Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fire Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

Our friends at the US Fire Administration have some great fire safety tips for the holiday season.  No matter which holiday you celebrate during December, many of the below tips can be useful and help you to celebrate safely!

Please take a moment to review the below tips.

Stay Safe,

Decorating homes and businesses is a long-standing tradition around the holiday season. Unfortunately, these same decorations may increase your chances of fire. Based on data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), an estimated 250 home fires involving Christmas trees and another 170 home fires involving holiday lights and other decorative lighting occur each year. Together, these fires resulted in 21 deaths and 43 injuries.
Following a few simple fire safety tips can keep electric lights, candles, and the ever popular Christmas tree from creating a tragedy. Learn how to prevent a fire and what to do in case a fire starts in your home. Make sure all exits are accessible and not blocked by decorations or trees. Help ensure that you have a fire safe holiday season.

Christmas Tree Retailers

Order the free USFA Christmas Tree Fire Safety Hang Tag to remind your customers how to care for a live tree in their homes.Order »
ZoomClick images below to enlarge.
Christmas Tree Fire Safety Hang Tag Side 1Christmas Tree Fire Safety Hang Tag Side 2

Christmas Trees

What’s a traditional Christmas morning scene without a beautifully decorated tree? If your household includes a natural tree in its festivities, take to heart the sales person’s suggestion – “Keep the tree watered.”
Christmas trees account for hundreds of fires annually. Typically, shorts in electrical lights or open flames from candles, lighters or matches start tree fires. Well-watered trees are not a problem. A dry and neglected tree can be.

Selecting a Tree for the Holidays

Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needles should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long and, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard.
Caring for Your Tree
Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.
Disposing of Your Tree
Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood-burning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a community pick-up service.

Holiday Lights

Maintain Your Holiday Lights

Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.

Do Not Overload Electrical Outlets

Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires – they should not be warm to the touch.

Do not leave holiday lights on unattended!

Holiday Decorations

Use Only Nonflammable Decorations

All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents. If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.

Don't Block Exits

Ensure that trees and other holiday decorations do not block an exit way. In the event of a fire, time is of the essence. A blocked entry/exit way puts you and your family at risk.

Never Put Wrapping Paper in the Fireplace

Wrapping paper in the fireplace can result in a very large fire, throwing off dangerous sparks and embers that may result in a chimney fire.

Candle Care

Avoid Using Lit Candles

If you do use lit candles, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning.

Never Put Lit Candles on a Tree

Do not go near a Christmas tree with an open flame – candles, lighters or matches.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

MCFRS Firefighter Rescuer Recruit Application Reminder

All applications for the position of Montgomery County Maryland Firefighter Rescuer Recruit must be received by Friday December 2, 2011.
Applicants will need to create an account on the iRecruitment system before applying.  iRecruitment can be accessed by visiting and clicking on careers.  Applicants can track their application status by logging into the system after they apply.

After the December 2 deadline, please visit the MCFRS Recruiting Department website for general updates at

Monday, November 28, 2011

No Twitter? No Problem! You Can Still Get MCFRS Updates!

Do not have a Twitter account but want to receive Montgomery County Fire and Rescue’s tweets? No problem.
A Twitter feature called Fast Follow make it possible for those with a cell phone and a text messaging plan to receive tweet’s on their phone.  Understand that Text messaging rates apply.
Here is how you do it:
Text “follow @mcfrs” to 40404.  You will get a text message back indicating you are now following @MCFRS.  The text will also provide guidance on how to stop the text messages if you no longer wish to receive them.
If you follow, you can expect to receive all of the latest news, updates, and safety tips from Montgomery County Fire and Rescue.  

Friday, November 25, 2011

On the Road to get to Black Friday Deals? Please Watch Out for Us!

Hear Us, See Us, Clear for Us!

“Please Abide – Pull Aside”

Do you know what to do when approached by an emergency vehicle? The metropolitan area is often crowded and congested with traffic conditions caused by commuters, collisions, work zones and sometimes just “normal” traffic.

