Valiant Rescue Effort At Maryland Fire

Pete Piringer details efforts to rescue a child from a fast-moving house fire in Prince George’s County.


FD Profile Prince George's County is located along the eastern borders of Washington, D.C., and is home to Andrews Air Force Base, the University of Maryland, the NASA Space Flight Center and other federal, state and local government facilities. The Prince George's County Fire Department is a...


To access the remainder of this piece of premium content, you must be registered with Firehouse. Already have an account? Login

Register in seconds by connecting with your preferred Social Network.

OR

Complete the registration form.

Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required

Three firefighters and both parents were injured in their attempts to make a rescue. Almoney was burned and suffered an injured shoulder as he attempted the initial search and rescue for the trapped child. Captain Charlie Flinn, the officer on Engine 411, the second engine to arrive, directed his crew to handjack a line to Engine 311 and advance a pre-connected two-inch attack line from Engine 311 to the front door. Flinn was then directed to advance a pre-connected 1 3/4-inch hoseline up the ladder to the second floor in another effort to rescue the trapped child. He was burned while attempting to gain access through the window.

7_97_valiant9.jpg
Photo by Mark E. Brady, Asst. PIO/Prince George's County FD
9. After many rescue attempts a charged 1 3/4-inch handline was brought to the second floor window in another attempt; that firefighter suffered burns.

 


7_97_valiant10.jpg
Photo by Mark E. Brady, Asst. PIO/Prince George's County FD
10. There was a delay in notification because the 1940s-era farmhouse had no telephones or smoke detectors.

 

Captain Victor Ferreira, station commander at Beltsville Station 31, was not in quarters at the time of the call. He arrived shortly after the fourth engine, Engine 11, was in the initial stages of its evolution. He climbed the painter's ladder to the second-floor window and attempted to gain entry but was unable to do so. Ferreira then found an interior stairwell, where he encountered heavy fire. Conditions quickly became untenable and he was burned as he exited the structure.

Volunteer Deputy Chief Andy Bowen arrived, assumed command and requested two additional command officers. Breen took over operations command as various sector commands were established.

The child's pregnant mother was distraught and suffering from smoke inhalation; the father, in his attempt to save his daughter, received burns with respiratory involvement. Both parents and three firefighters were eventually transported to area hospitals. The mother was treated and released, as were Almoney and Ferreira. Flinn was held for observation at the Washington D.C. Hospital Center Burn Unit. The girl's father was taken to a local hospital and later transferred to the John Hopkins Bayview Medical Center Burn Unit in Baltimore, in critical condition.

Contributing Factors

As a result of this quick-spreading fire, despite the efforts of civilians and firefighters, the baby died. The cause of death has yet to be determined. Initial investigation by the Prince George's County Fire Department Bureau of Fire Investigations has revealed that the area of origin appears to be the first-floor kitchen. A contributing factor to the rapid spread of the fire was the involvement of propane gas, reportedly used for cooking, as well as the wood-frame, balloon construction of the house. Fire investigators believe there was a delay in notification of the fire, primarily due to the fact that the 1940s-era farmhouse did not have working smoke detectors or a telephone.

The fire caused an estimated $90,000 in damage, destroying the house. The cause of the fire is under investigation but appeared to be accidental.


Pete Piringer is public information officer for the Prince George's County, MD, Fire Department.