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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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: https://goo.gl/2pdDmG.
For additional information, please call the Office of Community Outreach and Media Affairs: 410-313-6039.
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.
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.
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
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.
Columbia, MD – The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) is urging residents and businesses to check smoke alarms to ensure they are not part of this large-scale recall.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the alarms are Kidde dual-sensor (photoelectric and ionization) smoke alarms – models PI2010 and PI9010. The hazard involves a yellow cap that was left on during the manufacturing process. It can cover one of the two smoke sensors and compromise the smoke alarm’s ability to detect smoke, posing a risk of consumers not being alerted to a fire in their home. About 452,000 units were sold in the United States.
HCDFRS does not carry or install these alarms for our safety programs.
Consumers may contact Kidde directly, toll-free at 833-551-7739 or online at www.kidde.com and click on “Product Safety Recall” for more information.
For additional assistance, please contact the Office of Community Outreach & Media Affairs at 410-313-6039.
ELLICOTT CITY, MD – The Howard County Code will soon be updated to officially recognize the term “firefighters,” replacing the word “firemen” in all instances. The change is the result of the County Council’s unanimous approval last night of Bill No. 10-2018 (CB-10.) The bill was introduced at the request of County Executive Allan H. Kittleman and Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) Chief John S. Butler and will become effective in early May.
Additionally, an official name change was made to “Howard County Volunteer Firefighter’s Association, Inc” (HCVFA). The previous language read “Firemen’s,” and was last updated in 1998.
“I spend a lot of time with our first responders and the term ‘firemen’ is viewed by many both inside and outside the department as outdated,” said Kittleman. “It simply does not reflect the makeup of our County’s evolving, diverse, and inclusive public safety sector and our combination fire department.”
“While the term ‘firemen’ may have been acceptable at one time in our industry, we are striving to be a more inclusive and diverse Fire and EMS department,” said Butler. “Updating the name in the County Code is progress but this does not change the culture of our department. It is up to our firefighters and EMS responders do that. At the end of the day, it is a simple word change, but a change that sends a clear, meaningful, and powerful message. I'd like to sincerely thank the County Council and County Executive for supporting us with this effort.”
A record number of women and culturally diverse trainees comprised last year’s HCDFRS academy class. Additionally, the department supports the St. Florian’s Brigade, a non-profit fire service organization. Each summer, St. Florian’s Brigade hosts the “First Alarm Girls Fire Camp,” a summer camp promoting fire service awareness for school-aged young people who are interested in learning about what it takes to become a firefighter.
“I applaud the vision of inclusiveness this County and Department continue to show,” said St. Florian’s Brigade President Christine Uhlhorn. “Their support for our efforts of encouraging involvement in the fire service continue to make a positive difference.”
“We worked hard for this change over the past few years,” said Elkridge Volunteer Fire Department President Julie Casey. “The modern fire service has room for everyone and this County recognizes that.”
For more information please contact the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services Office of Community Outreach and Media Affairs, 410-313-6039.
Ellicott City, MD – The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) and the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) will work collaboratively on the new “Adopt-a-School” program between each Howard County elementary school and its neighborhood fire station. This will provide opportunities for students and staff to get to know their nearby first responders.
“Howard County is dedicated to working with our public schools, not only with this program but through the other risk reduction programs we teach in the classrooms,” said Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “We are invested in prevention and these educational programs will foster those learning behaviors for our young leaders.”
Firefighters and paramedics will visit their designated elementary school at least four times a year. They will work collaboratively with the school system to provide training opportunities to practice life saving techniques, offer age-appropriate risk reduction strategies, and discuss life safety programs.
“Our first responders serve a critical role in the community and this is just another way for them to partner with HCPSS and serve as positive role models for our children,” said HCPSS Interim Superintendent Michael J. Martirano. “This partnership with the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services will encourage students to better understand fire and medical safety, and will strengthen the connections between families and fire and rescue first responders.”
“On countless occasions, we’ve witnessed kids having to take on the role of first responder,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler. “From calling 9-1-1 when a family member has had a medical emergency, to making sure their family is safely outside of a burning house, to checking smoke alarms; they are sometimes our first line of defense. I’m looking forward to strengthening our rock-solid partnership with HCPSS to ensure that every student has the tools they need to save a life.”
Throughout the school year, HCDFRS will also teach: home fire and burn safety using the mobile classroom known as the “Fire Safety House”, Hands-Only CPR, automated external defibrillator use, and Stop the Bleed to school staff, parents, and community members. HCDFRS will also participate in at least one fire drill with each elementary school. For more information please contact the Office of Community Outreach and Media Affairs at 410-313-6039.
Ellicott City, MD – At 1:07 AM on January, 22, 2018, firefighters and paramedics from the Howard County Department of Fire & Rescue Services (HCDFRS) were dispatched for a house fire in the 10300 block of Kingsbridge Road in Ellicott City.
Several neighbors called 911 after seeing flames coming from the residence on the corner of Kingsbridge Road and Woodville Lane.
Crews quickly arrived on location to find the house fully engulfed in flames. Due to the heavy fire volume and the structural damage to the residence, units are operating in a defensive mode – applying water from the exterior of the structure. The structure has been significantly compromised, and there was a collapse on the rear of the residence at 1:22 AM.
Thankfully, the residents are out of town at the time of the fire.
About 75 firefighters – including fire crews from Baltimore County – are on location and are actively working to extinguish the flames.
There have been no injuries to firefighters or civilians.
Fire investigators from the HCDFRS Office of the Fire Marshal are also on location and have begun their investigation to determine the origin and cause of the blaze.
For further information, please call the HCDFRS media line at (410) 313-6039.
COLUMBIA, MD – Deputy Chief John Jerome of the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) has been appointed by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan as Chairperson of the Maryland Fire-Rescue Education and Training Commission (MFRETC). The MFRETC has the responsibility of overseeing education and training activities for Maryland's fire, rescue, and emergency medical services personnel.
“This appointment speaks volumes about the leadership of our fire department,” said Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “We know Deputy Chief Jerome is an innovative leader here in Howard County and it’s great to see him share his expertise at the state level.”
Deputy Chief Jerome, who has served on the commission since 2011, will oversee the future needs and improvements that the fire and emergency medical education and training programs may require.
A 25-year veteran of HCDFRS, Deputy Chief Jerome began his fire service career here in Howard County with the Ellicott City Volunteer Fire Department, and continued on in the career service, rising through the ranks. He has been a paramedic for 28 years, holds a bachelor’s degree in economics, a post-graduate certificate in distance education, and is a graduate of the National Fire Academy's Executive Fire Officer program. He is known for his high level of involvement, his advocacy for emergency medical services, fireground command safety, provider education, and the importance of instructing and mentoring. He is an innovative management officer whose leadership has resulted in a model community heart attack care system, national accreditation of the Department's paramedic education program, and numerous cutting-edge education programs.
“Deputy Chief Jerome has represented HCDFRS in various roles throughout his 25-year career,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler. “We are proud that he will have yet another opportunity to share his expertise, especially when it comes to the future of Maryland’s emergency services training and education. It’s rewarding to see Howard County DFRS talent be recognized and contributing elsewhere in the state, region, and nationally.”
MFRETC carries out responsibilities of the Maryland Higher Education Commission related to training and post-secondary education. It is composed of thirteen members who are appointed by the Governor of Maryland with guidance and approval of the Senate. For more information please contact the Office of Community Outreach and Media Affairs at 410-313-6039.
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