2016 Press Releases
Department to Hold Fire Prevention Week Expo at the Mall in Columbia

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

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

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

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

The NFPA recommends smoke alarms to be placed inside every bedroom, outside of every sleeping area, and on every level of the home, including the basement and outside kitchen areas. According to the NFPA, having a working smoke alarm cuts the chances of dying in a reported fire in half. Almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or non-functioning smoke alarms.

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

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

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Small Fire in Columbia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

•           Identify elderly residents in the community

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

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

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

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

Bar Fire in North Laurel

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

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

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

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

The attached photo may be published.  Please credit HCDFRS.

Possible Lightning Strike of House on Illchester Road
Just before 10:45 p.m. on Wednesday, August 17, firefighters and paramedics from Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) responded to the 5000 block of Ilchester Road in Ellicott City for a house fire.  The residents reported the incident as a possible lightning strike and were able to evacuate prior to the fire department arrival.

Units arrived on scene to find fire showing from the roof of a two-story single family house.  Fire was contained to the roof and attic of the house.  The two adult residents are displaced but have not requested any assistance from the Red Cross at this time. 

There were no reported injuries to fire department personnel or civilians.  Members of the HCDFRS Office of the Fire Marshal are currently on scene conducting an investigation.  The current damage estimate to the house is $200,000.

1st Alarm Girls Fire Camp

Marriottsville, MD- The Women’s Committee of the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) will hold a two-day camp for young women, ages ten through fourteen, 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 August 13 and 14.

“Our firefighters serve a vital role in protecting our lives and our properties. We want to encourage the young people in our community to learn about what these brave men and women do and yet have fun at the same time,” said Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman. “This camp gives these girls an excellent opportunity to do just that. We hope they get the most out of the time spent with our first responders.”

Young women, ages ten through fourteen, are encouraged to apply as there are a few spots left open for the camp. Daily activities will include team building exercises, a station visit, CPR training, how to use a fire extinguisher, a live burn demonstration, and more. The schedule will be from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm on both days. After the camp has concluded, each child will receive a certificate of completion at the graduation ceremony. Family and friends are encouraged to attend graduation.

“This camp is a great opportunity for these young ladies to build a sense of inclusion responsibility and teamwork which are both essential parts of a diverse fire service,” said Fire Chief John Butler. “Hopefully we will see some of these hardworking kids again here in Howard County when they’re ready to start their careers or volunteer service as firefighters and paramedics.”

If your child is selected to attend, parents are encouraged to attend an orientation meeting from 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm on August 1 to provide further information about 1st Alarm Girls Fire Camp. The meeting will take place at the PSTC, located at 2200 Scott Wheeler Drive in Marriottsville. 

To fill out an application, please go to https://www.howardcountymd.gov/GirlsFireCamp. For more information please contact Battalion Chief Christine Uhlhorn: FD1804@howardcountymd.gov or call (443)-865-4814.

Commercial Fire in Columbia

Columbia, MD- Shortly before 5:30 am on July 4, 2016,, firefighters and paramedics from the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) were alerted by a passerby of smoke coming from the 5900 block of Harpers Farm Road in Columbia. 

 

Crews arrived to find heavy smoke and fire coming from the side of the building in the location of Lynn’s Day Spa. Firefighters on the first arriving units immediately began an aggressive attack on the fire. A second alarm was immediately requested alerting additional HCDFRS units as well as units from Montgomery County and Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Departments. The second alarm was soon downgraded and the fire was controlled quickly.

 

A nearby business, DaVita Dialysis Center, suffered light smoke conditions and the health department has been requested to evaluate the center for opening. HCDFRS is assisting them with patients as they arrive.

 

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

Department Urges Fireworks Safety

Columbia, MD- As the July 4th holiday approaches, Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) would like to remind residents and businesses to keep their celebrations safe this weekend and throughout the year.

“Fireworks are synonymous with the Fourth of July celebrations. However, they are also extremely dangerous and can result in serious burns, other injuries, fires and even death if not handled properly,” said Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a display conducted by trained professionals. As you gather with family and friends this holiday weekend to celebrate our nation’s independence, I urge you to avoid the use of consumer fireworks and instead, enjoy the Howard County July 4th festival and fireworks celebration at the Columbia Lakefront.”

