Friday, December 29, 2017

Updates to Maryland’s Smoke Alarm Law

New Year. New Alarm? What You Need to Know 

Smoke alarm technology has advanced over the years and the updates to Maryland's Smoke Alarm Law are part of a nationwide trend to ensure that new and replacement smoke alarms have the most effective technology available. In Maryland, legislation updating smoke alarm requirements was signed in 2013 with a phased-in implementation period to provide time for residents impacted to make any required upgrades and be in compliance by the January 1, 2018 deadline. There are essentially two key things you need to know about the new law to determine if you need to take action: 

  • All smoke alarms, regardless of whether they are battery-only or hard-wired, MUST be replaced EVERY ten years from the date of manufacturer printed on the back of the alarm.  
  • All battery-ONLY smoke alarms must be replaced with ten-year, sealed, long-life battery-powered smoke alarms with a silence/hush feature. These battery-only smoke alarms are the primary target of Maryland's new law and are the type of alarms typically found in older (pre-1975) homes.

The intent of Maryland’s new Smoke Alarm Law was to achieve as much reliable smoke alarm coverage as possible in older dwellings without requiring the homeowner to run new wiring. As a department, we have been talking about changes to Maryland’s Smoke Alarm Law since the legislation was signed in 2013 and as we approach 2018, we’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions below. Questions like: Is it really necessary?  Why every ten years?  Why a sealed battery?  How much will it cost me? What if I have hard-wired alarms? Why the changes? Let’s learn the reasons for these legislative changes.

Six years ago the Maryland Smoke Alarm Technology Task Force examined residential fire deaths around the State to learn why people were not able to escape their homes in time.  The Task Force was asked to look at new and emerging technologies to determine if better smoke detection was available and ensure it was affordable for Marylanders. The goal of the Task Force was simple:  Reduce residential fire deaths in Maryland. The legislation was written to do exactly that.  


How do I know if I am affected by the changes to Maryland’s Smoke Alarm Law?
Two things you need to know. Maryland’s new Smoke Alarm Law requires the replacement of all smoke alarms (hard-wired and battery-only) when they are ten years old (ten years from the date of manufacture printed on the back of the smoke alarm) and requires the replacement of any/all battery-only powered smoke alarms with 10-year long-life, sealed smoke alarms. It is never acceptable to replace required hard-wired smoke alarms and replace with ANY type of battery-only smoke alarm. 

How do I know what type of smoke alarms I need?
Smoke alarm requirements are based on the Code requirements when the house was built. As a result, requirements can be somewhat confusing and it is critical to determine when your home was actually built to determine the locations and type of smoke alarms required. Residential code requirements can be found at

Are hard-wired smoke alarms affected by the changes to Maryland’s Smoke Alarm law?

The only impact to hard-wired smoke alarms: if they are over 10 years, they need to be replaced with new hard-wired smoke alarms. The manufacture date can be found on the alarm to determine if it needs to be replaced. Hard-wired smoke alarms always have a battery-backup in the event of a power outage to ensure continuous smoke alarm protection.

Why do I have to change my smoke alarms every ten years?
How old is your cell phone? It is likely less than ten years old. Then why should your smoke alarm, an electronic device designed to protect your family not be periodically replaced? Most people know they should have working smoke alarms. The one thing many people don’t realize is that smoke alarms need to be replaced every ten years. Studies concluded that the proper operational sensitivity of a smoke alarm deteriorates dramatically ten years from its date of manufacture. You can find the manufacturer date on the underside of your smoke alarm. No date? No question --- your smoke alarms are overdue for replacement.

