2015 Fire Press Release Archive
HCDFRS to Evaluate Additional Ambulance in Columbia

Ellicott City, MD – The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) will begin a trial implementation of a “peak load” ambulance, starting January 4, 2016. The purpose of the trial is to evaluate expected improvements in the availability of ambulances in the more densely populated areas of the County, primarily Columbia.

“Ensuring that all residents of Howard County are safe is a top priority,” said County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “Utilizing this additional ambulance may get first responders to an emergency faster, which ultimately helps improve outcomes and saves lives.”

The additional ambulance will be deployed Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., which covers much of the peak hours and historically reflects the period when HCDFRS sees a higher number of calls for emergency medical services (EMS). Hours may be adjusted due to call volume, weather related incidents or special event needs for additional EMS transport vehicles. The ambulance will respond to incidents primarily out of the Banneker fire station in downtown Columbia.

“Providing exceptional EMS care to all of Howard County is vital,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler. “Emergency Medical Services make up a majority of the call for services that HCDFRS responds to. By placing this additional ambulance in service during the peak load hours, we are responding to the increasing EMS needs of the community. We suspect that this initiative will cause a positive ‘ripple effect’ and create increased availability of the current ambulance fleet throughout the County, not just in Columbia.”

During this trial period, HCDFRS will evaluate the impact of the additional ambulance and its effect in the community and on the department’s EMS deployment strategy.

For additional information, call the HCDFRS Public Information Office at 410-313-6039 or visit www.hcdfrs.org.


HCDFRS and Howard Community College to Mark New Partnership and Degree with Signing Ceremony

The science of firefighting is evolving, and the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) wants firefighters and paramedics prepared to protect the community and lead its workforce. HCDFRS has partnered with Howard Community College (HCC) to develop a brand-new academic program that offers an affordable and accessible pathway to an associate degree in fire science and leadership

Starting in 2016, higher levels of education will be required for HCDFRS promotion and advancement. Through the new HCC partnership, firefighters and paramedics can receive credit for their departmental certification courses and take additional core academic courses at HCC.

Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman, HCC President Kathleen Hetherington, and Fire Chief John S. Butler will participate in a ceremonial signing of the memorandum of understanding between Howard County, HCC, and the HCDFRS. The event will take place immediately following the first program information session, which is open to interested firefighters and paramedics. Additional information sessions will be held throughout the month.

WHAT: Announce a new degree program for firefighters and paramedics

WHEN: Monday, December 7, 2015at 10 A.M.

Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center Lobby
10901 Little Patuxent Parkway
Columbia, MD 21044

WHO: Executive Allan H. Kittleman, Howard County Government
President Kathleen Hetherington, HCC
Fire Chief John S. Butler, HCDFRS

# # #

Working House Fire in Columbia

At 2:15 PM on Saturday, November 28, 2015, firefighters and paramedics from the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) were alerted by neighbors of a house fire in the 5500 block of Eaglebeak Row in the Long Reach Village of Columbia, Maryland.Neighbors called 911 to report a fire on the deck at the rear of the structure.Crews arrived to find heavy fire on the rear of this 2-story single family home, and they began an aggressive attack on the fire from both the interior and exterior.

More than 30 firefighters from HCDFRS are currently working to extinguish the blaze – which includes significant damage to the rear of the structure as well as extension into the basement and first floor of the house.Firefighters will be on site for an extended period of time for overhaul and to ensure the fire is completely extinguished.

There have been no civilian or fire department injuries.

HCDFRS fire investigators are en route to begin their investigation to determine the origin and cause of the blaze.

Howard County Smart Phone App Press Conference

Ellicott City, MD- The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) will hold a press conference on Wednesday, October 28, 2015, at 10:00 AM to introduce a new smartphone app designed to help save more lives from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). This PulsePoint app empowers everyday people to provide life-saving assistance to SCA victims. Members of the community who are trained in CPR, and are willing to assist in case of an emergency, can now be notified through an app, if someone nearby is having a cardiac emergency and may require CPR. If the cardiac emergency is in a public place, the app will alert trained community members in the vicinity of the need for bystander CPR. This will happen at the same time advanced medical care is dispatched. The app also uses maps to direct these community rescuers to the exact location of the closest publicly accessible Automated External Defibrillator or AED. Often nearby AEDs are not used when they could have made a difference. PulsePoint addresses this by informing bystanders where the nearest AED is located – in real-time and in context of their current location. Howard County will be the first jurisdiction in the state of Maryland to launch this app. During the launch, members of the community will be trained in CPR.