According to the National Fire Protection agency (NFPA), handheld sparkers can reach up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit which can cause considerable injuries. Party poppers, ignitable snakes, snaps and pops, and handheld sparklers remain legal in Howard County. However, the sale, possession, and use of ground-based sparklers is strictly prohibited. Violators are subject to a fine of up to $1,000.

“Summertime celebrations can be fun, but please remember to stay safe and use common sense,” said Fire Chief John Butler. “We at HCDFRS want to remind residents that fireworks can be dangerous. Don’t risk it, let the professionals handle it.”

In a recent study conducted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), approximately 200 people throughout the U.S. go to the emergency room with fireworks-related injuries on days surrounding the July 4th holiday. Sixty two percent of these injuries were burns, while twenty two percent were lacerations or contusions. Forty percent of people injured by fireworks were under the age of fifteen.

Those who purchase legal fireworks in Howard County (which are handheld sparklers, party poppers, ignitable snakes, and snap and pops) should follow these safety tips from the CPSC:

·         Never point or throw fireworks at another person.

·         Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby in case of fire.

·         After a display, children should never pick up fireworks that may be left over, as they may still be active.

·         Douse used fireworks with a significant amount of water and leave them for several hours.

·         Adults should always supervise fireworks activities and never let children handle fireworks.

·         Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.

·         Never try to re-light fireworks that have not fully functioned.

The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to leave it to the professional and attend a public display. For more information about Howard County fireworks and events: https://www.howardcountymd.gov/July4th.


Trailer Fire at Allied Trailers

Savage, MD- Shortly before 6 PM, on June 14, 2016, firefighters and paramedics from the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) were alerted by passersby of smoke coming from the rear of the Allied Trailers storage yard in the 9200 block of Washington Boulevard in Savage. 

Crews from the nearby Savage fire station arrived to find heavy smoke coming from the rear of the storage yard.  Since the business was closed, they had to gain access to the storage yard by forcing entry through the rear gate.  Firefighters on the first arriving units immediately began an aggressive attack on the fire.  Access to the fire proved to be especially challenging because the trailers were tightly packed in the storage yard – affording firefighters little room to maneuver, and making it easier for the fire to extend to other units.

Due to the location of the fire at the far reaches of the storage yard as well as the heavy fire conditions crews initially encountered, firefighters on several fire engines were tasked with laying an extensive amount of large diameter water supply hose from the closest fire hydrant to the location of the fire.  As a precaution, the Incident Commander requested assistance from a water tanker from the Scaggsville fire station to ensure enough water was available to quickly extinguish the blaze.

Approximately 55 firefighters from HCDFRS were on scene at the height of the incident.  A much smaller number of firefighters will be on site for a period of time for overhaul and to ensure the fire is fully extinguished. HCDFRS was assisted by Anne Arundel Fire Department and Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department.

There have been no civilian or fire department injuries.

HCDFRS fire investigators are also on scene and are working to determine the origin and cause of the blaze.

NSRI Holds National Level Exercise for 108 Emergency Responders in Port of Baltimore

OMAHA, Neb. June 2, 2016–108 emergency responders across seven local, county, state, regional and federal emergency response agencies were recently brought together by the National Strategic Research Institute (NSRI) at the University of Nebraska for a multi-jurisdictional All Hazards Response Training (AHRT) National Level Exercise (NLE) in the Port of Baltimore on May 18, 2016.  NSRI AHRT professionals and programs provide realistic training scenarios, facilities, and subject matter experts to increase the preparedness of responders.

 

The NSRI, a University Affiliated Research Center (UARC), is located at the University of Nebraska with offices at U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) Headquarters, located at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska and in Savage, Maryland.  NSRI is one of 13 established UARC’s across the nation, delivering relevant and timely research solutions directly impacting Department of Defense (DOD) operations and national security.

 

The seven participating emergency response agencies included Baltimore City Fire, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) Special Operations, Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) Police, Maryland Port Administration (MPA), Pennsylvania National Guard's 3rd Civil Support Team (CST) and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD).    

 

The MPA hosted the location, a docking station at the Port of Baltimore's North Locust Point Marine Terminal.  “It was an excellent opportunity for the Port of Baltimore to team up with NSRI for this outstanding exercise,” said MPA Director of Security David Espie.  “Effectively responding to any incident requires sound communication and coordination with local and federal partners.  Exercises like this go a long way to ensure you are prepared to meet those challenges that our world presents today and tomorrow.”

