Monday, December 28, 2015

How to Recycle/Dispose of Christmas Trees & Light Strings

A question that always comes up this time of year is what to do with the family Christmas Tree. Well, thanks to our friends in the Department of Environmental Protection – Division of Solid Waste, we have an answer.

Please take some time to go to their web site to learn how to properly Recycle/Dispose of Christmas Trees

In addition, you can also find some great information here on:How to recycle/dispose of light strings (Christmas lights / holiday lights)

As always – Be Safe!

Saturday, December 26, 2015


MCFRS is pleased to announce the following promotions.  Extra special Happy Holidays to all of the below!

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

  • Benjamin T. Kaufman
  • Clifford G. Billingslea
  • David J. Kennedy
  • Don J. Mandeville
  • Matthew J. Kalons
  • Terryl A. Haynes

The following personnel have been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant:
  • Christopher M. Neidhart
  • Craig S. Pyle
  • Daniel O. Egan
  • Joshua E. Mister
  • Richard S. LaRocco
  • Shawn M. Goodbrod

The following personnel have been promoted to the rank of Master Firefighter:
  • Roger L. Hohman

Congratulations and be safe in your new assignments!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

MCFRS Twas Nite Before Christmas - The Fire Is Out!

A little story from Public Information Officer Pete Piringer.


Transcript available upon request. Go here

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Artificial Christmas Tree Fire

This morning we worked with WJLA Channel 7 to highlight how an artificial tree might catch fire and just how quickly it can become engulfed. This was live on Channel 7 and the below video was live on our Periscope page.

Impressive video!

Several of the safety tips for "live" Christmas tress hold true for artificial trees. Remember:

  • Keep the tree away from heat sources such as fireplaces, radiators and wood stoves 
  • 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. 
  • Turn off the tree lights when you go to bed, depart from home or leave the tree in an unattended room.

Avoid the 12 Dangers of Christmas

From our friends at the Electrical Safety Foundation International.  Please take a moment to view and take preventive action if need be.    

  1. Do not use electronic near water
  2. Never sleep with electronics under your pillow
  3. Keep batteries safely stored in their packaging they can be deadly if swallowed
  4. Do not leave space heaters unattended when in use
  5. Keep decorations at least 3 feet away from any open flame
  6. Never play with fire
  7. Do not run cords under carpets, rugs, furniture, or out of windows
  8. Do not overload outlets
  9. Sometimes less is more be careful not to over decorate
  10. Always turn off decorations when you’re sleeping or leaving your home
  11. Inspect all decorations and discard any that are damaged or worn
  12. Keep your natural Christmas tree hydrated and water it daily

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Fireplace and Wood Burning Safety

During the holiday season many residents build a fire in the fireplace to add warmth and cheer to their home for family and friends.  According to weather forecasts for this week, it will be plenty warm but we will assume fires will still be built to add cheer to this festive time of year! 

With that in mind, please make sure you understand how to properly dispose of fireplace ashes as many people are unaware of the danger ashes can create.

Fireplace and wood-stove ashes retain enough heat to ignite other combustible materials for several days after a fire. It is important to learn the following ways to dispose of fireplace and wood-stove ashes properly:

    ash can
  • DO NOT discard your ashes into any combustible container like a paper or plastic bag, a cardboard box, or a plastic trash can.
  • DO put ashes into a non-combustible metal container with a lid.
  • DO pour water into the container to make sure the ashes are cool.
  • DO keep your can OUTSIDE the home, away from combustibles.
  • DO teach all family members to be safe with ashes from your fireplace or wood stove.
As always, please make sure you test your smoke alarms monthly and replace batteries twice a year. Practice and plan a family home escape plan.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Friday, December 18, 2015

Officer Noah Leotta Memorial Blood Drive

Please join the Montgomery County Police Department in giving the gift of life by donating blood in honor of Officer Noah Leotta.

Date:                       Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Location:                Montgomery County Public Safety Headquarters –
                               100 Edison Park Drive, Gaithersburg –
                               First floor conference room

Hours:                     8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Sign Up:                Online or call Red Cross at 1-800-733-2767

All donors are urged to register online so the Red Cross can adequately staff.  Walk-in donors will be accepted but may have a longer wait time. Donors will receive a Red Cross long-sleeve black T-shirt and Buffalo Wild Wings and Chick-fil- A food or coupons.                                                                                                         

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Winter Holiday Fires By The Numbers

As part of our #FireSafeHomeForHolidays campaign, I wanted to share with you some statistics you might find alarming.  Do not be alarmed, just use the stats to learn some of the most common causes of fire and take proactive action to PREVENT a fire from occurring.

