2014 Press Release Archive
Fatal Fire in Ellicott City

Ellicott City, MD- Just after 4 p.m. on December 29, 2014, career and volunteer firefighters and paramedics from the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) were dispatched for report of a house fire in the 4500 block of Doncaster Drive in Ellicott City. Upon arrival, crews encountered very heavy fire through the roof and consuming the home. They received information that there may be an occupant still in the residence and entered as soon as fire conditions permitted. The occupant was found on the first floor and declared deceased at the scene.The Howard County Police Department will release the identity of the victim once that information is verified and all next of kin have been notified.

Over 60 personnel worked for nearly an hour to extinguish all visible fire and are now in a process called "overhaul" to locate and extinguish any fire that remains within walls. Fire investigators are currently on scene and will work to identify the origin and cause of the blaze. The home was extensively damaged and it is expected to be posted after the conclusion of the investigation.

In addition to the victim, a dog and cat also perished in the blaze.A second resident not at home at the time of the fire has been displaced and will be assisted by the American Red Cross.

Two-Alarm House Fire in Laurel

At approximately 3:30 am this morning, units from the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS), Anne Arundel and Prince George's Fire Departments responded to the 9500 Block of Old Lantern Way in Laurel for a reported garage fire. First responders arrived to find smoke and fire showing from a garage attached to a single story, detached residence. An interior fire attack and coordinated search of the structure was conducted. The occupants were found to have evacuated the structure under their own power. The fire was placed under control approximately an hour after the first unit's arrival on scene. The fire affected both the house and it's attached garage, but did not spread to any neighboring structures. In total, around 70 personnel responded for this two-alarm incident. There were no civilian or fire department injuries. A total of 3 adults and 3 children were displaced as a result of the fire and are being assisted by the Red Cross. The total damage to the structure is estimated to be around $150,000. The fire origin and cause are currently under investigation by the Howard County Fire Marshall's Office in conjunction with the Howard County Police Department. Baltimore Gas and Electric also responded to secure the electrical power to the residence.

Howard County to Host One-Day Maryland Resuscitation Academy

Marriottsville, MD- On October 20, 2014, Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) will host the Maryland Resuscitation Academy at the James N. Robey Public Safety Training Center (PSTC). The mission of this one-day seminar is to improve survival in sudden cardiac arrest patients, which is the leading cause of death in the United States. Approximately 80 emergency medical services (EMS) personnel, health care professionals, and medical directors from across the nation are expected to attend the event.

“A sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, at anytime and anywhere. This is why prompt action by emergency personnel or a bystander is so critical and why it is so important that we all learn CPR,” said Howard County Executive Ken Ulman.“I commend the Department of Fire and Rescue Services for its ongoing efforts to train all – personnel and the community-at-large – in CPR, in order to improve the survival rates of those who suffer a cardiac arrest.”

The Maryland Resuscitation Academy allows for medical professionals on the east coast a greater opportunity to learn techniques used in reducing cardiac arrest. Practical implementations of lessons learned are aimed to increase survival rates throughout their own communities. In just two years, Howard County has seen the survival rate of patients increase to 50 percent. The training covered during the Resuscitation Academy includes the science behind CPR, the importance of time, the critical significance of measuring your methods, high-performance CPR demonstrations and practice, public access defibrillation, and more.

“Effectively treating and increasing survival rates of sudden cardiac arrest patients within our community is one of the most important initiatives that our department focuses on,” said Medical Director Kevin Seaman. “We are committed to preparing first responders and health care personnel, not only from our jurisdiction but from our local, regional and East Coast partners as well.”

HCDFRS has modeled King County Washington’s cardiac care methods to study and measure survival from cardiac arrest incidents. After forming a strong working relationship with the Resuscitation Academy in Seattle, the department has implemented what was learned from King County EMS to improve survival from cardiac arrests within Howard County.

For additional pictures and highlights of the event, visit us on social media on Facebook (www.Facebook.com/HCDFRS) or Twitter (www.Twitter.com/HCDFRS).