 

The high security harbor location provided a realistic backdrop for the complete cradle to grave exercise.  The training vessel was provided by MARAD.  In coordination with MARAD and MPA, the Ready Reserve Force vessel, FFS ANTARES, a Fast Sealift Ship with the capacity to carry 800+ military vehicles including trucks, tanks and helicopters, offered a real-world, intricate facility for the scenario.  Fast sealift ships are some of the fastest cargo ships in the world, capable of sailing from the U.S. East Coast to the Persian Gulf in 18 days.    

 

The ANTARES, which is maintained by MARAD in a reduced operating status at the Port of Baltimore to support rapid military deployment, was staged with a mock clandestine laboratory operation in one of the ships many unsuspecting staterooms.  NSRI Director of Field Operations and Training, Wes Carter staffed the ship with mock opposition force in the form of shipmates, while NSRI Director of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear & Explosive (CBRNE) Counterproliferation and Defeat, Dillon Cunningham staged the ship with nefarious items and a mock clandestine weapons of mass destruction (WMD) production laboratory as well as other sample evidence.  Advisor Dan Polanksi ensured that responding law enforcement agencies and HAZMAT personnel were following operational guidelines and agency Standard Operating Procedures during multiple phases throughout the day. Also playing active roles in supporting the scenario were the ANTARES Ship Captain, Engineer and First Mate.     

 

The 108 emergency responders teamed together in a test of their counter-WMD preparedness and readiness including response to suspicious activity, hostile environments and hazardous materials.  In addition to the 108 personnel on the scene were their Special Service Vehicle (SSV) fleets, including Incident Command trucks, mobile command trailers, Special Response Team (SRT) assets, Medical Response Vehicles (MRV’s), mobile laboratory, survey and decontamination (DECON) trucks and a Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV) outfitted with flash point detectors, used by a Survey Entry Team.  Equipment ranged from communications technology, tactical, protective and laboratory sampling/testing gear to HAZMAT decontamination lines.  Also paramount to a WMD event is the extensive range of expertise needed on the scene.  The NSRI AHRT exercise participants reflected the range of crucial CBRNE weapons expertise and capability.

 

The exercise facilitated a better understanding of the requirements necessary to successfully counter a WMD event.  In this particular scenario, unknown WMD agents were being produced by an armed, hostile threat; a mock shipmate, aboard the ANTARES.  The ANTARES Ship Captain played the role of initiating an investigation, which began the exercise.  As the exercise progressed, the unknown WMD agents were successfully secured, collected and identified.  Each agency played a critical part in utilizing local, state and federal resources to secure the scene and collect environmental samples for analysis and criminal prosecution.  Participants exercised sampling operations with local first responders, the FBI, Laboratory Response Network (LRN) and CST.  Also drilled were crisis communication procedures between relevant local, state and federal partner agencies.

 

“The training exercise was an excellent opportunity to train with other agencies,” said CPT Arthur Prough, Operations Officer with Pennsylvania National Guard's 3rd Civil Support Team.  “If there's an incident, you don't want that to be your first time working together.  You get to know other agency's idiosyncrasies, so it's good to do these exercises and work together.  It's also not every day we have access to a real ship as a training ground, unlike a mock training building.  We were offered a very real-world, valuable training experience.”

 

“Members of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police's Tactical Command and Port Detachment were pleased to have the opportunity to participate in the NSRI’s training exercise,” said Major Antonio Rodriguez.  “These types of exercises help us prepare for emergencies, identify our effectiveness during crises and evaluate our preparedness for different tactical and disaster scenarios.  Any time that you can test your emergency preparedness and asset coordination based on realistic scenarios is a plus.”

 

The AHRT initiative at the NSRI has been expanded to offer outreach and training programs to government agencies, public health and first responder personnel.  NSRI’s Carter states that “AHRT continues to be one of the most requested training programs by CSTs, Federal Law Enforcement, HAZMAT and Fire personnel that respond directly to WMD events.  The benefits of AHRT training include increased communication and cooperation between the respective agencies and decreased numbers of non-credible samples collected by responding agencies.”