Emergency vehicles are impacted by these conditions, as well. When somebody calls 911 for help – the men and women of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service respond. How can everyday drivers help us to help you? – Normally drivers will HEAR usfirst, next they will SEE us, and then we need drivers to CLEAR for us.


C – L – E – A – R for emergency vehicles.

– Calmly pull to and as close to the edge of the roadway as possible and stop.

– Leave room. Keep intersections clear and never try to follow emergency vehicles.

E – Enter into traffic with caution after the emergency vehicle has passed. Remember to use signals.

A – Aware (be). Be aware of your surroundings. Keep radio volume low and check rear view mirrors frequently.

R – Remain stopped until the emergency vehicle ha passed. Be mindful that there may be additional emergency vehicles approaching.

When approached by an emergency vehicle – the law says to pull over to the closest parallel edge of the roadway and yield the right of way to the emergency vehicle. An emergency vehicle is one with an audible siren and/or siren and emergency flashing lights. When driving and approaching an emergency scene – slow down and move over. In other words - “Give us a brake!”

Reduce the risk of an accident near an emergency scene and around emergency equipment.

Stay alert – expect anything to occur when approaching emergency vehicles.

Pay close attention – watch for police or fire direction.

Turn on your headlights – let on scene workers and other motorists see you.
Don’t tailgate – unexpected stops frequently occur near emergency scenes.

Don’t speed – slow down.

Keep up with the traffic flow – dedicate your full attention to the roadway and those traveling around you.

Minimize distractions – avoid changing radio stations and using mobile cell phones while approaching these areas.

Expect the unexpected – keep an eye out for emergency workers and their equipment.

Be patient – remember, firefighters and EMT’s have been called to the scene and are working to help someone.

In Montgomery County pedestrian and traffic safety issues are front and center. If you travel by car or are a pedestrian, please place extra emphasis on safety. Simply looking both ways before crossing a street, crossing in a crosswalk, spending a few extra seconds to cinch the belt on your child's safety seat, or delaying departure to ensure you get enough rest before a long trip can make all the difference. Preventative safety, while measured in seconds or minutes, can save you from months or years of anguish, grief, and "what if". Be smart. Be safe.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Do Not Let Your Thanksgiving Go Up In Flames!

More cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than on any other day of the year. With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, Montgomery County Fire Chief Richard Bowers is urging residents to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday and to keep safety at the top of everyone’s “to do” list this holiday season. “Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a rookie cooking your first holiday feast, the strategies for serving up a safe meal are the same,” said Chief Bowers. “Unattending cooking is the leading cause of residential fires and we’re asking residents to follow these simple safety tips and to have a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday.”  

Cooking Safety Tips:
  • Be alert! Stay in the kitchen when using the stovetop and use a timer. If you must leave the kitchen, even for a minute, turn off the stove.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire at least 3 feet from the stove, toaster oven or other heat source. This includes pot holders, food packaging, dish towels, paper and plastic bags, etc.
  • Do not pour water on a grease fire. Pouring water on a grease fire can cause the fire to spread. In the event of a range-top fire, turn off the burner, put on an oven mitt and smother the flames by carefully sliding a lid or cookie sheet onto the pan. Leave the lid in place until the pot or pan has cooled.
  • Clean cooking surfaces regularly to prevent grease buildup which can ignite.
  • Always wear short, tight-fitting sleeves when cooking to prevent clothing from coming in contact with a burner and catching fire.
  • Do not hold children while cooking or carrying hot foods or drinks. Keep children at a safe distance from hot surfaces, liquids and other kitchen hazards.
  • Plug microwaves and other kitchen appliances directly into an outlet. Never use an extension cord for a cooking appliance as it can overload the circuit and cause a fire.
  • Double-check the kitchen before you go to bed or leave the house. Make sure all other appliances are turned off and that any candles or smoking materials are safely extinguished.
  • Smoke alarms save lives. Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home, test  batteries monthly and check batteries annually. 

