Friday, December 31, 2010

Don’t Become a Statistic Tonight: SoberRide offers New Year's Revelers Safe Way

MCFRS hopes all of you have a SAFE New Year’s eve tonight! I found this great article on with information on how you can get a free ride if you have had a bit too much to drink. Drunk driving is a preventable incident – it is NOT accident when one occurs!

So please take a moment to click on the link below to learn more. Pass along to any one you know who may be out and about celebrating tonight.  If even the slightest doubt please pick up a phone and call for a ride home. 

SoberRide offers New Year's Revelers Safe Way

Stay Safe this evening!


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Whole Foods & Fire Station 6 A-Shift Partner on 28 Day Health Challenge

By: Bill Delaney

Jill Ward provides books and background
to 6 A-Shift
Yesterday I tagged along as Career Fire Fighters from Bethesda Fire Station 6, A-Shift, received a briefing and tour at the Friendship Heights Whole Foods. The reason for this meeting was for the fire fighters to get background on a unique challenge they will be undertaking starting in January.

The challenge is based on a Austin, Texas fire fighter’s book, The Engine 2 Diet, that lays out a 28 day plan to lose weight and lower cholesterol. It is part cook book as well and the personnel at Station 6 hope to prepare healthy meals while on duty.

We will be chronicling their experience here on the blog. So look for updates over the course of January and February.

Special thanks to Jill Ward and Whole Foods for partnering in this special health challenge!

Touring the Whole Foods to learn
where the healthy foods are kept

Already studying!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ice & Cold Weather Safety Tips

Each year, many residents are injured during the winter months as a result of pedestrian accidents and from exposure in cold water incidents. Skaters fall through the ice; boaters and canoeists overturn their crafts and pedestrians are struck walking in roadways because sidewalks are snow covered.

Here are a few general guidelines for use by winter recreation enthusiasts to lessen their chances for an icy dip or worse. It's impossible to judge the strength of ice by its appearance, thickness, daily temperature, or snow cover alone. Ice strength is also dependent on water depth under the ice, the size of the water and water chemistry, currents, and distribution of the load on the ice.



Act quickly and call 9-1-1 for help immediately. Make sure properly trained and equipped rescue personnel are alerted to respond.

DO NOT go out onto the ice. Many times would-be rescuers become victims themselves.

Reach, Throw, or Row. Extend a branch, pole or ladder to the victim. Throw them a buoyant object such as a life ring or float tied to a rope. If a boat is nearby row out to the victim or push it toward them.


Any water that is cooler than normal body temperature (98.6 degrees F) is by definition "cold water"

Cold water drains away body heat 25 to 30 times faster than air!

The lower the temperature of the water, the faster the onset of hypothermia.


Hypothermia is the excessive lowering of body temperature. A drop n core temperature below 95 degrees F., causes shivering, confusion, loss of muscle strength, and if not treated and reversed leads to unconsciousness and death.

Safety experts estimate that half of all drowning victims die from the fatal effects of hypothermia and cold water, not the fatal effects from water filled lungs.


Slippery driveways and sidewalks can be particularly hazardous in the winter. Keep them well shoveled, and apply materials such as rock salt or sand to improve traction.

Be especially careful crossing the street and wear appropriate shoes and brightly colored (not white) clothing while walking in snowy conditions.

Use reflective clothing or stickers for maximum protection, especially at dawn and dusk.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Tree and Holiday Light Recycling

Though I am still off for another day winding down my holiday weekend, I thought it important to get out some great information provided by the Montgomery County Division of Solid Waste Services (DSWS), in the Department of Environmental Protection. Below, please find some great information as it relates to Christmas Tree and Holiday Light Recycling.

Hope everyone has had a December full of health and happiness that continues into the New Year!


Christmas Tree Recycling Schedule and Tips

Montgomery County residents may recycle their Christmas trees from Monday, December 27, 2010 through Friday, February 4, 2011 by placing the entire tree at the curb by 7 a.m. on their regular recycling collection day.

After February 4, Christmas trees may be recycled through the County’s curbside yard trim recycling collection program. Because the trees will be chipped for mulch, they must first be cut into smaller pieces.

The Division of Solid Waste Services reminds residents to keep trees in their natural state and to remove the stand and all decorations, including lights, ornaments, tinsel and garland. There should be nothing attached to the tree.

Residents are also reminded not to place trees in plastics bags. Trees with root balls are considered

“live” and therefore cannot be collected as part of this recycling program. In addition, artificial trees cannot be collected as part of the recycling program. Residents might consider donating artificial trees to charitable organizations or offering them for reuse through online reuse networks such as the Freecycle Network at

Tree branches and needles may be recycled at home by placing them under outdoor trees and shrubs as temporary winter mulch, or they may be chopped up and added to a backyard compost bin.

Wreaths and roping that are typically bound together with wire cannot be recycled unless the wire is removed from the greens. If there is no wiring attached, the greens may be placed directly into paper lawn bags or in reusable containers or bundled as yard trim and placed at the curb for recycling collection on recycling day.

Residents of apartments and condominiums, as well as businesses, should check with their property or business manager for specific Christmas tree recycling instructions.