Launch of a new life-saving smartphone app called PulsePoint

WHEN: Wednesday, October 28, 2015, 10:00 AM

WHO: Allan H. Kittleman, County Executive
John S. Butler, Fire Chief
Dr. Matthew Levy, HCDFRS Medical Director
Dr. Kevin Seaman, MIEMSS

Marc Crumback, Bystander who helped save a life by performing CPR

Mike Greenhill, Survivor of sudden cardiac arrest

WHERE: Roger Carter Community Center

3000 Milltowne Drive

Ellicott City, MD 21043

Members of the media planning to cover the press conference can contact the Public Information Office at 410-313-6039.

For more information about the app and PulsePoint: www.pulsepoint.org.

Howard County Launches New Smartphone App to Alert CPR Trained Bystanders of Sudden Cardiac Arrest Incidents

Ellicott City, MD - The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) today introduced a new smartphone app designed to empower everyday citizens to provide life-saving assistance to victims of sudden cardiac arrest. Anyone trained in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), and willing to assist in the event of such an emergency, can now be notified through an app if someone nearby is having a cardiac emergency and may require CPR. If the cardiac emergency is in a public place, the PulsePoint app will alert trained citizens in the vicinity of the need for bystander CPR. This will happen at the same time advanced medical care is dispatched by the 911 Communications Center.

“Because sudden cardiac arrest can affect anyone and is a time-critical situation where every minute counts, we make it a priority to provide free Hands Only CPR training to residents of Howard County,” said County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “More than 35,000 people have been trained in the County. Now, with the PulsePoint app, anyone trained in CPR will have the ability to put their training to use to help save lives. Our hope is that people will join us in the effort to increase chances for survival by providing CPR as soon as possible.”

The app also uses maps to direct these citizen rescuers to the exact location of the closest publicly accessible Automated External Defibrillator or AED. Often people don’t realize an AED is nearby and these devices often go unused when they could have made a difference. PulsePoint addresses this by informing bystanders where the nearest AED is located – in real-time and in context of their current location. Howard County will be the first jurisdiction in the state of Maryland to launch this app. During the launch, members of the community were also trained in hands-only.

“We see it all the time, citizens are often the first responders to these incidents,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler. “With the launch of this app, we want to drive the message home that absolutely everyone should be trained to do hands-only CPR because it can happen anywhere at any time. It could be a neighbor, coworker, family member or friend whose life you will save.”

Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for an estimated 325,000 deaths each year or 1,000 deaths per day. The American Heart Association estimates that effective bystander CPR, provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person’s chance of survival. However, only about one quarter of sudden cardiac arrest victims receive bystander CPR and even fewer receive a potentially lifesaving therapeutic shock from a public access AED. Improving bystander CPR rates and access to AEDs is critical to improving chances for survival.

Fire Chief John S. Butler Appointed to Governor’s Emergency Management Advisory Committee

Columbia, MD- Governor Larry Hogan has appointed Howard County Fire Chief John S. Butler to serve as a member of the Governor's Emergency Management Advisory Committee (GEMAC).The GEMAC serves as an independent advisory body and advises the governor on all matters that relate to emergency management for Maryland.The GEMAC brings together local, state, and private sector experts and stakeholders to discuss and develop specific recommendations for further study or investigation by emergency management officials.

”Governor Hogan’s appointment of Chief Butler to this committee is another example of how Howard County's talented leaders are often tapped for their expertise,” said County Executive Allan H. Kittleman.“Chief Butler has important insight and experience from Howard County that he will be sharing with this multi-disciplinary panel, and I know he will bring back more great ideas from this committee”.

"This is a great opportunity to share what we have developed in Howard County with the support of County Executive Kittleman who is committed to incorporating not just Fire and Rescue, but all County departments into the overall Emergency Management program," said Fire Chief John S. Butler.

"Chief Butler will be a fantastic ambassador for Howard County to the GEMAC where the future of emergency management in Maryland is being shaped.The Office of Emergency Management is excited to have his influence at the state level," said Howard County Emergency Management Director Ryan Miller.

The first GEMAC meeting under Governor Hogan will be held tomorrow November 4th at the Maryland Emergency Management Agency in Reisterstown.

