credited with saving the lives of the three seniors who have since recovered, but likely would have succumbed to the gasoline fumes that were leaking from a gas can inside their vehicle.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ambulance Reimbursement

As many of you are aware the Maryland Court of Appeals recently ruled that the question of Ambulance Reimbursement be included on the ballot in November. Thus all of you out there who reside in this wonderful community called Montgomery County will have an opportunity to vote, November 2nd, on this very important public safety initiative.

What many of you may not be aware of are the actual particulars of the Ambulance Reimbursement program. Unfortunately, I have heard many well intentioned folks make statements that simply do not accurately portray what Ambulance Reimbursement is all about. The fact is a majority of our neighbor’s in jurisdictions around the Metro region are already collecting tens of millions of dollars in ambulance reimbursements from Medicare, Medicaid and health insurance companies – with NO adverse effects on residents calling 911 and NO resulting premium increases.

Obviously, there are many other aspects of the reimbursement program that you should be aware of. Toward that end, I am posting links below to information you might find useful as you learn more about the reimbursement program.

As always, Be Safe!

The case for ambulance service fees (from the Washington Post 10/4)

Get the facts about County Ambulance Reimbursement

Ambulance Reimbursement

It's All About Saving Lives...(English pdf      Spanish pdf)

Monday, October 4, 2010


Fire Chief and County Executive to Recognize Everyday Heroes

Local Residents Actions Save Others

Tuesday, October 5, 2010
2 p.m.

Lobby Level Auditorium, Executive Office Building
101 Monroe Street, Rockville

Rockville - - - County Executive Isiah Leggett and Fire Chief Richard Bowers will recognize a group of “Everyday Heroes” in a brief ceremony in Rockville. Several individuals and groups of professionals will come together to be recognized for their collective ‘life-saving’ action(s) that occurred throughout the County over the past months at various emergencies.

Incidents include a security guard who alerted the occupants of an apartment building to a fire on the top floor which brought four alarms worth of personnel and equipment to the scene; the quick life-saving actions of lifeguards arriving early at a community pool to find a 3-year-old boy unresponsive in the pool; co-workers at a construction site who quickly responded to assist their colleague after he collapsed by initiating life-saving actions and medical equipment; and, a FedEx delivery driver who came to the rescue of three unconscious elderly occupants of an idling vehicle.

Because of their quick thinking, decisive action and willingness to ‘get involved,’ several people are alive today. In some cases the survivors, victims, co-workers and family members will be present at the ceremony.

# # #

Friday, October 1, 2010

NO “Texting” or “Holding and Talking on a Cell Phone” While Driving Starts TODAY!

While I am positive most all of you out there NEVER text or talk on a cell phone (using hands free device the exception) while driving, I thought it prudent to make sure everyone know about the new law that goes into effect today, October 1st.  Basically, no "texting” or “holding and talking on a cell phone while driving.

The exact wording of the law:

“Prohibiting a driver of a motor vehicle that is in motion from using the driver's hands to use a handheld telephone except to initiate or terminate a wireless call or to turn on or off the handheld phone; providing that a violation of the Act may be enforced only as a secondary violation; establishing penalties of $40 for a first offense and $100 for a second offense; prohibiting a driver of a school vehicle or a holder of an instructional permit or provisional driver's license from using a handheld phone while driving; etc”.

Makes sense to most all of you who follow us on this blog or our other social media outlets.  : )

For more information, several news links are available:

As always, stay SAFE!

Bill Delaney