2019 Press Releases
Early Morning Deck Fire in Hanover

Hanover, MD - Shortly after 5:30 AM on October 10, 2019, firefighters and paramedics from the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) were dispatched for a reported deck fire on the 6300 block of Hanover Crossing Way in Hanover. Upon arrival, fire department personnel saw active fire on the deck climbing up the rear of the structure to the attic. Crews immediately requested additional support with units responding from BWI, Anne Arundel County, and Baltimore County. Fire department personnel were able to extinguish the fire with no reported injuries. The residents, who were home at the time of the fire, were able to evacuate safely including two dogs. There is one cat unaccounted for. Red Cross is currently assisting the displaced residents.

The HCDFRS Office of the Fire Marshal continues to investigate the origin and cause of the fire. For further information, please call the HCDFRS media line at 410-313-6039.

New Merriweather Fire Station Opens

Columbia, MD- The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) held a dedication ceremony for the new Merriweather Fire Station, Fire Station 14, on Monday, August 19, 2019. The ceremony was immediately followed by station tours.

 

“Our public safety needs have grown over the decades. Working together, we acted with a sense of urgency to build and open a new Merriweather Fire Station that will improve our emergency response time and save lives,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. “I want to thank Chief Uhlhorn, the Howard Hughes Corporation, and every single member of our Fire and Rescue team for supporting this project and our community. Our new fire station will support our first responders, as they continue to keep us all safe.”

 

Construction of the new fire station, located at 6025 Symphony Woods Road, began in March 2019. The new 6,800 square foot building is a full-service fire station, providing fire suppression and emergency medical services. The facility is a single-story structure located at the bottom of a parking garage. It houses two apparatus bays, kitchen and dining room, general use rooms, a room to be utilized as a unified command center for large scale special events happening in the Town Center/Merriweather area, and administrative offices. The project architect is Fox Architects of Washington D.C. The station was constructed as part of a public/private partnership with the Howard Hughes Corporation.

 

“It took a lot of moving parts to make sure this project happened in a timely fashion, and we are thrilled that this day has finally arrived,” said Fire Chief Christine Uhlhorn. “We want to thank the Howard Hughes Corporation for their partnership and assistance with the development of this new fire station. We are looking forward to the positive impact the Merriweather station will have on the Columbia community and Howard County as a whole.”

 

The new station will assist with the growing number of residents and employees in the downtown Columbia area, allowing for even faster response times. Staffing will consist of a combination of six career personnel across three shifts. The current apparatus for Station 14 are: one fire engine and one paramedic unit.

 

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

 

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New Merriweather Fire Station Grand Opening - Media Advisory

Columbia, MD – The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) will open the new Merriweather Fire Station (Station 14) with an official dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony. The new station will assist the Banneker Fire Station (Station 7) during emergency incidents as downtown Columbia continues to grow. 

WHO: Calvin Ball, Howard County Executive 

Christine Uhlhorn, HCDFRS Fire Chief 

Howard Hughes Corporation 

WHAT: New Merriweather Fire Station Grand Opening – Dedication Event 

WHEN: Monday, August 19, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. 

WHERE: Merriweather Fire Station (Station 14) 

6025 Symphony Woods Road 

Columbia, Maryland, 21044 

WHY: To dedicate the newest Howard County fire station, which will offer more timely support for emergency incidents as downtown Columbia continues to grow. 

Please note: The area surrounding where the fire station is located is still under construction and may be difficult to navigate. Please plan ahead. There will be signs posted the day of the event to direct traffic flow. An official media release and fact sheet will be disseminated at the conclusion of the dedication event. Members of the media planning to cover the event should contact the Office of Community Outreach & Media Affairs at 410-313-6039. 

Department releases internal safety review report on Woodscape incident

Marriottsville, MD- The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) continues to support the family of Lieutenant Nathan Flynn who perished last July from injuries sustained while operating on a 7-alarm house fire in Clarksville, MD. This was the first career line of duty death in HCDFRS history. Immediately following Lieutenant Flynn’s untimely death, HCDFRS established an Internal Safety Review Board (ISRB) comprised of uniform personnel from inside the department, personnel from neighboring fire departments and outside agencies. The ISRB was charged with investigating factors that contributed to Lieutenant Flynn’s death as well as looking beyond the immediate causes to discover all aspects that impacted the event.

“We continue to mourn the loss of Nate, and our priority is to support his family as well as our fire department family,” said Fire Chief Christine M. Uhlhorn. “Our fire department has implemented many changes since experiencing this tragedy last July, such as: continuing to increase the staffing levels on our front-line engines to meet the national recommendation of four, establishing a radio committee and self-contained breathing apparatus committee to review current functionality and procedures, and continuing our practical training programs such as live fire acquired structure training and fire-ground survival. I thank the ISRB for their hard work over the past eleven months on this thorough and concise report and I am committed to reviewing all their recommendations as well as the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommendations when released. I am open to making the necessary changes that will impact the safety of our firefighters and paramedics.”

