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New video: PGFD investigates, volunteers respond, union escalates after 3 stations fail during fatal fire

Deadly fire puts focus on un-staffed volunteer stations

***WORKING FIRE W/ RESCUE UPDATE***Yesterday evening at 1804 hours, Truck Co. 9 and Chief 9A were dispatched to respond to the 6400 block of Inlet Street for multiple calls reporting a house on fire with people trapped. The Truck was one of the first units to arrive on scene and immediately began an aggressive search of the interior to look for the trapped occupants. Due to the fact of how involved the front door was and hand lines not yet being in place, the crew made the decision to go in through side Charlie to minimize the amount of time in getting to the occupants. Shortly after the interior crew and Chief 9A made entry into the basement they came across the first occupant who was removed through side Charlie. After bringing out the first victim the Volunteers made their way back inside and came across the second occupant who was also removed through side Charlie with the help of members from Truck Co.14. Unfortunately at this time one of the occupants has passed away and the other is listed in critical condition. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and there family. A few firefighters sustained Burns over the course of the incident but they are all very minor in nature. Exterior crews were able to provide ventilation ladders and everything necessary to support the interior crews while working through this incident. Units remained on scene for approximately four hours before returning to service. This was the fourth working fire for a company nine in three days. 

Posted by Bladensburg Volunteer Fire Department on Sunday, January 19, 2020

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Previous coverage of this story with radio traffic

Things escalated quickly after IAFF Local 1619 brought up staffing issues following a deadly fire Saturday night in Prince George’s County, Maryland (additional video from the fire is above). PGFD has announced it will do an internal review after three of the closest fire companies to the burning home on Inlet Street in New Carrollton weren’t alerted to the call because they did not have staffing. The union has escalated its campaign to bring attention to the staffing issues, including creating a video urging citizens to contact local elected officials (see below). At the same time, the Prince George’s County Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association has issued a statement highlighting the fact that the fire was mostly handled by fully-staffed volunteer departments (see below).

For those outside of Prince George’s County, an explanation of a few things. The three companies that didn’t respond to Inlet Street were first due Station 848 (West Lanham Hills VFD), Station 828 (West Lanham Hills VFD) and Station 813 (Riverdale Heights). All three stations were not dispatched to the call because they didn’t alert the Prince George’s County’s 911 center to say they had staffing. PGFD only alerts volunteer companies that have duty crews at the station.

The volunteer participation at some Prince George’s County firehouses is quite robust, as evidenced by some of the other companies that responded to Inlet Street, including the ladder truck crew that made the rescues (Truck 809 from Bladensburg VFD).

Some other volunteer firehouses are more like ghost companies, with duty crews available so infrequently, it’s somewhat rare to hear them dispatched. In many ways those fire stations just give the citizens the illusion of safety. You may recall the story I posted on the Boulevard Heights VFD (Station 817) and its failure to respond to a house fire across the street from the firehouse.

Derrick Ward & Gina Cooke, WRC-TV/NBC4:

The first unit to arrive to the scene of the fire arrived at 6:11 p.m., seven minutes after the first dispatch call at 6:04 p.m., the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department said in a statement Sunday.

Fire officials say the department’s goal is to have the first unit on the scene within 5 minutes and 20 seconds. The department has a “secondary goal” to have 15 firefighters on the scene within 12 minutes of dispatch.

Firefighters rescued the first person from the basement at 6:16 p.m. and the second person was rescued two minutes later, according to the department.

“I wouldn’t say there was a delay. The closest available unit was able to respond appropriately and mitigate the incident. Our goal was to have 15 firefighters on the scene of a call within 12 minutes and we were able to accomplish that,” Deputy Chief Brian Frankel said Sunday.

Read entire story

Mike Murillo, WTOP Radio:

Frankel said there are systems in place to cover for the volunteer stations when they are not staffed, but the department did say an internal review of staffing needs is underway.

Pantelis believes several volunteer fire stations in the county, including the West Lanham Hills Volunteer Fire Department should be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

WTOP reached out to the West Lanham Hills Volunteer Fire Department for comment.

Frankel said the county is working to make sure there is staffing where it’s needed to help volunteer departments that struggle to maintain volunteers, but didn’t say that was the reason that prevented the West Lanham Hills from keeping their station’s staffed.

Read entire story

PGCVFRA President Trader has issued the following statement….It has been been brought to Prince Georges County…

Posted by Pgcvfra – Prince George's County Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association on Sunday, January 19, 2020

3 Unstaffed firehouses lead to delayed response on fatal house fire

One of our local communities is reeling after a fatal fire took the life of a beloved community member. Last evening, just after 6 PM, Fire Fighters were alerted to a report of a house fire, in the 6400 Block of Inlet Street, in West Lanham Hills, Maryland. The calling party reported two occupants were trapped in the home. When Paramedic Engine 830 arrived on scene, they found a well advanced basement fire with fire on the first floor as well. Fire Fighters quickly located the occupants and removed them. Unfortunately one of the occupants has succumed to their injuries. Three firehouses were unstaffed due to lack of Fire Fighters in those station. Two of the unstaffed firehouses were closer than the initial units dispatched on the fire. Please take a moment to call or email your elected representatives to let them know you NEVER want this to happen again. Take a moment to thank our County council and County Executive for continuing to support necessary staffing enhancements in our system, making sure that our residents have the resources for when they need it the most.County Executive Angela Alsobrookscountyexecutive@co.pg.md.us 301-952-4131Councilman Thomas Dernogadistrict1scheduling@co.pg.md.us 301-952-3887Councilwomen Deni TaverasDLTaveras@co.pg.md.us 301-952-4436Councilwomen Dannielle Glarosdmglaros@co.pg.md.us (301) 952-3060Council Chair Todd TurnerDistrict4@co.pg.md.us 301-952-3094Councilwomen Jolene Ivey councildistrict5@co.pg.md.us 301-952-3864Councilman Derrick Leon Davis CouncilDistrict6@co.pg.md.us 301-952-3426Councilman Rodney StreeterCouncilDistrict7@co.pg.md.us 301-952-3690Councilwomen Monique Anderson-Walker CouncilDistrict8@co.pg.md.us 301-952-3860Councilman Sydney Harrison CouncilDistrict9@co.pg.md.us 301-952-3820Councilman Mel Franklin mel@melfranklin.net 301-952-2638Councilman Calvin Hawkins At-LargeMemberHawkins@co.pg.md.us 301-952-2195City of New CarrolltonMayor Duane Rosenbergdrosenberg@newcarrolltonmd.govCouncilmember Phelecia Nembhardpnembhard@newcarrolltonmd.govCouncilmember Roy Peterson rpeterson@newcarrolltonmd.govCouncilmember Lincoln Lashleyllashley@newcarrolltonmd.govCouncilmember Steven Johnsjohn@newcarrolltonmd.govCouncilmember Sarah Potter Robbinssprobbins@newcarrolltonmd.gov

Posted by Prince George's County Professional Fire Fighters & Paramedics Association on Sunday, January 19, 2020

FATAL FIRE IN PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY

Officials in Prince George's County address the media after a fatal fire Saturday night in New Carrollton. MORE: bit.ly/2sD6Vre

Posted by Fox 5 DC on Sunday, January 19, 2020

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