Can I replace my required hard-wired smoke alarms with these new 10-year, sealed battery-only smoke alarms?
NO! (no, no and no)! The new law heavily emphasizes the use of sealed, 10-year battery-powered smoke alarms with long-life batteries and silence/hush features. However, it is critical to understand that these devices are appropriate only where battery-operated smoke alarms presently exist or in locations where no smoke alarms are present. It is never (ever) acceptable to remove required hard-wired smoke alarms and replace them with any type of battery-only smoke alarm.  
Why a “sealed battery” in battery-only alarms?
When looking at the data on residential fire fatalities, more than half of the smoke alarms failed to sound because the 9v battery had been removed. The primary intent of the new Maryland Smoke Alarm Law was to transition away from smoke alarms with nine-volt batteries. Historically, the normal course of action when frying bacon or burning toast activated the smoke alarm was to remove the battery to quiet the alarm. That annoying low battery alarm chip which almost always occurs at 3:00 in the morning also resulted in the removal of the smoke alarm battery. Despite the best intentions, many of these batteries never got replaced resulting in much loss of life fires in homes having non-working smoke alarms due to dead or missing batteries. Both of these problems will be essentially solved as we transition to sealed smoke alarms. The silence button will temporarily turn off the alarm due to cooking activations (we are not saying you're a bad cook ...) and the alarm will reset after a few minutes. A low battery chirp will only occur once every ten years with the new generation of sealed units indicating it’s time to replace the entire smoke alarm unit. Battery technology has come a long way and this “sealed battery” technology is a good thing.

How much will it cost me?
More good news. While the new sealed smoke alarms with long-life batteries and hush features will cost a little more at the time of purchase, money is actually saved over the ten-year life of the alarms since there is no longer a need to purchase new nine-volt batteries ever year. If you have hard-wired smoke alarms you might need an electrician to change them out.  The device itself costs around $30.00. Small price to pay for your family’s safety. 

Can I purchase a hard-wired smoke alarm with a ten-year battery back-up?
Yes.  When the legislation was written they were not available on the market but they are now. Again, they are potentially a less expensive alternative since you won’t have to continue to buy 9 volt batteries each year and while the law doesn’t require ten-year back-up batteries for hard-wired smoke alarms, it could be a good solution to the “low battery replacement chirp” that always seems to occur in the middle of the night.

Why is the “hush” feature important?
Smoke alarms are available with a “hush” button that can be used to temporarily silence the alarm. This is a convenient way to deal with nuisance alarms, such as those caused by burning toast or opening smoky ovens, without disabling the alarm. The hush button will silence the alarm for several minutes and then automatically reset itself. Smoke alarms with this feature discourage the dangerous practice of removing the battery or disconnecting the power source as a method of dealing with frequent nuisance alarms. If smoke continues to build from an actual fire while the alarm is in hush mode, the smoke will override the silence feature and the smoke alarm will reactivate.
How can I test my alarm? 
Every smoke alarm comes with a test button. MCFRS recommends that people test their alarms at least once a month. Think about it. You go out of town for a month and “missed” the end of life chirp of your smoke alarm during that time and have no idea that your alarm is no longer protecting your family. A monthly push of the test button could just save your life. 

What about new homes. Any changes?
For new construction, the Maryland Smoke Alarm Law has simply been updated to correspond with the International Residential Code and NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code. An AC powered, battery back-up smoke alarm is required in every bedroom, in the common area outside of bedrooms and on every level of the home (including finished or unfinished basements) with ALL of the required smoke alarms being interconnected. 

What if I rent?
The new law is applicable to homeowners and landlords. Every property management company in Maryland and all landlords need to be fully compliant with the requirements of the new law.

What if I can't afford a smoke alarm?

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service has a small inventory of 10-year, long life, battery-powered smoke alarms reserved for senior citizens and residents that are unable to purchase or safely install smoke alarms due to mobility, vision or hearing impairments or other disabilities. Residents can call 311 to learn more about this program.

Can I just stop by or call my local fire station for help or information about smoke alarms?

The department recommends that you contact 311 or visit our website for assistance. While MCFRS firefighters would like to meet you -- they are frequently out of the station dispatched on calls, transporting patients, engaged in training exercises and education classes. There is a team of fire safety educators who can quickly assist you that can be reached by calling 311 or visiting our website.

Does MCFRS install or replace hard-wired smoke alarms in my home?

No. MCFRS does not install or replace hard-wired smoke alarms. If your smoke alarms are hard-wired into your home's electrical system, an electrician is recommended to complete any installation or replacement of hard-wired smoke alarms. Remember, if the Code requires hard-wired smoke alarms, you must replace with hard-wired smoke alarms which come with a battery back-up to provide continuous coverage in the event of a power outage.  

