Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mass Casualty Drill Thursday

On Thursday April 26 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m, Montgomery County will be participating in a Mass Casualty Drill to test emergency response at Maryland Hospitals.  This exercise will simulate the movement to and treatment of mock victims at the following hospitals in the County:  Suburban, Holy Cross, Shady Grove Adventist, Montgomery General, RICA Rockville and Adventist Behavioral Health.  Residents may notice additional military helicopter activity throughout the county.  The exercises will not affect normal hospital operations. From Alert Montgomery

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

It’s National Severe Weather Preparedness Week

Bet you did not know that National Severe Weather Preparedness Week is this week, April 22 to April 28. 

I am positive most of you have seen, read, or heard about several very significant severe weather situations that have devastated various parts of the US over the last couple of weeks.  While there was some very tragic, and mostly unavoidable, loss of life during a few of these storms, we also know many more were saved due to the fact they PREPARED for the emergency before it happened.  They knew what to do and how to do it!

We know that severe weather CAN happen here.  Please take a moment to go here, Severe Weather , to learn more.  Also, please watch the below video from FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Videos From the Public Safety Memorial Dedication Ceremony

Below are some videos from what was a tremendous day for such a beautiful memorial!  Included is some of the footage from the event as it was live streamed via our UStream site.

Stay Safe,

Bill D.

Video streaming by Ustream
Video streaming by Ustream

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Can we find you in an EMERGENCY?

In an emergency, police, fire and rescue workers depend on house numbers to find YOU as quickly as possible. Finding your home - especially at night - can be challenging if address numbers are unreadable, hidden, unlighted or have missing numbers and may delay emergency responders from getting to you as quickly as possible.
Are your house numbers visible?Are your house numbers visible from the street? Are they set on a background of contrasting color? If your house is hidden from the street, are your numbers attached to a visible fence, mailbox or gate? Is your mobile home identified with your house number? If you live on a corner, does your house number face the street named in your address?
If you've answered "no" to any of these questions, please follow the guidelines below to make sure your house number is easy to read:
  1. Numbers must be visible from the street. Existing residential home numbering can be 3 1/2 inches high, however new residential homes must be at least 5 inches high and if you replace existing numbers they must be at least 5 inches high.
  2. Numbers should be placed on a contrasting background, with a reflective coating on the numbers for easy visibility at night.
  3. Repair or replace aging address number placards, especially on mailboxes that are a distance from the front of the residence.
  4. Prune any bushes, tree limbs or other growth that has covered your house numbers.
  5. Numbers should be placed on or beside the front door. If your door is not easily seen from the street, put the numbers on a post, fence or tree at the driveway entrance so they can be clearly seen from the street. In addition to numbers on the front door of your house, if you have a rural-style mailbox, reflective and contrasting numbers should be placed on both sides of the box so they can be seen by an emergency vehicle approaching from either direction.

Montgomery County Code on Addresses

  1. The owner of any structure presently existing or constructed in the future must display Arabic numbers designating the address assigned to the structure by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, or by the municipality in which the structure is located. Numbers must be at least five (5) inches high for single-family detached and attached residences and at least six (6) inches high for commercial, industrial or multifamily structures. However, if the numbers designating the address of a single-family residence on April 5, 1988, were at least three (3) inches high, those numbers comply with the size requirement of this section as long as they remain in place. Address displays must be posted on a contrasting background displayed in a conspicuous place that is unobstructed and clearly readable from the street named in the official address of the structure. Where a structure has more than one (1) address or where more than one (1) structure shares a common entry or driveway, numbers must designate the addresses in sequence.
  2. An agency of the county must not require a permit for a sign containing only the address of a residence if the sign is smaller than a maximum size set by the county executive by regulation.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Apartment Fire 14100 Block of Castle Blvd.

This past Saturday, Montgomery County Fire & Rescue units responded for a report of an apartment fire in the 14100 block of Castle Blvd.  Fire Units from Burtonsville Fire Station #15 arrived on the scene and did find a working fire in an apartment.