 

AHRT was established primarily to increase collaboration between CSTs and their local, state and federal assets that would normally respond to an act of terrorism in their home states. To date, NSRI AHRT instructors have provided training, exercise venue and guidance on all aspects of WMD response to over 3000 individuals and 130 agencies.  Future NSRI AHRT exercises are planned across various nation-wide locations and will utilize real-world settings.

 

About NSRI

Founded in 2012, the National Strategic Research Institute (NSRI) at the University of Nebraska is the only University Affiliated Research Center (UARC) in the country dedicated to delivering solutions for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) to U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) and across other federal agencies. NSRI provides research and development for the U.S. Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and other governmental agencies in multiple mission-critical competency areas — including development of medical countermeasures to WMD; nuclear detection and forensics; consequence management; chemical and biological weapons detection; and space, cyber, and telecom law.  Learn more at nsri.nebraska.edu.

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Water Rescue Equipment Saves Time and Reduces Risk
Ellicott City, MD - The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) today debuted new rescue equipment that will be used to help save people and animals during emergency water rescue responses. With Memorial Day just around the corner, it marks the unofficial start of water recreational activities and boating season. This is also a time when HCDFRS typically sees an increase in water-related emergency responses. In order to more effectively respond to water-related emergency incidents, HCDFRS will be deploying two new state-of-the-art resources. The first is a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) underwater camera and the second is a side-scan sonar detecting rescue boat.

“We want to stress that residents always use caution when enjoying the water this season,” said County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are roughly 3,000 drownings nationally each year, and one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger. This new equipment can play a critical role in emergencies, but first and foremost, we encourage everyone to practice safety and supervise children around any body of water.”

On an average, HCDFRS responds to 18-25 water related rescue calls each year. These incidents range from drivers being stranded in flash floods to drownings that occur on many of the lakes, reservoirs or one of the three rivers that border Howard County. Water rescue incidents generally occur because victims either knowingly enter the water, or otherwise find themselves in the water and unable to remove themselves from the dangers associated with that body of water. There is always a possibility of more victims becoming stranded because of the good intentions of concerned citizens.

“Few tasks are as difficult for an incident commander as deciding what to do when we respond to a surface water rescue incident that turns into an underwater search and recovery,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler. “In a situation where every second counts, this new equipment saves us time and resources. We are able to quickly locate the victim and perform a rescue.”

This ROV unit is equipped with sonar, a high definition camera and a claw device used to grab victims when located. The special operations crew at Station 11 conducted hundreds of hours of training on the ROV before placing it in service in mid-October 2015. Like drones, these ROV’s have multiple uses such as victim rescue and recovery, to law enforcement investigations, to hazmat detection, and even damage assessments and inspections of bridges and dams.  In addition to water rescue and recovery, the ROV is used annually to assist Recreation and Parks staff with the inspection of underwater structures throughout the county.

Department Debuts New Water Rescue Equipment to Assist in Saving People, Animals during Water Incidents
Columbia, MD
- The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) will hold a press demo on Wednesday, May 25th at 10:30 AM to debut new rescue equipment that will be used during emergency responses to save people and animals. With Memorial Day just around the corner, it marks the unofficial start date of water recreational activities and boating season. This is also a time when HCDFRS typically sees an increase in water-related emergency responses. In order to more effectively respond to these types of incidents, HCDFRS will be deploying two new state-of-the-art resources. The first is a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) underwater camera and the second is a side-scan sonar detecting rescue boat. Like drones, these ROV’s have multiple uses such as victim rescue and recovery, to law enforcement investigations, to hazmat detection, and even damage assessments and inspections of bridges and dams.  There will be a demonstration of the equipment, followed by an interactive hands-on opportunity for members of the media to gear up in water safety suits, get in the boat, operate the ROV and perform recovery tactics.  

WHAT: New water rescue equipment to assist in saving people and animals

WHEN: Wednesday, May 25, 2016, 10:30 AM

WHO: Allan H. Kittleman, County Executive

John S. Butler, Fire Chief

Captain Vince Baker, Special Operations

WHERE:  Centennial Lake Boat Ramp

10000 Clarksville Pike

Ellicott City, MD 21042          

Members of the media planning to cover the demo can contact the Public Information Office at 410-313-6039.

Department Receives American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline EMS Recognition Award

Columbia, MD - The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) has received the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline® EMS Silver Award for implementing quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks.

