Deck Collapse Injures Eight in Ellicott City

Ellicott City, MD - Shortly after 4:30 PM this afternoon, Howard County’s 911 Center received multiple calls for a deck collapse in the 4900 block of Bonnie Branch Road in Ellicott City. Callers reported about 20 people were on a 20’ x 40’ deck when it collapsed approximately 12’ to the ground. 

Based upon this information, HCDFRS categorized this call as a mass casualty incident (MCI) - automatically routing additional firefighters, paramedics, and equipment to the scene. Upon arrival, paramedics began immediately triaging patients to receive care based upon the extent of their injuries. A total of eight adult patients were transported - three to the R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore and the remainder to a local hospital.  

None of the patients had life-threatening injuries.

In total, more than 40 firefighters and paramedics responded to the incident.


Gas Explosion in House in Woodbine
Woodbine, MD – At approximately 11:00 p.m. Friday night, firefighters and paramedics from the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) were alerted by the homeowner for an inside gas leak in the 15000 block of Bushy Park Road.  Shortly after emergency personnel arrived at the location there was an explosion, and additional HCDFRS units as well as units from Carroll County were requested.  

Two adults and three children and the family dog were out of the house before the explosion and there were no injuries.  The fire was placed under control quickly and fire investigators from the HCDFRS Office of the Fire Marshal are on location to determine origin and cause of the explosion.

There were no injuries to civilians or emergency personnel.  The family has arranged for accommodations and will not need Red Cross assistance at this time.  The property damage is approximately $300,000.   Please credit HCDFRS for the attached photograph.  For further information, please call the media line at 410-313-6039.
Fire Department and Public School System Collaborate on “Stop the Bleed” Initiative

Columbia, MD – The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) and the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) today collaborated on “Stop the Bleed” training for high school students, the first jurisdiction in Maryland to implement this training through health education.  This effort aligns with the 9th grade “Safety & Injury Prevention” curriculum requiring every student “to demonstrate the ability to respond appropriately to emergency situations.”


“Partnering with our schools is a priority for Howard County,” said Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “I’m proud that our schools and public safety departments have strong relationships that affect positive change.  Risk reduction programs such as ‘Stop the Bleed’ and public access to life safety resources creates educational opportunities to prevent injuries, assist others and make a real difference.”


This educational program is modeled after the current and successful Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) training taught by health teachers to high school students.  HCDFRS and HCPSS will utilize a train-the-trainer model, consisting of HCDFRS personnel training HCPSS high school health teachers; the teachers will then teach the skill to their students.


“Safety and Security requires a multi-prong approach and as we improve the physical security of our schools and add mental health services, it is also critical that we are prepared for emergencies,” said HCPSS Superintendent Michael J. Martirano. “This program is a wonderful example of County government and the school system partnering to support our emergency preparedness efforts.”


“We have been successful in stocking the schools with Stop the Bleed kits and training over 4,000 community members over the past two years,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler. “The natural next step is making sure students are aware of the kits and how to properly use them in the event of an emergency.  This program will ensure Howard County students are educated and prepared.”


HCDFRS has provided HCPSS with the resources (written materials, presentations, and Stop the Bleed training kits) to teach and practice the skill.  This program will involve the training of approximately 20 teachers who will then educate approximately 4500 students county-wide in life threatening bleeding control identification, instruction and skill practice. 



Executive Kittleman Names Merson to Serve as Interim Fire Chief

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman today named Deputy Chief Daniel G. Merson to serve as the Interim Fire Chief for the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) effective September 1, 2018. Merson will assume the position being vacated by Chief John S. Butler who was recently appointed chief of the Fairfax County, Virginia Fire and Rescue Department.


“We are fortunate to have such tremendous bench strength in our fire department,” said Kittleman. “I know that while Chief Merson will have big shoes to fill, he is an eminently qualified leader who’s made many significant contributions during his long career of service to the residents of our community.”