The below stats are from our partners in safety at the NFPA.

Christmas trees
  • Between 2009-2013, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 210 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of 7 deaths, 19 injuries, and $17.5 million in direct property damage annually. 
  • On average, one of every 31 reported home fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 144 total reported home fires.
  • Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in 38% of home Christmas tree fires.
  • Twenty-two percent of Christmas tree fires were intentional. 
  • Two of every five (39%) home Christmas tree fires started in the living room, family room, or den.
Holiday decorations
  • U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 860 home structure fires per year that began with decorations, excluding Christmas trees, in 2009-2013. These fires caused an annual average of one civilian fire death, 41 civilian fire injuries and $13.4 million in direct property damage.
  • Ten percent of decoration fires were intentional.
  • The decoration was too close to a heat source such as a candle or equipment in nearly half (45%) of the fires.
  • One-fifth (20%) of the decoration fires started in the kitchen. One out of six (17%) started in the living room, family room or den.
  • One-fifth (20%) of the home decoration fires occurred in December. 
  • Candles started 38% of home decoration structure fires. 
  • Half (51%) of the December home decoration fires were started by candles, compared to one-third (35%) in January to November.
  • The top three days for home candle fires were Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Christmas Eve.
Holiday cooking
  • Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.
  • Cooking equipment was involved in 18% of home decoration fires. This can happen when a decoration is left on or too close to a stove or other cooking equipment.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Recent “HoverBoard” Fire and Safety Tips

Recently, we have received questions regarding ‘Hoverboards” and the potential that they may cause fires. 

On November 8, 2015 units from Montgomery County Fire and Rescue responded for a reported house fire in the 7700 block of Mineral Springs Drive in Gaithersburg.  Firefighters arrived at the home to find a smoldering fire in an upstairs bedroom, which was quickly extinguished.

Fire Investigators conducted an investigation and found a “Hoverboard” was in the area of origin and was plugged into an electrical outlet to charge. The scooter caught fire and rolled to the bed igniting the bedding material. See photos below.

MCFRS offers the below safety tips for the time being until more information can be learned:

Only buy a “Hoverboard” which has been certified by a recognized testing lab such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL).  The box and/or “Hoverboard” should have the logo imprinted on it.

If you own one already - only charge the ‘hoverboard” if you are, and will be, present the entire time.

Some related articles you may find of interest:

Recent “HoverBoard” Fire

Deck the Halls with Fire Safety

A great video from our partners in Safety at NFPA.


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Christmas Tree Fire Destroys a Living Room in Under a Minute

An impressive video giving you an idea of just how fast a Christmas Tree can burn and, likewise, destroy a room by fire.

After watching the video please go below and review Christmas Tree safety tips. By taking proactive steps you will be able to reduce your chances of a similar scene to the video playing out in your home.

Enjoy the holidays safely!


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Never burn Christmas tree branches, treated wood or wrapping paper in your fireplace. Dispose of your tree promptly after the holidays.
  • Monday, December 7, 2015


    The holiday season is traditionally an occasion for family, friends and joyous times.  Unfortunately, it can also be a time of tragedy as the risk for fire increases.

    Help us spread the message of safety this holiday season via social media!  If you are on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook in particular, we are using the hash tag: #FireSafeHomeForHolidays

    Please share these posts with your followers to help spread the joy of holiday fire prevention.  We will also be posting related safety tips on our other sites.  Below, please find our variety of social media platforms and follow us throughout the year!

    Happy Holidays to all!

    MCFRS on Social Media


      Friday, December 4, 2015

      Happy Hanukkah and Use Your Candles Safely!

      Happy Hanukkah to all who will be celebrating starting this weekend!

      December is a time of year where candles play a major role in many religious observations.  Please take a moment to review the below presentation on candle safety in the hopes all of you, regardless of your holiday season celebration, can enjoy a fire safe home for the holidays!

      Wednesday, December 2, 2015

      Driving in Fog - Safety Tips

      It is foggy out there folks!!!!  The below is from and I thought it appropriate for this mornings commute. Stay Safe - Bill

      Fog can be thought of as a cloud at ground level. It forms when the temperature drops to the dew point (the temperature at which air is saturated), and invisible water vapor in the air condenses to form suspended water droplets. Fog can reduce visibility to 1/4 mile or less, creating hazardous driving conditions. If you can't postpone your trip until dense fog lifts -- usually by late morning or the afternoon -- follow these tips:

      * Drive with lights on low beam. High beams will only be reflected back off the fog and actually impair visibility even more.

