Friday, May 31, 2013

Heat Wave Coming – Be Ready

Fire Officials Urge Residents to be Careful and Check on Elderly Neighbors    

The temperature is predicted to be sizzling in the metropolitan area over the next couple of days making it especially dangerous for the those at greatest risk including the elderly, the young, those with existing medical conditions and those that work outdoors.

While staying hydrated is essential all year long, it is particularly important when temperatures soar. Fire Chief Steven Lohr is urging residents to to stay cool, stay hydrated and to check on the welfare of elderly or
at-risk neighbors. “Heat waves can be dangerous and even short periods of high temperatures can cause serious health problems. Whether on the sports field or the construction site, folks need to take action to prevent heat-related illness.”

During hot weather and extreme heat this summer, keep informed by listening to local weather and news channels, use common sense and take a minute to review the tips below.

1. Pre-hydrate, hydrate and re-hydrate.
During hot weather you will need to increase your fluid intake, regardless of your activity level. Drink plenty of fluids in advance, during and after activities and don’t wait until you're thirsty to hydrate.  Warning: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluids you drink or has prescribed a diuretic, check with your physician for guidance.

2.  Dress for the heat.
Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect some of the sun’s energy. Limit your direct exposure to the sun and wear a hat for extra protection.

3.  Monitor those at high risk.
Extreme heat can be hazardous to your health and although anyone can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. Those most at risk for heat-related illnesses include children, older adults, those that work or exercise outside and those with pre-existing medical conditions. Elderly, low income or individuals with disabilities in Montgomery County in need of a fan can call 311 for information on free fans.

4. Children and cars - use common sense.
Never leave infants, children, pets or the elderly in a parked car where temperatures can become life-threatening in minutes, even with the windows rolled down. Additionally, hot interior surfaces of a car can burn a child’s skin. Before you put your child in a car that has been parked in a warm/sunny spot, check the temperature of the carseat or upholstery first.

5. Avoid strenuous activity.
When possible, strenuous activities should be reduced, eliminated or rescheduled to the coolest part of the day. Take regular breaks when exercising or engaged in physical activity on warm days. If you recognize that you, or someone else, are showing signs of a heat-related illness, stop the activity immediately, find a cool place to rest, hydrate and seek medical attention if necessary.

Remember, heat stroke is a MEDICAL EMERGENCY that can be fatal if not treated promptly. The American Red Cross advises that warning signs can vary among individuals but common signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke may include:  
Heat Exhaustion:

Heavy sweating
      -  Muscle cramps
      -  Pulse rate: fast and weak
      -  Breathing: fast and shallow
      -  Nausea or vomiting
      -  Fatigue
      -  Weakness
      -  Headache and/or dizziness
Heat Stroke:
-  An extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees)
-  The absence of sweating
-  Rapid pulse
-  Difficulty breathing
-  Throbbing headache
-  Strange behavior and/or hallucinations
-  Confusion, agitation and disorientation
-  Unconscious                              

6. Be a good neighbor.
Isolated, elderly adults are at a much higher risk of health-related issues. Be a good neighbor and take a minute to check in with your neighbors.

7. Remember your pets.
Hot weather can affect the well-being of pets making them susceptible to overheating which can lead to very dangerous heat stroke. Always provide a source of water and a cool, ventilated  place for your pet. Leaving your pet inside a parked car, even for a few minutes, can be fatal. The inside of a car can reach 120 degrees in a matter of minutes.

8. Stay indoors, if possible.
Stay indoors and, if possible, in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, consider going to the shopping mall, community center or public library. Even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you return to the heat.  

Thursday, May 30, 2013

MCFRS Significant Incident Map Sunday, April 21 – Saturday, May 4

Back by popular demand!  My apologies for the tardiness of posting this information but a lot going on here at MCFRS.  I will be posting the remaining dates shortly to get us back on track. 

Thanks for your understanding!