Celebrate Fire Prevention Week with Fire and Rescue Services

Columbia, MD- Fire Prevention Week is almost here, and from October 4th – 10th, the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) will join the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) to remind residents to “Hear the Beep Where You Sleep,” encouraging working smoke alarms in every bedroom. In conjunction with the Mall in Columbia, HCDFRS will also hold their first annual Fire Prevention Week event on Saturday, October 10th from 12pm – 2pm, located in the lower Sears parking lot.

“You simply cannot overstate the importance of having working smoke alarms in your homes. They save lives,” said County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “We know that the risk of dying in a home fire is reduced significantly in homes with working smoke alarms. Get a smoke alarm, install it, and make sure it’s in working order by checking it once a month.”

The event will feature apparatus displays, CPR training, smoke alarm safety information, activities for kids, and a dramatic live fire demonstration in an enclosed unit. This live burn will raise awareness about home fire safety and show how quickly a fire can spread.

“Partnering with the staff from community landmarks such as The Mall in Columbia is an excellent asset and allows the department to spread safety awareness, especially fire prevention measures,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler. “Smoke alarms save lives every single day, but only when installed and tested properly. We hope that this event will encourage everyone in Howard County to check their smoke alarms not only during Fire Prevention Week, but throughout the year.”

According to the NFPA, having a working smoke alarm cuts the chances of dying in a reported fire in half. Almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. The NFPA also recommends smoke alarms inside every bedroom, outside of every sleeping area, and on every level of the home, including the basement.

“The Mall in Columbia continually strives to be a true community partner. We are proud to be part of this year's Fire Prevention Week and we continue to support Howard County Fire and Rescue Services mission of educating, protecting, and serving our citizens,” said Ashley Venable, senior general manager, The Mall in Columbia. “The first responders who work hard 24 hours a day, 365 days a year are true examples of commitment and dedication. We thank them for all they do to keep us safe.”

For more information please visit www.Facebook.com/HCDFRS or www.Twitter.com/HCDFRS. Join the conversation using #FPW2015.

UPDATE: Firefighters Battle 3-Alarm Residential Fire in Columbia

Columbia, MD- At approximately 7:15 pm on September 23, 2015, over 100 fire and EMS crews from the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS), as well as mutual aid units from Montgomery, Anne Arundel, and Baltimore Counties responded to the 12200 block of Sleepy Horse Lane in Columbia for a reported house fire with explosion. Initial units arrived on scene and found a middle-of-the-group townhouse on fire with extensive structural damage. They also found fire in three additional units.

A resident of the townhome block called Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) for a reported smell of gas odor. A BGE technician arrived and began his investigation at the caller’s townhome.After finding low levels of gas, the technician proceeded to the adjacent townhouse.The technician noticed what appeared to be a damaged gas assembly and a high level of gas in the garage of the adjacent townhouse.The BGE technician immediately began to warn surrounding residents to evacuate their homes and shut down the main gas feed to the townhouse.A short time later the gas explosion and fire occurred

There were no residents inside the home at the time of the explosion. The BGE employee sustained injuries, was transported in to Johns Hopkins Bayview for treatment and was released. Another civilian patient was transported with smoke inhalation. Multiple neighborhood residents were evaluated for smoke inhalation, but refused transportation to a hospital. HCDFRS received assistance from BGE, the Red Cross and the Department of Inspections and Licensing. The fire was placed under control at around 10:50 pm. Currently, multiple residences are still being evaluated for structural stability. At least six units are expected to be posted as uninhabitable.

Damages are estimated at approximately two million dollars.

If you detect gas, HCDFRS encourages residents to leave the residence at once. Call 9-1-1 immediately and then call BGE at 1-800-685-0123. BGE would also like to remind residents to do the following if a gas leak is detected:

  • Extinguish all open flames. Do not use matches or lighters and do not attempt to light an appliance.
  • Do not use any phones, electric switches, thermostats, or appliance controls. All of these devices, including battery operated equipment, can cause sparks and ignite natural gas.
  • Do not start or turn off vehicles or motorized equipment you may be operating.
  • Do not attempt to find the source of the leak or to repair a leak.
  • When you call, BGE will respond promptly to survey the area
  • Public Safety Officials Gather for Second Regional Safety Symposium

    Marriottsville, MD- The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) is thrilled to announce the second annual regional Safety Symposium. The one-day event will focus on ways to diminish hazards that emergency responders encounter during incidents. The symposium is also aimed at creating a dialogue to further the health and wellness of personnel. This year, HCDFRS is partnering with Howard County Risk Management and the Howard County Police Department. The event will take place November 3, 2015, at the James N. Robey Public Safety Training Center in Marriottsville, MD.