      * Reduce your speed -- and watch your speedometer. Fog creates a visual illusion of slow motion when you may actually be speeding.

      * Listen for traffic you cannot see. Open your window a little, to hear better.

      * Use wipers and defrosters as necessary for maximum visibility.

      * Use the right edge of the road or painted road markings as a guide.

      * Be patient. Do not pass lines of traffic.

      * Do not stop on a freeway or heavily traveled road. If your car stalls or becomes disabled, turn your vehicle's lights off, and take your foot off of the brake pedal. People tend to follow tail lights when driving in fog. Move away from the vehicle to avoid injury.

      Sources: National Weather Service, Wisconsin Department of Transportation

      Tuesday, November 24, 2015

      Keep Your Family Safe this Thanksgiving

      Did you know that cooking fires are the #1 cause of fires? 

      More cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than on any other day of the year. 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. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of residential fires and we’re asking residents to follow these simple safety tips and to have a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday.

      Cooking Safety Tips:

    • Be alert! Stay in the kitchen when using the stovetop and use a timer. If you must leave the kitchen, even for a minute, turn off the stove.
    • Keep anything that can catch fire at least 3 feet from the stove, toaster oven or other heat source. This includes pot holders, food packaging, dish towels, paper/plastic bags, etc.
    • Do not pour water on a grease fire. Pouring water on a grease fire can cause the fire to spread. In the event of a range-top fire, turn off the burner, put on an oven mitt and smother the flames by carefully sliding a lid or cookie sheet onto the pan. Leave the lid in place until the pot or pan has cooled.
    • Clean cooking surfaces regularly to prevent grease buildup which can ignite.
    • Always wear short, tight-fitting sleeves when cooking to prevent clothing from coming in contact with a burner and catching fire.
    • Do not hold children while cooking or carrying hot foods or drinks. Keep children at a safe distance from hot surfaces, liquids and other kitchen hazards.
    •  Plug microwaves and other kitchen appliances directly into an outlet. Never use an extension cord for a cooking appliance as it can overload the circuit and cause a fire.
    • Double-check the kitchen before you go to bed or leave the house. Make sure all other appliances are turned off and that any candles or smoking materials are safely extinguished.
    • Smoke alarms save lives. Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home, test alarms monthly and change batteries annually or as recommended by the manufacturer if your alarm features long-life batteries.

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

      Turkey Fryer Safety Tips:

    • Never leave a fryer unattended.
    • By design, turkey fryers are prone to tipping over. Fryers should always be used on a non-combustible, flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.
    • Fryers should always be used outdoors at least 10 feet from buildings and any flammable materials. Never use a fryer on a wooden deck, under a patio cover, in a garage, porch or other enclosed space.
    • Do not overfill the fryer. The oil may spill out of the unit when the turkey is placed into the cooking pot. Oil may hit the burner/flames resulting in a potential fire hazard that could engulf the entire unit.
    • Oil and water do not mix! Make sure the turkey is completely thawed before it is placed in a fryer. Partially frozen turkeys can cause a spillover effect which may result in a fire. 
    • Some units do not have thermostat controls and, if not carefully watched, have the potential to overheat the oil to the point of combustion.
    • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching the pot or lid handle. The sides of the cooking pot, lid and pot handles get dangerously hot and can result in severe burns. If available, use safety goggles to protect your eyes from any oil splatter.
    • Keep children and pets away from fryers. The oil can remain dangerously hot even hours after use.

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

      Wednesday, November 18, 2015

      Exit Drills In The Home - Have Two Ways Out!

      Having working smoke alarms and residential fire sprinklers play a large role in you and your loved ones surviving a fire in your home. Another crucial part of surviving a fire in your home is developing a home fire escape plan and then PRACTICING the plan! As they say in sports: "If you fail to prepare than prepare to fail!"

      While we hope you never experience a fire in your home, the women and men of MCFRS hope that you prepare the right way so as to increase the chances you and your loved ones will survive if fire does occur.

      You can go here to learn how to develop a plan: Develop a Home Escape Plan

      Once you develop that plan and familiarize all occupants of the home with the plan, make sure you hold a fire drill -- just like you did in school -- to practice the plan!