Is there anything new I need to know if I am selling my house? 
The residential property disclosure form provided to the purchaser of specified single-family residential real property must include whether the smoke alarms (1) are over 10 years old and (2) if battery-operated, are sealed, tamper-resistant units incorporating a silence/hush button and use long-life batteries as required in all Maryland homes by 2018. 
Residential Sprinkler Systems
Nothing in the new law is intended to imply in any way that smoke alarms are an adequate or acceptable substitute for residential sprinkler protection. The combination of properly located and functioning smoke alarms and properly designed residential sprinkler protection systems provide the greatest potential for surviving any residential fire.
How do I dispose of my old alarms?
The radioactive material in smoke alarms is extremely weak. Smoke alarms can be safely disposed of in the regular trash. Some manufacturers will take their own products back, but will not take products made by other companies. The postage is at the consumer's expense. Additionally, the County's Transfer Station on Shady Grove Road is also a great place to dispose of your alarms.

I still see smoke alarms with removable batteries (9v) on the shelves of retailers. Is this illegal?
No. While we hope that retailers will transition their inventory over to selling only 10-year sealed long-life battery smoke alarms, there is nothing in Maryland's law that requires retailers to stop offering smoke alarms with removable batteries since these alarms can be used as auxiliary or supplemental smoke alarms locations not required by Code.
What if I need help or have questions? 
Please visit us at or call 311 for assistance.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Tis the season to be … SAFE! Deck the halls with boughs of Safety

In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it may be tempting to take a few short cuts. Fire Chief Scott Goldstein asks that you make sure that safety isn’t one of them!   

Christmas trees require special attention. When selecting a tree, freshness is important. Check the needles to make sure they are green and difficult to pull back from the branches. If the tree has been freshly cut, the needles should not break. Tap the tree on the ground several times and notice if any needles fall off. If they do, the tree is probably dried out and could be a fire hazard.  Water your tree daily and do not place the tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace, radiator, space heater or heat vent. Make sure your tree is in a sturdy holder and can't be knocked over by pets or children.

Using extension cords? Overloaded extension cords and outlets can present a serious fire safety hazard. Make sure that the extension cord is suitable for the electrical “load” needed. Do not place cords under furniture or rugs and never plug two extension cords together to increase the total length. Demanding too much power from an extension cord risks overheating and fire. Be sure to read all packaging and instructions carefully when purchasing an extension cord and ensure it is UL listed.

Holiday lights. Indoors or out, only use lights that have been tested by an approved testing laboratory for safety such as UL. All lights should be inspected for frayed wires, bare spots, broken or cracked sockets or excessive wear before plugging them in and discard any damaged sets of lights. Avoid stringing more than three light 
strands together.

Firing up the fireplace?
 Cool your ashes! Every year “cold” ashes result in house fires. Treat all ashes and coals as HOT ashes, even when you think they have had enough time to cool. Your garage, house or deck are unsafe locations for ashes to cool and have been the site of many recent and devastating fires both locally and nationally. Take extreme care when disposing ashes and follow these tips: 

-          Allow all ashes to cool in place for several days, when possible.
-         When it’s time to dispose of ashes, transfer them to a metal container and wet them down. Only use an approved metal ash bucket that has a tight fitting metal lid.
-         Store the container outside, away from structures, decks, fences, wood piles or other combustible materials.
-          Never use a vacuum cleaner to pick up ashes and don’t dispose of ashes outside on a windy day. The wind can whip up what may have seemed like cool embers, making them fiery hot, and igniting nearby combustibles.

Candle fires peak during the holiday season. Most holiday candle fires occur when people leave burning candles unattended or place candles too close to holiday decorations. Keep candles in sight, in a secure holder and on a safe surface away from children and pets. Consider using flameless, battery-operated candles making them much safer.

Give space heaters space and ensure at least a 3-foot clearance from anything that can burn. Do not overload the electrical circuit or use extension cords with space heaters. Always stay in the room while a space heater is operating and turn it off when leaving the room or going to sleep. Follow all manufacturer recommendations and make sure your space heater meets all safety standards.

