Community and Volunteer Firefighter Safety Impacted
FACT Sheet: Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department/Station 5
History: Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Dept. – Nearly 100 Years of Service
Membership: Our Department
Ways You Can Help:
» Call Your Local Leaders and Tell them What You Think
» Send Letters to Local & State Leaders (Addresses Coming Soon)
» Join Our Department – Find Out How to Become a Member
Imporant Phone Numbers:
Jack B. Johnson, County Executive – (301) 952-4131
Camille Exum, County Council – (301) 952-3690
Eugene Jones, County Fire Chief – (301) 883-5200
Show Your Support:
CHANGE IN RALLY TIME – The rally will now be held on FRIDAY, July 31, 2009 at 6pm at the Capitol Heights Fire station located at 6061 Central Avenue.
On July 27, 2009 the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department, the citizens of Capitol Heights, and surrounding communities learned through an official Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department press release that career staffing would be removed from the Capitol Heights fire station (Station 805) on August 2, 2009. While we have not received official notice from the department, we have petitioned Fire Chief Eugene Jones to reconsider his decision and have asked our local and state leaders for their support.
A reduction in staffing at the Capitol Heights fire station will have a dramatic impact on the safety of the community, as well as, the volunteer firefighters that remain to provide coverage. In 2008 the station responded to 6,197 calls for service. We have responded to 3,407 calls for service to date in 2009 (January 1 through July 27, 2009). We project that the station will respond to approximately 6,810 calls for service by year’s end.
The majority of these calls for service are emergency medical services (EMS) related, accounting for more than 3,000 calls per year. It is projected that calls for service in 2009 will exceed 3,800. Paramedic Ambulance 805, which has been critical in providing life saving interventions to our citizens, would be relocated to the District Heights fire station (Station 826). This would have a tragic impact on the citizens of Capitol Heights and surrounding communities. In 2003, prior to the implementation of the Paramedic Ambulance program at Station 805, the average on scene time for an advanced life support (ALS) unit to arrive in our first due response area was 12 minutes and 44 seconds. Since then, this on scene time has been dramatically reduced. In fiscal year 2008 this time was 5 minutes and 40 seconds. Data has not been made available for fiscal year 2009.
Recently, the removal of career shift staffing from the Boulevard Heights fire station (Station 817) has resulted in a significant increase in the number of calls for the Capitol Heights station to make up the loss. The loss of staffing at Station 817, the closure of the Hillside fire station (Station 806), and the removal of career staffing at our station would be an undue burden on the citizens of Capitol Heights and the surrounding communities. In addition, neighboring stations would be called upon to cover these areas, which would have a ripple effect throughout Prince George’s County.
While the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department has limited volunteer staffing, there are sixteen (16) operational members that respond to emergencies. There are also numerous non-operational members that provide administrative support and community service. All of our members participate in community service projects, fire prevention and public safety education, and the administrative work associated with running a volunteer fire company. Many of these are lifetime members that have served almost their entire adult life with the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department. We are constantly recruiting and currently have nine (9) new recruits in the application process. However, it will be months before they have completed their training and can be effective operational members.
Recent media stories have quoted Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department officials as saying that we “often” fail to respond when career staffing is redeployed. While we have limited volunteer resources, this is very misleading. Since March 2009, our membership provided coverage as part of the department’s “Dynamic Staffing Plan.” We were scheduled to staff the station with volunteers on seven (7) specific weekend dates. The members of the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department covered each of those days; we did not fail to respond or go understaffed with an average of 6.6 volunteers on those dates. In July 2009 we were included in the department’s “Volunteer Staffing Utilization Plan” which identified another six (6) days where volunteers would staff the station. This plan included weekdays and occurred more frequently, which made it nearly impossible for us to cover. To date, five (5) of those scheduled days have passed and we have covered four (4) of them. On one of those scheduled days we simply were not able to provide a crew unless our membership took leave from their jobs or lost a day’s pay. Moving forward with the removal of career staffing from the Capitol Heights fire station will make it increasingly difficult to sustain the level of service that our community deserves. We recognize that we simply cannot do it alone and the restoration of career staffing at the Capitol Heights fire station is critical to our existence.
About the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department
The Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department has faithfully provided fire and emergency services for nearly 100 years to the citizens of Capitol Heights and surrounding communities. Our station is located just outside our Nation’s Capital, in Prince George’s County, Maryland. We provide an aggressive fire prevention and public safety education program including cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) at area churches and schools, fire prevention education materials, and fire prevention and public safety education events across Prince George’s County with our fire safety trailer, Fire Safety House 5. For more information about the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department please contact (301) 336-2111 and visit our website at: www.chvfd.org.