      Below is a great video from our partners in safety at FEMA and the US Fire Administration that provides more information.

      Monday, November 16, 2015

      Time to "Retire" Your Old Smoke Alarms?

      Courtesy of NFPA
      I wanted to make sure all of you knew that smoke alarms need to have a retirement plan - as most of us do. Once your alarms reach the ripe old age of 10, they are eligible for "retirement" and need to be replaced by a new generation of smoke alarms.

      Even if your 10 year old, or older, smoke alarm still sounds when you push the test button, it should be replaced.

      To learn more about smoke alarms, please go here: Smoke Alarms

      To learn how to properly dispose of a smoke alarm, please go here: How to recycle/dispose of smoke alarms

      For those with battery powered alarms, please go here to learn about Maryland's Updated Smoke Alarm Law.

      Friday, November 13, 2015

      What's Invisible, Has No Smell, But Can Kill You?

      Carbon monoxide is the most common cause of death by poison in the United States, killing more than 500 people every year. It is one of the most dangerous poisons because often people don't know it is present until it is too late. The best way to protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning is to buy a carbon monoxide (sometimes referred to as CO) detector for your home. A properly working carbon monoxide detector can provide an early warning before deadly gases build up to dangerous levels. If you live in a home that is two stories or more, you might want to install two.

      For more information, see the "Is it Flu or Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?" page.

      If you notice these symptoms and suspect that carbon monoxide is the cause, leave the area immediately and get outside to fresh air. Call 9-1-1 and seek medical help.
      Be reminded: Installing a carbon monoxide detector does not eliminate the need to have a smoke alarm in your home. Carbon monoxide detectors do not detect smoke and smoke alarms do not sense carbon monoxide.

      CO poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America. (Source: Centers for Disease Control)


      • CO is a produced anytime a fuel is burned. Potential sources include gas or oil furnaces, water heaters, space heaters, clothes dryers, barbecue grills, fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, gas ovens, generators and car exhaust fumes.
      • Every year more than 10,000 people die or seek medical attention due to CO poisoning from home-related products. (Source:  Consumer Product Safety Commission)
      • More than two-thirds of Americans use gas, wood, kerosene or another fuel as their home's major heat source.
      • 65% of CO poisoning deaths from consumer products are due to heating systems.
      • Only 27% of homes in America have carbon monoxide alarms, according to recent industry research.
      • An idling vehicle in an attached garage, even with the garage door opened, can produce concentrated amounts of CO that can enter your home through the garage door or nearby windows.
      • CO poisoning deaths from portable generators have doubled for the past two years, and many of these deaths occurred in the winter months and during power outages.
      • A poorly maintained gas stove can give off twice the amount of CO than one in good working order.


      • 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 a licensed professional inspect heating systems and other fuel-burning appliances annually.
      • Install fuel-burning appliances properly and operate according to the manufacturer's instructions.
      • 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.
      • Do not use ovens or stoves to heat your home.
      • Do not use charcoal or gas grills inside or operate outdoors near a window where CO fumes could seep in through a window.
      • Check all carbon monoxide alarms in your home. Do they use the most accurate sensing technology? Do they need new batteries?
      Replace CO alarms every five to seven years in order to benefit from the latest technology upgrades.

      Wednesday, November 11, 2015

      Veteran's Day Reflection

      Below is a Veteran's Day Reflection sent to all MCFRS Personnel earlier today from Fire Chief Scott Goldstein:

      Please take a moment today to thank a friend, a co-worker, a family member, or a passing military member/veteran – for their service to our Nation.

      This date specifically honors the anniversary of the end of World War I, Armistice Day, and Remembrance Day and is used by our nation as a day to honor our military veterans.

      Today we honor the service of our military members and the sacrifices they and their families have made to provide the freedoms we enjoy daily. This includes many career and volunteer members of MCFRS that have served in the armed forces and those that continue today to serve both their community as a fire rescue provider and the military.

      For those personnel assigned to work today or on their standby period today/tonight, as you have ensured your apparatus and facilities is ready for operations and response – please take a second to interface with the community and thank any military members encountered for their service. Also take a moment to reflect on the freedom we experience today and the sacrifices made to guarantee those freedoms.

      Scott E. Goldstein
      Fire Chief
      Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service

      Monday, November 9, 2015

      Watch What You Heat!