Click on the photo link from the fire are below to see the others:

1400 Block of CASTLE BLVD.

Monday, April 16, 2012

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 persons has been promoted to the rank of Master Firefighter:

  • Michael J. Johns
  • Sean P. Hall 


Thursday, April 12, 2012

April 8 – 14 is Severe Storm Awareness Week; Residents Urged to Prepare for Severe Weather and Other Emergencies

During National Severe Storm Awareness Week (April 8 – 14) Montgomery County’s Office of Homeland Security is urging residents to ensure they are prepared for the next storm , whether it is tornados, hurricanes, possibility of high winds, power outages, severe lightning, hail or flooding. Last year, the state of Maryland experienced 27 tornado incidents.

Anyone who has not already signed up for the County’s Alert Montgomery notification system is encouraged to do so by going to and selecting the types of emergency alerts they are interested in receiving. Options include weather, severe traffic, schools, parks and government facilities, athletic fields and public events. Residents then specify the devices to which the messages should be sent --cell phones, text pagers, wireless PDAs, home and work emails.

“A few minutes of preparation can make all the difference in how well an individual fares during a severe storm,” said Chris Voss, director of the Montgomery County Office of Homeland Security. “Simple things like maintaining a first aid kit with essential medications for emergencies and keeping at least one gallon of water per person per day on hand can significantly improve personal safety during a severe storm.”

During a severe storm incident, be sure to heed warnings issued by the National Weather Service. A severe storm/thunderstorm watch means there is a possibility of storm activity in the area. A severe storm/thunderstorm warning means activity is occurring or will be occurring soon. Actions to protect life and property should begin immediately when a warning is issued.

Some other severe storm tips to remember:

Prior to the emergency:
• Keep enough food, water, medication (if needed) and batteries on hand in the event that power is lost during severe storms.
• Check portable radios, smoke detectors and flashlights to ensure they are properly operating and that the batteries are fresh.
• Stay tuned to local weather and news reports; if emergency officials advise residents to evacuate, do so without delay.
• Residents living in low-lying areas where flooding is anticipated, should remove furniture and valuables from those areas that are prone to water accumulation.
• If strong winds are predicted (in excess of 70 miles per hour), consider boarding up windows to prevent breakage; trash cans and other unsecured items in the yard should be taken indoors.
• Don’t drive during a severe storm, but, if you must, stay away from roads near rivers and streams and areas where flooding may occur. Never cross over a roadway that has flowing water.

During an emergency:
• Stay indoors and away from windows; if tornado or hurricane-force winds are predicted, relocate to the basement or a room that has no windows.
• If outside, seek shelter indoors immediately.
• Stay tuned to local weather and news reports for emergency information; if told to evacuate by emergency officials, do so immediately.
• If power is lost, do not use candles for lighting, use flashlights.

After the emergency:
• Do not use fresh food that has come in contact with flood waters; if refrigeration is lost due to a power outage, perishable foods such as meat and milk products may not be safe to eat and should be discarded.
• Call utility companies to report downed lines and power outages.
Severe storm information and publications are available from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) website at and
For more information, call 3-1-1.
NOTE: The above information was taken from a County Press Release  ID: 12-090

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Walk With Care & Drive With Caution! Pedestrian & Driver Safety Tips

Safety tips -
Safety Tips

Children are at increased risk for pedestrian injuries. To learn why and to see pedestrian safety tips for parents and children, check out the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
  • Stop for pedestrians at crosswalks and intersections- it's the law.
  • Don't block crosswalks when stopping at intersections.
  • Slow down and obey the posted speed limit.
  • Take extra care around schools, playgrounds, and neighborhoods. Pedestrians are hit every 7 minutes each day.
  • Always look out for pedestrians, especially before turning at a green light or making a "right turn on red."
  • Obey speed limits, signs, signals and markings--and never run red lights.
  • Be careful when passing stopped vehicles. They might be stopping for pedestrians.
  • Allow 3 feet when passing bicyclists.
  • Share the road. It's your responsibility to look out for others.

