2017 Press Releases
Dept Responds to Five Significant Fires in Four Weeks

COLUMBIA, MD – The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) responded to five fires in the last four weeks. HCDFRS urges residents to stay safe and diligent, especially during the holiday season and winter months. Thankfully, those affected by these recent fires were alerted by working smoke alarms in the home, were able to evacuate safely, and closed the door when exiting which limited fire growth.


The department responded to four residential fires and one motel fire since November 29, 2017. There were no civilian or firefighter injuries reported during any of the incidents. The HCDFRS’ Office of the Fire Marshal is investigating the origin and cause of these fires. 


According to the National Fire Protection Association, home fires occur more during the winter months than any other season. Heating is the second leading cause of U.S. home fires, deaths and injuries. December, January and February are the peak months for heating fires. Two out of every five fires attributed to the use of heating equipment involved space heaters (NFPA).


The department urges residents to heed the following safety tips:


  • Install and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors monthly.
  • Practice home exit drills. Have an emergency plan in place.
  • 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.
  • Do not overload extension cords.
  • Consider having home fire sprinklers installed.
  • If there is a fire in your home, get out, stay out, and call 911.
  • Before you go to sleep, close bedroom doors. Additionally, exit the home quickly and safely during an emergency. If you are able, close doors behind you to stop the spread of smoke and fire. 


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



Firefighters Battle House Fire in Columbia

Columbia, MD - Shortly before 9:00 p.m. on December 12, 2017, firefighters and paramedics from the Howard County Department of Fire & Rescue Services (HCDFRS) were dispatched for a house fire in the 7400 block of Sandalfoot Way.  An adult resident called 911 after seeing smoke and flames from the fast moving fire.

Crews arrived on location to find heavy fire showing from the garage area of a two-story single family home.  All seven occupants at home were safely outside.  During the initial firefighting operation the attached garage collapsed.  Fire was controlled within approximately one hour but crews continue working on overhaul with anticipated extensive operations because of the collapse.

The seven displaced residents will be assisted by family and friends.  There are no injuries to firefighters or civilians.

Fire investigators from the HCDFRS Office of the Fire Marshal are on location and have begun their investigation to determine the origin and cause of the blaze.

Firefighters Contain Hotel Fire in Jessup

Jessup, MD- Around 12:45 AM on Friday, December 8, 2017 over 50 firefighters and paramedics from HCDFRS, Anne Arundel and Baltimore County Fire Departments were dispatched for a building fire in the 8000 block of Washington Boulevard in Jessup.


Upon arrival crews found heavy smoke showing from the second floor of an occupied hotel. The fire was knocked within 10 minutes of crews arriving and contained to one hotel room. Crews continued to check for extension with nothing evident and quickly brought the fire under control.


No civilian or firefighter injuries were reported at the scene.


Investigators from HCDFRS’ Office of the Fire Marshal are still investigating the origin and cause of the fire.


Firefighters Battle Blaze in Columbia

Columbia, MD – Shortly before 3:30 PM on Sunday, November 26, 2017, firefighters and paramedics from the Howard County Department of Fire & Rescue Services (HCDFRS) were dispatched for a house fire in the 5500 block of High Tor Hill in Columbia.  Several neighbors called 911 after seeing smoke and flames from the fast-moving fire.


Upon arrival, crews encountered heavy fire conditions and adopted a defensive strategy to attack the fire due to heavy structural damage inside.  Firefighters worked for about an hour to extinguish the fire.


Four residents will be displaced, and the American Red Cross has been requested to assist them temporarily.


There have been no injuries to firefighters or civilians.


Fire investigators from HCDFRS’ Office of the Fire Marshall are on location and have begun their investigation to determine the origin and cause of the blaze.


High Tor Hill is shut down in the vicinity of the incident.  Please avoid the area.


For further information, please call the media line - 410-313-6039.  



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

Columbia, MD- During Fire Prevention Week, October 8 – 14, the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) will join the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to remind residents “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” encouraging residents to create and institute a family escape plan. In conjunction with the Mall in Columbia, HCDFRS will also hold their annual Fire Prevention Expo on Saturday, October 7, from 12pm – 2pm, located in the food court entrance parking lot.

“Seconds matter in fire and other emergencies,” said County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “I encourage and challenge all Howard County residents to take the time to create a home fire escape plan and practice it with their families.”

The event will feature hands-only CPR training, a Special Operations demonstration, smoke alarm safety information, activities for kids, pictures with Sparky, apparatus displays, and a dramatic live fire 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.

“Working hand-in-hand with the Mall in Columbia allows the department to spread fire safety awareness in a larger setting,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler. “We hope to reach an extensive audience and encourage everyone in the community to have an emergency escape plan in place, and to also test their smoke alarms throughout the year.”