      Friday, November 6, 2015

      Two Juveniles Arrested

      Yesterday, (11/5) MCFRS Fire Investigators Arrested two juveniles for Arson and other related charges for the fire a house fire on October 28 on Falconcrest Circle in Germantown. One family was displaced, three firefighters were injured and approximately $400k in damages to the structure.

      Wednesday, November 4, 2015

      Firehouse Cleaning

      By: Lieutenant Rob Furst

      Once a week every week we focus on one area of the firehouse and give it a deep clean. Tuesday's at Fire Station 12, it is the "weekly" on the kitchen. 

      Personnel at the firehouse spent some of the afternoon ensuring that their kitchen is clean and sanitary. We spend a full third of our lives at the firehouse, so we take pride in what we have. 

      Tuesday, November 3, 2015

      Pedestrian and Cyclist Safety Tips

      Unfortunately, over the last several days, we have seen an increase in the number of pedestrians struck - including a hit and run early this morning. Below are very timely safety tips from the Montgomery County Department of Transportation.  Please review and feel free to share with friends and family.

      For Drivers…

      • Stop for pedestrians at crosswalks and intersections- it's the law.
      • Don't block crosswalks when stopping at intersections.
      • Slow down and obey the posted speed limit.
      • Take extra care around schools, playgrounds, and neighborhoods. Pedestrians are hit every 7 minutes each day.
      • Always look out for pedestrians, especially before turning at a green light or making a "right turn on red."
      • Obey speed limits, signs, signals and markings--and never run red lights.
      • Be careful when passing stopped vehicles. They might be stopping for pedestrians.
      • Allow 3 feet when passing bicyclists.
      • Share the road. It's your responsibility to look out for others.

      For Pedestrians…

      • Cross the street at marked crosswalks whenever possible.
      • Stop and look every time before crossing streets, even when you have the right-of-way, and especially at intersections with "right turn on red."
      • Before crossing, look left, right, then left again, and over your shoulder for turning vehicles.
      • Begin crossing the street on "Walk" signals-never on a solid or flashing "Don't Walk."
      • Use pedestrian pushbuttons to activate/extend the walk signal.
      • Use sidewalks. If none, walk facing traffic so you see vehicles, and drivers see you.
      • Make eye contact with drivers so they see you. Never assume they do.
      • Stay visible after dark and in bad weather with reflectors or retroreflective clothing.

      For Cyclists…

      • Wear a properly fitted helmet. It can save your life.
      • As a vehicle, you have the same rights and responsibilities as a motorist. Obey all traffic signals, signs and lane markings.
      • Ride on the right side of the road with the flow of traffic-never against it.
      • Pass slower moving or stopped vehicles on the left.
      • Ride predictably and defensively. Use hand signals before turning.
      • Stay visible, and use lights, reflectors and retro-reflective clothing when riding at night.
      • Make eye contact with motorists and pedestrians before crossing paths with them.
      • Always yield to pedestrians, even when turning, and especially at a "right turn on red" intersection.
      • When cycling on sidewalks, always yield to pedestrians and give verbal warning when passing. Pass on left.

      Monday, November 2, 2015


      Sad to report that one of our search and rescue dogs who retired earlier this year, Jed, passed away this past weekend. Jed served us, and his partner Firefighter Rich Grant, faithfully since 2005. As Rich relayed, "Jed would light up a room with his never ending wags of his tail and persistence to constantly bring you a toy to play with. Many of my MCFR family are very familiar with this as Jed was never one to let you pass through the fire stations without engaging in a game of fetch."
      RIP Jed and thank you for your service!

      Friday, October 30, 2015

      It Only Takes ONE To Save Your Life!

      It is that time of year again! While testing your smoke alarms should be a monthly occurrence, at the minimum, we here at MCFRS want to make extra sure that you take time this weekend to do so. So as you think about the hour of sleep you will GAIN this weekend please also think how this would be a very good time to make sure critical life safety devices in your home are working properly.

      Just before you move that clock hand back an hour also make sure you push the test button on the smoke and carbon monoxide alarm(s). If not working, please replace the battery -- unless it is a sealed 10 year lithium battery at which point you will have to get a new alarm.

      Also remember that if your smoke alarm is 10 years of age, or older, it needs to be replaced

      Wednesday, October 28, 2015

      Halloween Safety Tips

      Everyone wants to have a safe and happy Halloween. Using safety tips and common sense can help make the most of your Halloween season and make it enjoyable and safe for everyone. Follow the tips below and make it a fun and safe Halloween every year!

