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Year in Review

Surge Plans

In January, the department implemented EMS Surge Plans, due to high call volume and limited hospital capacity related to an increase in COVID-19 cases both in Howard County and across the country. EMS Surge Plans continued to play a part in the department’s regular EMS operations throughout 2022 at times when the department experienced a high number of 911 calls in a short amount of time, coinciding with local hospitals experiencing decreased bed capacity.

Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) Dispatch

In May, the department adapted a new AVL dispatching model in combination with a new computer aided dispatch (CAD) system. AVL utilizes GPS technology to track the real-time movements of emergency apparatus, helping dispatchers more accurately deploy resources based on real-time location rather than first-due response area.

Trainee Class 35 Graduates and Trainee Class 36 Begins

On May 20, 2022, Trainee Class 35 graduated from the academy. These firefighter recruits were assigned to various stations throughout the county to replace retiring personnel and provide staffing for the department’s new station in Waterloo. On August 29, 2022, Trainee Class 36 began and is expected to graduate in March 2023.

Walk and Talks with the Fire Chief

In July, Fire Chief Louis Winston launched a Walk and Talk series with field personnel to champion health and wellness for all HCDFRS personnel. Every Friday through November, Chief Winston met with firefighters to walk a mile around local parks, high school tracks, and trails. This one-on-one time with the chief allowed for important and candid conversations, helping to break down communication barriers between the department's senior and field staff.

Waterloo Station Ribbon Cutting

The department opened its Waterloo Fire Station on October 20, 2022, which primarily serves the communities of Jessup, Elkridge, and East Columbia. The 14,865 square foot building is a full-service fire station, providing fire suppression and emergency medical services. The facility is a one-story structure and includes three pull-through, double-length apparatus bays, a physical fitness training room, a kitchen and dining room, sleeping quarters, general use rooms, and administrative offices.

Mobile Integrated Community Health

The Mobile Integrated Community Health (MICH) team, which made a critical impact during the height of the pandemic through vaccine administration, resumed their community health efforts in 2022. The MICH team is an initiative in which HCDFRS personnel connect with county residents in their homes, with the goal of providing access to the resources needed to improve and manage their health.

Emergency Medical Services

In 2022, 74% of the department’s emergency responses were calls for medical emergencies. As part of the department's continued commitment to training, HCDFRS resumed its in-house paramedic certification program in 2022. 

Carcinogen Reduction Program

In the line of duty, firefighters are frequently exposed to carcinogens. In 2022, the department’s Carcinogen Reduction Plan, an initiative to address exposure to carcinogens during and after the performance of duty and create a healthier work environment for HCDFRS firefighters, received a National Association of Counties (NACo) award.

As part of the initiative, the department has grown its “clean cab design” fleet, adding three clean cab engines in 2022. This fleet is specifically designed to separate the passenger area of the apparatus from potentially contaminated equipment and provide non-porous surfaces for no-hassle decontamination. The department also put three new ambulances with idle mitigation systems in service, which allow the ambulance’s engine to shut off when the vehicle is idling while continuing to power the rest of the ambulance’s systems.

Additional acquisition of gear extractors (made for cleaning personal protective equipment at stations) and improvements to on-scene decontamination were also part of our efforts toward our carcinogen reduction plan.


Our mission is to maintain a safe environment and high quality of life in Howard County by educating, protecting and serving our citizens, members, and visitors.

Notable Fires    

Lincoln Tech Fire – February 20

Firefighters were alerted for a building fire at 9325 Snowden River Parkway in Columbia, a large commercial building that houses Lincoln College of Technology and several other businesses. Upon arrival, crews found heavy fire from the roof of the building and quickly called for a second alarm based on the size of the fire and structure. Crews extinguished the bulk of the fire and spent several hours removing roofing materials and working around solar panels and HVAC system components. Approximately 60 firefighters and paramedics responded to the scene, and the fire was under control within 45 minutes. Removing roof materials and wetting down hot spots took an additional three hours. Mutual aid was provided by Montgomery County Fire and Rescue and Prince George’s County Fire and EMS. 

Hickory Ridge Road Fire – April 5

Crews were dispatched to a fire in the 10400 block of Hickory Ridge Road in Columbia. Units arrived to find fire showing from the second floor and had to assist several residents out of the building immediately. The fire extended to the third floor and attic and took 45 minutes to bring under control. Twelve apartments were damaged, and approximately 20 residents were displaced.

Tiger Lily Path Fire – April 23

Units were alerted for a working apartment fire in the 9700 block of Tiger Lily Path in North Laurel. Multiple apartments were severely damaged and were posted as uninhabitable. One cat escaped from the fire and was found safety in a nearby tree. Firefighters coaxed the cat into its crate and provided oxygen.

Mill Creek Court Fire – June 6

Units responded to Mill Creek Court in Clarksville for a house fire. Due to heavy fire conditions, crews quickly transitioned to defensive operations, and the fire was brought under control in 50 minutes. Mutual aid was provided by Montgomery County Fire and Rescue.

Symphony Woods Multi-Vehicle Fire – June 23

Crews responded to the 6000 block of Symphony Woods in Columbia for the report of a vehicle fire in the parking garage. Firefighters found five vehicles on fire on the sixth floor of the garage. A second alarm was requested due to the number of involved cars and the limited access to the fire.

Meadowridge Road Liquor Store Fire – July 1

A box truck pulled down power lines, causing an electrical fire that spread into a nearby liquor store in the 6100 block of Meadowridge Road in Elkridge. While waiting for the arrival of BGE to control the live wires, the fire spread from the first floor to the roof. A second alarm was requested to bring additional personnel and equipment due to extreme weather temperatures.

Ducketts Lane Fire – July 1

Only twelve hours after another two-alarm fire in Elkridge, firefighters were dispatched to the 6700 block of Ducketts Lane in Elkridge shortly after midnight for the report of a house fire. When our crews arrived on the scene, firefighters found heavy fire from the back of a group of townhomes. Due to the number of homes affected, a second alarm was requested.

Madison Avenue House Fire – December 21

Firefighters responded to the 9300 block of Madison Avenue in Laurel for a house fire. The fire was quickly brought under control, and two adult residents were displaced.

Garage Fire in Jessup – December 27

Crews were alerted to the 8600 block of Rose Lane in Jessup for a house fire. Upon arrival, crews found heavy fire conditions from the garage. The residents of the home were displaced.

Call Volume for the Last Five Years    













The Bright Times

Take a look back at some of the positive moments of 2022 here, including an amazing cardiac arrest survival story, the first HCDFRS employee to reach 40 years of service, and more.

Read positive news from 2022




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