Monday, February 28, 2011

Hear Us, See Us, Clear for Us!

“Please Abide – Pull Aside”

Do you know what to do when approached by an emergency vehicle?  The metropolitan area is often crowded and congested with traffic conditions caused by commuters, collisions, work zones and sometimes just “normal” traffic.
Emergency vehicles are impacted by these conditions, as well. When somebody calls 911 for help – the men and women of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service respond. How can everyday drivers help us to help you? – Normally drivers will HEAR us first, next they will SEE us, and then we need drivers to CLEAR for us.


C – L – E – A – R for emergency vehicles.

C – Calmly pull to and as close to the edge of the roadway as possible and stop.

L – Leave room. Keep intersections clear and never try to follow emergency vehicles.

E – Enter into traffic with caution after the emergency vehicle has passed. Remember to use signals.

A – Aware (be). Be aware of your surroundings. Keep radio volume low and check rear view mirrors frequently.

R – Remain stopped until the emergency vehicle ha passed. Be mindful that there may be additional emergency vehicles approaching.

When approached by an emergency vehicle – the law says to pull over to the closest parallel edge of the roadway and yield the right of way to the emergency vehicle. An emergency vehicle is one with an audible siren and/or siren and emergency flashing lights. When driving and approaching an emergency scene – slow down and move over. In other words - “Give us a brake!”

Reduce the risk of an accident near an emergency scene and around emergency equipment.

Stay alert – expect anything to occur when approaching emergency vehicles.

Pay close attention – watch for police or fire direction.

Turn on your headlights – let on scene workers and other motorists see you.

Don’t tailgate – unexpected stops frequently occur near emergency scenes.

Don’t speed – slow down.

Keep up with the traffic flow – dedicate your full attention to the roadway and those traveling around you.

Minimize distractions – avoid changing radio stations and using mobile cell phones while approaching these areas.

Expect the unexpected – keep an eye out for emergency workers and their equipment.

Be patient – remember, firefighters and EMT’s have been called to the scene and are working to help someone.

In Montgomery County pedestrian and traffic safety issues are front and center. If you travel by car or are a pedestrian, please place extra emphasis on safety. Simply looking both ways before crossing a street, crossing in a crosswalk, spending a few extra seconds to cinch the belt on your child's safety seat, or delaying departure to ensure you get enough rest before a long trip can make all the difference. Preventative safety, while measured in seconds or minutes, can save you from months or years of anguish, grief, and "what if". Be smart. Be safe.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fire Operations 101 Training Class For County Council Staff

Fire Chief Bowers helping with breathing apparatus training
Yesterday, County Council staff members participated in a special Fire Operations 101 training class held at our Public Safety Training Academy. Staff members received a “crash course” in fire fighter operations, presentations on latest industry technologies, as well as hands-on evolutions featuring extrications, managing and mitigating critical incidents and extinguishing controlled fires.

Fire Chief Bowers was on hand to provide guidance, some training, and encouragement. Council staff did very well and should be proud!

Photos and videos from the day are below.



Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Update: The Four Week Engine 2 Diet Challenge at Fire Station #6

A firefighter's life can be hectic to say the least and all to often, their diets get little attention. In an effort to lose weight, improve their cholesterol, and gain energy, the A-shift at Station #6 embarked on a 4 week challenge that had them eating only food that grows from the ground up. This food plan was first adopted by a firefighter in Austin, Texas who wrote a book about his experience, The Engine 2 Diet. The Whole Foods Friendship Heights store partnered with the shift to help keep them on track.

Jill from PCRM showing 6-A a new recipe
The diet also caught the attention of local experts from the P.C.R.M. (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) who taught them a few recipes for the Superbowl, an event that is usually synonymous with junk food. However, this year's big game was accompanied by a vegan quesadilla with hummus; a guacamole dip, a fruit smoothie with soy milk, and other healthy but still delicious foods. By cutting out the meat that is usually inhaled on this Sunday night, they avoided the fat while eating ample amounts of vitamins and minerals.

As the 28 days came to a close, the results are promising. Everyone participating in the diet lost weight, with most of them losing close to 8 pounds. However, one firefighter is closing in on an astonishing 20 pounds. Many members will continue this regiment for at least a month or two more, especially because it was much easier than they initially thought it would be. They also hope to have inspired additional MCFRS personnel who have had exposure to their diet during the past month.

6-A Shift watching the cooking demo
On a separate note, I would like to share a few more benefits of this diet that I learned about in Environmental Science at Wootton High School. When the sun's energy hits the earth, plants get first dibs and receive 100% of it. With each level up in the energy pyramid, from herbivores to carnivores, 10% is lost during every step. For example, when a chicken eats corn, they only receive 10% of the original energy. When we eat the chicken, we are only provided with 1% of the energy that is provided by our sun. Now imagine some animals who are one step higher that end up on our plates and we only gain .1%. The large amount of energy lost along the way is used for growth and warmth in each organism along the way.

ABC7’s Julie Parker featured the shift as they started the diet and, in a segment that aired last week, as they were wrapping it up. Last week’s segment is below.

-Daniel the Intern

Updated at 9:20 AM on 2/23

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Update on Germantown Brush Fire

8-15 non-contiguous acres

4-5 homes compromise, mostly exterior

1 barn, farm trailer and some farm equipment burned

Mutual Aid - Fred Co, DNR, Carroll Co, Howard Co, DCFD

MCFRS Career and Vol members called back to back fill stations for normal 911 call load

MCPD - 3 p.m. Shift called back early to assist.
Partial activation of EOC

Pepco - approx 1750 out in Clopper/Mateny area

244 out in darnestown/jones lane area - all should be back up by 1700 or so.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Extinguishing a Pan Fire

Over the last two years many of you were made aware of a YouTube Fire Safety video from the UK which recommended placing a wet towel over a pot/pan fire to extinguish the fire. I received, and continue to receive, many inquiries asking about this and what I recommend. I was, and still am, very much opposed to this method of dealing with a cooking related pot/pan fire.

