Friday, May 28, 2010

Firefighter Helps Deliver Baby at Fire Station

One of our own, Master Fire Fighter Mike Skidmore, got a bit of an early morning surprise the other day.  See the details below.  This report from WJLA TV 7.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Firing up the Grill? Keep these Safety Tips in Mind

It’s that time of year again -- with summer fast approaching, residents will be firing up their grills and the last thing on many minds is probably safety, right? Well, it shouldn’t be according to Fire Chief Richie Bowers. Firefighters responded to a serious grill fire this past weekend (photos above and below) that remains under investigation with the homeowner was transported to a local hospital and currently recovering from 1st and 2nd degree burns sustained in the fire. Every year, thousands of homes catch fire because of inproper use of grills and the Chief wants to remind residents that preparation is the key to staying safe when using grills this season.

Before you plan your next outdoor cookout, please review these safety tips:

 If you haven’t used your grill in a while, give it a good spring cleaning. Scour the grate with a wire brush. Save future cleaning time by using a nonstick cooking spray to prevent food from sticking to the grill.

 Before using your grill for the first time this season, go online to check whether your grill has been recalled due to any dangerous defects.

 Position the grill in a well-ventilated, flat and level surface away from your house, overhangs, deck railings, tree branches, shrubbery and anything that can burn. Never use a grill indoors.

 Never leave a grill unattended – even for a minute – and supervise children and pets around the grill: declare three-foot “kid-free zone” around the grilling area.

 Wear short, close fitting or tightly rolled-up sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle over the grill and catch fire.

For Gas Grills:

Before grilling, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for checking the connection to the cylinder. An easy way to do this is to tighten the connection, turn on the cylinder and then apply a soapy water solution around the connection. If bubbles appear, the connection is leaking. Turn the cylinder off, reconnect the cylinder and check again.

 Check grill hoses for cracking, corrosion, brittleness, holes and leaks. Make sure there are no sharp bends in the hose or tubing.

 If repairs are needed, do not attempt to do them yourself. Enlist a professional.

 Always keep propane gas containers upright.

 Always open the lid of a grill before igniting it.

 Regularly remove grease and fat buildup in trays below the grill so it cannot be ignited by a hot grill.

 If you smell gas, turn the grill off immediately and do not use it until it is repaired.

 Do not store tanks or other flammable materials near a grill, indoors or in a heated area such as a vehicle trunk. Propane tanks need to be stored in well-ventilated areas.

For Charcoal Grills:

 Use the proper starter fluid and store the can out of reach of children and away from heat sources.

 Never use any type of grill inside. Don't barbeque in the garage, even with the door open. Barbecues produce carbon monoxide, which can build up in an enclosed area. Carbon monoxide is invisible, colorless and tasteless -- but extremely dangerous. Instead, set up your grill in a corner of your deck or patio. Avoid grilling on a covered or enclosed porch or on top of anything that can catch on fire.

 Since charcoal produces CO fumes until the charcoal is completely extinguished, do not store the grill indoors with freshly used coals.

In Montgomery County, unless you live in a house, townhouse, row house or other multi-family dwelling where all dwelling units are side by side and none are superimposed above another it is illegal to:

• Kindle or maintain charcoal burners and/or gas-fired grills on balconies or within 20 feet of any structure.
• Store liquid propane (LP) gas cylinders, within 20 feet of a multi-family residential building.

Remember, when cooking outside - ALWAYS open the hood before lighting the grill. ALWAYS keep the grill in a safe area away from children, pets and heavy people traffic where someone could bump into it. NEVER try to grill inside and remember, it is best to grill 20 feet away from anything that can burn. Have a safe summer!

Sources: NFPA, CPSC and the USFA

# # #
UPDATE June, 4 2010:  Montgomery County Code Sec. 22-81. Use of certain cooking equipment adjacent to multi-family dwellings.

The use of charcoal burning, other fuel burning or electric cooking equipment outside of any multi-family dwelling shall be prohibited unless such cooking equipment is at least twenty (20) feet from every part of the building. The provisions of this section shall not apply to townhouses, row houses or other multi-family dwellings where all dwelling units are side by side and none are superimposed above another. (1975 L.M.C., ch. 23, § 1.)

Monday, May 24, 2010

From Our Fire House to Your Home - Update

In November of 2008, our department initiated a proactive fire safety campaign designed to ensure that all county residents have working smoke alarms in their homes.

Every Saturday afternoon, the women and men of MCFRS go to various neighborhoods in their communities knocking on doors, handing out fire safety information, and offering to check resident’s smoke alarms. If you are in need of a new smoke alarm or just a new battery, we will install them for FREE! If you are not home you will find a little something on your door knob (look to right of this article) letting you know we were by with a list of safety tips and a number to call if you would like us to stop by your home on another day to check your alarms.