The NFPA recommends practicing home fire drills at least twice a year. Conduct one at night and one during the day with everyone in your home, and practice using different ways out. Parents should teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them. Closing doors will slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire. Once outside, stay outside. Never go back inside a burning building.

For more information please visit www.Facebook.com/HCDFRS or www.Twitter.com/HCDFRS. Join the conversation using #FPW2017.


Second Annual Honor and Remembrance Ceremony

Marriottsville, MD- The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) will host its annual remembrance event at Crest Lawn Memorial Gardens to honor career and volunteer fallen fire and rescue service members. The Honor and Remembrance Ceremony will take place on Sunday, October 1, 2017 in the Garden of Valor.

“I am honored to take part in this ceremony paying tribute to these heroes who served the community,” said Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “As we continue this tradition each year, we will always remember their dedication and sacrifice.”

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.

“We plan to continue this ceremony annually in order to formally recognize those that have gone before us,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler. “It’s important that we pay our utmost respects and continue to learn from these selfless individuals. Never forgetting means we will never forget their service and commitment.”

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, their family and friends, all members of the community, and the media are encouraged to attend. The ceremony will feature the Mt. Hebron High School Chamber Choir, the Fire Brigade Pipes and Drums of Greater Baltimore, a combined fire and rescue Honor Guard representing the organizations of those being remembered, as well as guest speakers and dignitaries.

For more information please contact the Office of Community Outreach and Media Affairs at 410-313-6039.


Firefighters Work to Extinguish House Fire in Elkridge

Elkridge, MD- Shortly after 11:00 PM on August 1, 2017, firefighters and paramedics from the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) – along with companies from both the Baltimore County Fire Department and the Anne Arundel County Fire Department – were dispatched for a house fire in the 6200 block of Fairbourne Court in Hanover/Elkridge. 

Upon arrival, crews encountered heavy fire conditions, and they worked for more than 30 minutes to bring the fire under control.  Crews are continuing their efforts to fully extinguish the fire and to check for “hot spots.”

Investigators from the HCDFRS’ Office of the Fire Marshal are on location, and they are working to determine the origin and cause of the blaze. 

Five adults have been displaced as a result of the fire.  The Red Cross is assisting those residents.

One firefighter was taken to the hospital for evaluation. No other injuries reported.

At this stage of the fire investigation, no photos are available for immediate release.


PulsePoint Smartphone Notification and Prompt CPR Saves A Man’s Life

Columbia, MD- On June 15, 2017 at approximately 8:30 am, firefighters and paramedics with the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) responded to 7100 Columbia Gateway Drive for a possible cardiac arrest. Units arrived to find 49 year old Sean Maguire in cardiac arrest with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in progress. Return of Spontaneous Circulation (ROSC) was achieved after approximately 15 minutes of high-performance CPR and advanced life support care. The immediate responder, Simone Rockstroh, 67, who happens to be an off duty volunteer firefighter delivered CPR.  She was alerted to the scene via PulsePoint push notification on her smartphone device and arrived to find Sean’s coworkers attempting to help him.  This is the first documented cardiac arrest save resulting from a PulsePoint notification in the state of Maryland.  Maguire has since been discharged from Howard County General Hospital and is recovering. 

In the fall of 2015, HCDFRS was the first jurisdiction in Maryland to launch PulsePoint - a smartphone app designed to empower CPR-trained residents to provide life-saving assistance to victims of sudden cardiac arrest.  The app sends push notifications to followers who are nearby the location of a cardiac arrest in a public location.  Over 3,000 have downloaded PulsePoint and elected to receive alerts from Howard County Fire and Rescue.         

“It’s extremely encouraging to know the residents of Howard County are invested in the health and wellness of others,” said Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “Everyone should take the time to learn CPR and download PulsePoint.  It really works; it saves lives.”

HCDFRS continues to promote CPR education and the use of PulsePoint throughout the community by hosting free CPR trainings on a daily basis.  Over 60,000 residents, employees, and visitors of Howard County have been trained in CPR over the past 5 years. 

“This success story should empower others to seek Hands-Only CPR training,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler. “Our department is committed to training residents and visitors in Howard County in CPR at no cost. Additionally, we express the importance and benefit of having PulsePoint and similar apps downloaded on your smartphone.”

On Friday, July 28, HCDFRS hosted a survivor’s reunion between Maguire, Rockstroh, and the crews who responded to the incident.  Photos of the event will be posted to our Facebook page. Please credit HCDFRS. For additional information please call 410-313-6039.


