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26-year Department Veteran Assumes Post July 4

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced that Acting Fire Chief Kyrle W. Preis III will take the reins as Fire Chief beginning on July 4 since the County Council confirmed his appointment this evening. He will command 1,000 career and 2,000 volunteer members of the Baltimore County Fire Service in fire suppression, rescue and emergency medical services operations.

Preis takes over for Chief John Hohman, who retired on June 30 after 40 years of service to Baltimore County. “Chief Hohman has done an outstanding job throughout his distinguished career and I wish him and his family all the best in his well-earned retirement,” Kamenetz said.

Preis started his career with the Baltimore County Fire Department in 1990 as an emergency medical technician (EMT) at the Fullerton fire station. Throughout his more than 26 years, Preis has held numerous positions including Fire Captain, Battalion Chief and Director of Emergency Medical Services, and in 2012 he was promoted to Assistant Fire Chief.  He earned a master’s degree in public safety administration from Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois and a bachelor’s degree in fire service administration from the University of Maryland. He holds the highest level of fire officer certification from the University of Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute. A lifelong resident of Baltimore County, he resides in Kingsville.

“I am grateful to be given this opportunity and excited to start the job,” said Preis. “Chief Hohman left an impressive legacy and I’ve got some big shoes to fill.”

“Chief Preis is absolutely the right person for the job,” said Kamenetz. “He has excelled as a leader in both the fire suppression side of our fire service as well as in emergency medical services. He combines solid technical skills with a real knack for communication and a collaborative leadership style that drives positive results. Chief Preis is also committed to the continued diversification of our fire department.”

“I have every confidence in Chief Preis’ ability to lead our nationally recognized fire department and continue Chief Hohman’s tradition of excellent service and continuous improvement in department operations,” said Council Chair Tom Quirk.

Chief Preis’ resume is below.

# # #  

Baltimore County Fire Department   Towson, MD
Hired: August 27, 1990      26+ years of service

Assistant Fire Chief    June 2012 - present
•  Command 1,000 career and 2,000 volunteer members in the delivery of fire, rescue, and EMS services
•  Command support areas that include EMS Division, Fire Marshal’s Office, Communications Division, Hazardous Materials and Special Operations
•  Plan and implement a budget of over $95 million dollars
•  Work with the local affiliate of the International Association of Fire Fighters in personnel matters and labor agreement negotiations
•  Work with the Baltimore County Volunteer Firemen’s Association on administrative issues

Battalion Chief    February 2011 - June 2012
•  Commanded one shift in the eastern battalion (9 career stations, approx. 40 personnel) in the delivery of fire, rescue, and EMS services
•  Functioned as a public information officer

EMS Director    September 2008 – February 2011
•  Oversaw the EMS Division for the department, developing and implementing policy
•  Responsible for delivery of Emergency Medical Services in a county of 810,000 citizens, guiding career and volunteer personnel

EMS Captain    August 2007 – September 2008
•  Commanded one of four shifts for the delivery of EMS for 32 career and 20 volunteer medic units

Fire Captain    July 2006 – August 2007
•  Commanded one of four shifts at the Hillendale Fire Station which housed one engine and one medic unit (8 personnel)

EMS Lieutenant    July 1999 – July 2006
•  Commanded six career and five volunteer medic units for the delivery of EMS

Paramedic    November 1991 – July 1999
•  Function as a Paramedic and Firefighter at the Fullerton, Hillendale, and Perry Hall Fire Stations

EMT   August 1990 – November 1991
•  At the Fullerton Fire Station


Master of Science       Public Safety Administration – 4.0 GPA
Lewis University, Romeoville, IL

Bachelor of Science    Fire Service Administration – Cum Laude, 3.825 GPA
University of Maryland University College, Adelphi, MD

Fire Officer IV, the highest level of officer certification
University of Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute, College Park, MD

Nationally Registered Paramedic (license is current)
Community College of Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD

Appointments and Associations
•  State of Maryland EMS Board Member, appointed by the Governor, 2014 - present
•  Member, International Association of Fire Fighters
•  Member, International Association of Fire Chiefs
•  Life Member, Kingsville Volunteer Fire Company
•  Past Board Member, Greater Kingsville Civic Association
•  Past President, St. Stephen School Fathers’ Club
•  Member, Loyola Blakefield Fathers’ Club
•  Member, St. Stephen Church – lifelong

•  Lifelong resident of Baltimore County

Jennifer Werry Stewart
Baltimore County Government Coordinator, 2015 Race for the Cure
Chief of Staff, Baltimore County Fire Department

If you are in Hunt Valley on a certain Sunday morning every October, you will be amazed to witness what looks like a sea of pink filling the roads and sidewalks!