Turkey fryers are becoming an increasingly popular choice to cook the Thanksgiving turkey and can be extremely dangerous if proper precautions are not taken. If your plans include using a turkey fryer, fire department officals urge residents to follow all manufacturer directions closely and to review the following safety tips:

Turkey Fryer Safety Tips:

  • Never leave a fryer unattended.
  • By design, turkey fryers are prone to tipping over. Fryers should always be used on a non-combustible, flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.
  • Fryers should always be used outdoors at least 10 feet from buildings and any flammable materials. Never use a fryer on a wooden deck, under a patio cover, in a garage, porch or other enclosed space.
  • Do not overfill the fryer. The oil may spill out of the unit when the turkey is placed into the cooking pot. Oil may hit the burner/flames resulting in a potential fire hazard that could engulf the entire unit.
  • Oil and water do not mix! Make sure the turkey is completely thawed before it is placed in a fryer. Partially frozen turkeys can cause a spillover effect which may result in a fire. 
  • Some units do not have thermostat controls and, if not carefully watched, have the potential to overheat the oil to the point of combustion.
  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching the pot or lid handle. The sides of the cooking pot, lid and pot handles get dangerously hot and can result in severe burns. If available, use safety goggles to protect your eyes from any oil splatter.
  • Keep children and pets away from fryers. The oil can remain dangerously hot even hours after use.  
Following these simple fire safety tips can boost survival rates and reduce injuries dramatically.  For more information about the department’s fire safety programs or to request a free home safety evaluation or smoke alarm check, please contact the County’s non-emergency call center at 311.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Captain Robert Holliday Celebrates 30 Years

Congratulations to Captain Robert “Doc” Holliday, Hillandale Fire Station 12 A-Shift, who recently celebrated 30 years with MCFRS!

Below, Assistant Chief Mike McAdams presents Captain Holliday with a certificate and pin honoring his 30 years of service to the residents of Montgomery County.

Photo Courtesy of Fire Fighter Zachary Grossman

Monday, November 21, 2011

Department Chief Officer Promotions

MCFRS is pleased to recognize the below individuals who have been recently promoted. Best of luck, and be safe, in your new assignments!

The following person has been promoted to the rank of Assistant Chief:

John Kinsley

The following personnel have been promoted to the rank of Battalion Chief:

Kelvin M. Thomas

John Dimitriadis

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What’s Invisible, Has No Smell, But Can Kill You? Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is the most common cause of death by poison in the United States, killing more than 500 people every year. It is one of the most dangerous poisons because often people don't know it is present until it is too late. The best way to protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning is to buy a carbon monoxide (sometimes referred to as CO) detector for your home. A properly working carbon monoxide detector can provide an early warning before deadly gases build up to dangerous levels. If you live in a home that is two stories or more, you might want to install two.
For more information, see the "Is it Flu or Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?" page.
If you notice these symptoms and suspect that carbon monoxide is the cause, leave the area immediately and get outside to fresh air. Call 9-1-1 and seek medical help.
Be reminded: Installing a carbon monoxide detector does not eliminate the need to have a smoke alarm in your home. Carbon monoxide detectors do not detect smoke and smoke alarms do not sense carbon monoxide.
CO poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America.
(Source: Centers for Disease Control)


·         CO is a produced anytime a fuel is burned. Potential sources include gas or oil furnaces, water heaters, space heaters, clothes dryers, barbecue grills, fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, gas ovens, generators and car exhaust fumes.
·         Every year more than 10,000 people die or seek medical attention due to CO poisoning from home-related products. (Source:  Consumer Product Safety Commission)
·         More than two-thirds of Americans use gas, wood, kerosene or another fuel as their home's major heat source.
·         65% of CO poisoning deaths from consumer products are due to heating systems.
·         Only 27% of homes in America have carbon monoxide alarms, according to recent industry research.
·         An idling vehicle in an attached garage, even with the garage door opened, can produce concentrated amounts of CO that can enter your home through the garage door or nearby windows.
·         CO poisoning deaths from portable generators have doubled for the past two years, and many of these deaths occurred in the winter months and during power outages.
·         A poorly maintained gas stove can give off twice the amount of CO than one in good working order.


