2016 Press Releases
Three Fires in Howard County in Less Than Twelve Hours

COLUMBIA, MD – The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) responded to three fires on Sunday, December 11, 2016. Two of the fires were cooking-related, while one was linked to improper ash disposal. HCDFRS urges residents to stay safe and diligent especially during the winter months.

Units responded to a report of a structure fire in the 5500 block of Landing Road in Elkridge at approximately 1:00pm. A shed was fully engulfed, located very close to the main house. As discovered by the Office of the Fire Marshal, the cause was improperly discarded ashes from a fire pit. All occupants were able to evacuate the building and there were no injuries.

The second fire occurred around 2:00pm in the 7000 block of Ducketts Lane in Elkridge. HCDFRS arrived to find burned food on the stove with the fire controlled by the sprinkler system. One civilian suffered burns to the hands and arms and was transported to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center for treatment.

At approximately 9:00pm, firefighters and paramedics arrived in the 5300 block of Dorsey Hall Drive for a report of an odor of burnt food and a smoke alarm sounding. After forcing the door open to the residence, an unresponsive patient was found and was quickly moved to fresh air. Upon investigation, food was found on the stove that caught on fire. The patient was transported to Howard County General Hospital for smoke inhalation.

“Our responders are here to keep Howard County safe, but risk reduction starts with the community,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler. “We encourage residents to install smoke alarms and test them monthly. Be sure to create and practice a family escape plan frequently.”

The department urges residents to heed the following safety tips:

-       Never leave food unattended while cooking. Stay in the kitchen to keep an eye on your food. Keep combustibles such as utensils, towels and potholders away from the stove.

-       Dispose of ashes properly. Wait several days before moving cooled ashes. Place them in a metal container with a lid outside and at least ten feet from any structure.

-       Have your chimney cleaned and inspected once a year by a licensed professional.

-       Turn off space heaters before going to sleep. Keep them at least three feet away from combustibles.

-       Consider having home fire sprinklers installed.

-       Test smoke alarms monthly.

-       If there is a fire in your home, get out, stay out, and call 911.

For additional information, please call the media line: 410-313-6039. Additional safety tips can be found at www.facebook.com/hcdfrs and www.twitter.com/hcdfrs.


Department Receives Grant to Help Develop a Mobile Integrated Health - Community Paramedicine Program

Columbia, MD – The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) recently received a $10,000 seed grant from the Horizon Foundation to begin planning a mobile integrated health program. The grant, part of the Horizon Foundation’s commitment to improving health and wellness in Howard County, will allow HCDFRS to plan and evaluate potential Mobile Integrated Health – Community Paramedicine (MIH-CP) interventions that will help reduce operational strain on emergency care resources and improve care for patients with complex medical conditions.

MIH-CP is an evolving discipline within the field of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) that focuses on providing non-emergent services by identifying patients whose needs are best met though better access to non-emergency care. Emergency calls to the 911 Center may involve patients with chronic diseases who require help managing an ongoing medical condition. Traditionally, on a national scale, paramedics could do little for these patients beyond transporting them to the hospital. With the introduction of MIH-CP, the department will continue its partnerships with hospitals, primary care physicians, mental health providers, and county agencies to administer this innovative program that navigates patients to the right level of care.

“Working with partners throughout our community, including the Howard County Health Department and Howard County General Hospital, HCDFRS is excited to develop an MIH-CP program plan,” said Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “Thanks to the Horizon Foundation for its support of this initiative and its dedication to the health of the residents of Howard County.”

While MIH-CP programs may vary in their specific interventions, these programs tend to share a similar common goal to lower costs, improve the lives of patients, and enable EMS to use their skills and resources to help solve the problems facing healthcare systems and communities.

“Programs such as MIH-CP can help decrease operational strain on our emergency care resources, while at the same time improve the care for patients with chronic and complex medical and behavioral health conditions,” said Medical Director Dr. Matthew Levy. “We look forward to working with our partner agencies across Howard County to develop an MIH-CP program plan intended to meet the unique needs of those who reside, work, and visit Howard County.”