  • Cross the street at marked crosswalks and intersections whenever possible.
  • Stop and look every time before crossing streets, even when you have the right-of-way, and especially at intersections with "right turn on red."
  • Before crossing, look left, right, then left again, and over your shoulder for turning vehicles.
  • Begin crossing the street on "Walk" signals-never on a solid or flashing "Don't Walk."
  • Use pedestrian pushbuttons to activate/extend the walk signal.
  • Use sidewalks. If none, walk facing traffic so you see vehicles, and drivers see you.
  • Make eye contact with drivers so they see you. Never assume they do.
  • Stay visible after dark and in bad weather with reflectors or retroreflective clothing.
From Montgomery County DOT web site

Friday, April 6, 2012

Burtonsville VFD is Hosting a 5K Run and 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk on May 6th

I wanted to make all of you aware of a fantastic event, coming up in early May, hosted by the Burtonsville Volunteer Fire Department.  Please see the below and hopefully many of you will be able to make it out!


Bvfd 5k Poster

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tornado Folklore

I am re-posting this article from last May as it is really relevant after yesterdays big storm out break in the Dallas, Texas area.  Please take a moment to read this one below, and the post of yesterday, and take a minute to make sure you and your loved ones are prepared for this type of emergency.

Stay Safe,
Bill D.

By: Rocky Lopes

There is this thing called "folklore," which by definition can include legends, oral history, and popular beliefs. Folklore creeps into some of our thinking about severe weather, and may be something you have heard or have passed on to children. Let me share some "Tornado Folklore" that many of us have heard:

Folklore: Tornadoes only happen in "tornado alley" -- roughly defined as states in the Midwest from Texas to Minnesota.

Truths: While many strong tornadoes happen in the Midwest, they can -- and have -- happened in every state. 

In many years, more people have died as a result of tornadoes that happen east of the Mississippi River than west of the river. Why? People who live west of the Mississippi River are more accustomed to having tornadoes, and have learned what to do, when to get to shelter, and how to be safe since they were a child. 

Folklore: Tornadoes never hit cities.

Truths: Since the majority of land area in the U.S. is unpopulated, it appears as if tornadoes only strike rural areas.  The relative amount of area of a city with tall buildings is small compared with the city as a whole.

Unfortunately, we learned in April and May, 2011, that this belief isn't true. Just ask residents of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, or Joplin, Missouri.

Folklore: You need to open windows in your house to equalize air pressure before a tornado may strike, to prevent the house from exploding.

Truths: Even with windows closed, houses have enough openings to vent the pressure difference in the time it takes a tornado to pass.  Some of the strongest thunderstorms have longer duration of low air pressure -- houses do not explode during those storms, so they won't during a tornado.  Opening windows is a dangerous and useless waste of time, and could actually be harmful to the house.

Folklore: Get into the southwest corner of your basement in case of a tornado.

Truths: Being underground is definitely safer than being above ground, but no particular corner of a basement is safer than any other.  Tornadoes can come from any direction. While it may appear that tornadoes in the Midwest always move from southwest toward to northeast, that is not always true. In fact, recent tornadoes in 2011 came from all directions

Folklore: Tornadoes do not cross bodies of water

Truth: Tornadoes cross rivers regularly. The stream of tornadoes that occurred on April 27, 2011, crossed many rivers in 17 states.

Folklore: Once the tornado has passed, you can go out to inspect for damage.

Truths: Some strong storms can produce more than one tornado, sometimes several tornadoes at a time. On April 27, 2011, 362 tornadoes happened from two long lines of storms, creating the largest tornado outbreak in U.S. history.

Folklore: Our area doesn't have sirens, so we will not get notified in case of a tornado.

Truths: We are fortunate in Montgomery County to have many ways to get warnings in case of tornadoes or other emergencies.  

Sign up for Alert Montgomery. This system will send alert messages to any device you specify: cell and smart phones, email accounts, PDAs, and pagers. It's free, and you can adjust settings on it to receive alerts for life safety, fire, severe weather, accidents involving utilities or roadways, and crime.

