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One of the busiest days in PGFD history: Run down of fires & mutual aid from far & wide. New arrival video from early AM College Park house fires.

Above is video from the 6:00 AM fire at 8402 Potomac Avenue in College Park we told you about yesterday. The video was recorded by a College Park VFD ride-along.

Click here for our previous videos, pictures & details from Saturday’s fires in Maryland & Virginia

After a long day yesterday, Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department PIO Mark Brady started the day with a run down of the significant wind driven fires that provided the department with one of the busiest days in its history. Below is Brady’s press release and pictures:

The Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department experienced one of the busiest days in the Departments history due to high winds and dry conditions that resulted in hundreds of brush fires and structure fires. Numerous personnel have been operating at several “hot spots” overnight and into this morning. These locations include Chalk Point, Laurel and Piscataway. The fires are 90% contained and should be near extinguishment today. It is safe to say that Saturday, February 19, 2011, will be remembered as one of the busiest days in our history. The Fire/EMS Department recalled off-duty firefighters to report to work; the last time this was done was September 11, 2001. Fire/EMS Department Public Safety Communications handled 821 calls for service yesterday; a normal day average is about 350 calls. Firefighters were summoned from throughout the state and the District of Columbia to assist on incidents (a complete list of mutual aid jurisdictions is listed below). Of all the homes damaged during this wind/fire event, it is estimated that $1 million + in fire loss occurred. Another estimated $1 million + in fire loss occurred to commercial property.

Photo by PGFD’s Mark Brady showing Engine 841 in position at the Van Dusen Road fire. The crew eventually had to abandon this spot, bringing the rig to safety but losing hose. At the Chalk Point Road fire BR 836 was destroyed by the fire.

There were seven “significant” incidents that occurred yesterday:

…6 am – 8400 block of Potomac Avenue in College Park – House Fire & multiple outbuildings/Brush Fire. Family Helped by Citizens Services Unit. Event closed out at 9:30 am.

…9:30 am – Chalk Point Road, Baden – 60 Acre Brush Fire. 100 firefighters, 1 Brush Vehicle burned up in this event, 1 firefighter suffered from heat exhaustion, units operated throughout the night.

…10:59 am – 5400 block of Van Dusen Road, Beltsville/Laurel – 300 Acre Brush/Mulch Fire. 100+ firefighters, 90% contained, units operated throughout the overnight, potential for a multiple day event. Interstate 95 was closed for 4 hours due to smoke and adjacent land areas burning. Two firefighters suffered non-serious injuries during this event.

Mark Brady photo from Piscataway Road. We haven’t seen much in the way of video or pictures from this fire. It apparently did the most property damage and received the least amount of news coverage.

…11:42 am – 11900 through the 12200 block of Piscataway Road in Clinton – 250 Acre Brush/House Fire, 2 homes, 5 + outbuildings and 5 abandoned farm homes. One family assisted by Citizen Services Unit. 150 firefighters, 90% contained, units operated overnight and will continue today, potential multiple day event.

…1:06 pm – Queen Anne Road in Bowie- 15 Acre Brush Fire

…1:56 pm – 14700 Baltimore Av, Burlington Coat Factory, Laurel Mall – 2-alarm building fire, extinguished.

…4:18 pm – 5100 block of Decatur Street, Bladensburg – 2 house fires, 2 families displaced, assisted by Citizens Services Unit

There are firefighters operating in Prince George’s County from all of our routine Mutual Aide Counties, including all of our contiguous jurisdictions, as well as through assistance coordinated by the County Emergency Operations Center and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, from:

- St Mary’s County MD

- Calvert County MD

- Charles County MD

- Anne Arundel County MD

- Montgomery County MD

- Baltimore City MD

- Arlington County VA

- Alexandria City VA

- Fairfax County VA

- Washington DC

- Washington County MD

- Carroll County MD

- Cecil County MD

- Caroline County MD

- Queen Anne County MD

- Natural Resources

Another Brady photo. From Piscataway Road and Windbrook Drive.

The Emergency Operations Center in Landover Hills, was activated and was staffed with personnel from County Police, Fire/EMS, Central Services, Public Works, Emergency Management, Red Cross, Public Safety Communications, Homeland Security, and the County Executives Office.

There will continue to be smoke and odors from all of these fires for days. Citizens should keep their windows closed, and if they are sensitive to smoke, avoid areas impacted by these events.

Some roadways may become blocked from time to time as hoselines are stretched across roads. We did not officially evacuate anyone, nor prohibit them from returning to their homes, however people were not able to physically drive to their homes. We did close the Ice House in Beltsville/Laurel, due to the hazardous smoke and travel conditions.

Interstate 95 was closed in both directions in Laurel for approximately 4 hours.

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  • Guess where I’m from

    Oh now I see how all this “Merger mania” and downsizing and “2 man crews of oober safety trained fire technicians” works sooo much better than “the way we do it”
    Remember, now sit around for 10 years and talk about the day the tri state area almost burned to the ground, and we had to call in help from Alabama because we don’t have enough fire companies and enough OOOOOOOber trained fire techicians.
    Well remember up here, your day is just another run of the mill call we handle with our own resources and no tears looking for pity.
    You. Better? I say not.