“Dr. Levy and his team continue to work with regional associates to identify creative ways to serve our county,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler. “I am excited to see the positive impact of this new initiative.”

The MIH-CP program will be data-driven, patient-centered, and will be a collaborative effort between the Howard County community and key stakeholders. For additional information, please call the media line: 410-313-6039.


Early Morning Fire in West Friendship

West Friendship, MD- Shortly after 6:00 a.m. on November 20, 2016, firefighters and paramedics from the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS), were alerted by a passerby of a structure on fire in the area of the 12900 block of Livestock Road, West Friendship. 

Initial crews arrived and reported a two-story wood frame building fully involved and additional HCDFRS units as well as units from Carroll County and Sykesville were requested.  The building is the Willow Springs Golf Course clubhouse and was unoccupied.  The building appears to be a total loss.

There have been no civilian or fire department injuries.  HCDFRS fire investigators are on scene and working to determine the origin and cause of the blaze.


St. Florian’s Brigade - First Affiliate of iWomen in the Nation

Columbia, MD- Members of the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) announced today the creation of the St. Florian’s Brigade.  The St. Florian’s Brigade is focused on supporting and facilitating the participation of women in fire and emergency services.  Although women in the fire and emergency services are the centerpiece of the Brigade, membership is open to all members of the department. 

“I fully support, and plan to meet, and confer with the Brigade,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler.  “I am tremendously proud of the grassroots effort to ensure that career, volunteers, and civilian members have a forum to express shared interests and common goals.”

St. Florian’s Brigade is the first local affiliate of iWomen (International Association of Women in Fire and Emergency Services) in the nation.  St. Florian’s grew from a special interest group in the Department known as the Women’s Issues Committee that was started in 1992.  The committee worked with the department administration to implement policy changes in uniform and protective gear sizing for women, maternity and paternity leave, lactation accommodation, station bathroom design, and personnel issues.

 “The benefits this committee offers will improve the welfare of our employees, volunteers and our community,” said County Executive Allan H. Kittleman.  “Howard County leads once again with its support for the nation’s first local affiliate of the International Association of Women in Fire and Emergency Services.”

St. Florian’s is focused on supporting our members through educational opportunities – conferences and networking, continuing to work with the department regarding policy changes and implementation, being a local and National advocate for women in fire and emergency services and supporting our members as they strive to achieve their personal fire service goals.

"This group is the first of its kind in the entire country” said President Christine Uhlhorn and Vice President Amy Breznak of St. Florian’s Brigade.  “We, as the executive leadership, couldn't be more proud or ready to help our members to achieve everything they aim for, along with sharing the message of women in fire and rescue services with future generations."

St. Florian’s will be involved in the community through adopting a family for Thanksgiving and Christmas and hosting two-day camps (1st Alarm Girls Fire Camp) for girls aged 10-14 possibly in the summer of 2017.  In working with the department, St. Florian’s Brigade may offer a mentorship program to newly graduated female recruits from the fire training academy and volunteer training programs, support our members as they strive to get promoted, included, mentored, and assist/support with any related issues.

You can follow St. Florian’s Brigade on Instagram @st.floriansbrigade and like them on Facebook @St. Florian’s Brigade.

For more information, please contact the Public Information Office at 410-313-6039.


New Tower and Ambulance Dedicated to Honor United States Armed Forces and Veterans

Marriottsville, MD- The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) will hold a dedication ceremony and photo shoot on November 10, 2016 at 8:00 AM at the James N. Robey Public Safety Training Center to formally introduce the department’s two newest pieces of apparatus. Tower 2 and Paramedic 25, housed at Station 2 in Ellicott City, feature a patriotic paint scheme honoring United States active military personnel and veterans.

“It is always important to acknowledge the debt we owe and the admiration we feel for those who serve in our country’s military forces,” said County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “These dramatic new additions to our Fire and Rescue fleet will not only help save lives, but show our respect for the women and men who help keep us safe.” 