After Christmas trees are collected for recycling, they are shredded into mulch that will be available in February and March at County-operated Neighborhood Mulch Preserves. The preserves are located at: Montgomery County Recycling Center, 16105 Frederick Rd. in the Derwood/Rockville/Gaithersburg area; and at E.E. Halmos Park (use the Bodmer Ave. entrance) in Poolesville. The mulch is free but must be loaded and transported by the user.

This mulch is good to use on woody plants, such as bushes, shrubs and trees; as a cover material on walkways or other areas where vegetation needs to be controlled; and as a carbon-rich addition to home compost bins. Because the mulch is “green,” it must be aged for at least six to eight months before it can be used on flowers, vegetables or other plants with tender or shallow root systems.

For more information about Christmas tree recycling, the Neighborhood Mulch Preserves and/or using mulch, call 311; 240-777-0311 240-777-0311 from outside Montgomery County; TTY 240-777-3556; or visit

Holiday Light Recycling Opportunities

Broken, burnt out and/or unwanted holiday lights used on Christmas trees or around the house can be recycled, but not as part of the County’s curbside recycling program. Residents may take their holiday lights to a number of local retailers for recycling collection or they may send the lights directly to private recycling companies.

For an updated list of holiday light recycling options, visit and click on Recycle Your Holiday Lights.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

MCFRS Triathlon Team Members raise $19,140 For the Make-A-Wish Foundation

MCFRS triathlon team members raised a total of $19,140 this year for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Kensington resident Theresa Brooks was our official honoree.  The triathlon was held in September at Bethany Beach in Delaware.

Theresa is a 6 year old cancer survivor, who had a wish to "be a ballerina" fulfilled last year by the Make a Wish Foundation.  In December 2006, at the age of two and a half, she was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare soft tissue cancerous tumor.  Theresa was treated primarily at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC, where she received chemotherapy for 10 months.  She also received radiation treatments at Mass General in Boston.  As of this date Theresa is cancer free.

Theresa has been a good friend of Katie Monahan (daughter of Fire Fighter T.J. Monahan, 33 A Shift) since preschool.

DSCN0095You will actually be able to see Theresa in a two minute segment called “Theresa’s Wish” that will air on CNN as part of a one-hour special called "Giving in Focus" on Christmas Day at 4:00 PM.

MCFRS Triathlon Team Members: Michael Johns, TJ Monahan, Robert Stojinski, Elwood Ey, Michael Green, Joshua Devries, David Carter, Michael McDonald, Amanda Viragh, James Riddle, Andrew Welk, Jose Estrada.

Special thanks to Fire Fighter Carla Myers (22 C Shift), for the embroidery for this year's team shirts.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Still Time to Drop Off a New Toy to a Local Fire Station!

Today is the last day MCFRS Fire Stations will be accepting new, unwrapped toys that will be used for existing annual local volunteer fire department initiatives supporting neighborhood and local community holiday programs, as well as, the regional 2010 Toys for Tots Campaign in conjunction with the United States Marines.

As you are out and about today, please consider purchasing a new toy and then drop it by one of our fire stations. The toys are intended to go to children from infants and toddlers to seventeen (17) years of age.

Below, please find a brief video from our partners – the United States Marines!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning - A Colorless, Tasteless, and Odorless Killer

As many of you are aware, there was a tragic death with a couple more close calls in the District of Columbia a couple of days ago related to Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning. With the cold weather our furnaces, wood stoves, space heaters, and fire places will be working to keep our homes toasty warm. The use of improperly operating oil, natural gas and LPG forced air heating systems and appliances can result in CO poisoning.

Heck, leaving your car running in an attached to your home garage can result in CO leaking into your home!

With the above in mind, I would like to offer some of the CO exposure warning signs and symptoms and what you can do to protect yourself and your family from this hidden danger. CO is a colorless, tasteless, odorless, and non-irritating gas that you may be unaware you are breathing. The signs/symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:

•Symptoms often described as “Flu-like”

• Mild headache initially, increasing in intensity to throbbing headache

• Shortness of breath

• Irritability and fatigue

• Impaired judgment

• Memory loss

• Vomiting

• Symptoms can progress rapidly to coma and death

• Symptoms decrease when leaving the home or location to go to work, school

Some standard steps to prevent CO poisoning from occurring:

• Install at least one battery-powered CO alarm or AC-powered unit with battery backup on each level of your home and near sleeping areas.

• Have your furnace checked before use each year to ensure adequate ventilation and proper operation.

• Always provide adequate ventilation when using wood stoves, fuel-fired space heaters, and fireplaces and ensure proper installation, adjustment and operation of all flame-burning appliances.

• Never use an oven or gas range to heat the house. These appliances use the existing oxygen supply.

• Never burn charcoal inside a home or other enclosed space.

• Always ventilate generators used to run cleaning equipment, pump water or supply electricity to a home. Generators used in a garage can result in fumes seeping into the home.

• Keep chimneys clear of animal nests, leaves and residue to ensure proper venting. Have all fireplaces cleaned and inspected annually.

• Do not block or seal shut the exhaust flues or ducts used by water heaters, ranges and clothes dryers.

• Do not leave your car running in an attached garage or carport.