Cooking is a top cause of holiday fires. Be alert, focused and stay in the kitchen when cooking. Keep things that can catch fire, such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, food wrappers and towels away from the cooking area. Make sure kids and pets stay at least three feet away from the stove and oven, hot food, and liquids to avoid serious burns.

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 having the County’s recycling service pick it up on the designated day(s).

Do you hear what I hear? Having working smoke alarms DOUBLE your chances of surviving a fire however smoke alarms do not last forever. If your alarms are 10 years old or older, they need to be replaced with new alarms.  Bottom line: don't wait for a fire to test your smoke alarm. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Thanksgiving Wins FIRST Place - For Most Cooking Fires!

More cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than on any other day of the year. With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein 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 Goldstein. “Unattended 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/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 alarms monthly and change batteries annually or as recommended by the manufacturer if your alarm features long-life batteries.

  • 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 officials 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 our fire safety programs or to request a free home safety evaluation or smoke alarm check, call 311 during business hours or visit our website at at any time.

    Saturday, November 4, 2017

    Time to Fall Back

    Home Fires Peak During the Winter Months. This simple task can be a potentially life-saving one. 
    Chief Scott Goldstein is reminding residents that one simple task can be a potentially life-saving one. The Chief is urging all residents to test and check smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are working and up-to-date when they change their clocks this weekend. 

    Did you know the peak time for home fire fatalities is between 11 pm and 6 am when most families are sleeping? A working smoke alarm dramatically increases the chances 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 and in all sleeping areas.
    2. Test smoke alarms each month to ensure they are working. Replace batteries annually, as needed or required by manufacturer.

    3. Plan and practice home fire drills regularly. 
    Decide in advance who will help family members that may need  assistance escaping (young children, older adults or people with disabilities).
    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.

    6. After a decade of research, UL's Firefighter Safety Research Institute found that a simple behavioral change, closing your bedroom door, could have a potentially life-saving impact. Tests showed that a closed door made a life-saving difference in the event of a fire. A room with an open door showed temperatures over 1000 degrees, while a room with a closed door had temperatures at only 100 degrees. Research also showed that a closed door kept room conditions survivable longer than an open door.

    7. Know your battery type. Smoke alarms equipped with 10-year batteries are becoming more common. Check your smoke alarms to see what type of battery it has. The 10-year batteries don’t need to be replaced annually, but the entire smoke alarm does need to be replaced every ten years. Maryland’s new law (effective 1/1/2018) affects battery-operated smoke alarms and requires that alarms have SEALED IN, 10-year long life batteries which last for the life of the alarm. Do the math – that’s 10 years.  

    Got questions? Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service is here to help! Call 311 or visit us on line to schedule your free home safety check. Be sure to bookmark our website for year-round safety information at:

    Monday, October 30, 2017

    Countdown to Halloween - Tips for a Safe and Fun Night

    With Halloween quickly approaching, the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service offers some important tips for a safe Halloween. "Recent research shows that children are four times more likely to be hit by a car on Halloween than any other night of the year, said Fire Chief Scott Goldstein. “Fatal collisions between motor vehicles and young pedestrians occur most frequently between the hours of 4 and 8 p.m. It’s a dangerous night because so many kids are on the streets, many without their parents or an adult, and in their excitement often forget important pedestrian safety rules.”

    Plan a safe route.

    1. 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.

    2. Stay in familiar neighborhoods and have a parent or responsible 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 or apartment.

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

    4. 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.

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

    6. Children should avoid busy streets, always use sidewalks, and follow all traffic rules and regulations. Motorists should drive slowly and be alert to small children crossing streets. Many accidents occur when motorists are backing vehicles out of driveways, unaware of the presence of small children.

    Be a good neighbor.
    1. Keep your porch lights on and eliminate tripping hazards on your porch and walkway.  Remove outdoor safety hazards such as toys, bicycles, garden hoses 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.

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

    Be Safe – Be Seen.

    1. Don't assume the right-of-way. Motorists may have trouble seeing trick-or-treaters in the dark. Just because one car stops doesn't mean others will. 