Department to Hold Two Girls Fire Camp Sessions

Marriottsville, MD- The St. Florian's Brigade of the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) will host two camp sessions in July for young women, ages 8 through 16, who are interested in learning more about the fire service and what it takes to become a firefighter. This 1st Alarm Girls Fire Camp will be held at the Public Safety Training Center (PSTC) in Marriottsville on July 8 and 9 for ages 8 through 11, and an additional session on July 29 and 30 for ages 12 through 16.

“This camp provides a unique opportunity for girls to learn about what our firefighters do and how they serve the community,” said Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “I believe they will benefit tremendously from the comradery and life-saving training.”

Daily activities will include a live burn demonstration, team building exercises, a scavenger hunt, presentations from the Office of the Fire Marshal, a station visit, CPR training, how to use a fire extinguisher, a trip to the Emergency Operations Center and more. The schedule will be 8:00 am – 5:00 pm each day. After the camp has concluded, each child will receive a certificate of completion at the graduation ceremony. Family and friends are encouraged to attend the graduation.

“Essential parts of a diverse fire service include teamwork and responsibility,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler. “Hopefully these young women will carry some of the lessons learned at camp into their everyday lives. Maybe we’ll even see some of them back here in Howard County when they’re ready to start their careers or volunteer as firefighters and paramedics.”

Photos of the event will be posted to our Facebook page following the camps. Please credit HCDFRS. For additional information: https://www.howardcountymd.gov/GirlsFireCamp or call 410-313-6039.


Department Receives American Heart Association’s Highest EMS Award

Columbia, MD- Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) has been honored with the American Heart Association’s “Mission: Lifeline® EMS Gold Plus Award.” HCDFRS has been selected for implementing quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks. HCDFRS is the first in Maryland to receive this award and only 1% of agencies in the country have received “Gold Plus” status.

“The department is truly deserving of this award,” said Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “I am consistently impressed by our first responders; they provide the highest quality of care to the residents, employees and visitors of Howard County on a daily basis.”

Annually, over 250,000 people experience a type of heart attack, known as a STEMI, or ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction, which is caused by a blockage of blood flow to the heart.  This life-threatening emergency requires timely intervention to restore blood flow to the heart. Mission: Lifeline’s EMS program recognizes those emergency responders whose efforts advance STEMI systems of care and the quality of life for these patients.

Programs that have achieved Bronze, Silver, and then Gold awards consecutively are eligible for “Gold Plus” status. The “Plus” grade is for EMS agencies that achieved 75% of the STEMI ECG’s, or electrocardiograms, within ten minutes of being by a patient’s side (during the 2016 calendar year). When a patient suffers a STEMI, as identified by the ECG, that information is communicated to the receiving center, such as a hospital. HCDFRS was 89% on transmission of ECG within ten minutes of being at a patient’s side.

“We are a department that has never settled for ‘good enough,’ especially when it comes to EMS,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler. “We are constantly looking for ways to improve the quality of care for our patients. The American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program is helping us achieve that by implementing processes for improving STEMI systems.”

The department’s Medical Director, Dr. Matthew Levy also commented, "Our STEMI activation program was one of the first of its kinds in the region and exemplifies HCDFRS's commitment to excellence in prehospital emergency care. We are very proud of this recognition for the outstanding job our personnel do every day."

Detailed information about the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program can be found here: https://goo.gl/ok11sk (PDF).

For additional inquiries, please call the media line: 410-313-6039. 

Update: Death in January Basement Fire Ruled Fire Fatality

Glenwood, MD- On January 18, 2017, HCDFRS was dispatched to the 2800 block of Glenwood Springs Drive for a reported house fire. Deena Rae Brewer was discovered in the basement of the home, where she was pronounced dead at the scene. Fire Investigators from the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) Office of the Fire Marshal investigated the incident alongside detectives from the Howard County Police Department (HCPD). The fire was determined to be accidental in nature. The recently released report from the Chief Medical Examiner, indicated that the cause of death was attributed to smoke inhalation and thermal burns. The smoke inhalation and burns were further complicated by other medical conditions. The death has now been officially ruled a fire fatality.

Upon initial arrival to the January incident, HCDFRS found smoke coming from the front door of the residence and were notified of a potential victim in the basement. Firefighters and paramedics entered the home and discovered a fire contained to the basement portion of the structure.

The department reminds everyone that fire prevention and risk reduction is everyone’s responsibility and fight. Remember these important tips to keep you and your family fire-safe:

  • Test smoke alarms on a monthly basis.
  • If your smoke alarms are ten years old, they should be replaced.
  • Have a family escape plan in the event of an emergency.
  • Know two ways out of every room.
  • Discard smoking materials properly in an ash tray.
  • Consider installing a sprinkler system in your home.
  • Close your bedroom door when you go to sleep to stop the potential spread of fire and smoke.