Paramedic 25 is a 2016 Dodge 5500/Horton 4x4. It has a Cummins diesel motor and liquid spring suspension. Tower 2 is a 2016 E-One Cyclone II Extreme Duty cab and chassis with a 95 foot rear mount tower ladder. It also holds 169 feet of ground ladders, LED lighting, and an Onan 10KW generator. Tower 2  and Paramedic 25 will be featured in the Ellicott City Veterans Day parade on November 12, 2016, at 11:00 AM on the west end of Main Street.

“As a former U.S. Marine, dedicating this new tower and ambulance on the Marine Corps birthday is a great tribute,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler. “This department has tremendous pride for our country and those that serve it. This is just one of the ways we display that pride on a daily basis.”

Recently, Chief Butler received an award that honors employers who support reservists in their workforce from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (a Department of Defense committee). HCDFRS also partners with the local American Legion to nominate members of the department for regional awards with the potential to be recognized on a national level.

"When veterans or active duty members look for careers, the fire service seems to be a perfect fit as there are many commonalities,” said Edward “Larry” Killen, Howard County American Legion Commander.  “These men and women value public service and giving back, and our relationship with the department is invaluable."

The photo shoot and dedication ceremony will be held at the James N. Robey Public Safety Training Center, located at 2200 Scott Wheeler Drive in Marriottsville. Members of the media are encouraged to attend. Light refreshments will be provided. For more information please call 410-313-6039.


Smoke Alarm Canvassing to Take Place in Columbia Neighborhoods

Columbia, MD – On Saturday, November 5, at 10:00 AM, the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) will canvass neighborhoods to ensure proper smoke alarm installation. Firefighters and paramedics will focus on areas that have a large 65 and older population, along with homes that are more than ten years old. With Daylight Saving time ending, this is an important time of year to test smoke alarms and replace batteries. It is also vital to replace any smoke alarms that are more than ten years old. Canvassing Howard County neighborhoods is a part of the department’s Project S.A.F.E. (Smoke Alarms for Everyone). The goal of S.A.F.E. is to continue providing public education to residents by issuing and installing smoke alarms to homes that have no alarms or malfunctioning alarms. According to the National Fire Protection Agency, three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. The desired outcome of this initiative is to increase the number of functioning smoke alarms in order to save lives.

WHAT:      Firefighters and paramedics to visit homes to ensure proper smoke alarm installation

WHEN:      Saturday, November 5, 2016, 10:00 AM

WHERE:   Columbia, MD


Members of the media planning to cover the event can contact the Public Information Office at 410-313-6039 for specific locations.     

Howard County Government honors 2016 “Employee of the Year”

October 28, 2016

Media Contact:
Mark Miller, Administrator, Office of Public Information, 410-313-2022

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Government’s 2016 Employee Awards Program winners were honored today at a ceremony at the Ten Oaks Ballroom. The highest distinction of “Employee of the Year,” went to Brad Tanner, Community Outreach Specialist and Public Information Officer for the Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS). Over the last year, Tanner’s sustained efforts, high standards of customer service, dedication and diligence to his job have raised the department’s community outreach efforts to a whole new level. With the support of his team, Tanner created a concise Community Risk Reduction Plan for HCDFRS, spearheaded programs that highlighted the importance of public safety education and marketed the launch of the PulsePoint smartphone application. He also championed having Hands-Only CPR taught in all Howard County Public School System 6th and 9th grade health classes as a graduation requirement. Lastly, Tanner created the county’s Fire Prevention Expo, implemented Project SAFE (Smoke Alarms for Everyone) and organized a Naturalization event for immigrant children at a local firehouse.

Full release can be found here.


Most Diverse Firefighter/Paramedic Trainee Class Set to Begin

Columbia, MD- Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) Fire Chief John S. Butler announced today that a record number of women and culturally diverse trainees have accepted Firefighter Trainee positions in Trainee Class 29, due to begin on October 31, 2016. 

Trainee Class 29 is the first trainee class in nearly three years.  Of the 36 applicants selected for the 26-week Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Fire training academy, 20 are women or other culturally diverse trainees.  The class contains nine women, including those having African-American, Asian, and Hispanic ethnicities.  Of the male trainees, there are also those who have African-American, Asian and Hispanic ethnicities. 

