Monday, June 3, 2024

DROWNING: It Can Happen in an Instant

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Five words that save lives --- All Eyes On The Pool! MCFRS officials are urging residents to diligently supervise children when around any water sources. Whether you’re a seasoned swimmer or just learning how to swim, many water-related injuries and tragedies can be avoided by constant supervision by adults. DYK that drowning is the leading killer of children between the ages of 1 -  4 years? The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service kicks off our 2024 Summer of Safety Campaign with one of the most important topics of summer: 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 fits 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. 

Friday, May 24, 2024

Potomac River: What You Know Could Save Your Life

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The Fire Chief's annual Potomac River Safety Campaign kicks off this Memorial Day and Interim Fire Chief Gary S. Cooper is asking residents to please observe the warnings, come prepared, and be safe. There is lots to learn from Captain Bell with the MCFRS Water Rescue Team and key insights shared in a recent interview.

"The Potomac is very deceptive, it has some spots that look very calm, very tranquil, look very easy to swim in. But, because the river is a very high-volume flowing river there is a very strong undercurrent with lots of rocks, lots of unseen obstacles and the water is never clear, so you can never see what you’re getting into. These dynamics are especially pronounced in the area of the river called the Potomac Gorge. It is a turbulent zone where water comes into conflict with geology. This stutter-step in the earth’s crust makes Great Falls a beautiful spot, it also makes it dangerous. Important to keep in mind that the falls are only a piece of a complicated section of river spanning about seven miles. Uprooted trees, debris, hidden boulders, and other hazards create a situation so dangerous for swimming that wading and swimming are illegal in many places."

"The river is moving fast and there are a lot of hazards that you can get pinned up against, get your feet trapped in,” says Bell. “And the trees, they create what we call a strainer effect where, if you get swept into them, you can very easily get caught and trapped by your body.” Even wading into the river can lead to a dangerous situation. Mud and silt and pollutants make it impossible to see more than a few inches below the water’s surface. The river’s bottom is too often underestimated.

“I feel like I’m safe because I have my footing and I step into an eddy or something and I’m relatively safe there, but then as soon as I take one step to the rear of where I’m at it’ll drop from a four to five foot to a 20 to 30-foot drop. And as soon as you lose that, you run that panic sensation and you can very easily drown.”

Bell and his team are well-trained, with plenty of experience. Even so, he says it’s tough to rescue someone once they are already in the river’s grasp.

“Usually we’re out of the firehouse within a matter of a minute, and then we have to go down there and it’s going to be five to ten minutes to get to the river’s edge to put the boat in. And then it’s going to depend on where in the river from where we launch as to how long it takes us.” Too often by the time swimmers realize they are in trouble, it’s too late. Captain Bell notes that it can take up to 20 minutes just to reach the scene. “A swimmer could very much be in a fight for their life prior to us arriving, and have lost that fight.” MCFRS is asking anyone who is visiting the Potomac River to be aware of the dangers and respect the river. (From an awesome interview w/ Bureau Chief Kris Ankarlo (WNEW)

Why People Drown at Great Falls

National Park Service - Plan Your Visit

What Activities are Allowed?

Billie Goat Trail Information - Preview Conditions & Check out the Safety Video

The Billy Goat Trail, especially section A, is challenging and dangerous. A sign in early parts of the trail says: “Difficult Trail Ahead. Many hikers are injured every year on this section of the Billy Goat A trail. The terrain includes sharp drops, requires jumps across open areas, walking along the edges of rocks, and a climb up a 50-foot-traverse. Beyond this point, the next available exit is at the midpoint, up to an hour's hike over difficult terrain. If you are tired, low on water, or unprepared for a very strenuous hike, please turn back.” The bottom line, it's not a place for rookies. Be safe and please mind the warnings, friends!

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

~ Honoring a Hero ~

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of
Master Firefighter Yu-Lun (Will) Wu
on Friday, May 11, 2024 following a valiant battle with cancer. 
He passed away peacefully at Suburban Hospital surrounded by loved ones.

Will was a Montgomery County resident and lived in Aspen Hill, Maryland.
He was hired 
on March 17, 2008 and dedicated sixteen years of service to
the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service and the residents of
Montgomery County. His commitment to duty was evident every day
and in his most recent assignment at Fire Station 7, C-Shift.

Montgomery County Interim Fire Chief Gary S. Cooper shared the solemn news 
of Will's active-duty death with the MCFRS community. In this time of grief,
we humbly request that you keep the Wu family and the
entire MCFRS family in your thoughts and prayers.