For further media inquiries, please call the media line: 410-313-6039.

Members Honored for Commendable Acts of Service

Columbia, MD – Eleven members of the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) were recently honored by external agencies for their commendable acts of service. Lieutenant Kevin Frizzell was recognized for his courage and swift thinking by the Howard County Police Department (HCPD) at their annual awards ceremony. Ten other responders were credited for their life-saving actions at the R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center Gala.

“Our public safety personnel routinely put others before themselves,” said Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “We are proud to see them recognized for their efforts. It is well deserved.” 

HCPD awarded Lt. Kevin Frizzell a Bronze Star for valor at their annual awards ceremony. In August 2016, Lt. Frizzell was called to assess the scene of a large party for any occupancy violations that might be in progress. He made contact with the event manager to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all occupants, and that there were no fire code violations. As the party was winding down, Howard County police officers and Lt. Frizzell heard gun shots nearby. Lt. Frizzell and officers headed towards the scene, displaying immense courage as they entered the area (the shooter's whereabouts were unknown at this time). Despite knowing the danger of this situation, Lt. Frizzell began treating one subject who was shot in the chest. Officers provided coverage and kept an increasingly hostile crowd at bay so that Lt. Frizzell could control the bleeding and stabilize the patient. The injured person was transported to Shock Trauma. The quick and selfless actions of police officers and Lt. Frizzell ultimately led to the victim's life being saved.

Ten HCDFRS providers were honored at the R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Gala for their life-saving treatment of T.J. Scanlon, who was found outside after three days in sub-freezing temperatures in March 2016. Units from Station 10 were the first to respond to the call for a patient who had fallen into a basement stairwell. Firefighters and paramedics realized immediately that they would need to get T.J. to Shock Trauma as quickly as possible. A Maryland State Police (MSP) Trooper was called to fly in. MSP requested that FF/P Ashley Weber fly with them to take care of T.J., who suffered a spinal cord injury, hypothermia, and over an hour of cardiac arrest. Amazingly and thankfully, T.J. survived with no neurological damage, and he is in good spirits thanks to the combined efforts of Shock Trauma personnel, MSP, and HCDFRS responders. Members honored at the gala: FF/P Ashley Weber, Capt/P Thomas Norman, Lt/P James Zour, FF Kevin Panizari, Lt. David Olson, FF George Maisonet, Lt. John Zimmerman, MFF/HVO/P Tim Daly, FF Steven Schulz, FF Barry Griffin, as well as Howard County Dispatchers Joi Clark and Charles Cox.

“Most firefighters and paramedics will just say they’re doing their job,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler.  “But I believe it is important to honor those that have gone above and beyond and made such a tremendous impact in someone else’s life. And although these were deservingly recognized, acts of valor occur every day by HCDFRS members, as well as our law enforcement and 911 dispatch partners.”  

More information regarding the Shock Trauma gala: https://goo.gl/FGgwHa

Passing of House Bill Grants Fire Investigators Law Enforcement Authority

Annapolis, MD –Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) Fire Investigation Division was granted the ability to earn specific law enforcement powers with the passing of House Bill 1343.  By decree of the Howard County Fire Code, HCDFRS is responsible to investigate the origin and cause of fires in the County.

HCDFRS and the Howard County Police Department (HCPD) have a close working relationship when investigating fires.  HCDFRS has designated investigators that currently concentrate on origin and cause of the fire while HCPD has designated Arson Detectives that concentrate on any criminal nexus. This close working relationship will continue.  With the passing of this bill, the Fire Investigators will now have the ability to attend the HCPD police academy and afford them law enforcement abilities when applying the Fire Laws of Maryland.

“It’s our goal to ensure our public safety departments are well equipped to continue to perform their duties at the highest level possible,” said Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman.  “Fire Investigation often deals with criminal activity and the passing of this bill will continue to keep our community safe.”

The training that the investigators will be going through will be the full HCPD academy, after which they will be certified as Police Officers by the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission.  While the Fire Investigators will be certified officers, their enforcement authority will be restricted to the Fire Laws of Maryland.  The additional training and certification will allow the fire investigators to handle some of the smaller incidents independently while possibly freeing up the police detectives for other calls.

 “A top priority for our first responders is ensuring their safety,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler.  “The passing of this bill will allow our Fire Investigators to protect themselves while working potential criminal-related incidents and provide after-hours code enforcement by allowing them to carry a firearm in accordance with applicable laws and training.”

Howard County Fire Investigators will be at a level equivalent of investigators across the state that already have law enforcement powers. 

To view House Bill 1343 in its entirety, please visit: goo.gl/xuNSP0

For additional information, please call the media line: 410-313-6039.

Photo courtesy of Rick Lippenholz

Columbia Townhouse Fire