NOAA Weather Radio will sound an alert for severe weather and other emergencies that are issued for Montgomery County. Once you set it, it will provide a tone alert with a radio announcement describing what is happening and what to do. You can buy one of these radios from electronics stores.

Providers of cable television service in Montgomery County, e.g., Comcast and FiOS, will broadcast notices from the Emergency Alert System (EAS) when issued by the county. EAS notices are broadcast on all channels simultaneously. 

Be sure to "Like" the Facebook page for the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services (MCFRS) Department, and Montgomery County Department of Homeland Security. 

And follow MCFRS on Twitter.


Rocky Lopes is an emergency management professional and has published numerous articles and information on disaster safety for some 25 years. He works at the National Weather Service Headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, and has lived in Montgomery County his entire life.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tornado Preparation

With the severe storm events occurring in the Dallas-Fort Worth, TX area, I thought it might be a good time to remind everyone about what to do before and during a tornado.  As we have seen the past couple of years, they can occur here in the County.

Bill D.

Tornado's can strike with little or no warning. It’s important to plan ahead so you know what to do when a tornado is sighted.
  • tornado watch means a tornado is possible in your area
  • tornado warning means a tornado has been spotted. Take shelter immediately.
Before the tornado:
  • Determine the best place in your home to take shelter during a tornado. Basements or spaces underground are the best spots.
  • If you don’t have a basement, find an interior room on the lowest floor of your home.
  • In a high-rise building, choose an interior space on the lowest floor possible.
  • Ensure your family knows what to do in the event of a tornado watch or warning.
Tip: CERT training prepares you to help your family and your community before, during, and after an emergency. Learn more about CERT and other training opportunities here.
When a tornado is spotted:
  • Seek shelter immediately
  • Stay away from windows and doors
  • If you are in a vehicle or mobile home, evacuate to a building that provides better protection
  • If a building is not available, lie flat in a low-lying area (such as a ditch). Do not go under a bridge or underpass.
Link to Alert MontgomeryRemember to listen to the radio and sign up for Alert Montgomery to stay informed and receive further instructions in the event of an emergency.
From Montgomery County Emergency Management Page.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Firefighter - Fit

Submitted by MFP Robert Furst and FF Matt Miles of 15-B

Career and Volunteer Firefighters from your local fire and rescue stations have been engaging in a challenging new physical training program that they have named “Firefighter Fit.”

Firefighter - Fit is based on the Cross-Fit training program, but with job-specific tasks incorporated into the training. These tasks include, but are not limited to, hose extending and pulling drills, ceiling breach exercises, forcible entry drills, victim drags and carries, and ladder carries. Some Cross-Fit exercises integrated include tire flips and carries, weighted lunges, pushups, and core exercises. Firefighter Fit is performed at an accelerated pace in an anaerobic workout of continuous drills lasting 20-30 minutes without rest periods. The Firefighter Fit workout goal is to complete these drills in our [almost] full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - boots, structural firefighter pants and jackets with firefighting gloves - and while wearing and breathing air from our SCBA (air packs). Personnel of all fitness levels are completing these drills in various forms of workout attire, PPE, and with or without SCBA.

Firefighter Fit usually takes place at the fire station where we have all of our equipment at our disposal.

Firefighter Fit is performed while on duty during the assigned physical training activity period (normally in the morning) by your career firefighters. This training may take place at any time by your local volunteer firefighters. When you drive or walk by your local fire station and witness a group of your local firefighters running, jumping, and using various types equipment in a fury, they are participating in Firefighter Fit.

Your local firefighters are participating in Firefighter Fit for several reasons. Most importantly, your local firefighters are participating in Firefighter Fit for YOU. Physical training and staying fit are paramount in maintaining our ability to come to your aid when you are in harm’s way. Your local firefighters are also training for themselves. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and a high fitness level decreases the frequency of on the job injuries and increases our quality of life (no one wants to be temporarily off duty or have to retire due to an injury). Also, bragging rights and friendly competition are common between Firefighter Fit stations, and firefighters always want to be the winners.

The next time you drive or walk by you local firefighters participating in Firefighter Fit training, offer them some encouragement. They are working out to be “combat ready” for you!