Merson is a lifelong resident of Howard County and has served with HCDFRS for 34 years. He began his fire service career as a volunteer for the Elkridge Volunteer Fire Department and has been an advanced life support provider/paramedic for his entire career. For more than 21 years, Merson has held a Chief Officer position. During that time, he has managed the Emergency Medical Services (EMS), served as a field Battalion Chief, was the Bureau Chief of Emergency Services, served as the Fire Marshal for the County and is currently the Deputy Fire Chief for support services. 


“This is a great department going through a challenging time,” said Merson, referring to the July 23 line of duty death of Lt. Nathan Flynn. “I am confident we will continue to bring vision and stability as we prepare for the future.”


“Chief Merson has extensive knowledge of county government, the department, national fire and EMS standards and strategic planning with an emphasis on human dignity,” said Butler. “Howard County and this department are in good hands.”


Chief Merson’s diligent work in EMS was instrumental in improving the department’s delivery of care to patients in the field through advanced technology and training. He taught advanced life support classes throughout the State and in 1999 was honored as the State EMS Provider of the Year.


For more than a decade, Merson remained involved with the proper implementation of the Incident Command System and served as the Team Commander for the Central Maryland Incident Management Team, which includes 10 jurisdictions. Through his leadership, a new fire code was developed and approved to improve the fire and life safety of residents and guests throughout the County.


Merson holds a bachelor’s degree from Liberty University and is currently enrolled in a master’s program. 



Department Receives Grant for New Mobile Fire Safety Classroom
COLUMBIA, MD – The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) recently received a $96,872 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the purchase of a new educational safety trailer. The funding, part of FEMA’s Fire Prevention and Safety grant, will allow HCDFRS to expand upon community outreach efforts by teaching children the importance of fire safety in an interactive and technologically advanced setting. 

“We’ve had instances in Howard County where children have saved their entire family from a fire based on what they’ve learned in these educational environments,” said Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “Thanks to this grant from FEMA, our fire department will continue to enrich their outreach efforts and emphasize the importance of knowing exactly what to do in an emergency.” 

This upgraded safety classroom will be used to educate elementary-aged students in the Howard County Public School System through a captivating learning program. Additionally, the trailer will be featured at various community events throughout the year. The trailer will include various simulation stations such as: a bedroom with a heated door, an escape window, a non-toxic smoke system, and interactive presentation technology that provides immediate feedback after quizzing participants. 

“Our community outreach and administrative services teams recognize the importance of fire and life safety educational resources and continue searching for new opportunities to enhance our risk reduction programs,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler. “This new and improved fire safety house will do just that by keeping kids engaged and focused while they learn life-saving skills.” 

HCDFRS has developed a curriculum for the safety house that will cover the following: basic fire and burn safety with stove-top demonstrations, home fire safety, closing bedroom doors while sleeping, the importance of working smoke alarms, how to safely exit your home in an emergency, knowing your address and phone number, and what to except when dialing 911.  

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


Executive Kittleman Congratulates John Butler on His Appointment as Fairfax County Fire Chief

Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman today congratulated Department of Fire and Rescue Services Chief John S. Butler on his appointment as the new chief of the Fairfax County (Va.) Fire and Rescue Department.


Butler will assume his new position effective September 1, 2018. He succeeds Chief Richard Bowers, who retired in April.


“This is a bittersweet moment for us here in Howard County,” said Kittleman. “John has been an outstanding leader by elevating the professionalism and delivery of services of the department. He’s a fixture in the community where he has established many outreach programs and initiatives. He will be missed.”


Kittleman said he will appoint an acting chief prior to Butler’s departure, giving the county opportunity to conduct a search for a permanent fire chief.


Butler, who joined Howard County Fire and Rescue in 1993 as a recruit, said he is excited by the opportunity to lead the Fairfax County department. He noted his hiring reflects “the highly regarded reputation that Howard County Fire and Rescue has achieved in the public safety field and it echoes the department’s tireless work, competency, and loyal dedication of serving Howard County.”


“The sadness is that I will be leaving an organization that has been, outside of my primary family, the one and only focus of my adult life for nearly three decades,” said Butler. “But the Fairfax County position provides me with a new professional opportunity that I couldn’t turn down.”