    “While eliminating all risks in the workplace is a challenging task, we as a county remain committed to providing educational opportunities like this one to help us better protect our personnel from workplace dangers whenever possible,” said Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “Thank you to all who planned this important event. Together we can ensure our personnel are prepared and protected.”

    The event will showcase Gordon Graham, a 33 year veteran of California Law Enforcement, with an extensive background in providing education on Risk Management practices. Topics will include “The Ten Families of Risk”, “Organizational Risk Management”, and the “5 Concurrent Themes for Success.” These subjects will better prepare attendees to recognize risk and how to proactively address potential hazards in order to reduce them.

    “This symposium puts the emphasis on safety, and that’s our number one priority here in Howard County,” said Fire Chief John Butler. “We are constantly searching for resources that will minimize risks during our daily operations, and this event is a powerful opportunity not only for our members, but for the community as a whole.”

    The symposium will also highlight best practices from various agencies across the region. These beneficial presentations will serve to spark discussions among departments, such as sharing lessons learned, and the most effective ways to improve the safety of first responders based on prior experiences.

    “We are honored to be partnering with the Department of Fire and Rescue Services in hosting this year's Safety Symposium and look forward to sharing best practices with our colleagues in the region,” said Police Chief Gary Gardner. “Managing risk, preventing accidents and decreasing injuries are top priorities for our agency.We are pleased to be a part of an important discussion that will ensure we continue to place an emphasis on safety so we can best serve the citizens of Howard County.”

    For additional information please vhttp://www.hcdfrs.net/register-2015/. Please join the conversation on our social media channels using #SafetyForLife on www.facebook.com/HCDFRS and www.twitter.com/HCDFRS.

    Department Sends EMS Equipment to Aid during Papal Visit

    Columbia, MD- In anticipation of Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia, the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) is providing emergency medical services (EMS) equipment to assist with the large crowds expected to turnout. At the request of Narberth Ambulance, HCDFRS is sending four cardiac monitoring devices to meet the need. HCDFRS is providing this equipment on loan with the support of County Executive Allan H. Kittleman.

    “Large scale events like the Papal Visit require the sharing of critical assets, extraordinary regional cooperation and mutual aid,” said County Executive Allan H. Kittleman.“With thousands expected to be in attendance, we wanted to support the efforts of our neighbors and do what we can to assist.”

    HCDFRS will provide four LIFEPAK monitors which are equipped with automated and manual defibrillations along with functions to monitor vitals and other cardiac symptoms. The LIFEPAK monitor is extremely beneficial when responding to cardiac arrests and enhances the level of care that emergency service technicians and paramedics can provide. Although the ambulances that Narberth Ambulance owns are fully stocked with LIFEPAK monitors, they need loaners to provide standby coverage to the additional townships that border the Pope’s motorcade and parade routes. The temporary loan of this equipment will not impact operations here in Howard County.

    “When large crowds gather, it creates additional challenges for first responders, especially as we respond to medical incidents,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler. “Having the right supply of equipment can literally make the difference in the chances of survival so we wanted to make sure that Narberth had everything they needed to meet the demand.”

    In addition to providing supplies and support during past Papal visits and Presidential inaugurations, HCDFRS has also answered the call and provided assistance during man-made and natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Isabel, Topical Storm Sandy, the LaPlata Tornado and the 2011 North Carolina Tornado.

    Howard County DFRS to participate in the 2015 9/11 Prince George’s County Memorial Stair Climb

    Columbia, MD- Our team of HCDFRS stair climbers will honor the 343 fire service brothers and sisters who selflessly gave their lives on September 11, 2001. HCDFRS will join others across the United States who will convene in high-rise buildings to climb 110 stories as a tribute to our fallen comrades. Each participant will be climbing and carrying a picture with the name of a fellow firefighter that was lost on September 11th. They do so to finish the job they started, and at the completion of their climb, they will release the balloon and watch them disappear out of site symbolizing the completion of their final journey.