“We continue to improve our EMS and Fire service and this trainee class reflects how Howard County’s reputation for inclusiveness attracts such a well-qualified diverse pool of applicants,” said Fire Chief Butler.  “We know our residents are comforted when they encounter a first responder who understands and respects their culture, language and beliefs.” 

In addition, Trainee Class 29 has eight people who are bilingual.  Languages they speak include: Chinese, French, Korean, Russian and Spanish. 

“We continue to build a department that is more reflective of the diversity in our community,” said Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman.  “We know our ranks are the strongest when we embrace diversity to the fullest and open the doors of opportunity to all.”

Fire Chief Butler also announced departmental promotions, set to take effect January 1, 2017.  Battalion Chiefs José Sánchez, Christine Uhlhorn and Louis Winston will be promoted to Assistant Chiefs.  In addition, Assistant Chiefs William Anuszewski and Daniel Merson will be promoted to Deputy Chiefs.  Although taking effect at the beginning of the calendar year, these senior management promotions are being announced early in order to ensure smooth transition and transfer of knowledge.

For more information, please contact the Public Information Office at 410-313-6039.



Department to Hold Fire Prevention Week Expo at the Mall in Columbia

Columbia, MD- During Fire Prevention Week, October 9 – 15, the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) will join the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) to remind residents “Don’t wait – check the date!” encouraging the replacement of ten year old smoke alarms. In conjunction with the Mall in Columbia, HCDFRS will also hold their second Fire Prevention Expo on Saturday, October 8, from 12pm – 2pm, located in the lower Sears parking lot.

“Working smoke alarms save lives,” said County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “Smoke alarms that are more than ten years old should be replaced. It’s also important to make sure they are in working order by checking them at least once a month.”

The event will feature an auto extrication demonstration, hands-only CPR training, smoke alarm safety information, activities for kids, pictures with Sparky, apparatus displays, and a dramatic live fire exercise in an enclosed unit. This live burn will raise awareness about home fire safety, the importance of residential fire sprinklers, and illustrate how quickly a fire can spread.

“Being able to partner with the Mall in Columbia once again allows the department to spread safety awareness, especially fire prevention measures, in a large setting,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler. “We hope to reach a wide audience and encourage everyone in Howard County to check their smoke alarms not only during Fire Prevention Week, but throughout the year.”

The NFPA recommends smoke alarms to be placed inside every bedroom, outside of every sleeping area, and on every level of the home, including the basement and outside kitchen areas. 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 non-functioning smoke alarms.

"The Mall in Columbia is honored to be a part of Fire Prevention Week," said Barbara Nicklas, Senior General Manager.  "We thank Howard County Fire and Rescue Services for their dedication and commitment to keeping the community safe."

For more information please visit www.Facebook.com/HCDFRS or www.Twitter.com/HCDFRS. Join the conversation using #FPW2016.


Small Fire in Columbia

Shortly after 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 24, 2016, firefighters and paramedics from the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) were dispatched for an automatic fire alarm at the Extended Stay America in the 8800 block of Stanford Boulevard in Columbia.  Two units arrived to find smoke conditions on the second floor and requested additional units.  Crews immediately extinguished the fire in a laundry room dryer on the second floor of the building.

All occupants were safely evacuated from the building.  There are no reported injuries to firefighters or civilians. Units are still in the process of evacuating smoke from all three floors of the building.  All residents are expected to be able to return to their units.

The fire remains under investigation by the Office of the Fire Marshal. 

Inaugural Honor and Remembrance Day to be Held at Garden of Valor

Marriottsville, MD- The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) will hold a remembrance ceremony at the Crest Lawn Memorial Gardens to honor fallen fire service members. The Honor and Remembrance Day will take place on October 2, 2016 in the Garden of Valor.

“We owe these real-life heroes so much for the sacrifice they made to keep us safe,” Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman said. “Their service to the county should never be forgotten and I hope this tribute will serve as a reminder of the bravery they displayed as our first responders.”

