Chief's Blog

Friday, August 22, 2014

Station 16 A-Shift Gets Personal With Safety

By: Master Firefighter Tim Burns

Photo provided by MFF Tim Burns
This week is Senior Safety Week as part of the MCFRS summer of safety. To that end, the crew from Fire Station 16 A-Shift spent a few hours at Schweinhaut Senior Center on Forest Glen Road last weekend speaking with local seniors.

During their visit they were able to explain the new smoke alarm requirements in Montgomery County, perform blood pressure screenings, pass out "File of Life" materials, and schedule personal visits for in home smoke alarm checks for anyone who wanted them.

The crew will be following up with a second visit in September, offering the same services. Additionally, there is talk of a pool tournament in the future between some of the resident sharks at the center and the crew from 16-A, all for fun of course.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Home Fire Safety for Family and Friends of Older Adults

When it comes to fire, adults over age 65 are at greater risk than any other group. Most fire deaths occur in the home and it is important for older adults to know how to protect themselves. If you have a relative, friend or neighbor in this high-risk group, please take a few minutes to complete this fire safety check of their home.

Conduct the following safety checks:

Can everyone hear the smoke alarm?
  • Check that the smoke alarms have been tested. If not, test the smoke alarm by pressing the alarm test button. If it is difficult to reach, use a broom handle or ruler to test it.
  • Check that the batteries have been changed within the past year. Batteries should be replaced each year. It is a good idea to mark the date on the batteries so that anyone will know when they were last replaced. Families are encouraged to change the batteries in the fall during "Change your Clock, Change Your Batteries" programs.

    A chirping sound indicates a low battery, but this sound can be difficult for an older person to hear or recognize.
  • Check for scorch marks on pots and pans. If you find scorch marks, discuss with the older person. He/she may be leaving cooking unattended.
  • Check that clothing, bedding, furniture and floors are free of cigarette burns.If you find cigarette burns, discuss the situation with your older friend or relative.

Fire Safety

What would you do if the room filled with smoke?
        Demonstrate how to crawl low and go.
For those living in apartments:
Do you know the sound of the fire alarm and what to do if the alarm sounds?Find out correct procedures from building management.
Do you ever leave cooking unattended?
Most kitchen fires start because cooking food has been left unattended. Never leave items cooking unattended on the stovetop. It's best to turn off the stove before leaving the kitchen and to closely monitor things cooking in the oven. Use a timer or take an item such as a potholder as a reminder if there is something cooking in the oven.
Do you know what to do if a pot on the stove catches fire?
Keep a proper fitting lid nearby and safely slide it over the burning pot.
  • If a grease fire starts:
    • Using a potholder, place a lid over the burning pan.Is there a phone near your bed in case you need help?
    • Turn off the heat source.
    • Leave the lid on the pan until it is completely cool.
    • Never use water on a grease fire.
    • Don't try to carry a pan that is on fire to the sink or outdoors. Smother the fire with a lid and leave the pan where it is.
Are combustibles or things that can easily ignite, such as dish towels or curtains near the stove?
Keep anything that can easily catch fire away from the stove.
Do you wear tight-fitting or rolled up sleeves when you use the stove?
Dangling sleeves can easily brush against a hot burner and quickly catch fire.
Are you careful not to reach over hot burners?
Use the front burners as much as possible.
Do you keep portable heaters at least 3 feet from any combustible materials, such as drapes, clothing or furniture?
Space heaters can quickly warm up a cold room, but they have also been the cause of many serious home fires. Remind your friend or relative that portable heaters should be at least three feet from all combustible materials, including paper, bedding, furniture and curtains. Never use your heater to dry clothing or shoes and make sure that all heaters are turned off before leaving your home or going to bed.
If you smoke, do you consider yourself a careful smoker?
Smokers should use large, deep ashtrays and never smoke when drowsy or in bed.
Where do you empty your ashtrays?
Soak cigarette butts and cigar ashes in water before discarding or in a non-combustible can. Ashes from a cigarette can smolder for hours before a flare-up occurs.
Are you cautious when your drink and smoke?
Drinking alcohol while smoking is a deadly combination and account for many fire deaths.
Take a few minutes to learn about safety in the home and get family members involved! With a little planning, many injuries and deaths from fires and unintentional injuries could be prevented. We put safety where you put your family - FIRST. Please don't hesitate to call the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service if you need help with any aspect of your home safety.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fire Safety Checklist for Older Adults