• Replace CO alarms every five to seven years in order to benefit from the latest technology upgrades.

If you are in doubt about whether you may be the victim of CO poisoning or a leak, call 9-1-1.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Two-Alarm Apartment Fire & Space Heater Safety

With cold weather usually, unfortunately, come home fires. A little after mid-night this morning was no exception as MCFRS personnel responded to a two-alarm apartment fire in the 2900 Block of Hewitt Avenue.

View Larger Map

One resident was transported to the hospital for smoke inhalation. Damage to the building was $250K and $100K for contents of the impacted apartments. Preliminary findings indicate that a space heater, placed too close to items that can burn, MAY be a contributing factor to this fire.

If you scroll back the last several days of this blog, you will notice we hit on the topic of cold weather fires and the usual suspect causes. The common theme is that a vast majority of these fires are preventable incidents. In other words, they did not have to happen.

Please remember that space heaters need SPACE! There should be nothing within a 3 foot radius of the space heater that can burn! Clothes and other burnable items should not be placed in and around the space heater to dry out or warm up! A vast majority of space heater related fires we respond too are not caused by a malfunction of the space heater.
Please take a moment to review the below tips for more information. Also, PLEASE feel free to forward to friends and family members. Help us to help you and your loved ones from having to place a 9-1-1 call because your home is on fire.

For portable space heaters:

o Fuel-fired space heaters are only permitted in single-family dwellings (houses and townhouses) in Montgomery County.

o Space heaters need space. Portable space heaters need a three-foot clearance from anything that can burn.

o When buying heaters, look for devices that are UL (Underwriters Laboratory) listed with automatic shutoff features that shut the unit off if it is tipped over. Be sure any heating device is placed in a room with adequate ventilation.

o Portable kerosene heaters should be fueled outside, free of flame and other heat sources, and only when the device has cooled completely. Use only the type of kerosene specified by the manufacturer for that device.

o Place them on a solid, flat surface.

o Turn them off when you go to bed or leave the room.

o Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into an extension cord.

o Inspect for cracked or damaged, broken plugs or loose connections; replace before using.

o Follow manufacturer recommendations when using space heaters.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Preventing Christmas Tree Fires

By: Lieutenant Dave Carter, Montgomery County Fire Rescue Service

Each year fires occurring during the holiday season claim the lives of over 400 Americans, injure 1,650 more, and cause over $990 million in damage.

According to the U. S. Fire Administration (USFA), there are simple life saving steps you can take to ensure a safe and happy holiday. By following some of the outlined precautionary tips, individuals can greatly reduce their chances of becoming a holiday fire casualty.

Special fire safety precautions need to be taken when keeping a live or fresh cut tree in the house.

Safety Links

· Christmas Tree Fire Hazards

· Selecting a Christmas Tree

· Christmas Tree Care

Finally, as in every season, have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home to include all sleeping areas, test them monthly, and keep them clean and equipped with fresh batteries at all times.

Know when and how to call for help (ESPECIALLY CHILDREN). Ensure your house has the address readable from the street in night time light conditions.

Have in place and remember to practice your home escape plan. The plan should have at least 2 points of escape from each living area and a meeting place outside for family members exiting the home. Meet in a safe area that is visible to responding fire department personnel. Be able to provide information for anyone not accounted for.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Friday Home Fires Highlight Danger of Combustible Materials Too Close to Lamps/Lights

A couple of fire calls this past Friday caught my eye and I wanted to share them with you. The cause of the fires may actually surprise many of you. It certainly highlights the fact that many of the fires MCFRS Fire Fighter’s respond to are PREVENTABLE incidents.

In one instance the fire originated in closet by the front door due to combustibles too close to light fixture.

The next fire was due to bedding materials on a lamp.

Hopefully all of you caught on to the fact that the light bulbs in the lamp and light fixture were the “spark” that started each fire. They were allowed to be the “spark” because materials that can burn were placed close enough to each device that the materials heated up to the point where they caught fire.

None of the people who lived in these homes meant for this to happen. No doubt many of you reading this right now are saying to yourselves, “Wow! I did not realize a fire could start this way!”

But it can and it did! My hope is that many of you will read this and perhaps pay a little more attention to where you may be tossing your clothes, towels, bed sheets/blankets, jackets, etc. This is the time of year where we also see many folks using space heaters to dry out or heat up wet clothes – which can result in the same set of circumstances that occurred Friday.

So, please, understand that your lamps and light fixtures are a potential source of heat that can start a fire if you are placing things that can burn too close to them.

For more safety tips, please go to our Safety In Our Neighborhood site.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Put a Freeze on Winter Fires

Discard Fireplace Ashes in a Metal Container Away From the House and Keep Clutter Away From Heat Sources

The cold temperatures are here. More fires seem to occur around this time of the year as the result of combustibles too close to a heat sources, malfunction in chimney flues, improperly placed fireplace ashes, malfunctioning heating systems and/or associated electrical overloads. During the upcoming months, home heating systems and heating equipment continue to be significant factor in structural fires in Montgomery County. Many of these fires can be prevented. The following fire safety tips and information, from our friends at the NFPA and USFA, can help you maintain a fire safe home and business this winter.