“We have exceptional emergency medical services in Howard County,” said County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “The Department is committed to innovation and continually expanding and improving the service it offers residents. I am pleased the Department is receiving this well-deserved national recognition.”

Every year, more than 250,000 people experience an ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) the most deadly type of heart attack caused by a blockage of blood flow to the heart that requires timely treatment. To prevent death, it’s critical to restore blood flow as quickly as possible, either by mechanically opening the blocked vessel or by providing clot-busting medication.

Unfortunately, a significant number of STEMI patients don't receive this prompt reperfusion therapy, which is critical in restoring blood flow. Mission: Lifeline seeks to save lives by closing the gaps that separate these patients from timely access to appropriate treatments. Mission: Lifeline’s EMS recognition program recognizes emergency medical services for their efforts in improving systems of care and improving the quality of life for these patients.

Emergency Medical System providers are vital to the success of Mission: Lifeline. EMS agencies perform 12-lead ECGs which measure the electrical activity of the heart and can help determine if a heart attack has occurred. They also follow protocols derived from American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology guidelines. These correct tools, training, and practices allow EMS providers to rapidly identify suspected heart attack patients, promptly notify the medical center, and trigger an early response from the awaiting hospital personnel.

“EMTs and paramedics play a vital part in the system of care for those who have heart attacks,” said James Jollis, M.D., Chair of the Mission: Lifeline Advisory Working Group. “Since they often are the first medical point of contact, they can shave precious minutes of life-saving treatment time by activating the emergency response system that alerts hospitals. We applaud HCDFRS for achieving this award that shows it meets evidence-based guidelines in the treatment of people who have severe heart attacks.”

Agencies that receive the Mission: Lifeline Silver award have demonstrated at least 85 percent compliance for each required achievement measure for one year. In order to be awarded the Silver award the Department had to be recognized previously with the Bronze award. Next year, they will be eligible to apply for the Gold award.

 “Our firefighters and paramedics are dedicated to making our service among the best in the country, and the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program is helping us accomplish that by implementing processes for improving systems of care with the goal of improving the quality of care for all acute coronary syndrome patients,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler. “We are pleased to be recognized for our dedication and achievements in emergency medical care for all cardiac patients.”                                                                  
Fire and Police Departments Partner for Active Assailant Training

Initiative marks first coordinated training of all sworn members from both agencies

In an effort to more effectively respond to active shooter incidents, all sworn personnel in the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) and Howard County Police Department (HCPD) are participating in a newly-created joint training program designed to get help to victims sooner.

The new active shooter training, which began in March, emphasizes a unified approach and marks the first time both public safety agencies have trained together department wide. By the end of May, all career operational HCDFRS and sworn HCPD personnel will have completed the training program.

“Preparing for any possible situation is something we strive for as a county,” said County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “We want our emergency personnel to be fully trained and prepared. This type of cooperative initiative ensures that all our first responders will be able to work together to protect Howard County citizens to the fullest measure.”

In the past, emergency medical personnel would have to wait for an incident scene to be completely searched and declared safe before entering. As part of the new protocols, joint rescue teams of police and fire personnel will enter the scene under police protection to begin treating and extracting the injured, even before police have searched every part of the building. The teams will be equipped with ballistic vests, helmets, collapsible stretchers and other medical supplies. The goal is to begin to treat and evacuate victims as soon as possible.

The training stems from lessons learned in active shooting incidents nationwide, ranging from Columbine High School in 1999 to the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting in 2012. In January 2014, Howard County faced its own tragedy at the Columbia Mall in which two people were fatally shot by a gunman who then killed himself.

“This new training program builds upon the already strong working relationship we have with our fire department partners,” said Police Chief Gary Gardner. “Having fire and police commanders working side by side as they deploy rescue teams is a critical component to a successful coordinated response. Together, we want to do all we can to render aid as quickly and safely as possible to victims in need of help during a crisis.”

Through interactive scenarios taking place at the James N. Robey Public Safety Training Center in Marriottsville, HCDFRS members are learning to provide medical care in potentially hostile surroundings escorted by police.

“The purpose of this training is to advance our readiness should the need for a multi-agency response occur,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler. “Training based in a realistic, threatening setting is vital, and our firefighters and paramedics will have the right tools and strategies to respond to this type of incident.”