The Garden of Valor was dedicated on June 21, 2012. The parcel of land has been set aside for firefighters, paramedics, police officers, emergency medical technicians, sheriffs, and other emergency workers that have served their communities.

“This ceremony will hopefully be the start of a long-standing tradition to annually and formally honor those that have gone before us,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler. “The time and dedication that these individuals gave to the county deserves admiration and recognition.”

The ceremony will take place at Crest Lawn Memorial Gardens, located at 2150 Mount View Road in Marriottsville. It will begin at 2:00 pm in the Garden of Valor. All career, volunteer, auxiliary members of the department, and their family and friends, are encouraged to attend. The ceremony will feature the Fire Brigade Pipes and Drums of Greater Baltimore, the HCDFRS Honor Guard, as well as guest speakers. The ceremony will be followed by light refreshments.

Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services Receives Federal Injury Prevention Grant for Elderly Residents

COLUMBIA, MD – Senator Barbara Mikulski, County Executive Allan H. Kittleman, and Fire Chief John S. Butler today announced the award of a $201,524 federal grant to the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS).  The grant, part of FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program, will allow HCDFRS to reduce preventable injuries and deaths for County residents who are 65+.  As more seniors choose to age in place, HCDFRS is committed to helping elderly residents to do so safely.

“During the next 20 years, our senior population is expected to more than double,” said Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman.  “Falls are one of the leading reasons seniors lose their independence. This grant will allow us to focus additional resources on education, outreach and prevention.”

Fall prevention is particularly important for our elderly residents.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

•           Each year, one-third of elderly people in the community – and half of nursing home residents – will fall.  Two-thirds of those who fall will do so again within six months.

•           The risk of falling increases with age and is greater for women than men.

•           Falls are the leading cause of death from injury among people 65 and older. Approximately 9,500 deaths in older Americans are associated with falls each year. 

•           More than half of all fatal falls involve people 75 or over.

•           When an elderly person falls, his/her hospital stay tends to be twice as long as for an elderly patient who is admitted to the hospital for any other reason. Forty percent of elderly patients injured from a fall never return to full mobility

•           Among people aged 65 to 69, one out of every 200 falls results in a hip fracture. That number increases to one out of every 10 for those aged 85 and older. One-fourth of seniors who fracture a hip from a fall will die within six months of the injury.

•           Despite the significant risk of injury and death, the most profound effect of falling is the loss of function associated with independent living.  Many people who fall, even if they are not injured, become afraid of falling and, as a result, limit their everyday activities.  As they become less active, fall victims become weaker – increasing their chances of falling again.

After completing a thorough evaluations of health risks in the community – and considering that the number of residents aged 65+ is expected to double in the next decade – HCDFRS created an injury prevention program called “Remembering When.”  Through the program, HCDFRS firefighters, paramedics, and community outreach team members will:

•           Identify elderly residents in the community

•           Educate those residents in ways to prevent falls and other injuries in their homes and throughout the community

•           Conduct home inspections to proactively identify and remediate hazards, including a fall hazard inspection and verification the residence has working smoke detectors

•           When appropriate, follow up with residents who are at a higher risk of falling or who might need additional evaluation

The FEMA grant will fund 95% of the program cost for the next two years, and the remaining 5% will be provided as a matching grant from Howard County Government.

Bar Fire in North Laurel

Shortly after 3:00 AM on August 24, 2016, firefighters and paramedics from the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) – along with companies from both the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department and the Anne Arundel County Fire Department – were dispatched for a commercial building fire at Sam & Elsie’s in the 9900 block of Washington Boulevard in North Laurel.  A passing officer from the Howard County Police Department, on routine patrol in the area, saw smoke coming from the bar and radioed for the fire department to be dispatched.

Upon arrival, crews found a small fire in the bar area of the building, and they worked to quickly extinguish it and ventilate the smoke from the building.    

There were no injuries to firefighters or civilians.  The fire remains under investigation by HCDFRS’ Office of the Fire Marshal. 

Sam and Elsie’s is expected to remain closed pending an inspection by the Howard County Health Department.

The attached photo may be published.  Please credit HCDFRS.

Possible Lightning Strike of House on Illchester Road