Stay Safe!  Bill D

View MCFRS Significant Incident Map in a larger map

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Unit Citation

By: BC Mark Davis 

It is very fitting that units from the 1st Battalion receive Fire Chief Steven E. Lohr's first Unit Citation for exemplary work at a townhouse fire that occurred on March 17th in Co 12's first-due response district. Crews from E712, E715, and T715 rescued a woman trapped on the second floor of a townhouse fire. An adult male had already jumped from the second floor prior to the arrival of FD units. Ambulance 712 and Medic 712 provided excellent medical care and both victims survived the event with minimal injury. BC Mark Davis was the Incident Commander.

1st Battalion units made a true difference that day!

 (L to R) Front: BC Mark Davis, FF Raymond Briscoe, MF Jude McDowell, LT James Snyder, FF Kevin Benns, FF James Proctor, MF Michael Ryman, FF Lauren Wickson. Back: Division Chief Scott Goldstein, FF Brent Sheely, FF Patrick Paradise, MF Marvin Robinson, Fire Chief Steve Lohr, FF Chad Goyette, AC Steve Jones.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Potomac River Safety

Last week MCFRS participated in a joint press conference with the National Park Service, Park Police, and Fairfax County Fire & Rescue that highlighted the dangers of the Potomac River.  Video highlights are below.

From County Council Cable:


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Morning Equipment Check

Master Firefighter Brian Hayden conducting daily morning check on Truck 718 this beautiful Saturday morning. Each morning our Firefighters check out each piece of apparatus and equipment to ensure operational readiness. Photo Courtesy of Firefighter Jay Luksis

Friday, May 24, 2013

Basement Fire in Burtonsville

By Battalion Chief Mark Davis

On May 20th, companies in the northern end of the 1st Battalion responded to a townhouse fire in the Castle Blvd area of Co. 15's response district. Units from Co.15 arrived on the scene to find smoke showing from a two-story middle of the row (MOR) townhouse. They located a fire in the basement and initiated an interior fire attack that resulted in a quick knockdown and extinguishment. Fortunately - there were no injuries to the occupants.

Basement fires are particularly dangerous for firefighters because access to the basement can be limited and a basement stairwell acts like a chimney channeling heat and smoke to the upper floors. 

Nice work once again by the men and women of the 1st Battalion. We thank the folks at Burtonsville for sharing the photo. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tornado Folklore

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:

Photo from NOAA's Severe Storms Lab in Norman, OK
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 from many past events and as recently as May, 2013, that this belief isn't true. Just ask residents of Nashville, TN; Houston and Dallas, TX; Tuscaloosa, AL; Joplin, MO; or Moore, OK.

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, the EF5 Tornado that hit Oklahoma in May, 2013, traveled almost due west to east.

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.

Coming soon this year, FEMA's Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system sends notifications to WEA-enabled mobile devices at no charge. Using GPS technology, these notifications appear on mobile devices in areas under warning for a tornado or other life-threatening emergency.  Get more information about Wireless Emergency Alerts here.

You should also 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 local authorities. EAS notices are broadcast on all channels simultaneously.

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, May 21, 2013

National Emergency Medical Services Week: May 19 – 25, 2013

This week is National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week, in honor of the dedicated men and women who provide critical day-to-day lifesaving services on the “frontlines” of emergencies across the country. When conditions can change in seconds, dual role firefighters/EMTs and firefighter/paramedics in Montgomery County provide sophisticated, state-of-the-art pre-hospital emergency medical care that can often mean the difference between life and death. The fire department has a rich history of protecting the health and safety of the community through an ‘all hazards’ response model and this week provides an opportunity to recognize EMS contributions of the past and build upon them for a safer tomorrow.