Details Regarding Viewing and Funeral Services


  • Wednesday, May 22, 2024 – 1100-1400 and 1500-1800 hours
  • Hines-Rinaldi Funeral Home - 11800 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, Maryland 20904


  • Thursday, May 23, 2024 at 11:00 am 
  • Lutheran Church of St. Andrew, 15300 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20905
  • Simulcast available at 


  • Immediately following funeral services and post-funeral processional
  • Park Lawn Cemetery – 12800 Veirs Mill Rd, Rockville, MD 20853


  • Thursday, May 23, 2024, immediately following the internment. Additional information to follow.


                  IMPORTANT MCFRS Information

Planning to Attend? Please Respond by 0700 on Saturday, May 18th

If you plan to attend the Viewing, Funeral, or Repast please complete the Survey below:

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that memorial contributions be made to the Montgomery County Career Fire Fighters Charitable Foundation (

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Safety First: The Dangers of Windows

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Fact: Falls are the leading cause of unintentional injuries in children less than 14 years of age. More than 80% of fall-related injuries among children ages 4 and under occur in the home.

You've child-proofed your home room-by-room. You've check your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. You've covered all electrical outlets and you've even mastered how to install your car seat. But there is one potential hazard you may have missed or underestimated. As cooler weather arrives and people are opening their windows again, be aware of young children who may have access to windows -- and not just in high rise buildings. Many falls occur from modest heights. 

Windows play a vital role in home safety, serving as a secondary escape route in the event of a fire or other emergency, but they also pose a risk for a fall if safety measures are not followed. While most windows have screens, they are not designed to provide protection to keep a child safe.  Prevent window-related injuries in the home:
  • Never rely on window screens to keep children from falling out of windows. A screen is not a safety device. It is designed to keep insects out, not to keep children in.
  • Keep furniture such as sofas, beds and dressers away from windows. This will discourage children from climbing near any windows.
  • Keep windows closed and locked when they are not being used.
  • When windows are open for ventilation, take advantage of all safety features. If possible, open windows from the top and not the bottom if you have double-hung windows – the kind that can open down from the top as well as up from the bottom.
  • Install safety devices such as window guards or window stops to help prevent falls.
  • Remind grandparents and other caregivers about window safety.
  • Always supervise children and keep their play area (or "home school" area) away from windows.

Toddlers are top-heavy. Their heads are bigger in proportion to the rest of their body than adults.This means they are more likely to fall head first, injuring their skull and brain upon impact. Window falls can happen quickly and, in some cases, be deadly. 
  • If you see that a child has fallen out of a window and is lying on the ground not moving, do not move them. Call 911 and wait for emergency responders.
  • Seek medical attention after a window fall, even if your child appears to have no injuries. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Spring forward time!

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Don’t forget: TEST smoke and carbon monoxide alarms this weekend!

It's that time of year again when we "Spring Forward" and change clocks (unless your clocks do it automatically!) and check smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Here are our "Top Eight" Tips to remember when it comes to smoke alarms and fire safety this weekend:

1. It is indisputable that smoke alarms save lives. Smoke alarms are the best and least expensive way to provide an early warning system to alert you and your family to a potential fire emergency. Smoke alarms are designed to detect a fire in its early stages and alert people, so they have time to safely escape.

2. Smoke alarms should be installed in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home.

3. For the best protection, smoke alarms should be interconnected. What does that mean? When one sounds they all sound alerting you to an emergency early on and giving you critical time to escape. New construction requirements have included hard- wired smoke alarms with battery back-ups since the mid-70's. 

4. Nothing lasts forever - including smoke alarms. Smoke alarms become less reliable with time, primarily due to aging of their electronic components making them more susceptible to nuisance false alarms. Replace entire smoke alarm units every 10 years or sooner if they don't respond properly when tested. Why? The sensor wears out and may not activate in an emergency putting your family at risk. Always read the manufacturer’s recommendations as some models recommend replacement every 5-7 years.

5. DIY projects? Never (ever) paint over a smoke alarm. It will affect the operation of the smoke alarm, potentially disabling it.

6. Test your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarms once a month by pressing the test button.

7. Lightly clean your smoke alarms monthly when you test them. Smoke alarms get clogged with dust build-up which may affect performance. Vacuum lightly and follow manufacturer recommendations. 

8. If your smoke alarm “chirps” it may be time to change the back-up battery in your hard-wired alarm. Since 2018, Maryland law has required all battery-only smoke alarms (typically found in homes built before 1975 that have never pulled a building permit) to have a sealed,10-year long-life battery in the unit. Any "chirping" in these units is likely signaling that you need to replace the entire smoke alarm with a new one. 

Today's home safety and security technology has evolved beyond smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Many families rely on household devices connected to the internet or smartphones to enhance safety and security. New technology can even notify you when the alarm is activated or if the battery is low. Take time this weekend to ensure your family has a fire safety plan and you have smoke and carbon monoxide alarms with the newest technology. And practice your plan with a Home Fire Drill to ensure everyone knows what to do in an emergency.