Since the program started we have found that we are actually going into roughly 20% of the homes whose doors we knock on. Of that, roughly 50% of those homes do not have a working smoke alarm! The good news is that they will before we leave!

Why is it important to have working smoke alarms in your home? About two-thirds of home fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms and they can reduce your risk of dying form a fire in your home by almost half!

Here are some updated numbers from our door to door campaign through the end of April:

Homes Visited: 35,193
Smoke Alarms Installed: 1,075
Batteries Installed: 1,233

So there are several thousand homes in Montgomery County that are now a little bit safer as a result of our program! Do not wait for us to stop by your home. Take a moment now to “Put A Finger On It” and test your smoke alarms to make sure they are working!

Stay Safe,

Bill Delaney
Program Manager, Community Safety Education

Monday, May 17, 2010

It's National EMS Week: "Anytime. Anywhere. We'll be there."

It is National Emergency Medical Services Week this week, May 16 – 22. The theme: "Anytime. Anywhere. We'll be there."

The theme is a great one and certainly highlights Montgomery County Fire and Rescue’s year round commitment to all community members that we are ready to serve 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!

Thanks to all of the men and women, career and volunteer, of MCFRS who provide outstanding medical care to those we serve each and every day!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Clothes Dryer Fire Safety Tips

Over the past couple of weeks, MCFRS has run several fires related to clothes dryers. A vast majority of these fires are not due to an electrical malfunction of some sort but by actions we take or FAIL to take. A lack of maintenance, buildup of lint, placing inappropriate items in the dryer and inadequate venting are frequently cited as contributing factors.

Preventing this type of fire from starting in your home is relatively simple. Please take a moment to go to our web site and learn some “Do’s” and “Don’ts” as it relates to dryers: Clothes Dryer Fire Safety Tips

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

IT’S A FACT: All Smoke Alarms Installed Before May 2000 Should be Replaced Now!

A properly maintained smoke alarm will work forever, right? Not so fast!

IT’S A FACT: All hardwired or battery-operated smoke alarms, installed before May 2000, should be replaced now!

A smoke alarm’s lifespan is 10 years, which means any smoke alarm installed before May 2000 is too old and needs to be replaced. The smoke alarm is no longer reliable. Part of smoke alarm maintenance includes knowing when to replace the unit. The few minutes it takes to replace a smoke alarm can save the lives of roommates, family members, neighbors and firefighters.

More than 3,000 people die in home fires each year, and the majority of them have no working smoke alarms. To prevent these deaths, the United States Fire Administration (USFA) is sponsoring the nationwide Install. Inspect. Protect. Campaign, which emphasizes that “Smoke Alarms Save Lives.”

The USFA offers a few helpful tips on smoke alarms: 
  • Every residence, and place where people sleep, should be equipped with both ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms or dual sensor smoke alarms, which contain both ionization and photoelectric smoke sensors.
  • Place properly installed and maintained smoke alarms both inside and outside of sleeping areas and on every level of your home.
  • Interconnected smoke alarms are best, because if one sounds, they all sound.
  • Test smoke alarms monthly and change alkaline batteries at least once every year, or as instructed by the manufacturer. You can use a date you already know, like your birthday or when you change your clocks as a reminder.
  • Write the installation date on the inside cover of the smoke alarm for future reference.
Homeowners, landlords and renters should check to verify exactly when each smoke alarm in the home was installed. If any smoke alarm was installed before May 2000, now is the time to have it replaced.

For more smoke alarm information, including powerful radio and video public service announcements go to

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

What's Brewin With Assistant Chief Scott Graham

Assistant Chief Scott Graham appeared recently on County Cable’s “What’s Brewin” program to provide insight into Fire and Rescue’s Operations during the big snow storms just a few short months ago.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

NEWS ADVISORY: Arson Awareness Week and News Briefing

Date: Thursday, May 6, 2010

Time: 1:00 p.m.

Location: Public Safety Training Academy
9710 Great Seneca Highway
Rockville, Maryland

ROCKVILLE, Maryland - - Arson Awareness Week is sponsored annually by the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) to focus public attention on a preventable crime with real victims in every segment of society. The theme for this year’s event, May 2 – 8, is “Community Arson Prevention” in an effort to provide communities with tools and strategies to combat arson in their neighborhoods, businesses, schools and places of worship and get more people involved in arson prevention.

Read on: Arson Awareness Week and News Briefing

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Arson Awareness Week May 2-8, 2010

This Year's Theme - Community Arson Prevention

Arson is a crime! Did you know that an estimated average of 316,600 intentional fires are reported to fire departments in the US each year causing injuries to 7,825 firefighters and civilians?*

MCFRS would ask you to take a moment to go to the United States Fire Administration (USFA) web site to learn how you can help to prevent arson in your community.

Click here to learn more: Community Arson Prevention

As always, please be safe out there!

Bill Delaney
MCFRS Community Life Safety Education

* According to the USFA's National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) data and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)