This year’s theme, ‘
EMS: One Mission. One Team,’ recognizes the integral role of EMS providers with hospital emergency and trauma teams. Annually, 75 percent of all Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service emergency calls are EMS-related and as the public’s demand for emergency medical services has steadily increased over the years, advances in medicine and technology have increased the role of EMS providers in the field.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) has a national reputation for excellence and is continually researching and implementing innovative protocols to improve patient outcomes through advanced pre-hospital emergency medical care.
In 2009, the department implemented several critical programs that demonstrate the department’s commitment to saving lives in the community. With strong evidence nationally that pre-hospital care has a profound impact on survival, the department was one of the first in the state to implement and deploy paramedic-staffed engine companies which facilitates faster access, improved pre-hospital care and enhanced patient care during an emergency. In 2010, the department established the Emergency Cardiac Care (ECC) program which allows paramedics to transmit critical patient data directly and securely from remote locations to area hospitals using sophisticated technology and equipment. This new technology accelerates the diagnosis process while reducing critical time that ultimately can make a difference in patient outcome and survival.

In recent weeks, we have seen the critical role that EMS responders play in major events and times of disaster,” said Chief Steven Lohr. “Today’s EMS system brings the first, and often critical, hour of specialized emergency care right to the patient’s side.When you have a medical emergency, you need immediate care. EMS Week provides an opportunity to recognize the often less visible members of our lifesaving team who are often first on the scene of emergencies and  medically complex calls and, on a daily basis, go above and beyond the call of duty to save lives.”

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Kids and Bike Helmets: The Right Fit

Bike helmets are not optional equipment. A helmet is your last line of defense in an accident - never ride without one!
Kids should always wear helmets while biking
Helmets have been shown in studies to reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent and the risk of brain injury by 90 percent. Nationally, only 15 percent of children bicyclists used bicycle helmets. Here are some points to consider when fitting a bike helmet on a child:
  • The helmet should sit on the child's head so that the front rim is just above the eyebrows. Use the two finger rule - leave about two fingers width between your eyebrows and the front of the helmet. If the helmet rests on the back of the head, the forehead, nose and chin will be exposed.
  • Before buckling the chin strap, have children shake their head from side to side. The helmet should generally stay put. If it moves excessively, it's too big and won't protect the head no matter how tight the chin strap is pulled. The straps should be joined just under each ear at the jawbone.
  • When the chin strap is buckled, children should be able to open their mouth and feel the helmet press firmly against the top of their head.
  • Buy a new helmet. Helmets that have suffered even a single fall or have been exposed to heat for a long time (i.e., kept in the trunk of a car) lose the cohesion that keeps the helmet intact during impact.
  • Don't forget to set an example by wearing a helmet yourself!

Bike Safety and Bike Helmets

Montgomery County requires anyone under age 18 to wear a bicycle helmet when riding or being carried on a bicycle, including a bicycle with training wheels, on a public street, right-of-way, sidewalk or bicycle path in the County. 1
Your child is 14 times more likely to survive a bike crash if he/she is wearing a helmet. Each year in the United States, approximately 250 children die in bicycle-related accidents, and about half a million are injured in bicycling accidents. Although it's estimated that 75% of the serious injuries could have been avoided if a helmet was worn, only about 20% of children in the United States wear a helmet.
How to properly wear a bike helmet

Get the Helmet to Fit Right

Step 1: Make sure the helmet fits firmly.
Helmets are sold with foam pads that differ in thickness to make the helmet fit firmly. Use the foam pads by attaching them to the inside of the helmet until the helmet fits firmly on your child's head. The helmet should not move around when shaken.
Step 2: Make sure the helmet sits level on the child's head.
This means the helmet should cover the top of the forehead, just above the eyebrows. Wearing the helmet too far back is a common mistake. You should be able to place just two fingers between the eyebrows and the front of the helmet. Take off anything that could change the way a helmet fits (baseball caps, big hair clips, headphones, etc.).
Step 3: Position the straps correctly.
All straps should be snug but still comfortable. Fix the side straps so that they fit around your child's ear in a V-shape. Adjust the buckles or slides on the side strap so that they are right under theear. Tighten the chin strap until you can fit just one finger between the strap and your child's chin.
Check the fit of the helmet every time. Use the 2-V-1 finger test. Teach your child to do this test each time he gets ready to ride:
  • Two fingers above the eyebrows
  • V-Shape under each ear
  • One finger under the chin strap
  • Make sure that the helmet has a label to say that it meets safety standards, such as CSA, CPSC, ASTM, or Snell.
After taking a serious hit, helmets lose their capacity to absorb shock. They're designed that way so that the inner foam structure is altered by a very hard blow. If your child ever has a significant fall or hits any surface hard with the helmet, immediately replace the helmet. Don't Negotiate. It is estimated that 75% of bicycle-related deaths among children could be prevented with a bicycle helmet. Wearing one should never be optional for your child.
1 Excerpted from the Montgomery County Code, Sec. 7-2 - Bicycle Helmets