Fire and Rescue Appoints New Medical Director Team

Columbia, MD—The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Matthew J. Levy to the position of Medical Director and Dr. Asa M. Margolis to the position of Associate Medical Director. In these roles, Dr. Levy and Dr. Margolis are responsible for overseeing the delivery of all emergency medical programs within the Department and creating a vision for future success.

“Our fire and rescue department has always made innovative strides to stay on the forefront of emergency medical and pre-hospital care,” said County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “Together, Dr. Levy’s and Dr. Margolis’ leadership will greatly enhance the department’s ability to create a model public safety community.”

Dr. Levy had been the Associate HCDFRS Medical Director since 2009 and has served as HCDFRS’ Interim Medical Director since 2014. His career in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Disaster Response spans over two decades. During this time he has maintained an active role is a variety of local, state and federal elements related to emergency medical and disaster care. Dr. Levy is Board Certified in Emergency Medicine and Subspecialty Certified in EMS. Dr. Levy is an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at Johns Hopkins and is also a member of the core faculty of the Maryland Resuscitation Academy which is committed to improving cardiac arrest survival. Dr. Levy sits on multiple steering committees at various levels of government and has spoken internationally on topics of prehospital emergency care, tactical medicine, disaster response and the training of personnel.

“The role of a fire-based EMS medical director is becoming increasingly sophisticated,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler. “They must have the necessary expertise to weigh in on operational matters, continuous quality improvement and be knowledgeable on future trends and research. Dr. Levy and Dr. Margolis bring a wealth of experience and a sincere passion for serving.”

Joining him to further the Department’s commitment to EMS is Associate Medical Director Dr. Asa Margolis. Dr. Margolis is an Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He also holds a position in the Division of Special Operations in the Department of Emergency Medicine and is Assistant Medical Director of Johns Hopkins Lifeline, a critical care transport program. Dr. Margolis completed an EMS fellowship at The Johns Hopkins University in 2015 during which time he did his field clinical work with HCDFRS. Dr. Margolis is Board Certified in Emergency Medicine and Subspecialty Certified in EMS.

Dr. Levy also maintains a position in the Division of Special Operations in the Department Emergency Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and is the Associate Medical Director of Johns Hopkins Lifeline. Dr. Levy completed his medical degree at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and his undergraduate and graduate degrees in Emergency Health Services at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Dr. Levy completed a residency in Emergency Medicine at The Johns Hopkins Hospital where he also served as Chief Resident. Dr. Margolis completed his medical degree and master’s degrees at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine and his Master of Public Health degree at Yale University. He completed residency in emergency medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2014 after serving as Chief Resident.

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Dr. LevyDr. Margolis

Dr. Matthew Levy                       Dr. Asa Margolis

Country Meadows Fire

Laurel, MD- At approximately 10:40am  on April 16, 2016, firefighters and paramedics from the Howard County  Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) responded to the 9700  block of Country Meadows Lane for reports of a fire at Country Meadows  apartments. Crews arrived to find heavy smoke and fire coming from the  2nd and 3rd floor apartment units and a 2nd alarm was requested. 

After  initial interior operations were conducted to search for potential  victims, firefighters went to defensive mode in order to suppress the  fire which was spewing through the roof. After the attack was made on  the roof, crews resumed offensive interior operations. The third alarm  was requested at about 25 minutes into the incident for additional  resources. Mutual aid from Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties  were among those who assisted. It took approximately 60 firefighters an  hour to control the fire. All of the building's occupants were able to  evacuate on their own prior to HCDFRS arrival.

A total of 12  apartment units were affected displacing 22 residents. Those residents  are being assisted but the American Red Cross as well as the management  team at the Country Meadows Apartments. A total of three residents were  treated. Two were evaluated on-scene and released while a woman was  transported to Howard County General for an ankle injury and second  degree burns. No firefighters or paramedics have been injured. Fire  investigators are on scene to determine the cause of the fire. Initial  damages are estimated to be in excess of $1 million dollars. No further  information is available at this time.

McDonald's Restaurant Fire in Ellicott City

Ellicott City, MD - At 8:30 AM on April 10, 2016, firefighters and paramedics from the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) were alerted for a commercial structure fire at the McDonalds restaurant in the Long Gate Shopping Center in Elliott City. Crews arrived to find heavy smoke emanating from the attached PlayPlace, and they began an aggressive attack on the fire. Access to the fire proved to be challenging. As a result, firefighters removed a large portion of the ceiling in the PlayPlace and opened up portions of the roof system to reach the fire and ensure the fire was fully extinguished. 