      Some Facts:
      • Decorations for special events, most often involving candles, account for an annual average of 900 home fires, causing nearly $6 million in direct property damage, according to NFPA.
      • In the United States, more than 100 people die each year as a result of their clothing igniting.
      • Children are four times more likely to be hit by a car on Halloween than any other night of the year.
      Jack-o-Lantern carving
      • Purchase only those costumes, wigs and props labeled as flame-resistant or retardant.When creating a costume, choose material that won't easily ignite and avoid billowing or long-trailing features.
      • Be sure children know the stop, drop and roll technique in the event their clothing catches fire. (Stop immediately, drop to the ground, covering your face with your hands, and roll over and over to extinguish flames.)
      • Apply face paint or cosmetics directly to the face. It is safer than a loose-fitting mask that can obstruct a child's vision. If a mask is worn, be certain it fits securely. Cut the eyeholes large enough for full vision. Make costumes short enough to avoid tripping. Dress children in shoes that fit. Allow children to carry only flexible knives, swords or other props. Anything they carry could injure them if they fall.
      • Provide children with lightweight flashlights to carry for lighting or as part of their costume.
      • When planning party decorations, bear in mind that dried flowers and cornstalks are highly flammable. Keep crepe paper and other decorations well away from all heat sources, including light bulbs, heaters, etc.
      • Let children be the artists and leave the pumpkin carving to adults. Children can draw the face of the jack-o-lantern, but only parents should handle the knives.
      • Use flashlights as alternatives to candles or torch lights for decorations. They are much safer for trick-or-treaters, whose costumes may brush against the lighting.
      • Use flashlights to illuminate Jack-o-lanterns. If you must use candles, use votives and be sure to place the pumpkin on a sturdy surface away from flammable objects.
      • Remove outdoor safety hazards such as toys, bicycles and lawn ornaments. Make sure the driveway and stairs are cleared of leaves, which can be a slipping and falling hazard. Make sure that the driveway and walks are well lit for incoming trick-or-treaters. Replace burned-out or broken light bulbs.
      • Before heading out to trick-or-treat, apply reflective wrist bands, tape, and stickers to costumes, bags and sacks and use a flashlight with fresh batteries to see and be seen.
      • Children are four times more likely to be hit by a car on Halloween than any other night of the year. Accompany children and remind them to stop at all street corners before crossing, cross only at intersections and crosswalks. Teach them to look left, right and left again before crossing the street and to continue looking both ways as they cross.
      • Instruct children never to enter a home or an apartment building unless accompanied by an adult. Restrict trick-or-treating visits to homes with porch or outside lights illuminated.
      • Remember to keep exits clear of decorations, ensuring nothing blocks escape routes.
      • Instruct children who are attending parties at others' homes to locate the exits and plan how they would get out in an emergency.
      • Set a time for children to return home. Tell children to bring their treats home before eating them. Parents should check treats to ensure that items have not been tampered with and are safely sealed. Be careful with fruit. Inspect the surface closely for punctures or holes and cut it open before allowing a child to eat it.

      Wednesday, October 21, 2015

      Meet Rockville Fire Station 33 A-Shift

      By: Captain Scott Buchholz

      I have a great shift at Fire Station 33 A-Shift.  While not responding to emergency calls, they are constantly taking care of firehouse business, map work, learning first due areas and buildings, engine company drills, drivers training, station maintenance, vehicle check outs, station pride projects and other general duties that reflect a professional and positive attitude.

      I could not ask for a better group to get work done while having fun doing it.

      The positive and can do attitude continues on emergency calls as well as changing flat tires for residents, checking smoke alarms, and any other form of public service that we find.

      Thanks to my shift at 33-A for the hard work you do! 

      Left to right, FF Charles "Chazz " Smith, MFF Jaymie Birney, Me, FF Roger Hohman, FF Kyle Dixon, FF Perry Power.  Not pictured: FF Katie Null and FF Sean Cramer. Photo Courtesy of Jontell Buchholz 

      Tuesday, October 20, 2015

      Wood Stove and Fireplaces

      It is that time of year again!  Colder temps have us all looking to our home heating systems which, a good number of times, means wood stoves and fireplaces.  Careful attention to safety can minimize fire hazards.