Monday, May 13, 2013

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service Earns Prestigious Congressional Fire Service Industry Excellence in Fire Service-Based Award

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service received the Excellence in Fire Service-Based EMS award at the 25th Annual Congressional Fire and Emergency Services dinner this week. The award is designed to recognize best practices and highlight innovations in the delivery of emergency medical services.

Established in 1989, the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy institute that works with members of Congress in promoting fire and life safety issues. Working with other national fire service organizations, the Institute focuses its attention on issues that benefit all first responders. Members of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, the largest caucus in Congress, look to CFSI for guidance and information to enhance their level of understanding about the challenges and needs of the nation’s fire and EMS communities. Each year, CFSI and the MedicAlert Foundation honor and recognize departments that have made outstanding contributions.

Annually, 75 percent of all Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service emergency calls are EMS-related and the demand for emergency medical services can quickly challenge available resources. Since 2009, the department has developed and implemented several critical programs that demonstrate the department’s commitment to saving lives in the community. With strong evidence nationally that pre-hospital care has a profound impact on survival, the department was one of the first in the state to implement and deploy paramedic-staffed engine companies, which facilitates faster access, improved pre-hospital care and enhanced patient care during an emergency. 

When every second counts, receiving the right medical care in minutes can mean the difference between life and death. The window of time from when a patient starts experiencing heart attack symptoms to the moment the patient receives treatment is a critically important period. In 2010, the department established the Emergency Cardiac Care (ECC) program which allows paramedics to transmit critical data directly and securely from remote locations to area hospitals using sophisticated technology and equipment. The new technology accelerates the diagnosis process while shaving off critical time that ultimately can make a difference in patient outcome and survival.

While hospitals and first responders have many protocols in place to ensure that cardiac patients are diagnosed and treated quickly, providing this early diagnosis “en route” ensures that the hospital team will be mobilized and standing by to intervene with angioplasty, as needed, so that blocked heart vessels can be opened, blood flow to the heart restored and heart muscle (and lives) saved.  The time period from diagnosis to the opening of the vessels is known as “door to balloon” or D2B time. According to guidelines by the American Heart Association, optimal D2B time is 90 minutes or less.

“This award reflects our ongoing investment in and dedication to excellence in our Fire and Rescue Service,” said County Executive Isiah Leggett. “I am very proud of the hard work of each and every member of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service who has placed us in a position to be nationally recognized for this prestigious award.”

“This award is testament to the commitment and dedication of the entire department and also reflects the hard work and collaboration of our hospital partners,” said Fire Chief Steve Lohr. “We strive to stay on the leading edge of the most advanced technology and industry practices available which translates into providing the best possible care - - one patient at a time.”

With strong evidence that rapid response by fire and EMS personnel, combined with state-of-the- art technology and pre-hospital care, these projects are examples of teamwork and technology saving lives. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Driving in Fog - Safety Tips

It is foggy out there folks!!!!  The below is from and I thought it appropriate for this mornings commute. Stay Safe - Bill

View from our HQ this morning.
Fog can be thought of as a cloud at ground level. It forms when the temperature drops to the dew point (the temperature at which air is saturated), and invisible water vapor in the air condenses to form suspended water droplets. Fog can reduce visibility to 1/4 mile or less, creating hazardous driving conditions. If you can't postpone your trip until dense fog lifts -- usually by late morning or the afternoon -- follow these tips:

* Drive with lights on low beam. High beams will only be reflected back off the fog and actually impair visibility even more.

