The order from Lt. Col. Robert Mcoy is very clear, “effective immediately, the Ride-Along Observer Program is suspended”. Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department Major Chauncey Bowers said Wednesday, the stopping of the program is a reaction to criminal and internal investigations currently underway at the Riverdale Volunteer Fire Department (PGFD Station 7) and other concerns.
In the email message sent to volunteer and career command officers on Monday, Lt. Col. McCoy wrote: “The Department has recently been involved in issues that require us to look at our current procedures. One procedure in particular is General Order 1-03, Ride Along Observer Program. We have personnel riding that do not meet the requirements of the program, are not abiding by the rules of the program, and the scrutiny and responsibility has decreased.”
As STATter 911 first reported last month, a 17-year-old boy from Pennsylvania, who was riding at the Riverdale station, was set on fire by two volunteer firefighters. Riverdale VFD Chief Vince Harrison said he suspended the two volunteers for 30 days after they ignited an alcohol-based disinfectant foam that had been sprayed on the teenager.
The incident was not immediately reported and the teen did not receive medical treatment until Prince George’s County fire investigators were told about it almost a week after it occurred. Sources tell STATter 911 the boy received second-degree burns to his back.
While Chief Harrison said again Tuesday night that Riverdale’s investigation has been completed, Major Bowers tells STATter 911 the county continues both internal and criminal probes into the matter.
According to Chief Harrison, he had suspended Riverdale’s ride-along program within days of the late September incident. Under PGFD rules in effect prior to the suspension, it appears the burned teen should not have been allowed to ride at Riverdale, because he was under 18 years of age and not a department member.
While they did not have authorization to speak publicly about the new order, a number of volunteer chief officers in Prince George’s County have told STATter 911 they are concerned the suspension of the program will have an adverse effect on recruitment efforts.
Note: Later this week STATter 911 will have new information on the burning incident at Riverdale VFD.
Below is a copy of the email sent by Lt. Col. McCoy (we did edit out email addresses):
From: McCoy, Robert H.
Sent: Monday, October 15, 2007 7:04 AM
Subject: General Order 1-3 Review
The Department has recently been involved in issues that require us to look at our current procedures. One procedure in particular is General Order 1-03, Ride Along Observer Program. We have personnel riding that do not meet the requirements of the program, are not abiding by the rules of the program, and the scrutiny and responsibility has decreased.
Therefore, effective immediately, the Ride-Along Observer Program is suspended. Only members and employees of the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department, who meet operational requirements, are permitted to ride any apparatus owned, insured, fueled, or maintained by Prince George’s County. I have assembled a small group of Chiefs to review the procedure and further updates will be provided.
Each Volunteer Chief is responsible to ensure this directive is adhered to. Thank you for your cooperation.
Robert H. McCoy, Jr., Lieutenant Colonel Deputy Fire Chief of Operations
Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department Emergency Operations Command
9201 Basil Ct. Suite 452
Largo, Maryland 20774