    HCDFRS members will be leaving from 6751 Columbia Gateway Drive in Columbia, and will then travel to Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, 201 Waterfront Street, National Harbor, Maryland at approximately 6:00am on Saturday, September 12, 2015. The 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb is not a race, but an opportunity to honor, remember, show respect and compassion, and to help restore hope and promote healing to the victims, family, friends, and neighbors of all those who paid that ultimate sacrifice on that unforgettable day. For more information please visit http://bit.ly/1NPXjsj.

    WHAT: 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb

    WHEN: Saturday, September 12, 2015- 6:00am

    WHERE:Transportation from HCDFRS Headquarters

    6751 Columbia Gateway Drive

    Columbia, MD 21046

    Traveling to Gaylord National Resort and Conference Center

    201 Waterfront Street

    National Harbor, MD 20745

    WHY:To honor the 343 fire service brothers and sisters lost on 9/11.

    In addition to the Memorial Stair Climb, HCDFRS will also participate in the Garden of Hope wreath-laying service on September 11th, 2015, located at Centennial Park in Ellicott City, MD. There will also be a “Ringing of the Bell” ceremony to commemorate the moment the towers were struck, and a special radio message sent to all field personnel to honor those who were lost in the attacks. The Honor Guard will also be participating in a combined effort to pay homage at Oriole Park Camden Yards on September 11th.

    Firefighters Battle 3 Alarm Condo

    Columbia, MD- At approximately 11:45am on Sunday, September 6, 2015, firefighters and paramedics from the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) were dispatched for a fire at a multi-family condominium complex in the 5800 block of Wyndham Way in Columbia. The complex is located immediately adjacent to the Banneker fire station in Town Center, and crews were on scene almost immediately after dispatch. First arriving units identified heavy fire coming from the 3rd floor of the structure, and the company officer requested a second alarm. Crews worked quickly to extinguish the fire, but there was extensive damage to as many as 12 units as a result of the blaze. The fire alarm system notified residents of the need to evacuate the structure, and the property’s sprinkler system activated as designed. A 3rd alarm was requested at 12:24 PM. At the height of the event, more than 75 firefighters were on scene.

    At this time, there have been two minor injuries to residents, and one firefighter received minor burns while extinguishing the blaze.

    The fire was declared under control at about 1:00 PM and declared out at approximately 3:00 PM.

    The fire remains under investigation, and damage estimates are pending.

    The American Red Cross has been requested to assist displaced residents, and HCFDRS’ senior chaplain is on location providing assistance to residents as needed.

    Department Receives Grant for 400 New Smoke Alarms

    Columbia, MD —The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) has been awardeda $4,969 fire prevention grant from FM Global, one of the world’s largest commercial property insurers. FM Global representatives will present the grant to Fire Chief John S. Butler at the Savage Fire Station next Tuesday, August 18th at 10:00am. The grant will be used to purchase approximately 400 smoke alarms to assist with a new outreach initiative called Project S.A.F.E which stands for Smoke Alarms for Everyone.

    “We are grateful for FM Global’s donation, as we continue our work to ensure that everyone in the community has a working smoke alarm, regardless of their financial situation,” said County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “Smoke alarms do save lives; we’ve seen that again and again. When they are placed on every level in the home, they save both lives and property.”

    Because fire continues to be the leading cause of property damage worldwide, during the past 35 years, FM Global has contributed millions of dollars in fire prevention grants to fire service organizations around the globe. Locally, the company has awarded grants to a number of Maryland-based organizations to support initiatives like HCDFRS’ Project S.A.F.E. program.

    “The Project S.A.F.E. program started on the ground-level where a group of firefighters got together during an officer training project and came up with the idea,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler. “Since the inception, smoke alarms have been installed and smoke alarm education has been disseminated to residents on incident calls and while canvassing neighborhoods. We plan to use the generous donation from FM Global to further this work.”

    Through its Fire Prevention Grant Program, FM Global awards grants quarterly to fire departments—as well as national, state, regional, local and community organizations worldwide—that best demonstrate a need for funding, where dollars can have the most demonstrable impact on preventing fire, or mitigating the damage it can quickly cause.

    “At FM Global, we strongly believe the majority of property damage is preventable, not inevitable,” said Michael Spaziani, manager of the fire prevention grant program. “Far too often, inadequate budgets prevent those organizations working to prevent fire from being as proactive as they would like to be. With additional financial support, grant recipients are actively helping to improve property risk in the communities they serve.”

    To learn more about FM Global’s Fire Prevention Grant Program, please visit www.fmglobal.com/grants.