·         Install at least one battery-powered CO alarm or AC-powered unit with battery backup on each level of your home and near sleeping areas.
·         Have a licensed professional inspect heating systems and other fuel-burning appliances annually.
·         Install fuel-burning appliances properly and operate according to the manufacturer's instructions.
·         Keep chimneys clear of animal nests, leaves and residue to ensure proper venting. Have all fireplaces cleaned and inspected annually.
·         Do not block or seal shut the exhaust flues or ducts used by water heaters, ranges and clothes dryers.
·         Do not leave your car running in an attached garage or carport.
·         Do not use ovens or stoves to heat your home.
·         Do not use charcoal or gas grills inside or operate outdoors near a window where CO fumes could seep in through a window.
·         Check all carbon monoxide alarms in your home. Do they use the most accurate sensing technology? Do they need new batteries?
Replace CO alarms every five to seven years in order to benefit from the latest technology upgrades.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

MCFRS Employment Opportunity

Montgomery County Maryland Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) is accepting applications for the position of Firefighter/Rescuer I (Recruit).  MCFRS Firefighter/Rescuers receive outstanding benefits, including 20-year retirement with no age limit, group health and life insurance, paid holidays, paid vacation and paid sick leave. This recruitment will be used to establish an eligibility list for an upcoming recruit class, subject to budgetary approval.

Applicants must apply online by December 2, 2011.  Applicants who have tested with MCFRS before, or who are currently being considered for other classes, must apply again to be considered for this specific recruit class.

Employment Information: 
Starting salary for this position is $41,613. Additional compensation may be awarded to those who attain specialized skills during the course of employment.   

The Firefighter/Rescuer I (Recruit) position is an entry level position. Applicants must:

  • Be 17 ½ years of age to apply and 18 years of age at time of appointment
  • Possess a high school diploma or GED
  • Be a U.S. citizen or resident alien
  • Possess a valid motor vehicle driver’s license  

For important information regarding the recruitment process, critical dates and information, applicants should access the job posting at: and click on careers.  Additional information may be found on the MCFRS Recruiting Section website at

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Recent Department Promotions

MCFRS is pleased to recognize the below individuals who have been recently promoted. Best of luck, and be safe, in your new assignments!

The following person has been promoted to the rank of Captain
Edward K. Russell

The following person has been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant
Scott L. Bragunier 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Child Passenger Safety

Our own Emile Crown, Program Manager for the MCFRS Child Passenger Safety Program, appeared on FOX5 last week to discuss the proper installation of child safety seats in cars.  She appears in the last couple of minutes of the video below. 

The first part is just as informative and important as a representative from a car seat manufacturer talks about the different types of seats and how to pick them out.

Very important information for any parent – or grandparent!

For more information on the MCFRS Program, please go here: MCFRS Child Passenger Safety Program

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Nationwide Test of the Emergency Alert System

I wanted to make all of you aware of the below from FEMA.  The test will be occurring tomorrow Wednesday, November 9 at 2 PM EST.

Also included, which I think is pretty cool, is a video with a sign language interpreter and an explanation of what will be happening in Spanish.  So read below and also hit play on the video for further information.

Be Safe,

Bill Delaney

Wednesday, November 9 at 2:00 PM EST 

As part of our ongoing efforts to keep our country and communities safe during emergencies, we’re working in partnership with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to conduct the first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). The EAS test plays a key role in ensuring the nation is prepared for any type of hazard, and that the U.S. public can receive critical and vital information should it ever be needed.

Over the past year, our agencies have been working with the broadcast community, cable operators and programmers, and other communications service providers that participate in the Emergency Alert System; our state, local, tribal, and territorial partners; and other critical stakeholders to help inform all members of the public regarding the nationwide Emergency Alert System test.

Here are specific items we want everyone to know about the test:
  • It will be conducted Wednesday, November 9 at 2:00 PM EST.
  • It will be transmitted via television and radio stations within the U.S., including Alaska, Hawaii, the territories of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.
  • Similar to local emergency alert system tests, an audio message will interrupt television and radio programming indicating: “This is a test.”
  • When the test is over, regular programming will resume.
As we get close to the test, the FCC and all of our many partners are working together to spread the word to as many members of the public as possible -- so people know what to expect when the test takes place, and no one is caught off guard. We're asking everyone to join us by spreading the word to your neighbors, co-workers, friends and family -- share this web page, post a message on your social media site, and feel free to embed our videos on your website or blog.