Crews Respond to a Tree Collapse in Laurel

Laurel, MD- At approximately 1:25pm, firefighters and special operation crews from the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) responded to the 9100 block of Stebbing Way in Laurel for reports of a tree collapse. Upon arrival crews encountered a three-story apartment building with extensive damage to the back exterior portion of the building. One person who was home at the time of the collapse, self-evacuated. Two other people with minor injuries were evaluated on-scene and released.

More than 20 personnel responded to include mutual aid from Anne Arundel County. A total of five apartment units have been posted as uninhabitable. As a result, more than 20 people have been displaced and are receiving assistance from the American Red Cross.

Special operation personnel are declaring this an extended operation. They remain on scene shoring up the collapsed portions of the building as to reinforce the integrity of the structure and avoid further damage. A contracting service has been called in to remove the fallen trees.

As heavy rains and high winds continue to affect the region, HCDFRS encourages residents to follow the safety tips as recommended by Ready.gov -

•Avoid moving water and stay away from damaged areas.

•Stay on firm ground. Moving water only 6 inches deep can sweep you off your feet. Standing water may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.

•Flooding may have caused familiar places to change. Floodwaters often erode roads and walkways. Flood debris may hide animals and broken bottles, and it's also slippery. Avoid walking or driving through it.

•Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads and trees may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.

•Use extreme caution when entering buildings; there may be hidden damage, particularly in foundations.

Additional pictures will be available on our Facebook page, courtesy HCDFRS.

Firefighters and Paramedics Team Up With Area Schools for “Smoke Alarm Safety Pledge”

Columbia, MD- Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) and the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) have joined together to ensure that 4th grade students pledge to learn the basics of smoke alarm safety. The department will challenge all HCPSS 4th grade students to take the “Smoke Alarm Safety Pledge” now through October 3, 2014.

“It’s simple – smoke alarms help save lives. We know that the risk of dying in a house fire is cut in half in homes with working smoke alarms,” said Howard County Executive Ken Ulman. “I challenge not just our 4th graders, but all our residents to take the ‘Smoke Alarm Safety Pledge.’ Take the time to sit down with your family to discuss the importance of smoke alarms and create a family fire escape plan. Together we can help ensure everyone makes it out alive.”

Students who take the pledge will agree to check all smoke alarms in their homes on a monthly basis and also replace smoke alarm batteries twice a year. Additionally, the pledge states that students should have parents replace any smoke alarms that are more than ten years old. Alarms should be placed on every floor of the house, including hallways as well as inside and outside of every bedroom. Students will also create and regularly practice a fire escape plan with their family.

"We are invested in the well-being of our students and their families. The Smoke Alarm Safety Pledge gives 4th graders a chance to take on a leadership role in helping their families stay safe. I encourage all of our students to get involved," said Howard County schools superintendent Renee A. Foose.

To fill out the pledge form, students should have a parent, teacher, or guardian log onto www.hcdfrs.org and key in the student’s name, school name, date, and age. Students should also take a few minutes to read the Fire Safety information in PDF above the form. This will officially allow them to take the “Smoke Alarm Safety Pledge.”The contest will be judged by the school with the highest percentage of pledges, according to the total student body population. One 4th grade unit in the county will be selected as the winner during Fire Prevention Week, which runs October 5th – 11th. Winners of the pledge contest will receive Chick-fil-A coupons and a visit from Fire/EMS Chief William Goddard

Department to Break Ground on the New Elkridge Fire Station 1

Elkridge, MD – County Council Vice Chair Courtney Watson will join Fire/EMS Chief William F. Goddard, III and members of the Elkridge Volunteer Fire Department for the groundbreaking of the new Elkridge Fire Station. The new 33,757 square foot building will be a full service fire station built on a 7.56 acre-site, providing firefighter and emergency medical services. The facility will be a two-story structure and will include six drive through double length apparatus bays, individual sleeping quarters for 23 personnel, a physical fitness training room, kitchen and dining room, general use rooms, administrative offices, a large training room and an all-purpose, emergency preparation/short term evacuation area. Construction will begin in spring 2015 and the station is expected to open in summer of 2016. This station will replace the current firehouse, located on Old Washington Blvd, which dates back to 1948.

Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services Honored with “Organizational Safety Award”

Columbia, MDThe Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) is pleased to announce that it has been honored by the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) with the Billy Goldfeder Fire Service Organizational Safety Award of the year. This award recognizes agencies that have demonstrated an outstanding commitment or significant contribution in the area of fire service health and safety. Over the past years, HCDFRS has implemented a number of safety and health innovations which led to this national recognition, the most significant of which was the adoption of the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation’s (NFFF) 16 Life Safety Initiatives.These initiatives now serve as the primary guidance in developing training, managing operations during incidents and ensuring the overall wellness and health of all members of the Department. The award was presented in Dallas, Texas on August 14, 2014 in conjunction with the Volunteer Firemen's Insurance Services.

“We are extremely honored to receive this award as it recognizes our ongoing commitment to ensure that the brave women and men of our Department of Fire and Rescue Services are able to effectively and safely perform their jobs,” said Howard County Executive Ken Ulman. “In Howard County, we are continuously striving to lead the way and be the best in all that we do. Thank you to the International Association of Fire Chiefs and Volunteer Firemen's Insurance Services for taking the time to recognize our commitment to safety, health and wellness.”

Over the past five years, the Department has made major strides to shift the focus towards safety first. Under the leadership of Fire/EMS Chief William Goddard, comprehensive safety programs are currently being delivered to all personnel and are required training for all new personnel within HCDFRS. The department has also made a conscious effort to enhance safety measures internally with the creation of a bureau that solely oversees Health, Wellness, and Safety initiatives and polices.

“Here in the department, we start each day with a safety message because we are passionate about the safety, health and wellness of our members,” said Fire/EMS Chief William Goddard. “From our officers to our firefighters, we have fully integrated the necessary training and resources to ensure that everyone goes home at the end of every shift.”

Strategic partnerships have been another component of the Department’s commitment to safety. By working with Johns Hopkins University Medical Center, personnel participated in a NFFF grant funded study cardiovascular study to research cardiovascular disease in operational firefighters. Personnel have also participated in the Carotid Intima Media Thickness (cIMT) Program in order to identify, treat, and prevent cardiovascular diseases. Noticing the correlation between cardiovascular health and exercise, the Department now mandates that all new firefighters and paramedics must pass an annual fitness test based national standards.

The following are additional programs that have been developed and are currently operational within the department:

1. Smoking Cessation and Prohibition Program: Starting in 2013, all new employees must sign a “do not use tobacco products” condition of employment commitment.

2. Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Program: This progressive program provides critical wellness services for emergency responders within the region, after traumatic incidents.

3. Shift Safety Officers and Battalion Chief Aides: The addition of dedicated personnel to both the Shift Safety Officer and Battalion Aide positions not only enhances safety procedures during emergency incidents, but also increases safety for citizens.

4. Annual National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) Physical Fitness Examinations for Volunteer Firefighters: This program is based on NFPA 1582 standards and provides a strong foundation to ensuring that individuals are medically qualified to perform the essential functions of a firefighter or EMS provider.

5. Blue Card ICS Training Program: This command safety program is being required for all officers within the department and will provide a strong foundation for safe operations involving command and control on the emergency scenes.

6. NFFF Leadership, Accountability, Courage and Knowledge Training for all Officers: This program is a mandatory requirement for all career and volunteer personnel and remains a staple within our education and training programs.

7. “Courage to Be Safe” - Everyone Goes Home Program: This mandatory safety program was delivered by the NFFF instructors to all departmental personnel and is still part of the required training for all personnel.

MedicAlert Foundation to Honor Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services with the Excellence in Fire Service-Based EMS Award

MedicAlert Foundation to Honor Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services with the Excellence in Fire Service-Based EMS Award

Elkridge, MD - MedicAlert Foundation and the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) will recognize Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) for their recent innovations in emergency medical services (EMS). Bill Webb, Executive Director of CFSI, and Andrew Wigglesworth, Chief Executive Officer and President of MedicAlert Foundation, will be presenting the Fire Service-Based EMS Award to County Executive Ken Ulman and Fire/EMS Chief William Goddard.