    2. 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.

    All Dressed Up.

    1. Plan costumes that are bright and have reflective qualities. Consider adding reflective tape or decals to costumes and trick or treat bags. Be sure kids carry a flashlight and use glow sticks for extra visibility.

    2. When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories purchase only those with a label indicating they are flame resistant.

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

    4. Shorter IS safer. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.

    5. Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup as a safer alternative.

    6. If a sword, cane or stick is part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or too long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if they trip or fall.

    Decorate Safely.

    1. 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.

    2. 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 clothing catch fire.

    Lastly, teach children how to call 9-1-1 if they have an emergency or become lost.

    Tuesday, August 1, 2017

    It’s National Night Out – make sure we find you in an EMERGENCY!

    National Night Out is a premier community-building event in the County. Do you know the police officers who work to keep your neighborhood and your family safe? Come out to the many National Night Out events being celebrated around the County and meet the first responders that serve your community and on your way home --- check your house numbers and make sure they are visible. 

    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 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
    a.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.

    b. 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.

    Thursday, July 13, 2017

    Get Ready: High Heat in the Forecast

    Be Careful and Check on Elderly Neighbors

    The heat is ON. A Heat Advisory remains in effect from noon today until 9 p.m. Temperatures will be in the mid to upper 90s with heat index values around 105 degrees. Excessive heat is especially dangerous to the elderly, the young, those with existing medical conditions and those that work outdoors. Fire Chief Scott Goldstein is urging residents to stay cool, stay hydrated and to check on the welfare of elderly or at-risk neighbors as things "heat up" this week in the metropolitan area.

    Staying hydrated is essential all year long but is particularly important when temperatures soar. During hot weather and extreme heat, keep informed by listening to local weather and news channels 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.

    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 or disabled residents in Montgomery County in need of a free fan can call 311 for information.

    4. Children and cars - use common sense.
    Never, ever 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 car seat or upholstery first.

    5. Avoid strenuous activity.
    Take regular breaks when exercising or engaged in physical activity on warm days. If you recognize that you, or someone else, is showing signs of a heat-related illness, stop the activity immediately, find a cool place to rest, hydrate and seek medical attention if necessary.

    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.

    Monday, July 3, 2017

    What You Need to Know About Fireworks

    With the Fourth of July quickly approaching, Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein is reminding residents that ALL fireworks are illegal in Montgomery County and that the County will be continuing its ‘zero tolerance’ policy regarding illegal fireworks.
    In an effort to stress the seriousness posed by the use of dangerous and illegal fireworks, Fire Officials across the region launched a comprehensive effort several years ago to inform and educate the public about illegal fireworks. “The law in Montgomery County is clear and the safest, and smartest, way to enjoy fireworks is at one of the many public displays in the area,” said Fire Chief Goldstein. Here’s what you should know:

    The Law: 
    It is illegal for any person to manufacture, possess, store, offer for sale, sell, discharge, use, burn or explode any fireworks in Montgomery County, Maryland, except that an authorized display may be conducted by a licensed pyrotechnic professional with a permit. Penalties for violations of the law include a fine up to $1,000 and/or six months in jail. All fireworks are illegal in Montgomery County, Prince George’s County and the City of Baltimore. Montgomery County Fire Safety Code: Section 22-70: Fireworks.

    What fireworks are legal?
    In Montgomery County, ALL fireworks are illegal to possess or discharge including gold label sparklers. Snap-and-pop noise makers, snakes and party poppers are the only exception to this law.

    Can I receive fireworks at my home through the mail?
    No. Use of the mail for the transportation of fireworks for use in the State of Maryland is illegal.

    Can I have a private fireworks display at my residence with proper permits?
    No. You can not have a private display; however, you can apply to have a public display with proper permits and insurance.

    Can I receive fireworks at my residence delivered by a public carrier?
    No. It doesn't matter where the fireworks are purchased or how they are brought into Maryland.  Fireworks are still illegal in Montgomery County.

    Where do I report violations involving fireworks?
    Residents should call 301-279-8000. Do NOT call 911 unless you have a life-threatening emergency and need immediate help. Non-emergency 911 calls can delay getting assistance to people with actual emergencies.