For additional questions, visit the FAQ’s page and the FCC EAS Test page.
On November 9 at 2:00 PM EST, please remember:
don’t stress; it’s only a test..

Administrator Fugate and FEMA’s Neil McDevitt explain the test in American Sign language:

FEMA's Dawn Hart provides key information about the test in Spanish:

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) is now recruiting for the position of Firefighter/Rescuer I (Recruit)

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) is now recruiting for the position of Firefighter/Rescuer I (Recruit). This announcement is to provide information for recruit class(es) scheduled for fiscal year 2013 (July 2012-June 2013). Recruit class duration will be 26 weeks and is subject to budgetary approval.

Applicants who passed the CWH written exam with MCFRS in September 2011 MUST reapply in order to be considered, but will not be retested. Applicants who did not pass the exam administered in September 2011, are ineligible for this recruitment.

Applications are being accepted on the Montgomery County OHR website at
Once on the OHR website, scroll down to the iRecruitment Visitor page and search for public safety positions.

Online applications must be submitted by December 2, 2011.

Friday, November 4, 2011

What Time Is It? Time to change your clock and check your smoke alarms this weekend!

Simple task can be a potentially life-saving one

Rockville - - -  Daylight savings time ends November 6th and the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) is urging all residents to check the batteries in their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors when they change their clocks this weekend to ensure they are working.   

“Home fires injure and kill thousands every year,” said Fire Chief Richard Bowers. “Smoke alarms that are properly installed and maintained play a vital role in reducing fire deaths and injuries. I encourage everyone to test their smoke alarms, replace any alarms that are 10 years or older and conduct a home fire drill this weekend.”

The peak time for home fire fatalities is between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. when when most families are sleeping. A working smoke alarm dramatically increases the chance for survival and provides advance warning of a fire resulting in more time to react and put a home escape plan into action. 

Help keep your family safe by following these fire safety tips:
1.      Install smoke alarms on all levels of your home, including the basement.
2.      Test smoke alarms each month to ensure they are working. Replace batteries annually, as needed.
3.      Plan and practice home fire drills regularly.
4.      Retire old smoke alarms and replace with new ones every 10 years, or as recommended by the manufacturer.  
5.      Make sure children recognize the sound of your smoke alarm and how to respond to its signal. Plan and practice with a home fire drill. 

The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service will provide and install smoke alarm batteries at no cost to residents and will provide and install smoke alarms for residents that cannot afford them. Please call 311 for information and be sure to bookmark our website for year-round safety information at                   

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Early Morning Fire Claims the Life of Aspen Hill Woman

IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  November 3, 2011

Early Morning Fire Claims the Life of Aspen Hill Woman

Rockville - - - A woman has died in a house fire this morning in Montgomery County. First arriving firefighters rescued and removed the victim from the bedroom area of the home and she was transported unconscious and unresponsive to a local hospital. Her name has not been released.

Shortly before 4:00 this morning, firefighters were dispatched to the 4700 block of Iris Street in Aspen Hill, Maryland. Fire and Rescue units arrived on the scene of a single family home with significant fire conditions to the lower level of the home and extending to the first floor and attic of the residence.

Firefighters encountered an adult male in the front yard. He was assessed, treated and transported to a local hospital with serious, non-life threatening injuries.  Upon entering the structure, firefighters located and rescued an adult female from the 1st foor bedroom area of the home. Rescuers immediately began treatment and transported the victim, unconscious and unresponsive, to a local hospital. Hospital officials have pronounced her deceased.

According to initial interviews, they were the only occupants of the home. Over 55 firefighters  were on the scene during the height of firefighting operations. Two firefighters were transported to a local hospital with injuries classified as minor and non-life threatening. Both are expected to be treated and released later today.    

An investigation is underway. Firefighters will be out later today canvassing the neighborhood checking smoke alarms and handing out fire safety information in the wake of this fatal fire in an effort to prevent another tragedy.
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