HCDFRS is being recognized for four distinguishing innovations that have improved cardiac care response times and have minimized cardiac emergencies among local residents and patients. Among the most notable accomplishments is the department's development of a Community Hands-Only CPR program. The program is a success because of the efforts taken to establish partnerships with local organizations like the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS). Through the partnership, the department recently purchased manikins for local schools and has provided “train-the-trainer” instruction for teachers to train all students. This program has now been mandated into school curriculum for Howard County and serves as a graduation requirement for both 6th and 9th graders. The students will demonstrate what they have learned during this event.

When:Thursday, June 5th 12:00pm

Where:Mayfield Woods Middle School 7950 Red Barn Way Elkridge, MD 21075

Who:Ken Ulman, County Executive
Courtney Watson, County Councilwoman (District 1)

William Goddard, Fire/EMS Chief
Kevin Seaman, HCDFRS Medical Director

Frank Eastham, HCPSS Executive Director of School Improvement and Administration

Why:To celebrate Howard County’s excellence in EMS through innovative partnerships like the hands-only CPR program which is now taught to all 6th & 8th grade students.

During the event, students will demonstrate the hands-only CPR program that is now being taught to every student is Howard County. HCDFRS is also implementing a new program where they will be placing automated external defibrillators (AED) on school campuses as an addition to receiving the EMS Innovations award. These innovations are a first in the state of Maryland and will serve as a model going forward, as the new state law takes effect that requires all 9th & 12th grade students in Maryland to learn CPR.

Department to Receive Prestigious Congressional Institute Award of Excellence

Columbia, MD - The Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) will present Howard County Department of Fire & Rescue Services (HCDFRS) with the Excellence in Fire Service-Based EMS Award for implementing several unique practices that enhance the delivery of Emergency Medical Services (EMS). CFSI recognizes best practices in EMS by Fire Departments across the United States that will encourage other Departments to consider similar practices for improving their Fire Service-Based EMS system. The award will be presented to Fire/EMS Chief William Goddard III at the 26th Annual National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner held in Washington, DC on Thursday, May 1.

“We’ve made significant commitments during the past eight years to use the latest technology and medical techniques to drive down response times and improve the survival rates of cardiac patients,” said County Executive Ken Ulman."These innovations continue to serve and protect our community.HCDFRS has become a model for EMS organizations across the country. We commend all members of the Department for their efforts and congratulate them for earning this award.”

The CFSI Excellence in Fire Service-Based EMS Award is considered to be the most prestigious award presented to a Fire or EMS Department. This award is presented to departments that have improved EMS delivery to the residents of the community. HCDFRS has adopted multiple unique practices that have improved patient quality of life and survival in the community, building upon a long history of excellent EMS performance.

“This award reflects our dedication to educating, protecting, and serving the citizens of Howard County,” said Fire/EMS Chief Goddard. ”Our goal is to expand upon this commitment and to further national collaborations that champion cardiac arrest survival programs and techniques."

The Department will be honored for implementing several initiatives, including life-saving advanced care for STEMI (myocardial infarction or heart attack) patients, increased cardiac arrest survival rates within the county by partnering with Howard County General Hospital, improved neurological survival for patients experiencing out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest, development of a community hands-only CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) program, as well as state, regional, and national outreach initiatives.

About the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI)

Established in 1989 as a nonprofit organization, CFSI is designed to educate members of Congress about the needs and challenges of the nation's fire and emergency services so the federal government provides the types of training and funding needed by our first responders. For more information please visit www.cfsi.org.

Howard County’s Medical Director Selected as one of the Top 10 EMS Innovators in the Nation

Columbia, MD - Dr. Kevin Seaman, Medical Director of Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) has been selected as an innovator in Emergency Medical Services (EMS).Dr. Seaman will be recognized as one of the EMS 10: Innovators in EMS 2013 at the EMS Today Conference scheduled for February 5 – 8, 2014 in Washington, D.C.