      To use them safely:
      • Be sure the fireplace or stove is installed properly. Wood stoves should have adequate clearance (36 inches) from combustible surfaces and proper floor support and protection.
      • Wood stoves should be of good quality, solid construction and design, and should be UL listed.
      • Have the chimney inspected annually and cleaned if necessary, especially if it has not been used for some time.
      • Do not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate any fire.
      • Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening, to prevent embers or sparks from escaping, unwanted material from going in, and to help prevent the possibility of burns.
      • The stove should be burned hot twice a day for 15-30 minutes to reduce the amount of creosote buildup.
      • Don't use excessive amounts of paper to build roaring fires in fireplaces. It is possible to ignite creosote in the chimney by overbuilding the fire.
      • Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal can give off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide.
      • Keep flammable materials away from your fireplace mantel. A spark from the fireplace could easily ignite theses materials.
      • Before you go to sleep, be sure your fireplace fire is out. NEVER close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. A closed damper will help the fire to heat up again and will force toxic carbon monoxide into the house.
      • If synthetic logs are used, follow the directions on the package. NEVER break a synthetic log apart to quicken the fire or use more than one log at a time. They often burn unevenly, releasing higher levels of carbon monoxide.
      • Never discard hot ashes inside or near the home. Place them in a metal container outside and well away from the house.

      Friday, October 16, 2015


      By: Lieutenant Rob Furst

      One attribute of the fire department is that you have two families; your blood and marriage family and your fire department family. In times of need, both families (blood and FD) will provide support at full force for their brother or sister.

      Such is that case for MFF Brian Vane (Fire Station 1-A). His son requires treatment for a medical condition. This treatment includes a brief hospitalization. Brian's shift came to his side to provide support and a brief reprieve from hospital food. Brian and his (blood) family were very appreciative of the surprise visit.

      Best wishes for a speedy recovery for young Blake!  #Blakestrong

      Brian (far L) and shift mates.

      Tuesday, October 13, 2015

      11th Annual Alfaro Memorial Blood Drive

      Please help us honor two of our own, father and son, who left us way too early.

      Monday, October 12, 2015

      Dogs Rescued at Apartment Fire

      By: Captain Pat Stakem
            Fire Station 19, C-Shift

      These two guys in the photos below are some happy pups. We rescued them from an apartment fire late Friday night.

      Our units arrived to find a small kitchen fire being held in check by automatic fire sprinklers though there was a good amount of smoke. Firefighter/Paramedic Katie Dennison from PE701 found one of the dogs in the bathroom hiding and Firefighter Damon Grattan and I found the other in the bedroom on the floor not really moving.  After a little fresh air they were back to the happy go lucky pups I'm sure they normally are.

      Both have been reunited with their human. Sometimes we're in the right place at the right time and things work out. Great work by all fire and rescue companies that responded.

      Dogs Rescued at Apartment Fire

      Monday, October 5, 2015

      Good Samaritan Off Duty Firefighter Identified

      Yesterday Montgomery County Police Officer James Herman performed life-saving actions on a 9 month-old-girl on the side of Northbound I-270.

      Read here for further background: Officer Performs Life-Saving Actions on Child on Interstate 270

      FF Channell meeting President Obama just
      hours before assisting in saving a
      young life.
      At some point during Officer Herman's life saving action, a Good Samaritan, who identified himself as an out-of-state firefighter, stopped his vehicle on the side of I-270 to offer assistance.  After rendering aid he departed before his name could be learned.  The only real identifying feature was a shirt associated with the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service that had occurred in Emmitsburg, MD earlier in the day.

      With that information, and at the request of MCFRS, an impressive social media campaign was initiated by fire service members associated with the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation to try and track this person down. He was rather quickly identified via the Firefighter Nation Facebook page as Brody Channell who is a Firefighter with the Little Rock, Arkansas Fire Department.

      We are also happy to hear via local media that the young girl is recovering in hospital and that her parents are appreciative of everyone's efforts to save their daughter.

      A tip of the helmet again to Officer James Herman and to Firefighter Brody Channell for stopping to help Officer Herman and the young child.  As well, a job well done to Battalion Chief Steve Mann and our crews who responded and transported the young child to the hospital.

      Additional added 7:40 am on 10/6/15: FF Channell was in Emittsburg at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial service to honor his Father, Dennis, who died in the line of duty last year.

      It's Fire Prevention Week!

      It's that time of year again - Fire Prevention Week (October 4 - 10)!  This years theme and focus is: "Hear the Beep where you Sleep! Every Bedroom needs a Working Smoke Alarm."