* Reduce your speed -- and watch your speedometer. Fog creates a visual illusion of slow motion when you may actually be speeding.

* Listen for traffic you cannot see. Open your window a little, to hear better.

* Use wipers and defrosters as necessary for maximum visibility.

* Use the right edge of the road or painted road markings as a guide.

* Be patient. Do not pass lines of traffic.

* Do not stop on a freeway or heavily traveled road. If your car stalls or becomes disabled, turn your vehicle's lights off, and take your foot off of the brake pedal. People tend to follow tail lights when driving in fog. Move away from the vehicle to avoid injury.

Sources: National Weather Service, Wisconsin Department of Transportation

Monday, May 6, 2013

Arson Awareness Week May 5-11; “Reducing Residential Arson”

This week is Arson Awareness Week and the theme this year is “Reducing Residential Arson.”  Below please find some information from our partners in fire safety, the United States Fire Administration, that will provide more background as well as safety tips on how you can help to safeguard your home against the crime of arson.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Career Day at Eastern Middle School

By: Master Firefighter Tim Burns Station 16-A Shift

This past week, members of the 1st Battalion from Company 16 A-Shift participated in "career day" at Eastern Middle School in their first due area. 

They spoke to two groups of about 30 middle school aged children each. The crew from Paramedic Engine 716 was able to talk with the students about what brought them to this career, what the requirements are to work for Montgomery County Fire and Rescue, and what our days are like.

For the members of the 1st Battalion, it is important for us to get out into our community at events like this one for a number of reasons. Most importantly, we hope to inspire the next generation of 1st Battalion firefighters and paramedics. Many of us began our careers as junior firefighters, cadets, or volunteers at an age not much older than these students are now. We enjoy sharing the good fortune that we have all found in this profession.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Car Crash on North Bound I-270


The photos were from a car crash yesterday on north bound I-270 at the spur before Democracy Blvd. Fire units found a tractor-trailer and a minivan, on its roof, and the driver trapped. There was an 18 month old who had been extricated from her intact child seat by bystanders prior to MCFRS arrival. Crews extricated the driver and transported to a local hospital with non life threatening injuries.

Photos Courtesy of Firefighter Catalina Smith

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service is Accepting Applications for Firefighter/Rescuer I

Closing Date: May 17, 2013
      Montgomery County, MD  - - - The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) is recruiting 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. Applications will only be accepted on-line.

      Employment Information:
Starting salary for this position is $42,758, pending County Council approval. 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:
1)  Be 17 ½ years of age to apply and 18 years of age at time of appointment
      2)  Possess a high school diploma or GED within two months from time of application
3)  Be a
U.S. citizen or resident alien
4)  Possess a valid motor vehicle driver’s license  (non-provisional)

The hiring process includes a written exam, oral interview, background review, medical exam, and the CPAT (Candidate Physical Ability Test).  Applicants who meet the minimum requirements will be invited to take the written examination, which is tentatively scheduled for June 6th and 7th, 2013. A 55-person Recruit Class is planned for January 2014, pending Montgomery County Council approval. Additional Recruit Classes may also be added.

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

Montgomery County is an equal opportunity employer committed to workforce diversity.  It is the policy of Montgomery County to conduct all employment activities in a manner that will ensure equal employment opportunity for all persons without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, genetic status, or political affiliation.           

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Every 15 Minutes Program Today At Poolesville High School

Below is video from this mornings mock crash in front of Poolesville High School.  This is a day long event that we are partnering with Montgomery County Police and Poolesville staff on.  Our hope is that this program will help make the kids aware of distracted or drunk driving and help them to make good choices to avoid being in the situation below.