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Baltimore County News

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Keyword: fire department

Officials Advise Residents to Plan for Possible Flooding and Power Outages

Although the current track of Hurricane Florence appears to be headed far south of our area, Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler and his top public safety and public health team gathered at Bowleys Quarters Volunteer Fire Rescue and Marine this morning to advise residents to stay alert to possible changes and prepare in case of localized coastal and inland flooding or power outages from downed trees. The storm is expected to stall and produce heavy rains, which could lead to some inland and coastal flooding throughout the south and possibly in the Mid-Atlantic region.

“The Memorial Day weekend flooding in Catonsville, Ellicott City, Oella and Turner Station was an unwelcome reminder of our vulnerability, and that it doesn’t take a direct hit from a hurricane to ruin homes and businesses and cause prolonged power outages and possible loss of life,” Mohler said.

Mohler reminded residents to watch the County’s social media channels for storm-related updates. “Providing accurate, timely information to our citizens during an emergency is a top priority for us,” he said. “During storms and other emergencies, we push out frequent updates via Twitter @BaltCoemergency and on our Baltimore County Fire Department Facebook page.” Baltimore County emergency managers will continue to receive regular updates throughout this weather event and will provide updates on social media as needed.

“Living in eastern Baltimore County and along the waterfront myself, I am particularly grateful to all of our career and volunteer fire service, police officers and public works staff who stand ready to jump into action if necessary to protect people if this storm should cause problems,” said 6th District County Councilwoman Cathy Bevins.

Fire and Public Works Crews are Prepared and Ready to Respond

The Baltimore County Fire Department and the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management continue monitoring the storm and preparing to respond as needed. These preparations include:

  • Inspecting swiftwater and high-water rescue equipment; pumps and other apparatus.
  • Reviewing staffing and operational plans.
  • Preparing to open and staff the Emergency Operations Center, in case this becomes an emergency requiring a coordinated, multi-agency response.
  • Contacting our mutual aid partners in case we need additional resources.
  • Regular updates with National Weather Service regarding the forecast.

The Baltimore County Department of Public Works (DPW) has placed special emphasis this week on checking their equipment and clearing storm drain inlets to help reduce flooding potential. DPW warns that the saturated ground from recent rainy weather means that trees can be vulnerable to toppling from lighter winds than usual. County tree crews and contractors are ready to clear trees that may fall into roadways and the public right of way.

DPW asks residents to help by reporting any problems that may occur including blocked inlets and downed trees to the Bureau of Highways using the BaltCoGo mobile app. The app is offered free of charge to Android and iPhone users and may be downloaded from their respective app stores. Residents may also call the Bureau of Highways at 410-887-3560.

Flooded basement issues can be reported to 911, so they can be evaluated for fire risks on a case by case basis. The County asks homeowners take steps to prevent problems, or reduce their impact, by clearing downspouts and basement stairwells.

Preparation is Key for Residents

Every household should prepare for this and other possible weather emergencies, considering how thay will manage if the power goes out for an extended period. Steps to take now:

  • Locate and purchase supplies. You need non-perishable food, a manual can opener, medications, supplies for infants and vulnerable adults, pet supplies, flashlights/batteries and a battery-powered radio.
  • Buy or store extra water -- at least a gallon per person, per day, plus extra for pets.
  • Fully charge all your electric devices. If power goes out, use them sparingly to make them last as long as possible.
  • Get cash. ATMs will not work during a power outage.
  • Secure boats and outdoor furniture.
  • Plan where you will evacuate if you live in a flood-prone area and need to move to higher ground.
  • Assist vulnerable family and neighbors with storm preparations. This is critical; many vulnerable people, including older people cannot prepare by themselves.
  • Stay informed about the track of this storm. Follow weather forecasts and our social media posts, @BaltCoEmergency on Twitter and @BaltCoFire on Facebook.

Kamenetz to Honor Three Outstanding Women at March Ceremony

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and the Baltimore County Commission for Women will recognize three outstanding women at a ceremony on Thursday, March 1. The annual Woman of the Year awards are given to female Baltimore County residents who have enhanced the lives of others and made significant contributions to their community, workplace, or school to further the interests of women and children.