Knowing what to do in the event of a fire is particularly important for older adults. Older adults are the fastest growing segment of the population and also one of the groups at highest risk for fire death and injury. Mobility and reaction times may be slowed; the senses of sight, hearing and smell may be diminished and medications may increase drowsiness, confusion or disorientation. At age 65, people are TWICE as likely to be killed or injured by fires. By age 75, people are nearly FOUR times as likely to die in a fire and over the age of 85? The risk of dying in a fire is increased FIVE times.

If a fire started in your home, would you be able to get out in time? Increase your chances of survival by reviewing these safety tips and remember, having working smoke alarms double your chances of surviving a home fire.

Why are Older Adults at Risk?

  • Conditions associated with the aging process place older adults at increased risk for fire injury and death. Chronic illness, decreased mobility, health, sight, and hearing may limit a person's ability to take the quick action necessary to escape during a fire emergency.
  • Depending on physical limitations, many of the actions an individual can take to protect themselves from the dangers of fire may require help from a caregiver, neighbor or other source.
  • Decreased healing mechanisms. As a result, older adults tend to die from smaller burns, have longer hospital stays and require more time to recuperate from burn injuries.
  • Many medications prescribed to treat the ailments of the elderly may cause confusion and fatigue.

By practicing a few simple fire safety tips, you can greatly reduce your chances of experiencing a fire:

Install and Maintain Smoke Alarms.

Smoke Alarms
The single most important step you can take to save your life during a fire is to install a smoke alarm that suits your needs. A working smoke alarm can make a vital difference in the event of a fire and may reduce the risk of dying in a fire by as much as 60 percent. Install working smoke alarms on every level of your home and in sleeping areas. A working smoke alarm can alert you to the presence of deadly smoke while there is still time to escape. Test and dust each smoke alarm monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. Change the battery immediately if the unit starts making a "chirping" sound alerting you to a low battery.
It is estimated that one-third of those between the ages of 65 and 75, and one-half of those over 75 have some degree of hearing loss. Deaf and hard of hearing persons cannot rely on traditional audible smoke alarms, but can rely on a vibrating or visual alarms equipped with strobe lights. If you are hearing-impaired, install an alarm that alerts using these signals. Ask friends, family members, building managers or call the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service at 240-777-2467 to install and test the batteries in your smoke alarm if it is hard to reach or to get information on smoke alarms for the hearing impaired.

Smoking is the leading cause of fire-related deaths in the United States.

If you smoke, do it with care. Many fires are started when ashes or cigarette butts fall onto couches, chairs, wooden decks or in mulch. Ashes can smolder for hours before re-igniting.
  • Never smoke in bed, while drowsy, or while under the influence of medication or alcohol.
  • Use large, deep ashtrays for smoking debris and let the contents cool and douse with water before you dispose of them.
  • Put ashtrays in the sink, fill with water, and let it sit overnight before you dispose of the contents. Or, dispose of cigarettes and matches in a metal container, such as a coffee can with a lid, and let it cool overnight.
  • Check furniture for any smoldering cigarette butts and ashes before going to bed.

Pay Attention to Your Cooking.

The leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries is careless cooking. Most kitchen fires start because cooking food has been left unattended. Prevent fires and burns by being watchful and alert when you cook, keeping pot handles turned inward, not overheating food (especially fats and oils) and keeping children and pets at least three feet away from the stove. The area around the stove should be kept clear of food packaging, dish towels, newspapers, curtains, cabinets and paper or plastic bags that can easily ignite.
Never lean over a hot burner and wear short or tight-fitting sleeves when cooking to prevent clothing from igniting. Always use pot holders and oven mitts when handling hot pots and pans to prevent burns.