Butler, the first African-American to become chief in Howard County, also broke new ground on other fronts in the county. He was the first chief to rise through the ranks and the first paramedic to become chief.


While serving as chief, Butler has implemented numerous community programs, most notably distribution of Stop the Bleed kits, an initiative to teach residents on how to immediately stop life-threatening bleeding. Under his leadership, Howard County became the first county in Maryland to launch PulsePoint, a lifesaving smartphone application which alerts trained subscribers to nearby cardiac events in public places.


Butler also helped establish a fire science leadership degree program at Howard Community College and a fire and life safety initiative for Howard County Public School System students.


As chief, Butler established the first and only local affiliate of the International Association of Women in Fire and Emergency Services and hired the most diverse firefighter and paramedic trainee class in the Department’s history.


Butler has held such roles as firefighter/paramedic, operational field supervisor, emergency services educator, tactical medic, assistant and deputy chief before becoming Fire Chief in 2014. Butler also served in the United States Marine Corps for 21 years, including two combat tours, one in Panama and the other in the Persian Gulf.



Howard County Fire and Rescue Receive Pet Oxygen Masks

Ellicott City, MD- Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) is teaming up with Invisible Fence Brand of Maryland to help reduce the number of pets injured or killed in house fires each year. Nationally, an estimated 60,000 pets die each year in house fires. Maryland Invisible Fence has donated 28 pet oxygen mask kits to HCDFRS, supporting animal life-saving efforts in Howard County. The kits are designed to help resuscitate a dog or cat if found in a structure fire.


“Our first responders strive to protect all residents, families and their loved ones here in Howard County,” said Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “Giving our firefighters and paramedics the added ability to save the lives of their pets is a wonderful step forward.”     


In the case of a residential fire, once firefighters have assured human life is safe, attention often turns to pets in the home. In the past, firefighters have tried adapting human oxygen masks to fit an animal, but human masks do not fit properly on the nose of dogs and cats, thus not providing the necessary supply of oxygen.


“Our firefighters and paramedics strive to preserve life, no matter the species,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler. “Losing a pet to fire or toxic fumes can be devastating, and this donation gives our department the tools to be more efficient at protecting your family and companions.” 


The plastic, cup-shaped animal resuscitation masks, which come in three sizes, were originally developed for use by veterinarians. They seal around the muzzle of an animal tighter than a human mask. This helps firefighters deliver the right amount of oxygen to the pet to assist with rescue efforts. The masks are washable and reusable.


For additional information, please call the Office of Community Outreach and Media Affairs at 410-313-6039.



Department Receives American Heart Association’s Highest EMS Award for the Second Time

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” two years in a row. HCDFRS has been selected for implementing quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks. HCDFRS was the first in Maryland to receive this award in 2017.

“Having our department receive this award again is truly exceptional,” said Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “Our first responders constantly strive to expand and improve their services and continue to provide the highest quality of care to all of Howard County.”

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.

“We are always searching for ways to improve patient care,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler. “The American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program is helping us attain that goal by implementing procedures for improving STEMI systems.”

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 2017 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.

Detailed information about the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program can be found here:

For additional information, please call the Office of Community Outreach and Media Affairs: 410-313-6039.


Two Alarm Fire in Columbia Quickly Placed Under Control

Columbia, MD - Shortly after 6:30 AM this morning, firefighters and paramedics from the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) were dispatched for a townhouse fire in the 5500 block of Suffield Court in Columbia.

A second alarm was called due to crews encountering heavy fire upon arrival. The fire was knocked within 30 minutes. One unit of the townhome row was involved, one additional unit was impacted with minor damage.  Red Cross was requested to assist the residents. 

Over 50 firefighters and paramedics were on location.

There were no injuries to civilians or firefighters. Fire investigators from the HCDFRS Office of the Fire Marshal are on location to determine origin and cause of the blaze.

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


EMS Week, Stronger Together

Columbia, MD- Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) is gearing up for National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week which begins on May 20. EMS Week brings together local communities and medical personnel to publicize safety and honor the dedication of those who provide the day-to-day lifesaving services of medicine's "front line." The year’s national theme is “EMS Strong, Stronger Together,” with daily themes such as: education, EMS for children, and CPR/Stop the Bleed awareness.       