Findings from the report include:

• Establishing a clear and consistent Philosophy of Command throughout the department;

• Creating a competency-based training program, in which all HCDFRS personnel complete hands-on training in realistic conditions with an emphasis on practical error prevention and error trapping;

• Enhancing fire-ground communication, with an emphasis on establishing closed-loop radio communication;

• Enhancing crew accountability on the fire-ground; and

• Cultivating the ability of HCDFRS officers to clearly establish incident strategy and the global ability of all department members to carry out effective tactics.

• HCDFRS must review all current and applicable General Orders, revise them for consistency across the department, and conduct comprehensive training of HCDFRS personnel on the updated orders.

• The ISRB strongly recommends that Howard County have an independent organizational review of the HCDFRS to make recommendations on improving overall department structure, policies, and procedures.

“We will never forget the heroism and sacrifice of Lt. Nathan Flynn. We will continue to honor his legacy by dedicating ourselves to the safety of our firefighters, all first responders, and our entire community,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. “We have made progress in meeting the staffing needs of our Department of Fire & Rescue Services to give them the full support they need and, frankly deserve. I know we can build upon this progress and use the Internal Safety Review Board (ISRB) report to help prevent future tragedy and promote safety for all. I want to thank everyone on the ISRB for their efforts and, as always, thank everyone in our Department of Fire & Rescue Services for their great service to our county.”

The full ISRB report can be found online here: https://www.howardcountymd.gov/Departments/Fire-and-Rescue/Internal-Safety-Review-BoardFinal-Report The document is available for download in full version or by individual section.

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

Department receives American Heart Association’s highest EMS award for the third time

Marriottsville, 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” three years in a row. HCDFRS has been selected for implementing quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who experience cardiac emergencies. HCDFRS was the first in Maryland to receive this award in 2017. 

“Achieving this award for the third consecutive year is another recognition of excellence in emergency medical care delivered by our firefighters and paramedics,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. “Our first responders constantly strive to expand and improve their services and continue to provide the highest quality of care to Howard County. I thank each and every one of them for their dedication to our community. Their work is critical to our holistic strategy of advancing health and wellness for all, serving as an example for others to follow.” 

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. 

“EMS is a core function of our daily operations and we continuously seek to improve patient care,” said Fire Chief Christine M. Uhlhorn. “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 have achieved 75% of the STEMI ECG’s, (or electrocardiograms), within ten minutes of being by a patient’s side during the 2018 calendar year. When a patient suffers a STEMI, as identified by the ECG, that information is communicated to the receiving hospital to activate a cardiac team. 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. 

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Swearing in Ceremony for Arson Accelerant Detection Canine Sowell

Ellicott City, MD – Howard County Executive Ball and members of the Howard County Council will join the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) for the swearing in ceremony of their newly certified and operational arson accelerant detection canine, Sowell, and handler Lieutenant Craig Matthews. Sowell (pronounced so-well), and HCDFRS previous arson accelerant detection canines, has been provided through a grant from State Farm Insurance. State Farm was eager to have Howard County stay in the accelerant detection program and agreed to a seat in this year’s training program, several months ahead of the current canine’s retirement. The team will be used as a regional asset and may travel to outside jurisdictions to provide services. 

WHO: Howard County Executive Calvin Ball 

Members of the Howard County Council 

State Farm Representatives 

HCDFRS Personnel 

Canine Sowell 

WHAT: Swearing in ceremony for canine Sowell and handler Lt. Craig Matthews as well as demo of how the team operates. 

WHEN: Thursday, July 18, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. 

WHERE: George Howard Building – Banneker Room 

3430 Court House Dr # 100, Ellicott City, MD 21043 

WHY: To officially swear in the newest member of HCDFRS’ fire investigation unit. 

Please Note: Opportunities for interviews will immediately follow the ceremony. Also, a media release will be given to those in attendance and disseminated later that afternoon. For questions please contact the media line at 410-313-6039. 

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Barn Fire in Glenwood with Smoke Plume Visible for Miles

Glenwood, MD - Shortly before 2:20 PM on July 15, firefighters and paramedics from Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) were dispatched for a barn fire on the 3000 block of Route 97 in Glenwood. Upon arrival, crews found heavy fire conditions in two, approximately 50’ x 100’, barn structures. HCDFRS was informed there were no civilians inside the structures, as well as no chemicals nor animals. Due to the size of the fire, a massive smoke plume was visible for miles into neighboring counties. Units from Carroll and Montgomery counties assisted with the incident operations. The fire took approximately two hours to be placed under control and both structures are a total loss. One civilian with unknown injuries refused treatment and one firefighter was evaluated for an injury. This incident is under investigation by the HCDFRS Office of the Fire Marshal. For further information, please call the media line at 410-313-6039.

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Department Continues to Increase the Minimum Staffing for Engine Companies
Marriottsville, MD - HCDFRS announces, effective immediately, the increase of three more engine companies to a minimum staffing of four firefighters. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA 1710) recommends a minimum of four personnel assigned to each engine company. This increase was implemented after the findings and suggestions from the Fire Department Emergency Services Staffing Joint Study Group. The staffing committee was formed at the request of County Administration when the county and the Howard County International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) - Local 2000 entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA), effective July 1, 2017 thru July 1, 2019.