Winter Fire Safety


Several Recalls of Note

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued several recalls yesterday involving either a burn or fire hazard that I thought all of you should be aware of. Please take a look at the recalled items below to see if any of them are in your home. If you find some familiar items in the list, please follow the instructions of the CPSC and the manufacturer.

1. Rachael Ray(tm) Brand Two Quart Teakettle Recalled by Meyer Corporation, U.S. Due to Burn Hazard,

2. Circo Children's Camping Combo Pack Recalled Due to Fire Hazard; Sold Exclusively at Target Stores,

3. Silver Metallic Pillar Candles Sold Exclusively at Bed Bath & Beyond Stores Recalled By General Wax & Candle Company Due to Fire Hazard,

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dog Rescue

While this happened a week ago, I thought it would still be nice to pass along to all of you out there who follow us. Several good pictures are included. The below narrative was provided by Lieutenant Rick Triplett who was the Officer in Charge on Truck 735 (Milestone) which participated in the rescue.

A week ago, November 30, fire and rescue units were called to assist with a dog that was trapped in a metal drainage pipe. The dog was in a metal drainage pipe about 30 feet from the opening and was hung up on something in the pipe and the pipe was too narrow to crawl in to. The squad crew had measured in from the end to see how far in he was so they knew where to start digging. Rescue Squad 729 (Germantown) had started digging when we arrived and were down about 1 foot or so. We continued to dig when a guy said he had a small backhoe across the street.

We were able to get the backhoe into the scene and dig down 4 to 5 feet before it hit the pipe. We then used an air chisel, hydraulic spreaders and cutters to make a hole in the top of the pipe. The dog was about 4 feet from the opening and could not be reached. While we were discussing our options the dog stuck his nose out of the opening. At first he backed away when he saw strangers but a minute later he came out a little further and we were able to grab him and pull him out.

Go here to see several photos: MCFRS on Flickr

The crews were: Battalion Chief Witt was Battalion 705, Rescue Squad 729 was Lieutenant Randall, Firefighters Tatum and Palma, Aerial Truck 735 was Lieutenant Triplett, Master Firefighter Hardy and Firefighter Ocker.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fire Safe Home For The Holidays!

The Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service wants to help make your holidays joyful and safe. By taking the simple safety precautions listed below, you can help ensure that you and your loved ones will have a Fire Safe Home For The Holidays!

Lights and Candles

Decorate your tree using only UL (Underwriters' Lab Inc.) approved lights and cords. Inspect lights for exposed or frayed wires, loose connections or broken sockets. Do not overload extension cords. Use no more than three strings of lights on one extension cord, and never run an electrical cord under a carpet. Be sure to secure electrical cords so that children cannot pull them and topple the tree.

Turn off the tree lights when you go to bed, depart from home or leave the tree in an unattended room.

Keep burning candles out of the reach of children and pets; keep matches and lighters out of sight and locked away. Make sure they are in stable holders. Do not leave candles unattended - especially around children or pets.

Do not place candles near draperies or anything that might easily catch fire. Make sure you put out candles when you go to bed or leave the home.

Never Put Lit Candles on a Tree! Do not go near a holiday tree with an open flame - candles, lighters or matches.


Never leave cooking food unattended - it is the number one cause of house fires.

Make sure you wear close-fitting clothing when cooking.

Put pans on back burners and turn all pot handles toward the back of the stove.

Never leave a child unattended in the kitchen. Close supervision is essential, whether children are helping an adult cook or simply watching.


When selecting a tree for the Holiday, needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needle should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard. A safer option is to buy a fire-resistant artificial tree.

Use a wide-based stand to make sure the tree is secure and will not fall over. Keep your tree in a container full of water, and check it daily.

Keep the tree away from heat sources such as fireplaces, radiators and heating vents. Decorate your tree with children in mind. Do not put ornaments that are breakable, have small detachable parts, metal hooks or look like food or candy on the lower branches where small children can reach them. Make sure tree lights are hung out of reach of young children. Also, cut back the lower branches to avoid eye injuries to small children.

Never burn Christmas tree branches, treated wood or wrapping paper in your fireplace. Dispose of your tree promptly after the holidays.

Other Related Tips

Have your furnace and chimney professionally inspected and cleaned.

Space heaters need space. Keep materials that burn easily at least three feet away from each heater.

Working smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your home, especially near sleeping areas. Test alarms once a month and replace the batteries at least twice a year.

Plan and practice at least two fire escape routes from each room of your home and identify an outside meeting place.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cub Scouts Visit Fire Station #34 (Milestone) For Safety Lessons and Tour

Last night roughly 40 Cub Scouts descended on our newly opened Fire Station #34 (Milestone). They were there to learn more about various emergencies and how to respond as part of their badge requirements. In addition, they were also treated to a tour of our state of the art fire station.

As you can see in the videos below, the group was divided into two with one in the training room and the other touring the station. They then switched roles.

The boys were treated to expert instruction by the career Fire Fighters of “B” Shift led by Lieutenant Morrissey. Topics covered included home fire escape planning, smoke alarms, calling 911, water safety, home safety and what to do if your clothes catch on fire. Educational fire safety handouts were also provided the pack to share with their parents!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Candles + December = TWICE the Number of Home Candle Fires

Did you know that December has almost TWICE the number of home candle fires than an average month?