Heat Your Home Safely.

Have a professional service all heating equipment annually. Keep combustibles and anything that can burn or melt away from all heaters, furnaces, fireplaces and water heaters. Use your range or oven for cooking only - never to heat your home.
Hundreds of fires start each year when things that burn, such as curtains, clothing, bedding, gasoline, or paint solvents are placed too close to heaters, furnaces, wood stoves, fireplaces, or water heaters. Store flammable liquids like cleaning solvents and gasoline outside of your home. Have at least three feet of clearance in all directions around portable/space heaters. Use the proper fuel for all heating equipment. Change filters in furnaces monthly. Keep chimneys clean. To prevent scalds, set the temperature of your water heater no higher than 120 degrees. All heating devices should be checked by a professional.

Practice Electrical Safety.

Have a professional electrician inspect your home's electrical wiring system at least every 10 years, and make recommended repairs. Never overload the electrical system. Plug each appliance directly into its own outlet and avoid using extension cords. Have an electrician install ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) in rooms where water may be present. Install and maintain electrical appliances according to the manufacturers' instructions.
Homes more than 40 years old are three times more likely to catch on fire from electrical causes than homes 11 to 20 years old. That's because older wiring may not have the capacity to safely handle newer appliances and equipment and may not incorporate updated safety features. Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) are important electrical safety devices that offer superior protection against dangerous electric shock and also may prevent some electrical fires. Have GFCIs installed in bathroom and kitchen circuits and in other locations where water and dampness may be present. Call a professional electrician to make sure you have the proper fuses, find reasons for blown fuses and tripped circuit breakers, replace old or damaged outlets and install more outlets if needed. You are more likely to overload electrical outlets if you use more than one high-wattage appliance on a circuit at a time. Extension cords are meant for temporary use only and should be unplugged when not in use. If you see frayed cords on older appliances, have the cord replaced or; better yet, replace the appliance altogether.

Keep Matches and Lighters Away from Children.

Children and fire - a dangerous, and sometimes deadly, mix. Store matches and lighters in a locked drawer or a high cabinet when you have young visitors in your home. Using lighters that are child-resistant can prevent deaths and injuries.

Use Candles Safely.

As decorative candles have become increasingly popular, candle fires have also increased. If you light candles, keep them away from children and pets, from curtains and furniture, and extinguish them before you leave the room or go to bed. Make sure candles are in sturdy holders that won't tip over and are made of non-flammable material.

Know What to Do in Case of a Fire.

Practicing how you would escape a fire before it strikes will enable you to get out faster. Getting out of your own home sounds easy, but your home can look very different if it's full of smoke. Fire Drills are a good opportunity to make sure that everyone is able to hear and respond to smoke alarms.
  • Draw a layout of your house marking all windows and doors. Plan two routes out of each room and practice your plan.
  • Designate a meeting place outside and take attendance. Get out and stay out. Never go back into a burning or smoky building.
  • Remember to escape first, then call 911. Keep a pair of slippers, eyeglasses and a flashlight by your bed at night. Once you hear the smoke alarm, act quickly and escape.
If you use a wheelchair or walker, or otherwise might have a problem escaping from a fire, discuss your escape plans ahead of time with your family, your building manager and neighbors. Let them know about your special circumstances and ask them to help plan the best escape routes for you. A full fire safety plan covers more than just what to do if the worst happens. It covers prevention and detection too.
The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service sponsors a FREE smoke alarm program for qualifying senior citizens, the disabled and low-income home owners of Montgomery County, Maryland. Please contact us at 240-777-2476 for information.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

ESL, Interlogix Hard-Wired Smoke Alarms Recalled Due to Failure to Alert Consumers of a Fire

Below from our partners in safety at the CPSC.  This may impact some of you out there so want to make you aware.  Make sure you test your smoke alarms regardless!

ESL, Interlogix Hard-Wired Smoke Alarms Recalled Due to Failure to Alert Consumers of a Fire |

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

TURN AROUND - DON’T DROWN and Try an Alternate Route! List of Roads That Flood

Many Roads in Montgomery County Susceptible to Flooding so Consider Alternate Routes Beforehand!