I am excited to report that, once again, Baltimore County employees have been the top fundraiser among groups participating in the 2015 Race for the Cure. We are happy to partner with Komen Maryland to host the Race for the Cure each year and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz is pleased to serve as the honorary chair for this remarkable event.

award presentation photoSpecial congratulations go out to Paramedic/Firefighter Linda Sears who was this year’s recipient of The Power of One award from Komen Maryland, presented to her at its annual appreciation reception last week by Komen Maryland Executive Director, Mark Roeder. (Photo credit: Ashley Michelle Photography.)

Linda has been the captain of the Fire Department’s Race for the Cure team for nine years and during that time, the team has raised $93,000 to support those affected by breast cancer. Linda was instrumental in registering people to participate in the race and created commemorative t-shirts each year to raise donations.

Baltimore County Government was also recognized at the reception as the top group fundraiser for the 2015 Race for the Cure. Sixteen teams from various county agencies collected almost $30,000 last year.

Thanks very much to everyone who participated, and let’s beat our own record and make Hunt Valley even pinker this coming October!

ThunderstormsCaptain Lonnie Ledford, Baltimore County Fire Department

Summer in the mid-Atlantic means hot, humid days and cooler nights, and there is always a possibility of thunderstorms. Meteorologists use modern Doppler radar and computer models to track and predict the path of weather events that affect our area. However, without individuals reacting properly to these warnings, many structures are damaged, and individuals are put at unnecessary risk.   

How can you prepare for and minimize the potential damages caused by these common weather events? To begin, we have to understand the terminology used by the National Weather Service when they issue notices. The term watch when used in conjunction with a weather event is the less immediately threatening. A watch indicates that the potential for a weather event exists in our area, and preparations should be made; however, the event may not actually occur or it may go around certain areas. Daily activities may continue with a watchful eye on the sky and ear to a radio. A weather event warning, on the other hand, means that conditions are being observed and a weather event is currently happening in the area or is deemed to be imminent within one-half to one hour. Precautions should be taken immediately to secure property and protect yourself and your family. Outdoor activities should be postponed or ceased. 

Another term that needs to be understood is the National Weather Service’s use of the word severe. A thunderstorm is classified as severe when it has the potential for wind gusts of 58 mph or when it produces hail one inch in diameter.  (A good visual gauge  to use is that a US quarter ($0.25) is approximately one inch in diameter.) Hail can damage glass, such as skylights or windows, and it can damage vehicles and hurt or possibly kill animals that are left outside. Bring animals indoors, and place vehicles in garages. 

While all severe thunderstorms have the potential for triggering tornados, hail size is good indicator of the potential of formation of tornados. Stronger cyclonic updrafts create larger hail sizes, and this can be indicative of the increased danger of a potential tornado. Lightening, while dangerous, is not included in the National Weather Service’s definition of severe because even less damaging thunderstorms can still produce significant amounts of lightening and lightning strikes. 

The United States faces approximately 100,000 thunderstorms per year, and only about ten percent of those are classified as “severe thunderstorms” by the National Weather Service.  Severe thunderstorm warnings should be taken seriously, and protective measures should be put into place as soon as possible.

There are several things you can do to prepare for a severe thunderstorm. The first consideration should be finding adequate shelter. Second, there are several life threatening situations that many people do not consider during a severe thunderstorm. The most obvious, and dramatic, is the potential for lightening strikes. Lightning strikes happen in four different ways.

1.  Direct strike – the lightening leader comes down and hits the object or person directly. The person or object becomes part of the discharge pathway to the ground. While this type of pathway is not very common, it usually occurs in large open space areas. If caught outside in one of these areas, make yourself as small as possible by crouching down as low as possible, placing your hands on your knees, ducking your head and raising your heels off of the ground. The only parts of your body that should be in contact with the ground are the balls of your feet and your toes. This position offers the best protection when shelter is not immediately available.

2.  Side flash or side splash strike – lightning strikes a taller object and jumps to an individual or object nearby, essentially creating a shorter pathway to the ground. Care should be taken to avoid being close to taller objects during a storm. Trees and other tall objects may provide some protection from the rain, but they also are prime targets for lightning strikes, so avoid using them as shelter during a storm.

3.  Ground current – lightning strikes a tree or other object and the lightning’s energy is transferred to the ground, where it moves out laterally. If a person or animal is in the area of the lightning strike, they could potentially become a victim of ground current. This type of strike is the most common in the fatalities of livestock and other animals.

4.  Conduction – metal objects such as pipes, landline telephone wires and fences are good conductors of electricity. While the metal does not attract the lightning, it provides a superior pathway for its conduction to ground. Try to avoid contact with any metal objects during a storm. Avoid taking showers and using sinks and other plumbing fixtures during a storm, due to its potential to conduct the current if the structure is struck by lightning.   

In Let’s Talk About the Weather Part Two, I’ll offer several more storm preparation tips to help keep you and your family safe this storm season.

Revised September 26, 2016