The various December Holidays are fast approaching and candles are in demand. See and hear a quick presentation on Candle Safety. Do not let your Holidays go up in flames!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Stand By Your Pan This Thanksgiving!

It is that time of the year again when family and friends gather to celebrate, eat, drink, and be merry. Likewise, it is also the time of year where everyone is practicing to maybe be the next Iron Chef. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), cooking fires are more likely on Thanksgiving than any other day.

With the last sentence in mind, I would like to offer all of you out there some information that you might find useful not only for Thanksgiving this week but for all of the various holidays and observances over the next several weeks.

“Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a rookie cooking your first holiday feast, the strategies for serving up a safe meal are the same,” said Chief Bowers. “Unattending cooking is the leading cause of residential fires and we’re asking residents to follow these simple safety tips and to have a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday.”

Cooking Fires Life-Saving Tips:

• Be alert! Always keep your eyes on what’s cooking.

• If a fire breaks out while cooking, put a lid on the pan to smother it. Never throw water on a
grease fire.

• Clean cooking surfaces regularly to prevent grease buildup which can ignite.

• Always wear short, tight-fitting sleeves when cooking.

• Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.

• If you are simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food, check it regularly. Remain in the kitchen while food is cooking and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.

• Keep anything that can catch fire – oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains – away from your stovetop.

• Double-check the kitchen before you go to bed or leave the house. Make sure all other appliances are turned off.

• Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home. Test the batteries every month and change the batteries annually.

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

Safety Tips:

· Many units easily tip over, spilling the hot oil within the cooking pot.

· A small amount of cooking oil coming into contact with the burner can cause a large fire.

· Fryers should always be used outdoors, on a solid level surface a safe distance from buildings and flammable materials.

· Never use a fryer on a wooden deck, under a patio cover, in a garage or enclosed space.

· Do not overfill the fryer.

· If the cooking pot is overfilled with oil, the oil may spill out of the unit when the turkey is placed into the cooking pot. Oil may hit the burner/flames causing a fire to engulf the entire unit.

· Partially frozen turkeys placed into the fryer can cause a spillover effect. This too, may result in an extensive fire.

· With no thermostat controls, the units also have the potential to overheat the oil to the point of combustion. Never leave the tryer unattended.

· The sides of the cooking pot, lid and pot handles get dangerously hot, posing severe burn hazards.

· Never let children or pets near the fryer when in use or after use as the oil can remain hot for hours.

· Make sure the turkey is completely thawed before it is placed in a fryer.

Following these simple fire safety tips can boost survival rates and reduce injuries dramatically.  For more information about the department’s fire safety programs or to request a free home safety evaluation or smoke alarm check, please contact the County’s non-emergency call center at 311.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Recalls

Several recalls from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) that I thought might be of interest. Normally, I just “tweet” these out through Twitter and Facebook but the large number of recalls made me think it best to place all here in one spot.

So, please take a moment to review the below:

Stainless Steel Carafes Recalled by J & H International Due to Burn Hazard

Robert Bosch Tool Corp. Recalls Bosch Hammer Drills Due to Electrical Shock Hazard

Metallic Taper Candles Sold Exclusively at Yankee Candle Stores Recalled by General Wax & Candle Company Due to Fire Hazard

Meijer Recalls Oscillating Ceramic Heaters Due to Fire Hazard

If you are traveling today at some point PLEASE be SAFE out there!

Happy and Safe Holidays,


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

News Advisory: Keep Your Family Safe this Thanksgiving

Below, please find an informative News Advisory from MCFRS as well as a video on the dangers of Turkey Fryers from Underwriters Laboratories.

Advisory Thanksgiving 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Videos and Photos From Friday’s “Toys for Tots” Press Event

Below, please find a Flickr photo album as well as two videos from Friday’s “Toys for Tots” Press Event.

Click on Above Photo to Access MCFRS Flickr Slideshow

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

NEWS ADVISORY: Community Emergency Response Team Takes Training on the Road

MC CERT team with Montouis Haiti 'Lifesavers' June 2010.
CERT Program Manager Greg St. James in middle with Hawaiian shirt.
Montgomery County Fire Chief Richard Bowers announced the results of the County’s Community Emergency Response Team’s (CERT) training mission to Montrouis, Haiti. A team of three CERT volunteers, led by Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service CERT Program Manager Greg St. James, traveled to Haiti in June 2010 to conduct training in community-based disaster preparedness and response. Using modified lessons based on FEMA’s CERT curriculum, a train-the-trainer model was developed to meet the needs of Haiti’s population. The mission was funded by individual donations and a grant from the Rockville Rotary Club.

The Montgomery County trainers instructed a 'sister' team of 25 Haitian residents in the seaside town of Montrouis in first aid, basic search and rescue strategies and swift water rescue techniques using 'low tech' or minimal equipment. Since June, the Montrouis team (known as “Sove La Vie” or Lifesavers) has responded to severe flooding in July and the most recent Hurricane. The CERT “Lifesavers” team safely evacuated over 350 people from rising water, including several who had suffered serious injuries requiring additional medical treatment.

