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!