We have had a lot of rain so far and more is potentially expected later today and this evening!  County residents are urged to be alert to changing weather conditions and should be prepared for possible flash flooding over the next twenty four hours as a storm system will move into the area and could bring heavy rains. 
Flash floods more often occur in mountain streams, hilly areas or low-lying areas.  But they do happen in urban and suburban areas like Montgomery County, as well.  Flash floods can occur even though it's not raining where you are.  It may be raining hard farther upstream and raining so hard that the water can not be absorbed into the ground.

Safety Tips: 
If a flash flood warning is issued, act immediately.  Don't wait for high water to dictate your course of action. 

Know your location when you are driving.  If you needed rescue, would you be able to direct emergency crews to your location?  Distracted driving can lead to a situation where you are stranded and unable to direct emergency crews to you.  Be alert! 
Never drive through a flooded road or bridge.  Turn Around - Don’t Drown and try an alternate route!  In many cases, it takes far less than a foot of water to incapacitate a vehicle.  It may stall, leaving you stranded, and depending on the level of water, you may not be able to open a vehicle door.  Do not underestimate the power of moving water. 
Watch for flooding at bridges and dips in the road.  Never drive where water is over bridges or roads. Turn around - Don’t Drown!  The bridges or the road could suddenly be washed out. If you're driving at night be especially careful.  Often visibility is limited due to wind and rain. 
Often what you can't see below the surface of the water is far more dangerous than the high levels of that water.  Remember that rocks, tree limbs and other debris can be caught in moving water and can be dangerous if you are forced to walk, wade or swim through flood waters. 
If you have to walk or wade through flood water, use a stick to poke the ground in front of you with each step.  It can help you determine water levels, the bottom surface and the safest possible way to get to higher ground. 
Remember that flash floods can come without warning, and sometimes without weather.  Be alert and heed all warnings and recommendations from officials. From FEMA's website, some further information about driving through flooded roadways:
  • Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.
  • A foot of water will float many vehicles.  
  • Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUV's) and pick-ups
TURN AROUND - DON’T DROWN and try an alternate route!


MD 29 (Columbia Pike) at Paint Branch - N. of White Oak 
MD 185 (Conn. Ave) at Rock Creek - S. of Kensington 
MD 190 (River Road) at Cabin John Creek - Potomac 
MD 193 (Univ. Blvd) at Sligo Creek - Wheaton 
MD 586 (Viers Mill Rd) at Rock Creek - S. of Twinbrook Pkwy. 
Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park - Kensington-Chevy Chase 
Sligo Creek Pkwy - Silver Spring-Takoma Park 

MD 97 (Georgia Ave) at Reddy Branch - N. of Brookeville 
MD 124 (Woodfield Rd) at Goshen Branch and at Gr. Seneca Creek - N. of Brink Rd. 
MD 117 (Clopper Rd) at Gr. Seneca Creek - W. of Gaithersburg 
MD 117 (Clopper Rd) at Little Seneca Creek - E. of Boyds 
MD 355 (Frederick Rd) at Little Seneca Creek - W. of Brink 
MD 121 (Clarksburg Rd) near Little Seneca Lake - N. of Boyds 
MD 118 (Germantown Rd) at Great Seneca Creek - S. of Germantown 
River Rd and Berryville Rd at Seneca Creek - Seneca 
Blunt Road at Great Seneca Creek - S. of Brink Rd. 
Davis Mill Rd at Great Seneca Creek - N. of Gaithersburg 
Brighton Dam Rd at Hawlings River - NE of Brookeville 
Goldmine Rd at Hawlings River - E of Olney 
Zion Rd at Hawlings River - E. of Laytonsville 
Hoyles Mill Rd at ford of Little Seneca Creek - Germantown, west of soccer complex 
Loghouse Rd at Magruder Branch - S. of Damascus 
Elton Farm Rd at Haights Branch - N. of Sunshine 
Howard Chapel Rd at Haights Branch - N. of Sunshine 
White’s Ferry Road and River Road - White’s Ferry