CERT Medic David Smith instructs Haitian team in June 2010

"CERT plays an important role in the recovery of communities in times of crisis and we are fortunate to be able to take our training on the road and help communities in Haiti to be safer and stronger in the future,” said Chief Bowers. “This training is an example of the value of community-based disaster readiness and response by ordinary citizens, both in Haiti and here in Montgomery County." said Chief Bowers. "The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service has made a multi-year commitment to training residents and enhancing neighborhood readiness with CERT teams. This is an important part of our public safety mission and the success in Haiti demonstrates its value. I offer my sincere congratulations to the Montrouis Lifesavers for a job well done!"

The Montgomery County CERT program is comprised of over 250 volunteers and offers frequent training classes in disaster readiness, CPR, fire safety and first aid free of charge to county residents. The next CERT class is set for January 2011. To learn more visit, or contact Greg St. James at 240-777-2407.

# # #

MCFRS Promotions

Over the last couple of months MCFRS has seen a large number of promotions in the department. These folks have put in a lot of hard work to realize their dreams of becoming leaders in one of the best fire and rescue departments in the country.

My hats off and congratulations to all of the below. Lead well and be SAFE!

Bill D

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

o Stephen R. Jones

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

o Michael D. Hanson

The following personnel have been promoted to the rank of Captain:

o Brent D. Hopkins
o Frantz P. Pinthiere

o Ross A. Cook

o Justin S. Meyer

o Michael T. Barber

o Brett G. Livingston

o Christopher S. Crittenden

o Kirk R. Wims

o Marc W. Worton

o Paul W. Lancaster

o Robert I. Ford

The following personnel have been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant:

o David E. Anderson

o David S. Gooding

o Ratana (Rick) Koung

o Richard L. Morrissey

o Thomas P. Cummins

o Gary P. Cummings

o Geoffrey M. Blain

o Richard A. Triplett

The following personnel have been promoted to the rank of Master Firefighter:

o April L. Evans

o James A. Gaines

o Jason R. Light

o Noel P. Hull

o Scott A. Ward

o Scott L. Bragunier

o Steven M. Dodson

o Anthony (Jake) E. Hoover

o Larry E. Curry

o Seth F. Miller

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Keeping the Community Safe One Home at a Time

As many of you are aware, each Saturday the women and men of Montgomery County Fire and Rescue go door to door in their various communities handing out fire safety tips as well as offering to check smoke alarms to ensure they are working. Having working smoke alarms in your home/apartment can help you and your loved ones escape a deadly home fire by providing a vital early warning.

If during the check we find a smoke alarm is not functioning, we take immediate steps to correct this life safety issue by installing a new battery and/or smoke alarm.
The door to door program was initiated by Fire Chief Richard Bowers two years ago after a tragic year in which we lost 13 of our fellow residents in home/apartment fires. That, sadly, was our largest one year loss of life in over 30 years! In many instances there were no working smoke alarms in the home/apartment.

Below, you will find the number of homes we visited during September and October as well as the totals for the last two years. Pretty impressive!

Homes Visited: 492
Smoke Alarms Installed: 18
Batteries Installed: 11

Homes Visited: 734
Smoke Alarms Installed: 34
Batteries Installed: 40

Grand Totals since program implementation:

Homes Visited: 37,653
Smoke Alarms Installed: 1,158
Batteries Installed: 1,307

Monday, November 8, 2010

And the Survey Says?!

As I am positive all of you are aware, this past weekend we not only moved our clocks back one hour but ALL of us also checked to make sure our smoke alarms were working!

Hopefully you, your family and friends took a few minutes at some point over the weekend to perform this vital life safety check. This led me to wonder: how many of you out there did take the opportunity to check your alarms? In addition, how many of you discovered that one or more alarms were not working and took steps to correct that?

Toward that end, I have placed a very quick survey on the right side bar of the blog to perhaps answer my questions above. Please take a moment to click the answer that relates to your experience.

Also, if you found your alarms were not working and you were unable to fix the issue, please contact MC311 and request help. Our fire and rescue personnel will be more than happy to drop by and help you out. In addition, we provide free batteries and alarms to those who need them but can not afford them.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Smoke Alarm Donation: Story, Video, Photos, and Quotes From Today’s Press Conference

Today I had the distinct pleasure of attending a Press Conference, at our brand new Fire Station #34, at which Fire Chief Richard Bowers accepted a donation of two-thousand  smoke alarms from one of our partners in safety – PEPCOAlso donated were special needs smoke alarms for those residents who are deaf or hard of hearing.  

I have posted a video below of the Chief and the Fire Fighters of Fire Station #34 accepting this generous donation from PEPCO representatives Ms. Kim Watson and Mr. Pete Pedersen.  Below the video you will also find quotes.

These alarms will be critical in our on going “Safety in Our Neighborhood” door-to-door safety and injury prevention campaign. Every Saturday MCFRS Fire Fighters canvas neighborhoods handing out safety information as well as offering to check smoke alarms to ensure they are working. If we find the alarms are not working, we will then install a fresh battery or new alarm before leaving as working smoke alarms nearly cut in half the risk of dying in a home fire.