“Today marks an important step forward in promoting public safety in Howard County and supporting our first responders. When we received the recommendations of our Fire Staffing Committee, we knew we needed to act and invest in our future,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. “I want to thank everyone at the Department of Fire and Rescue Services for their help and continued dedication to keeping our community safe. Their partnership has been critical to our staffing increase that will put more fire engine companies into neighborhoods that need them. Our priority will continue to be securing a safer community for all.”

As part of the MOA, the two agreed to form a committee of experts to address staffing recommendations for Fire and Rescue services in Howard County. The last documented staffing report was completed twenty-three years ago, on April 1, 1996. The full report can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/y3gjjvbm.

“We continue to strive towards the NFPA recommended staffing levels within our department,” said Deputy Chief William G. Anuszewski. “With the considerable support of Executive Ball and his administration, we have secured the funding to increase the staffing on these engines.”

“We are very pleased to see this increase in our current staffing levels occur as we continue our push toward minimum safe staffing levels everywhere in the county,” said Local 2000 President Rich Ruehl. “The improvements that began this morning are the result of many years of hard work, research, and dedication by a number of people too many to mention. In the near future we will see further improvements in the service we provide. Our members are proud to serve and we could not be more proud of these accomplishments, the Administration, and the Council for their continued support.” 

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Chief Uhlhorn Appoints New Deputy Chiefs

Marriottsville, MD - Howard County Executive Calvin Ball and HCDFRS Chief Christine M. Uhlhorn congratulate Assistant Chiefs Louis Winston and Gordon Wallace on their appointment to serve as Deputy Chiefs. Deputy Chief is an appointed position in HCDFRS that has the ability serve as Acting Fire Chief should the need arise. Chief Winston’s appointment is effective immediately while Chief Wallace’s appointment will begin August 31, 2019.

“Howard County is fortunate to have Chiefs Winston and Wallace as leaders in our Department of Fire and Rescue Services,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. “I am confident they will use their combined 52 years of service to carry our county forward with a strong vision for the future. Our Fire & Rescue personnel are the best in the nation and I look forward to working with both Deputy Chiefs to support their efforts to keep us all safe.”

“Chiefs Winston and Wallace are innovative progressive leaders who have the experience to carry on the traditions of our department while possessing the fortitude to prepare for the future,” said Fire Chief Christine M. Uhlhorn. “Their leadership capabilities will continue to propel our fire department forward as a national standard for excellence.”

Chief Louis Winston has served with HCDFRS for over 29 years and has held a Chief Officer position for over 6 years. During that time, he served as a field Battalion Chief and as an Assistant Chief where he managed the Administrative Services Bureau overseeing recruitment, human resources, and the department’s budget. Chief Winston is also a graduate of Leadership Howard County’s Premier Class of 2015 and the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute.

Chief Gordon Wallace has served with HCDFRS for 23 years and has held a Chief Officer position for over 9 years. During that time, he served as a Battalion Chief in the Bureau of Education and Training, as well as overseeing HCDFRS’ Special Operations and as an Assistant Chief where he managed both the Emergency Services Bureau, overseeing field operations, and the Office of the Fire Marshal responsible for fire investigation, code enforcement, and public education. Chief Wallace also is a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program and has designation as a Chief Fire Officer from the Centers for Public Safety Excellence.
Firefighters and Paramedics from the Howard County Local 2000 to Host Elected Officials at Fire Ops 101

Marriottsville, MD- The career firefighters of the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) will host a program for elected and appointed officials known as Fire Ops 101. During this daylong event, attendees will experience hands-on firefighting and rescue operations under the controlled supervision of Howard County’s firefighters and paramedics. The event will take place Friday, April 26, 2019 beginning at 8:00 AM at the James N. Robey Public Safety Training Center located at 2200 Scott Wheeler Drive, Marriottsville, MD 21104. Members of the media are invited to attend.

“I have the utmost respect for our first responders and know first-hand what it takes to be a firefighter in this county,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. “I’m excited for my colleagues to obtain this hands-on experience of the physical and mental challenges that go into serving Howard County and putting your life on the line by fighting fire and performing other rescue techniques. I want to personally thank President Rich Ruehl and the Local 2000 for planning and hosting this event.”

The workshop will demonstrate many aspects of fire and emergency medical service operations, from suiting up in the proper protective gear to putting out fires.  There will be four training scenarios to give participants the opportunity to do what firefighters and paramedics face on a daily basis. Each participant will learn how to use self-contained breathing apparatus, battle fire while given instruction on how to respond to anticipated events of fire behavior, and affecting rescue to a medical emergency involving physical and mental hurdles. 

“This event takes ‘Under-Cover Boss’ to a new level; providing the people in elected and appointed office a unique opportunity to experience what being a firefighter and paramedic is all about,” said Local 2000 President Rich Ruehl.  “We are not looking for them to become experts in the craft, but we hope they will get a sense of how demanding, both physically and mentally, technical, and training intensive our jobs are. Despite the weather, we look forward to hosting the County’s key decision makers on Friday.”

The Howard County Professional Fire Fighters Association was chartered as the 2000th Local of their parent organization – the International Association of Fire Fighters