  • Mr. Questions

    Wow…all those PG wannabe’s came-a-runnin from other counties.

    My question is, when the PGFD called back all their personnel…did the ones who tick in Southern MD and Eastern Shore abandon their off duty hobby and fire trucks to get on the ones they get paid to ride? How did that work out for ya?

    When they recalled you back on duty did you tell them you couldn’t come in…because your already there for FREE!

  • Anonymous

    Can you post a rundown of the units?

  • PFF

    Can you post a rundown of the units?

    • dave statter

      I would but I don’t have one.

      Statter

  • Anonymous

    Baltimore City sent our Engine 6 “Oldtown” and Squad 40 “Liberty Heights”

  • SouthsideEngine

    I don’t know how DCFD and all of the surrounding juristictions managed to do call backs. I mean with so many of their personnel volunteering in Prince George’s County i don’t know how they managed to tear them away from their tick house’s to come to work.

  • David

    They probably did not have cell phones with them. Can’t force people who are off duty to carry phones and be available anytime.

    • Anonymous

      Personnel laws for PGFD state that all career firefighters must has a mobile device i.e. cell, pager incase of call backs. The only reason I know this is because I get to write my cell phone bill off on my taxes.

  • Anonymous NOVA EngineDriver

    @ David…. If my department wants to buy me and pay my bill for an Iphone, I’ll gladly keep it closeby!

  • Seasoned Fireman

    Mr. Questions says
    Wow…all those PG wannabe’s came-a-runnin from other counties.

    My question is, when the PGFD called back all their personnel…did the ones who tick in Southern MD and Eastern Shore abandon their off duty hobby and fire trucks to get on the ones they get paid to ride? How did that work out for ya?

    When they recalled you back on duty did you tell them you couldn’t come in…because your already there for FREE!

    Mr Questions I am not a career firefighter myself but I am tired of hearing all you union suck ups cry about your co- workers volunteering on their day(s) off! What they do and what I do on my day(s) off is no ones business so SFU!!!!You can use the excuse that the volunteers are taking jobs away all you want but as you see it now days its not true because career firefighters are getting laid off all over the place because of our economy even where there are no volunteers to pick up the slack and your unions are going to crumble soon thanks to the politions!

  • SOF

    Maybe if the PG rigs were designed for the 99.9% fire instead of the 90% fire, and beating the 2nd due in, these fires would have gone better:

    1. CAFS CAFS CAFS – Compressed Air Foam Systems!!!
    2. better than 500 gallon water tank
    3. pump and roll

    spend less money on lights, chrome and 500 hp motors, and more on things that actually put out fires.

    That being said, it seems that the crews did a pretty good job with the equipment they have. But, with CAFS, one engine could have foamed and protected several houses, and moved on to fight the fire.

  • firehouseguy

    Hey “Guess where I’m from” , Who the “F” cares !!!!!!!!!
    You just sound like a “F”en jerk off any ways, So we don’t care
    what you do in your dump ass area!

    And to the person “Seasoned Fireman” Thank you! You are 100%

  • flounder

    i have got to laugh at the foam rep. here who really has no clue on fighting brush fire’s of this size. i just want to know boy wonder how are you going to apply it. let me ask you were you there?

    • SOF

      Out west, where they regularly fight fires of this size and larger, Compressed Air Foam is common.

      Listening to the radio, how many times did you hear “Nevermind, it’s off” How many houses did you lose? One 750 gallon CAFS Engine can cover 7-10 standard 2-story houses with a 3″ layer of dry foam. No need to lay lines: get in, foam them, get out and back to the fire line.

      A 3500 gpm tanker with CAFS, pump and roll, and the appropriate nozzles could lay a 20′ wide 3″ foam blanket almost 2 miles long.

      If you don’t think that the East Coast has a whole lot to learn about wildland and SWI firefighting from the West Coast, you are incompetent.

      Do not think for a minute that these fire departments are adequately equipped or trained for these types of incidents. They managed them, but not nearly as well as they would have if they were properly trained and equipped.

  • Southside

    I don’t know how the command was in the North but the South was bad, except from VChief 32 he had it going good. Until he was relieved by a wanna be chief, even though he is a major but doesn’t have a clue on running a fire ground.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe it’s just me, but they seemed lost. Pulling a hand line and than just dropping it and running for the door to turn around and disappear off camera

  • Fire 21

    Dave,
    A different subject here. I’m going to show my age here. I have had not had a monitior or link to EOC communications since I retired. My wife WAS happy, but since your posting that mood has changed. She will adjust in due time or start playing bridge with the other ladies, perhaps my gain. I notice something disturbing though. These men and women speak so fast you have no idea what they are saying and most times they fumble thier own words, including addresses, with lots of corrections. Is this the result of the CAD system that nobody cares what the broadcast call is? A sign of the times perhaps, but maybe slow down and speak clearly. Yes, it’s the Fire 21 with the space spanky so you don’t get your joints outta order and we set back the fire service 200 years.