Link to Video if above does not work:
From Chief Richard Bowers:
“Pepco’s Emergency Services Partnership Program has donated smoke alarms to the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service for several years as part of their long-standing commitment to public safety.” “Based on today’s challenging budgets, this donation comes at a critical time and will fill an important need.”

“We are proud to partner with PEPCO and their generous donation will continue to have significant impact in keeping residents safe and saving lives.”

From Kim Watson, PEPCO VP of Governmental Affairs:
“All of us at Pepco are very proud of the excellent working relationship we have with our first responders throughout the service territory. These smoke alarms are just another way for Pepco to support the life saving work that the dedicated men and women of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service perform everyday.”

Media Advisory: PEPCO Donates Smoke Alarms to Fire Department

Friday, November 5, 2010

10:30 a.m.
Fire Station 34
20633 Boland Farm Drive
Germantown, MD

Montgomery County Fire Chief Richard Bowers will accept a generous donation of smoke alarms from PEPCO officials on Friday, November 5th. The smoke alarms will be used in conjunction with the fire department’s “Safety in Our Neighborhood” door-to-door safety and injury prevention campaign.

“PEPCO’s Emergency Services Partnership Program has donated smoke alarms to the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service for several years as part of their long-standing commitment to public safety,” said Chief Richard Bowers. “Based on today’s challenging budgets, this donation comes at a critical time and will fill an important need.”

“All of us at Pepco are very proud of the excellent working relationship we have with our first responders throughout the service territory. These smoke alarms are just another way for Pepco to support the life saving work that the dedicated men and women of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service perform everyday,” said Kim Watson.

As residents prepare to change their clocks this weekend, firefighters are reminding residents to check their smoke alarms and install new batteries. With cold weather arriving, working smoke alarms provide vital, early warning of a fire and are truly life-saving. “We are proud to partner with PEPCO and their generous donation will continue to have significant impact in keeping residents safe and saving lives,” said Chief Bowers.

# # #

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Put A Finger On It! Time to Check Your Smoke Alarms

Checking your smoke alarms and batteries twice a year to ensure that they are working is one of the simplest, most effective ways to reduce tragic deaths and injuries from fire. In fact, working smoke alarms nearly cut in half the risk of dying in a home fire.

The men and women of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) urge ALL residents to check home smoke alarms on a regular basis. Fire Fighters will be out in the community on Saturday offering to check your home smoke alarms to ensure they are working.

“Put a Finger on It!” Fire Chief Richard Bowers recommends that all residents adopt a lifesaving habit by checking your home’s smoke alarms and batteries when changing clocks twice a year. Protect your family in the event of a home fire – change the battery if it is dead or at least yearly!

The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service recommend that homeowners follow these tips to help prevent fires, deaths, and injuries:

* Install and maintain smoke alarms on every level of the home

* If your smoke alarm is older than 10 years, it needs to be replaced

* Properly dispose of all smoking materials

* Maintain and properly use gas and electrical appliances.

* Never leave food cooking unattended; turn off the burner if you leave.

* Keep matches and lighters away from children.

* Never leave candles burning unattended.

* Develop and practice a fire escape plan.

Fire can spread rapidly through your home, leaving you as little as two minutes to escape safely. Your ability to get out depends on advance warning from smoke alarms and advance planning—a home fire escape plan that everyone in your family is familiar with and has practiced.

Remember, when you change your clock, check your smoke alarms and batteries – put a finger on it!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Montgomery County volunteers Stepping Forward to Join Career Firefighters and Paramedics in Supporting the County’s Ambulance Reimbursement Program

Fire Chief Richard Bowers (at podium) joined volunteer and career firefighters, who spoke out in favor of Bill 13-10, Emergency Medical Services Transport Fee.  Montgomery County voters will decide on November 2 whether to approve County Question A, which will allow the bill to become law.
Many Montgomery County volunteers are stepping forward to join Career Firefighters and Paramedics in supporting the County’s Ambulance Reimbursement program. Some volunteer stations, including Silver Spring and Takoma Park, voted to remain neutral on the ballot question.

Why Ambulance Billing Makes Sense for Montgomery County
– A Volunteer Paramedic’s Perspective

by Erik S. Gaull

When residents of Montgomery County go to the polls on November 2nd, they will be presented with County Question A, a ballot initiative on whether to allow the County to recover costs from insurers for ambulance transport. There is a lot of misinformation floating around about so-called “ambulance fees.”

As a volunteer paramedic/firefighter in Montgomery County since 1986, I feel it is important that Montgomery County voters understand that many fire-rescue volunteers support the proposed emergency medical services (EMS) transport fee. But I don’t just speak as first responder. Since 1993, I have earned a living as a consultant to fire and EMS agencies across the nation, helping them to provide top-flight service to their communities during times of shrinking budgets. Moreover, I teach EMS management at the National Fire Academy. I have a considerable base of national experience from which to draw my observations about the transport fee.

Many of the volunteer fire departments in the County are staunchly against transport fees, a position I believe is short-sighted and based on some bad misconceptions. Such fees are more than just a good idea – they’re an essential means to preserve high-quality EMS in Montgomery County.

