Md. Firefighter Shocked While Unplugging Shoreline

A Prince George's County firefighter was shocked while unplugging a shoreline from a fire engine at a station Wednesday night and the department is already taking steps to prevent similar incidents in the future.

The unidentified firefighter -- a nine-year veteran of the department -- was transported to the Burn Unit at Washington Hospital Center following the incident at Beltsville Station 831 and was listed in good condition Thursday afternoon.

He initially was unable to move his right hand and experienced a loss of sensation in his arm, but has since regained the ability to move several fingers but still doesn't have any feeling in his arm or hand, department spokesman Mark Brady told Firehouse.com.

"It was a small amount of progress, but certainly a good sign," he said, adding that the firefighter is "conscious, alert and in good spirits."

The incident occurred as the firefighter and his colleagues were leaving the station for training. As he disconnected the 120-volt shoreline from the engine by pulling the cord, the wires apparently pulled away from the protective housing.

The exposed wires then came in contact with the firefighter's arm and caused an electrical shock that threw him to the engine room floor.

Paramedics from Calverton Station 841 responded and -- along with Beltsville personnel -- transported him to the burn unit.

Brady said that a contributing factor in the incident was that the firefighter pulled the cord in order to disconnect the shoreline.

"The best way is gripping from the housing itself and not pulling on the cord," he said. "It is a common practice to pull the cord, but it is something we should avoid doing. It causes unnecessary wear and tear over time and could result in what occurred last night."

To prevent future incidents, the department will be sending out a safety bulletin to remind all of its members to pull from the housing while disconnecting shorelines from apparatus.

The last time a similar incident occurred at the department was at least 10 years ago, Brady said, but stressed that firefighters need to stay alert at all times.

"Injuries to firefighters can happen far away from the fire ground and this was one of those incidents."

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