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