    • dave statter

      I don’t have an answer for you. But I have long believed that CAD and computers in general often inhibit us from learning our jobs well. With everything at your fingertips people find less reason to be curious and really learn things well. I saw it in the news business where people would rather believe something that is on their computer screen then what their own reporter is telling them from the scene. Often they didn’t even want to find out why there is even such a discrepancy or learn from such errors to keep it from happening the next time.

      While there are still some wonderful and very good dispatchers out there, in some jurisdictions, from listening to the radio and recording of 911 calls, it is clear to me there are too many who don’t know much about the community where they work. They don’t know important landmarks and addresses to well known buildings. I heard one the other day that astounded me (though it shouldn’t).

      Again, I am not indicting everyone, there are still very good ones handling the phones and radios. But I find it very different in many jurisdictions from when I was writing down calls on stone tablets in the 70s. Thank goodness Y2K didn’t wipe out all of the computers because I think we’d all be SOL.

  • DIspatcher that has given up trying

    Dave, as a 30 year dispatcher, I can tell you the training a dispatcher gets sucks. Its all national training–general BS.
    Dispatchers need to get local training, ride alongs with PD or other agency to learn the response area. CAD and maps do nothing for a dispatcher.
    When Fire guys go out to pick up supper, they are learning their area, when they go out on inspections they learn their area. 911 doesn’t want to spend money on usable training, plus dispatch centers have gone from single town centers (where the dispatcher lived in the area and knew the area intimately) to now county wide dispatch centers or multi-county dispatch centers where the dispatcher knows a small portion or noone of the area at all. THIS DOESN’T WORK!!! BUT IT IS CHEAPER and thats all the management cares about. BUT THE DISPATCHER GETS ALL THE BLAME.

    • dave statter

      Great perspective. When they trained me they taught us a lot about the geography and landmarks of the jurisdction and encouraged us to continue growing that knowledge. Thanks.

  • Molly

    Can you guys give some specific examples of the benefits of dispatchers having ‘local knowledge’? I’ve never come across the need myself.

  • Fire 21

    I’m not sure it’s necessary anymore with the CAD system, but as a former officer on a Wagon and BC the minute the tones sounded my brain was in action. I wanted to know where I was going, I want to know the surrounding area and building type/construction, what equipment is rolling with me and what kind of manpower is on that equipment. I had a couple of times that I had to request additional eqiupment prior to arrival just because I new the area issue’s such as bad water distribution situation or that the Truck company was running with minimal staffing on a 3 story garden apartment and EOC is telling me they have received several calls on this one. However, I can recall several times when I ran multiple alarms EOC was able to assist with staging areas because they did know the area and water supply issue’s. Most importantly as a engine officer and BC I want to HEAR the address and not need to look down at a PC monitor to know where I need to go because dispatch can’t speak clealy. And when your riding in a rig the officer should also be assiting the driver monitoring traffic concerns so I also have more items to do then looking down at a PC screen. Times change I understand and it’s all for the better I’m sure but I can’t imagime the tones going off and looking at my officer or driver while suiting up and saying where are we going?

  • Anonymous

    In Response to the comments from “Dispatcher giving up trying and the comments about why Dispatcher needs or should have “Local Knowledge” Both of these comments have somewhat of a Direct Interaction. The Dispatcher should/must know the how,why,whynot, when, where, who Local Information is critical to do their job. First of all, The Dispatchers job isnot an
    Answering Service. nor is it just a place of employment where CAD Buttons are pushed. A Good Professional Dispatcher must know/be up to date on all areas of Dispatch Priorities/Concern.
    The Dispatcher is the first people the Taxpayer/911 Caller comes in contact with. When a citizen dials 911 they are experiencing the worst day of their Life. ie; A Hysterical Mother who has found her Baby Unconscious/not Breathing, A person Dials 911 an screams a Structure Fire with Entrapment, maybe an Elderly Person needs saome assistance. There are any number of reasons/not excuses a True Professional Dispatcher
    must have a Basic Body of Knowledge understanding the geographical of the Local Jurisdiction. This knowledge comes from In Service Training. ie; When Incident call load is heightened to levels above and beyond the normal everyday expectations a good well Trained/Knowledgeable Dispatcher can/must put his/her knowledge into place in Processing a 911 call. Yes the National Standards are great for giving an overall perspective of the call types etc. However any local
    Knowledge/Information of any specific area, Buildings, Geographical ie; Road closed, Sprinkler/Standpipe System may be out of service, Hydrant access maybe on an adjacent cross street. This information entered into the 911 call can and most definitely will enhance the responding Officer in Charge, and the Unit Officers (OIC) abetter approach on how, when, why, whynot, where to make critical Decisions. When In Service
    Training is in place “Include the Dispachers” Any Local Jurisdiction may have the best well Trained Firefighters/Rescuers, they cannot/and in probability serve the Public in the best Life Saving Measures available, if they donot know where they rea responding, any specific information which can/must impact Decisions to deploy/Redeploy Apparatus, key personnel. This is all interacted and becomes part of the overall ICS. It is imperative that any/all Dispatchers Learn, and have Knowledge of their Local Jurisdiction. Think about it
    people.

    Thank You

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