Approximately 40 firefighters from HCDFRS were on scene at the height of the incident. Firefighters will be on site for an extended period of time for overhaul and to ensure the fire is fully extinguished.

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

The Howard County Health Department has been contacted and will ultimately determine when the restaurant can reopen.

Fire and Police Partner for Distracted Driving Awareness Month

In an effort to make roads safer, the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) and Howard County Police Department (HCPD) are partnering together to educate motorists about the risks of distracted driving. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and both departments have pledged to spread the message to drivers that distracted driving is not only hazardous to themselves, but to others as well.

“Informing our community about the dangers of cell phone use and other distractions while driving is imperative,” said County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “Our hope is that people realize the potential risks involved and that they discontinue bad habits in order to help protect not only themselves, but also their families and others on the road.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2014:
• Crashes involving distracted drivers killed 3,179 people and injured 431,000.
• Ten percent of all drivers ages 15 to 19 in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the collision. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of their crash.
• Throughout the U.S., 244 people aged 15 to 19 were killed in distraction-affected crashes.

“The best way to end distracted driving is to educate our community about the threat it poses,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler. “If something as simple as putting down the phone while driving can save lives, we want to make sure we get that message out to as many people as possible. Every driver has a stake in this effort.”

“Driving a motor vehicle is a privilege that requires a person’s full attention at all times,” added Police Chief Gary L. Gardner. “Taking your eyes off the road, even for a matter of seconds, can have dire consequences to you, your passengers and others on the road. No text or phone call while driving is worth your life, or someone else’s.”

Distracted driving enforcement details will be conducted by the Howard County Police Department and other law enforcement agencies across the state for the entire month.

For additional information and safety tips, please visit facebook.com/hcdfrs and facebook.com/howardcountypolicedepartment.

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House Fire in Cooksville

Cooksville, MD- Just after midnight on March 26, 2016 firefighters and paramedics from Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) were alerted for a possible house on fire in the 2100 block of Route 97 in Cooksville, MD.Units from Station 13 (Glenwood) quickly arrived to find fire showing from the second floor of a 3 story single family home.Firefighters initiated an aggressive interior attack and found heavy fire conditions in the second floor and attic areas.It took approximately one hour to extinguish the bulk of the fire and (due to building construction) another 3 hours to open up ceilings and walls to extinguish all the hot spots.No one was reported to be living in the home at the time of the fire.HCDFRS was assisted by units from Carroll, Montgomery, and Frederick Counties.Fire investigators are currently on the scene working to determine a cause and point of origin.

Multiple Brush Fires in Eastern Part of Howard County

Eastern Howard County- At approximately 4:30 pm on March 23, 2016, units from Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue (HCDFRS), Baltimore County, Anne Arundel and Prince George counties were alerted for multiple brush fires along the CSX railroad lines from the Howard and Baltimore County line to the Anne Arundel County line. Additionally, CSX representatives responded due to the disruption in rail service.

All trains were held outside the affected area until the fires were placed under control at approximately 8:30 pm The only reported property damage were two small storage sheds. There were no fire department or civilian injuries.

The fire origin and cause are currently under investigation by CSX.

Dogs Rescued in Glenelg House Fire

Glenelg, MD- On March 11, 2016 at approximately 11:19 p.m., firefighters and paramedics from the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) were alerted by neighbors of a house fire in the 13700 block of Bold Venture Drive in Glenelg, Maryland. Crews arrived to find heavy fire coming from the garage and side of the 2-story single family home.

All eight family members evacuated the home prior to HCDFRS arrival, however firefighters rescued two family dogs. More than 55 firefighters from HCDFRS worked to extinguish the blaze. Additionally, units from Carroll and Montgomery County provided mutual aid. Firefighters will be on site for an extended period of time for overhaul and to ensure the fire is completely extinguished.

The family of eight is being provided assistance by the Red Cross. There were no civilian or fire department injuries. Fire investigators are on scene and have begun their investigation to determine the origin and cause of the blaze.