      Below is a good video from our partners in safety at the National Fire Protection Association.  Please take a couple of minutes to watch and learn important potential life saving information.

      Friday, October 2, 2015

      Are You Ready?

      We continue to urge County residents to be alert to changing weather conditions and to be prepared for possible flash flooding and potential high winds over the next several days.

      Part of preparation includes having an emergency kit.  MCFRS urges all residents to take a moment to view information below, from our friends at the Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, and take action!

      Make a Kit

      One of the most critical steps you can take to sustain yourself and your family during a disaster is to create an emergency kit before the disaster strikes.

      An emergency kit contains items you might need including food, water, medication, a flashlight, a radio, and batteries. These items will help you if you are asked to stay home for as many as three days.

      However, a kit may also be useful in case you have to evacuate your home. If the items you need are in your emergency kit, you will not have to scramble at the last minute to gather important items.

      Include the following items in your emergency kit:
      • Water - One gallon per person per day for at least three days
      • Food - A three-day supply of non-perishable food
      • Can Opener - Manual hand-cranking
      • Radio - Battery-powered or hand-cranking
      • Flashlight - With extra batteries
      • First Aid Kit
      • Medication - A three-day supply
      • Toiletries - For personal hygiene
      • Copies of Important Documents - Insurance policies, identification, and bank accouns in a waterproof container
      • Other Items (Depending on the Household) - Infant formula and diapers, extra clothing, books or games for children
      For information on how to assemble an emergency kit, visit the following sites:
      • Assembling a kit for your pet - information from

      Additional Resources

      Alert Montgomery
      Montgomery County's Are You Emergency Ready brochure includes information on items that should be in your emergency kit. 

      Thursday, October 1, 2015

      TURN AROUND - DON’T DROWN and Try an Alternate Route! List of Roads That Flood

      Many Roads in Montgomery County Susceptible to Flooding so Consider Alternate Routes Beforehand!

      The next several days will be wet and potentially very windy!  County residents are urged to be alert to changing weather conditions and should be prepared for possible flash flooding.
      Flash floods more often occur in mountain streams, hilly areas or low-lying areas.  But they do happen in urban and suburban areas like Montgomery County as well.  Flash floods can occur even though it's not raining where you are. It may be raining hard farther upstream and raining so hard that the water can not be absorbed into the ground.

      Safety Tips:

      If a flash flood warning is issued, act immediately.  Don't wait for high water to dictate your course of action.

      Know your location when you are driving.  If you needed rescue, would you be able to direct emergency crews to your location?  Distracted driving can lead to a situation where you are stranded and unable to direct emergency crews to you.  Be alert!
      Never drive through a flooded road or bridge.  Turn Around - Don’t Drown and try an alternate route! In many cases, it takes far less than a foot of water to incapacitate a vehicle.  It may stall, leaving you stranded, and depending on the level of water, you may not be able to open a vehicle door.  Do not underestimate the power of moving water.
      Watch for flooding at bridges and dips in the road.  Never drive where water is over bridges or roads. Turn around - Don’t Drown!  The bridges or the road could suddenly be washed out. If you're driving at night be especially careful.  Often visibility is limited due to wind and rain.
      Often what you can't see below the surface of the water is far more dangerous than the high levels of that water.  Remember that rocks, tree limbs and other debris can be caught in moving water and can be dangerous if you are forced to walk, wade or swim through flood waters.
      If you have to walk or wade through flood water, use a stick to poke the ground in front of you with each step.  It can help you determine water levels, the bottom surface and the safest possible way to get to higher ground.
      Remember that flash floods can come without warning, and sometimes without weather.  Be alert and heed all warnings and recommendations from officials. From FEMA's website, some further information about driving through flooded roadways:

      Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.

      A foot of water will float many vehicles.

      Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUV's) and pick-ups

      TURN AROUND - DON’T DROWN and try an alternate route!


      Monday, September 28, 2015

      We Prepare Everyday

      September is National Preparedness Month! MCFRS encourages all residents to plan and prepare for a variety of emergencies that can potentially occur.

      Please take two minutes to watch the below video, from the Ready Campaign and Ad Council, that shows how people with disabilities can take charge to prepare themselves and their families for emergencies.

      Saturday, September 26, 2015

      Window Safety – Kids Can’t Fly

      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. Safety tips to help 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.
      Window falls can happen quickly and, in some cases, can be deadly. When keeping your kids safe, MCFRS reminds parents that no device can replace active supervision. For more safety tips, visit our website at