    Where can I go in Montgomery County to see the fireworks?
    The Fire Chief and safety experts agree that the best way to celebrate is to enjoy one of the many free, public fireworks displays in the area on July 4th.  Public fireworks displays, conducted by trained professionals, are the smartest and safest way to view fireworks because they are established under controlled settings and safety regulations and monitored by public safety organizations.

    Jason Pierre-Paul and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission teamed up to file a PSA on fireworks safety. Pierre-Paul suffered severe damage when a firework accidentally exploded in his hand in 2015. Think about what Pierre-Paul said: "I saw 12 people in the hospital and my hand was the best one. If there were that may fireworks-related injuries in one hospital last July, how many were there across the country?"

    Please - leave the fireworks to the professionals.  

    Wednesday, June 21, 2017

    It’s Official! Summer. Is. Here.

    Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service and Fire Chief Scott Goldstein are kicking off our annual “Summer of Safety” campaign designed to provide important safety information and tips designed to keep residents and visitors safe this summer. Stick with us all season as we highlight various safety topics ranging from A to Z!

    Five words that save lives --- All Eyes On The Pool! MCFRS officials are urging residents to take proper precautions around the water and to diligently supervise children when they are around any water sources. Whether you’re a seasoned swimmer or just learning how to swim, many water-related injuries can be avoided by knowing what to do and how to stay safe. The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service kicks off the 2017 Summer of Safety Campaign with Water Safety:  

    Be attentive.  Research from the National Safe Kid Campaign shows that nearly 9 out of 10 children between the ages of 1 and 14 who drowned were under supervision when they died. How is this possible? Distractions – cell phones, ipads, reading materials, chores and socializing needs to be resisted when YOU are on “lifeguard duty” watching your child. Be engaged and committed to watching them constantly. The study defined supervision as being in someone’s care, not necessarily in direct line of sight.

    Learn to swim and never swim alone. One of the best things you can do to stay safe around the water is to learn to swim and to always swim with a buddy. Make sure they know how to tread water, float on their backs and get to the edge of the pool and hang on. Even the most experienced swimmers can become tired or get muscle cramps which might make it difficult to get out of the water safely.  

    Teaching your child how to swim does not mean that your child is “drown-proof.”If you have a pool or are visiting a pool, protect your children by supervising them at all times and being prepared in case of an emergency. Consider designating a adult “water watcher” when children are participating in water activities.

    Seconds count when it comes to water emergencies. Keep a phone (cell or cordless) by the pool or nearby when engaged in recreational water activities so that you can call 9-1-1 in an emergency.

    Learn life-saving skills. Know how to prevent, recognize and respond to emergencies. In the time it might take paramedics to arrive, your CPR skills could make a difference in saving someone’s life.

    Avoid relying on inflatable swimming aids such as “floaties and “noodles” to keep your child safe. These toys are not designed to keep your child safe, can deflate or shift quickly and should never be used as a substitute for supervision. Use only Coast Guard approved flotation devices that your swimmer properly.

    Lifeguards are an important safety feature but are NOT intended to replace the close supervision of parents or caregivers. Remember, lifeguards are not babysitters.

    Maintain constant supervision of children around water (bathtubs, pools, ornamental backyard ponds, etc.). Never leave a child unattended in the water or pool area. Don't be distracted by phone calls, chores or conversations. If you leave the pool area, take the child with you. Remember: swim lessons are no substitute for the supervision of children. Formal swimming lessons can help protect young swimmers around the water however constant adult supervision is critical. 
    Diving dangers. Diving injuries can cause permanent spinal damage, injuries and even death. Protect yourself by diving only in designated areas that are known to be safe, such as the deep end, of a supervised pool. 

    Pay attention to local weather conditions and forecasts. Stop swimming at the first indication of bad weather. 

    Know Your Limits. Watch for the “dangerous too’s” . . . too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much strenuous activity. 

    Water and alcohol don’t mix.
     Each year, up to half of all adult drownings are linked to alcohol use. Never swim impaired.