The Baltimore County Commission for Women 2018 award winners are:

  • Laura Clary, BSN, RN as the “Woman of the Year,” GBMC nurse, clinical manager of GBMC’s Safe Program, advocate for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence and recipient of the 2017 America’s Most Amazing Nurse from Prevention Magazine. She lives in Essex.
  • Assistant Baltimore County Fire Chief Jennifer Aubert-Utz as the “Woman Making a Difference,” a leader in a male-dominated profession and the highest-ranking woman with the Baltimore County Fire Department. She resides in Parkville.
  • Gabriella McLean as the “2018 Young Woman of the Year,” senior at Catonsville High School championing homelessness among children and young adults.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz will lead the recognition ceremony, together with members of the County Council and Baltimore County Statehouse delegation. The awards ceremony will take place on Thursday, March 1 at 6 p.m. in the County Council Chambers, on the second floor of the Historic Courthouse in Towson.

“For more than four decades, the Commission for Women has served our communities through outreach and educational initiatives to advocate for true gender equity for women and girls in our County and I commend them for their efforts and congratulate this year’s honorees,” said Kamenetz.  

The Baltimore County Commission for Women was formed on January 3, 1977 by an act of the Baltimore County Council to address the needs of women through education, outreach and advocacy. The Commission works to identify and advocate for programs, legislation and services to meet the needs of Baltimore County’s women and children.

For additional information about these awards and the Commission for Women, people may contact Nancy Surosky at 410-887-2450 or

Program Will Provide 20,000 Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms for Homes

The Baltimore County Fire Department (BCoFD) recently received its most significant federal fire safety grant in years -- a $589,000 award that will be used to establish a smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarm educational program. Fire officials expect to launch the program – still in the planning stage – early in 2018. The County Council accepted the grant, issued under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Fire Prevention and Safety program, earlier this month.

“This grant is going to help us save lives,” said County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. “So many fire and carbon monoxide tragedies are preventable with working alarms, yet there are communities in Baltimore County where many homes still don’t have them.”

Under the terms of the grant, the County must contribute five percent of the grant award, or $29,452. BCoFD has begun the process of purchasing 20,000 smoke and CO alarms for installation in homes that meet the program criteria. The program will target neighborhoods at higher risk from fire and CO-related incidents.

Fire Chief Kyrle W. Preis III said fire personnel from every career station will assess their districts to identify areas in need of targeted fire and CO safety education. Residents will be able to request individual walk-through inspections and smoke/CO alarm installation through an online request form on the County website.

Once the program is underway, targeted communities can expect to see fire personnel periodically canvassing neighborhoods, providing educational information, evaluating properties for safety recommendations and performing walk-through evaluations for residents who request them. Volunteer stations will be invited to assist with these events.

Educational materials distributed as part of this program will be provided in multiple languages, thus meeting the needs of all our constituents. In addition to funding for the smoke and CO alarms, this grant also will support the purchase of alarms for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Winter and Holiday Fire Safety

The heart of the winter season, Preis said, is the right time to make sure alarms are in working order and properly placed. The risk of residential fires is greatest during the winter months due to heating, holiday decorations, winter storms and candles. Chief Preis stressed that the new program does not mitigate residents’ responsibility to make sure their homes are properly equipped with working smoke and CO alarms.

Here are some of the biggest concerns:

Candles - The top four days for home candles fires are New Year’s Day, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Christmas Eve. Never leave candles unattended. Use sturdy candle holders, preferably ones like a “hurricane” type holder that shield the candle. Keep candles away from flammable items like wrapping paper, curtains and greenery. Consider battery-powered candles.

Live Christmas trees - Christmas tree fires are rare, but when they do occur they are devastating because a dry tree provides so much fuel for fire; such fires often spread so quickly that it’s impossible for people to escape. The fatality rate for Christmas tree fires is far higher than for other home fires. In 2014, a horrific fire involving a dry, 15-foot Frasier fir in an Annapolis home claimed the lives of a couple and their four grandchildren.

Keeping the tree watered is the key to safety. A dry tree is extremely flammable. If your tree’s needles are dry, brittle and dropping to the ground, it’s time for the tree to go.

Electrical fires - One of the most common causes of home fires at any time of year, electrical fires are most commonly caused by overloaded outlets and extension cords and electrical malfunction. During the holidays, overuse of extension cords is a real problem. Minimize the use of extension cords, and do not run cords under carpets. Always follow all manufacturer’s recommendations when using any electrical appliance.

Revised September 11, 2017