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Caught on camera: Confrontation after DC engine parks on PGFD attack line

Investigation underway following Saturday night crash & fire near border

Video (above) of confrontation first shown on WTTG-TV/FOX5. Watch entire story here.

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A dispute between firefighters from the District of Columbia and Prince George’s County, Maryland occurred at an emergency scene Saturday night after a DC Fire & EMS Department engine parked on a PGFD attack line. It happened as crews were handling a collision where one vehicle was on fire and another overturned. The crash was just inside the District of Columbia near the Prince George’s County border. After showing  what appeared to be helmet-cam video of the confrontation (above) on a Sunday night newscast, WTTG-TV/FOX5 reporter Evan Lambert said he talked with witnesses who told him the incident did not appear to be intentional.

Radio traffic from OpenMHz.com shows both PGFD and DC Fire and EMS units were independently dispatched about 90 seconds apart to a reported crash near the Eastern Avenue border on DC 295/Kenilworth Avenue. Unlike the rest of the region, DC Fire & EMS does not have automatic mutual aid agreements with its neighbors in Maryland and Virginia. Because of this, DC’s 911 center does not routinely coordinate border responses with other jurisdictions. That appeared to be the case Saturday night. Radio traffic does not indicate responding fire and EMS crews knew the response was duplicated across the border.

PGFD radio traffic (above) shows Engine 809 from Bladensburg VFD discovered the crash and fire on the DC side of the border with only a DC ambulance already at the scene. After beginning its attack on the vehicle fire, Engine 809 was joined by DC’s Engine 8. Engine 809 can be heard asking PG’s 911 center to send a PGFD battalion chief to the scene saying the DC engine had parked on its attack line and the crew would not move the engine.

The incident is reminiscent of a 2006 PGFD house fire where the driver of Bladensburg VFD’s ladder truck parked — apparently accidentally — on an attack line operated by Kentland VFD’s firefighters. A neighbor shot video of a physical confrontation between a fire officer from Kentland and one from Bladensburg.

Saturday’s incident is under investigation by both PGFD and DC Fire & EMS. The departments issued a joint statement on Sunday:

DC Fire and EMS and PGFD/EMS DEPARTMENTS’ JOINT STATEMENT ON DECEMBER 5th EMERGENCY RESPONSE TO COLLISION ON KENILWORTH AVENUE, NE.

The DC Fire and EMS Department is conducting an internal review of the actions taken by our members on the scene of a motor vehicle accident with a vehicle fire Saturday evening. The response included firefighters from our Department as well as members from the Prince George’s County Fire Department. We have been in contact and are communicating with Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department regarding this incident and we value our partnership with them.

“Our Core Values speak to Safety and Accountability. The DC Fire and EMS Department’s review will identify what happened and determine what actions need to be taken if those core values were not upheld. We will provide additional information at the conclusion of our internal review,” said Acting DC Fire and EMS Chief, John A. Donnelly, Sr.

Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department Chief Tiffany Green said, “We are very proud of the mutual aid partnerships with agencies across our region. The process is set up to ensure the safety and well-being of all residents in our area. Acting Fire Chief Donnelly and I have spoken, and our commands are working in conjunction with one another to review the incident and to ensure the best possible outcome for all future incident responses with all of us working together.”

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