“Excellence in innovation is something we strive for here in the county, and I applaud Dr. Seaman, along with the rest of the county’s firefighters and paramedics for their efforts,” said County Executive Ken Ulman. “These award recipients are coming up with the ideas that are moving the EMS profession forward, not just in Howard County, but in other jurisdictions as well.”

The EMS 10 program is sponsored by Physio Control and the Journal of Emergency Medical Services (JEMS); it recognizes ten EMS providers who have introduced significant innovations in the field in the past year. Dr. Seaman was selected for his efforts involving improved response, survival rates and care for sudden cardiac arrest patients. This has made Howard County one of the leading jurisdictions in the resuscitation of cardiac arrest victims. Dr. Seaman has also worked diligently to raise awareness with regards to how the community can assist those in need of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) before first responders arrive. Through community education and revising dispatch instructions and protocols, Dr. Seaman has championed HCDFRS’ comprehensive cardiac arrest survival campaign.

“I am very honored to have been selected for this program,” said Dr. Kevin Seaman. “It has been a team effort, and I think it’s really good to be able to share our ideas with other providers and jurisdictions. I think a lot of them are going to learn from what we’ve done here and hopefully take it back and improve the care where they are.”

During the conference, Dr. Seaman and EMS Captain Dale Becker will also be presenting information on the department’s successful Video Laryngoscope (Glidescope) Program, which has improved the way breathing tubes are inserted for critical patients, and showcasing the department’s High Performance CPR Program. The two were selected to speak out of over 580 submissions.

For additional information about the EMS Today Conference visit http://www.emstoday.com.

Canterbury Riding 2-Alarm Townhouse Fire

North Laurel, MD- At around 5:15 am this morning, units from the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS), and the Anne Arundel, Prince George's and Montgomery county fire departments were alerted for an end-of-the-row townhouse fire. They arrived to find heavy fire conditions and initiated an interior fire attack. They also searched the house, where they found and removed one elderly female patient who was transported to Laurel Regional Hospital in serious condition. There was light smoke damage to the interior of the adjacent townhouse. The fire was placed under control around 6am. There were no fire department injuries. A damage estimate is not available at this time. Currently, the fire is still under investigation by HCDFRS in conjunction with the Howard County Police Department. Please feel free to contact Firefighter/On-call PIO Cerisa Speight with additional questions at 410-313-6039.

Howard County First Responders Honored for their Response during the Navy Yard Shooting

Marriottsville, MD- The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) recently honored members of the Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team for their actions on September 16, 2013 during the Navy Yard Shooting that took place in Washington D.C. The ceremony was held Wednesday, January 8th in conjunction with the Howard County Police Department (HCPD), the Naval District of Washington’s Fire & EMS Department, Police Department and the Emergency Management & Dispatch Center.

"The events that took place at the Navy Yard were a tragedy that our country has become all too familiar with in recent years," said County Executive Ken Ulman."Our team of first responders was there providing the necessary counseling and intervention for those personnel who initially responded to the shooting.Their support aided the recovery and healing of our community and our nation."

The team that deployed was comprised of 11 personnel to include firefighters, paramedics, police officers, 911 dispatchers, behavioral health professionals and clergy. On September 16th, the request came following an “active shooter” incident that occurred at the Washington Navy Yard earlier that morning. The Navy Yard of Washington’s Fire & EMS commanders determined that multiple crews and departments had exposure to this traumatic event and required CISM services. Those that responded from Howard County were awarded a unit citation for providing stress intervention and counseling during those critical first hours after the shooting and in the days that followed.

“As first responders, crisis scenarios are part of the job,” said Fire/EMS Chief William Goddard.“But taking care of our own is equally important. It means a lot to us to have served the Navy Yard’s first responders in that way. We gave them the support they needed to decompress and fully process what they encountered.”

The Howard County CISM team was formed in the mid-1980’s and is comprised of 15 members. These members provide one-on-one crisis interventions, grief counseling, psychological support, group sessions and countless hours of support for first responders and the families of first responders. In the past, this team has responded after the Ellicott City Train Derailment, Hurricane Andrew and flooding in the Midwest.

To view pictures of the event, check out our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/hcdfrs