Cooking related fires are, by the way, the number one cause of fire both here in the County as well as nationally.

Yesterday, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) came out with a position statement on this method -which I strongly agree with - and I have included it below for your information and reference.

Extinguishing a Pan Fire

NFPA discourages the use of a damp towel to extinguish a pan fire. The damp towel method adds additional time to extinguish the fire – getting the towel, wetting it, and wringing it out. Placing the towel on a pan fire may result in tipping the pan, missing the pan or not completely covering the pan; thus putting the home owner at increased risk for burns, clothing catching fire and the spread of fire. This technique is also questionable because the type of material or a cloth not completely wet could have a different outcome. NFPA recommends staying in the kitchen when frying on the stovetop. Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking. If a small grease fire starts in a pan, smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan. Turn off the burner. Do not move the pan. To keep the fire from restarting, leave the lid on until the pan is completely cool. When in doubt, get everyone out of the home and call the fire department.

Thanks and Be SAFE!


Friday, February 11, 2011

National Burn Awareness Week is February 6-12

My apologies for the late posting on this very important topic as I am off this entire week. Regardless, very important information you will want to review no matter the time of year!

The main theme for this year’s Burn Awareness Week is preventing scald burns. The American Burn Association has produced a very informative PowerPoint presentation on Scald Prevention. Please take a moment to view it here and prevent unnecessary tragedy in your home: Scald Injury Prevention

Click here to view a Press Release regarding 2011 Burn Awareness Week

As always, have a SAFE day!


Friday, February 4, 2011

News Advisory - Heart Attack Victim Reunion with First Responders Following Dramatic Ride to Hospital During the Height of the Washington Metropolitan Area’s Paralyzing Snowstorm

Snowstorm Cardiac Victim Reunion

Recent Trends In Fire Calls And How You Can Prevent It From Happening To You And Your Loved Ones

Over the last several weeks, I have noticed a couple of common themes to our response for reported fires in the home. Both causes are for the most part (as is the case many times with fire) very preventable incidents.

The first is something I have warned all of you about in the recent past – Clothes Dryer Fires. Many times these fires start as a result of folks not cleaning in and around their clothes dryers. While many know to clean the lint trap out, many more do not know that there are more parts you should be cleaning to prevent a fire from happening to you.

Looking around on the internet, I found one site that lays out a pretty good explanation of how to clean your clothes dryer. Please take a moment and click here to learn How to Clean the Dryer.

Fireplace damper from
 The other issue usually does not involve a direct fire threat, though fire is involved, but can sure lead you to believe your home may be on fire. It has been quite remarkable how many folks, when starting a fire in their fire place, forget to open the damper inside the fire place so that smoke may rise up through the chimney and out into the cold night’s air! They start the fire and the next thing they know their home is rapidly filling up with thick smoke – thus making one believe there is a fire in the home.

Many times this situation involves first time fire place owners who are unaware there is basically a door up inside your fire place that you need to open before lighting the fire! Sometimes, it is just a case of someone having forgotten to do it. Regardless, I also found a good site explaining how to do this and where to find your damper. There are several different types of dampers and the site provides a few examples.

Please go here to learn more: How to Open an Indoor Fireplace Flue Damper

Hope all of you have a safe and happy weekend!


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Fire Protection Engineers – Helping to Keep Montgomery County Safe!

By: Daniel the Intern

Fire Protection Engineers (FPE’s) do not work in the public very often and their role in fire safety is widely unknown. However, I had the opportunity to spend a few days in their office to learn about their jobs and what they do behind the scenes.

From the USFA web site
There are 3 E's needed for an effective fire prevention program; Education, Engineering, and Enforcement. The MCFRS FPEs, in the Fire Code Enforcement Section, are key players in the second two. The engineering aspect can range anywhere from setting up a fire alarm system to making sure fire hydrants are receiving enough water flow for their potential use in fighting a fire. They will also analyze the plans for new communities to make sure all of the fire codes are met, like having every residential front door at the furthest 100 feet away from a firetruck-accessible road. While this is a form of enforcement, they will also suggest an engineering solution. One way to solve that problem is to install grasspave where there is regular grass in an area large enough for a firetruck to drive on. Grasspave is a hard surface that will allow grass to grow on top but can allow firetrucks to drive on it without getting stuck.

In addition, they spend a lot of time meeting with people who need their help. I was able to sit in during one of these meetings where the owners of a building had a broken fire alarm control panel. The issue was that when it was installed on the outside of the building, the elements took their toll and caused it to malfunction. The FPEs informed them that the fire code specifically called for it to be installed on the inside and somehow they had gotten away with it being installed on the outside.

Finally, most of their enforcing comes when they are actively inspecting buildings. During and after a building is constructed, it has to be inspected to make sure all the codes are met and it will be safe for people to live or work in. For example, the diameter of the pipe bringing water in to the building must be at least a certain size, depending on the stresses it will be subjected to. In addition, there needs to be smoke detectors and sprinklers in every room that is qualified to have them. Unfortunately, almost all of these inspections are done in the morning so I was not able to join them to learn more.

The residents of Montgomery County are lucky to have four Fire Protection Engineers that graduated from the FPE program at the University of Maryland, one of only two in the country.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What You Should Know About Your Blood Pressure

According to the American Heart Association, nearly one in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure. Because there are no symptoms, nearly one-third of these people don’t know they have it. 

Please take a moment to look over the below fact sheet!  Help us to help you live a healthy life and possibly avoid having to call 9-1-1 one day due to medical issues associated with High Blood Pressure!