Simply put, without ambulance billing, Montgomery County is leaving millions of dollars in revenue in the corporate coffers of insurance companies. This is money that is urgently needed right now, as the County is facing unprecedented budget shortfalls and the real possibility of implementing fire-rescue service cut-backs. The County Council did the fiscally responsible thing in adopting ambulance billing, moving Montgomery County in line with almost every other jurisdiction in the National Capital Region. This action is long overdue.

Here are the chief arguments advanced by those against the fee and why those arguments are incorrect:

Assertion: Tax dollars already pay for EMS; therefore users of the system should not be expected to pay for the service.

Fact: Taxes support the overall operation and readiness of the EMS system (i.e., equipment, infrastructure, dispatching, training, etc.) but the County’s Fire Tax doesn’t cover all the costs at the present – and will cover fewer in the future. The transport fee will be paid by Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance – not by County residents, and co-pays will not be required from County residents. In other words, the County will only be seeking payment from insurance companies – not individuals.

Assertion: Premiums will rise if insurance companies have to pay ambulance bills.

Fact: Insurance premiums anticipate the projected use of ambulance service by an insured party. In other words, County residents presently pay premiums which assume that the insurance company will need to pay for an ambulance transport. When someone uses a “free” (i.e., non-billing) ambulance service, the insurance company pockets the money it has already calculated it will need to lay out on behalf of its insured population. Insurance premiums won’t rise because the insurance companies are already expecting to pay out that money.

Assertion: Ambulance fees will deter people from calling EMS in an emergency.

Fact: There is no evidence to support the notion that people will be less likely to call for an ambulance because a jurisdiction imposes an ambulance fee. In fact, according to the billing records of Intermedix, the largest ambulance service billing company in the nation, jurisdictions which have recently implemented ambulance fees have not seen a decrease in the number of transports.

So, the arguments against an ambulance fee don’t really hold water, but the arguments for the fee are strong:

First, the County needs the money. The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service has already undergone some service cutbacks, and more are on the table in order to close budget gaps.

Second, the fee will be paid by users’ health insurance, and the County has carefully crafted mechanisms for non-County uninsured, low-income users to request a fee waiver. Insurers of non-residents will receive a bill, meaning Montgomery County taxpayers will not be subsidizing ambulance service for people who do not pay taxes in the County.

The bottom line is this: A vote FOR Question A is a vote to preserve and strengthen fire-rescue service levels. A vote against Question A is essentially a vote to CUT BACK fire-rescue service, while leaving County taxpayers to foot the bill and letting insurance companies keep premiums already paid.

The author is a Nationally Registered Paramedic and has been a volunteer paramedic/firefighter in Montgomery County since 1986. He has been a consultant to fire and EMS agencies across the United States since 1993, teaches EMS management at the National Fire Academy, and sits on the Editorial Review Board of two EMS-related publications.

* * *

Ambulance Reimbursement from a Volunteer Paramedic’s perspective

By Pamela Boe

I am Pamela Boe, and I am a paramedic associated with the Upper Montgomery County Volunteer Fire Department, who wishes to clarify some misinformation being spread about Question A, the Ambulance Reimbursement ballot measure.

The Montgomery County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association (MCVFRA) did, in fact, vote to fight the implementation of the law that allows the County to seek reimbursement from insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid for ambulance transports, but that decision by the MCVFRA won only by a slight margin.

As it is, many of the volunteers I work with do not agree with the Association’s stance against ambulance billing, yet we have no voice within that Association as individuals. We have watched helplessly as the Volunteer Association has manufactured facts, misquoted figures, manipulated words and spread fear among the general populace about future fees, hard billing, or where the money is going.

A primary reason the Volunteer Association does not wish to see this pass is because they fear it would result in fewer donations to the individual Volunteer Fire Departments by the community. They fear the community would think, “Why would I donate when the insurance company is already paying?” The answer is that the insurance company won’t pay for all of it. Furthermore, dear taxpayer, you are already paying for it in both your insurance AND your taxes. How does that make sense?

If this law gets repealed, and the ambulance reimbursement requests do not go to insurance companies, there are going to be fewer ambulances and medic units available. The loss of $14 million dollars in an already VERY tight budget will result in the loss of career firefighters and therefore the loss of emergency services.

The volunteers will not be able to pick up the slack. In other words, folks, we NEED that money.

I am not a registered Republican, but I DO believe in smaller government, and I would rather see any money that is reimbursed by the insurance companies returned to the tax payers. It is a shame that the vote didn’t go that direction when the issue of reimbursement originally came up. But, the law was passed, and the resulting income was counted on in this year’s budget. The horses are already out of the barn. Returning them would cost the county $14 million. That means it would cost YOU AND ME $14 Million, either in the form of money or services. It has got to come from somewhere…its either going to come from a tax hike, new County-imposed fees elsewhere, or cuts in services.

Understand this: If you vote “no” on the Ambulance reimbursement, it will translate to you, the county taxpayer, as longer response times during an emergency because there will be fewer units and fewer personnel out there to respond -- OR it will translate to you in the form of higher taxes and fees -- OR BOTH. Every Department in the county could be at risk in this cut.

I am voting YES on Question A to keep the law that allows reimbursement for County ambulance services, and I am a County Volunteer Medic, and I see first-hand why this county needs it.