Written by Dave Statter
4/7/2005 7:39:48 PM
There are serious questions about the qualifications of some local firefighters.9 News has obtained an internal report looking into the near fatal injuries suffered by a Prince George’s county fire lieutenant.At issue, inadequate training.It could affect how crews handle a fire at your home.Dave Statter’s report If you had to say what clearly went right at the fire on Roseld Court in Oxon Hill February 22nd 2004, it would be the dramatic rescue of Lt. Dino Mahaffey, trapped on the second floor of the burning home with respiratory burns that nearly killed him. Mahaffey was brought out and given care in a remarkably short period of time. But the praise pretty much stops there. The 117 page report says the rescue happened despite an operation that was poorly run and was executed in a way that could have seriously injured other firefighters. But it is what the report says about training of career and volunteer firefighters that could affect anyone who calls 911 for a fire emergency. At a time when many fire departments are worried about how well their firefighters are prepared for the unusual incidents, like hazardous materials and weapons of mass destruction, the Prince George’s County Fire Department has a more basic problem, and that is getting firefighters to the scenes of fires in homes, apartments and businesses. The department also has to make sure they are all adequately trained to handle these everyday emergencies.The report concludes that basic fire ground operational training is inadequate, the company and command officer training is not adequate and that the Department’s incident management training is inadequate.Dino Mahaffey, who is still unable to work due to lung injuries, has been lobbying council members and other county officials about other aspects of the report. Before the County can even raise the training standards they need to find out who has what training. The report concluded that training and certification records are in disarray. Spokesman Mark Brady says the department began addressing many of these issues well before the report was completed, and despite the very critical report all parties seem to agree the county has some dedicated people who on a daily basis are getting the job done of fighting fires and saving lives.