“Our EMS providers are on the front line every day, caring and providing a sense of relief and security to those who have found themselves in emergencies,” said Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “This week provides us with an opportunity to thank them for answering the call to care in Howard County.”

HCDFRS also recently announced the opening of the application period for the newest Trainee Class (TC31). The application period for TC31 will open soon, and the department is highly encouraging currently functioning Firefighter Paramedics and experienced fire service personnel to apply for consideration.

“Our emergency medical technicians and paramedics, are increasingly spending more time on EMS incidents, aside from other responsibilities during the work period,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler. “One way to show appreciation during EMS Week is to hire additional responders who can bring some relief to the growing call volume in some areas of the County.”

HCDFRS has a national reputation for EMS excellence and is continually researching and implementing innovative protocols to improve patient outcomes through advanced pre-hospital emergency medical care. As hosts of the Maryland Resuscitation Academy, HCDFRS shares experiences and encourages other communities to adopt international best practices to improve survivability in out-of-hospital cardiac arrests. Last year, HCDFRS was honored with the American Heart Association’s “Mission: Lifeline® EMS Gold Plus Award,” the first department in Maryland to receive this award. Only 1% of agencies in the country have received “Gold Plus” status.

For additional information, please call the Office of Community Outreach and Media Affairs: 410-313-6039.


Multiple Townhouse Fire in Elkridge

Elkridge, MD – At approximately 6:30 PM on Tuesday, May 8, 2018, firefighters and paramedics from the Howard, Anne Arundel, and Baltimore counties were dispatched to a report of a townhouse fire in the 6600 block of Ducketts Lane. Crews arrived with smoke showing from the structure with multiple townhouse units involved. The call was elevated to a second alarm.

Crews began aggressively knocking the fire down from the rear and were able to get the fire under control within an hour. A total of five townhouse units were affected with two sustaining significant fire damage. Three units have smoke and water damage. Two of the residents will be assisted by the Red Cross. A total of seven residents were impacted by this fire. No residents or firefighters were injured.

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.

Photo Credit:  HCDFRS


New Elkridge Fire Station Opens

Elkridge, MD- The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) and the Elkridge Volunteer Fire Department (EVFD) held a dedication ceremony for the new Elkridge Fire Station, Fire Station 1, on Saturday, March 24, 2018. Members of the public attended the ceremony immediately followed by an open house consisting of: station tours, activities for kids, and opportunities to engage with firefighters and paramedics. 

“Howard County has one of the premier combination systems in the country, and this station will be staffed by both career and volunteer personnel,” said Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “We look forward to continuing our work with the Elkridge community to improve services and quality of life.”

Construction of the new fire station, located at 5700 Rowanberry Drive, began in October 2016. The new 35,080 square foot building is a full-service fire station, providing fire suppression and emergency medical services. The facility is a two-story structure with six pull-through double length apparatus bays, a physical fitness training room, kitchen and dining room, general use rooms, administrative offices, a large training room, and an all-purpose community room. The station’s state-of-the-art design incorporates extensive energy efficient and environmentally friendly strategies making it a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certified facility.

“A lot productive teamwork went into this project and I would like to thank the County Administration, the Department of Public Works, and the Elkridge Volunteer Building Committee    for your collaboration in its completion,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler. “This new station is something our department will be proud of and will have a positive impact on the community.”

“We are thrilled to see the new station up and running,” said Elkridge Volunteer Fire Department President Julie Casey. “For over 75 years the original station served the community but, currently, is unable to meet the growing demands of the local communities.”  

The new station will replace the previous station located on Old Washington Road, which ran its first call on November 6, 1942. Staffing will consist of a combination of 21 career personnel across three shifts and 90 active volunteer members who provide nightly and weekend coverage as duty crews. The EVFD also has 30 associate volunteer members and 37 junior members. The station, including site work, cost an estimated $13.7M to construct. For additional information, please call the media line: 410-313-6039.