Saturday, May 18, 2013 1:35 PM
Photo by Jim Davis. Prince George’s County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor thanks Pepco for donating 730 smoke alarms at a press conference Friday in Landover Hills.
Published on: Wednesday, March 13, 2013
By Jim Davis
Nine people have died and nearly $1 million-worth of property has been damaged because of several significant house fires in Prince George’s County since the beginning of 2013.
Prince George’s Fire/EMS Department officials said some of those deaths and damages could have been prevented by having a working smoke alarm in the house.
On Feb. 21, a father and three of his four daughters died after a fire erupted in their one-story house in Glenarden.
According to Deputy Fire Chief Benjamin Barksdale, the house did not have a working smoke alarm.
Just a few days later, firefighters from Prince George’s and Charles counties battled a house fire in the 14800 of Berry Road in Accokeek.
Due to a working smoke alarm, all of the residents were alerted to the fire and exited the house safely, said PGFD chief spokesman Mark Brady.
A few days later, an early morning fire destroyed a large two-story house on Peach Tree Lane in Bowie. The homeowner was awakened by a smoke alarm and was able to get out of his house just before his house went up flames.
Over the last few weeks, firefighters and medics have gone door to door in Glenarden, Bowie and Accokeek to check that residents have a working smoke alarm. More than half of the homes did not have a working smoke alarm, said Prince George’s County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor.
A working smoke alarm can increase the chance of surviving a home fire by 50 percent, fire officials said. Every home, by law, is required to have a working smoke alarm.
The Fire Department recommends having a working smoke alarm on every level of the home. If residents sleep with bedroom doors closed, a working smoke alarm should be installed in those bedrooms too.
In Prince George’s County, residents can receive a free smoke alarm and have it installed by county firefighters.
“We have had over 500 requests from residents of Prince George’s County for smoke alarms. I am glad to say with the help from Pepco we will be able to grant the request,” Bashoor said.
At a Friday press conference in Landover Hills, George Nelson, Pepco Holdings vice president of operations and engineering, presented 700 smoke alarms and 30 hearing-impaired smoke alarms to the Fire Department. Over the past nine years, Pepco has annually donated smoke alarms.
“Knowing the importance of having a working smoke alarm in your home, Pepco has continued to be a partner in helping us keep Prince Georgians safe by allowing us to install these life-saving devices into homes free of charge,” Bashoor said.
“Pepco truly appreciates the dedication of the men and women of the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department and hopes that our annual donation in some small way contributes to the life-saving work they do every day for the residents of Prince George’s County,” Nelson said. “This donation is a great way to support the community and strengthen the partnerships that exist between our first responders. Pepco is proud to support an initiative that is so important to our customers, communities and first responders.”
On March 1, the Fire Department spearheaded a new “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” campaign to make sure that everyone in the county has a working smoke alarm.
“We can’t do it by ourselves,” Bashoor said. “We need the community involved and to get out there and check on their neighbors’ smoke alarms.”
Prince George’s County residents can receive a free smoke alarm by calling 301-583-2200.