Three Alarm Fire in Ellicott City

Ellicott City, MD- Just after 11:20 AM on Sunday February 14, 2016 Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) was alerted for an apartment fire in 7600 block of Coachlight Ln in Ellicott City. Multiple 911 calls were received reporting that the side of a building was on fire. First arriving units from HCDFRS found heavy fire showing from a two story condominium building and requested a second alarm. All of the building’s occupants were able to evacuate on their own prior to HCDFRS arrival. Firefighters performed an aggressive interior fire attack in six condo units and the attic which prevented the fire from spreading to another section of the building. The third alarm was requested at 30 minutes into the incident for additional man power. Units from Anne Arundel and Baltimore Counties as well as BWI Airport responded on the second and third alarms. It took approximately 75 firefighters 90 minutes to control the flames. A total of 16 occupants (12 adult, 4 children) are displaced and are being assisted by the American Red Cross. This incident is under investigation by HCDFRS fire investigators and the estimated loss of property and contents is 1.2 million dollars. There were no injuries to responders or civilians reported.
Volunteer Departments to Receive Grant Funding for Additional Resources

Columbia, MD– Two volunteer fire departments of the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) have been awarded grant funding from the Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE). West Friendship Volunteer Fire Department and Lisbon Volunteer Fire Company, along with other nonprofit emergency response and public safety organizations in Maryland, have received funding in order to purchase additional fire and rescue equipment for their respective stations.

“Thanks to this grant funding, Lisbon and West Friendship will be able to provide even more protection to our citizens in Howard County,” said County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “As a county, we are always seeking ways to increase public safety and emergency resources.”

In the grant request, West Friendship Volunteer Fire Department (WFVFD) applied for fire suppression equipment and cold/warm water rescue apparatus. The station’s first response area includes the Patapsco River, as well as roughly 275 lakes, ponds, and storm water management areas. Enhancing the fire suppression arsenal will improve capabilities to fight fires in remote structures. These added materials strengthen the ability to respond to community emergencies, increase public safety by providing resources for personal injury, fire and water rescue coverage, as well as ensure the safety of fire department personnel. The department was awarded $5,000 from BGE.

The Lisbon Volunteer Fire Company encompasses the western-most region of Howard County. The station responds to many vehicle rescues along major commuter roads, including Interstate 70, Routes 32, 97, and more. In the past, the company has relied heavily on bulky hydraulic hand jacks and other rescue mechanisms. These methods, although effective, can be labor intensive and time consuming. In today’s world of the fire and rescue services, a “High Lift Airbag” is considered more efficient and potentially safer. With the purchase of this airbag system, responders will be able to safely locate and rescue victims quickly who are trapped in all types of vehicle collisions. These airbags will also assist with building collapses and shoring efforts. The department was also awarded $5,000 from BGE.

“Our volunteer partners are vital to keeping our communities safe,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler. “Working side by side with these members provides the best possible care and attention to our residents. These increased assets will serve to benefit all of Howard County.”

A formal recognition of grant awardees and networking event will be held on February 8th, at the Maryland Food Bank located at 2200 Halethorpe Farms Road, Baltimore, MD.

“At BGE, the safety of our customers and employees is paramount, and we appreciate the roles that organizations such as the West Friendship Volunteer Fire Department and the Lisbon Volunteer Fire Company play in keeping Howard County residents safe,” said Valencia A. McClure, Director of Communications and Corporate Relations for BGE. “We are grateful to partner with emergency response organizations who share our mission.”

For additional details, please call the Public Information Office: 410-313-6039.

Firefighters Battle Columbia House Fire and Rescue Dog

Columbia, MD- At approximately 1:30 PM on January 9, 2016, firefighters and paramedics from the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) were dispatched to a house fire in the 10000 block of Hatbrim Terrace in the Kings Contrivance Village of Columbia. Crews arrived to find heavy fire on the first floor of this 2-story single family home, and they began an aggressive interior attack.The fire was extinguished quickly, but firefighters will be on site for an extended period of time for overhaul and to ensure the fire is completely extinguished.

Two residents had evacuated the home prior to HCDFRS arrival, but firefighters rescued the family dog, “Jet.” Both residents were transported to local hospitals for treatment. More than 30 firefighters from HCDFRS worked to extinguish the blaze.There have been no fire department injuries. HCDFRS fire investigators are on scene and have begun their investigation to determine the origin and cause of the blaze.