MCFRS News Release

Montgomery County Hosts Training for Nation's First Responders

Firefighters From Across the U.S. to Train at Public Safety Training Academy and Other Local Venues

The Firehouse Expo (July 22-27) has established a reputation among fire and emergency service professionals for the quality of its educational program.  This year marks the 25th Anniversary for the Firehouse Exposition and Hands-on Training.  The opening ceremonies, educational sessions and vendor expo take place at the Baltimore Convention Center, Baltimore, Maryland.  Most of the pre-conference ‘hands-on training’ takes place the surrounding areas, including Montgomery County, as well as at sites in Baltimore County and at the Baltimore City Fire Training Academy.

To start, on Tuesday, July 22 and Wednesday, July 23 some first class “hands-on” training will take place locally at the Montgomery County Public Safety Training Academy (PSTA) in Rockville, at acquired vacant structures on Riffleford Road in Germantown, on Silver Spring Avenue in downtown Silver Spring and in Damascus at the Damascus Shopping Center on Main Street.  These sessions are considered to be some of the best training in the country and will be taught by nationally known fire and rescue service leaders, including several instructors from Montgomery County.

Last year Montgomery County Fire Chief Tom Carr unveiled the newly fashioned, state-of-the-art Command Development Center located at the Montgomery County (MD) Public Safety Training Academy (PSTA) during the expo.  Montgomery County Division Chief Richard Bowers and Assistant Chief Mike Clemens will conduct several sessions on ‘Command Competencies’ during this year’s ‘hands-on training’ sessions. This new virtual reality simulation training center is one of only a few in the United States and the only such facility east of the Mississippi River.  It also includes what is believed to be the largest fire and rescue tactical ‘table-top’ venue in the nation.  Again this year’s participants will be some of the first from outside of Montgomery County to use the Command Competency Center and learn about methodology and the process for a competency program.

Tuesday and Wednesday, July 22 and 23, sessions at the Montgomery County PSTA include:  ‘Command Competencies’ and ‘The Point of No Return’. This hands-on training evolution combines dynamic video driven classroom sessions with physically and mentally challenging exercises to introduce the skills required for effective air management on the modern fireground and will be taught by a team from the Seattle, Washington Fire Department, including Captains Casey Phillips and Phil Jose and Lieutenants Steve Bernocco and Mike Gagliano. 

Other sessions will take place in Damascus (Montgomery County) at the Damascus Center Shopping Center on Main Street and will include ‘Forcible Entry’, Instructor Captain Robert Morris, FDNY; and ‘After the Mayday: Handling Critical Fireground Emergencies’, Instructor Battalion Chief John Salka, FDNY.  Additionally, on Silver Spring Avenue, in downtown Silver Spring (Montgomery County), Instructor Captain Mike Duggan, FDNY will conduct a session about ‘Engine and Truck Company Operations: Overcoming problems on the Fireground’

Division Chief Richard Bowers, Assistant Chief Denise Pouget-Rankin and Captain Alan Keyser, all from Montgomery County (MD) Fire and Rescue Service will tackle the subject of ‘Acquired Structure Training and Live Burns – NFPA 1403’ at a location of Riffleford Road, in Germantown (Montgomery County).  Participants will experience reality based classroom training and how to properly conduct a NFPA 1403 acquired structure inspection and experience an actual live training burn exercise. This unique training opportunity will focus on the proper procedures to safely and effectively conduct training sessions and live burn exercises in acquired structures.

Hundreds of firefighters from across the United States, in addition to many from this area, will be participating.  Other ‘hands-on’ and pre-conference sessions are also taking place at the Baltimore City Fire Training Academy and the Baltimore County Fire Training Academy.

The opening ceremonies at the Firehouse Expo are a tradition not to be missed and offer something for everyone: a keynote address, honor guards, music, guest speakers, awards, a short film and more. This year will be no exception.  Many career and volunteer firefighters from the Washington and Baltimore areas will be attending to help kick off the 25th Annual Firehouse Expo at the Baltimore Convention Center. Educational and uplifting, it will be hard for these local heroes to leave the opening ceremonies not feeling motivated and proud to be a part of the Fire and Rescue industry.

Thousands of firefighters from across the United States, in addition to many from this area, will be participating.  Dozens of Montgomery County Fire and Rescue personnel will be assisting with the special “hands-on” training sessions taking place throughout the region, including training facilities in the Baltimore area.

The Firehouse Conference and Expo features industry leading experts from across the country, such as Pittsburgh, Chicago, Seattle, Phoenix, St. Louis, San Jose, New York, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Montgomery County. These speakers provide a different look at these timely problems that can affect all fire/EMS providers. 

There will also be a special keynote presentation on Thursday, July 24 by J. Gordon Routley, Chief, Shreveport, LA, (ret), Charleston Fire Project Team Leader. Chief Routley will discuss the recently released report into the tragic fire where nine Charleston, SC firefighters lost their lives while battling a store fire in one of the worst modern day LODD fatal fires. The Post Incident Assessment team was comprised of six fire/rescue professionals from around the country, including Pete Piringer, Montgomery County Public information Officer. The detailed analysis of the Sofa Super Store incident was the second phase of the project. The third phase will work with the city of Charleston and the Charleston Fire Department to develop a strategic plan for the following five to 10 year period which will take into account all the recommendations of the first two phases.

The Firehouse Expo exhibit show floor hosts hundreds of companies featuring the latest innovations in fire fighting and rescue equipment, apparatus, tools, vehicle accessories, rescue/extrication equipment, training, Hazmat gear and clothing.  New firefighting apparatus will be on display on the showroom floor.

The Firehouse Exposition and Conference Opening Ceremony will take place on Thursday, July 24 at the Baltimore Convention Center.  The exhibit floor of the Baltimore Convention Center featuring the latest in fire, rescue and EMS equipment and technology will be open Thursday, July 24 through Saturday, July 26, 2007.  Many emergency service workers from Montgomery County are expected to attend.