Prince George’s County Fire Officials Disciplined For Talking to Media

The fire at an apartment complex in Adelphi was the first the real test of the new dispatch system in Prince George’s County.The system, 2 years in the making, is supposed to use GPS locations of all assets to decide who is closest to the event.  In this first real test of the system, several units that would have been called weren’t, and the county apparently called neighboring Montgomery county units to help out.  County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor told WUSA9, “There were some units that wouldn’t normally run this call that ran it. We’ve got to go in and find why that occurred. It could be that the system showed they were actually the closest units. Until we dig into that, we won’t know.”

After concerns were filed with the department, Deputy Chief Mark Hughes of the Branchville station went to the press with his concerns that the system was actually making things worse. Seems that while PG County was calling Montgomery County for help, Branchville, Berwyn Heights, and College Park fire houses were left off the call. Hughes is concerned that the system actually wasted precious minutes, in this case by diverting the call to Montgomery county units unfamiliar with the area, something that could potentially end up costing lives at some point.

In response, the Prince George’s County Fire Department has punished not just Deputy Chief Hughes, but all three of the Chief Officers in the Branchville station.  A letter from PGCFD Deputy Chief Dennis Wood released earlier today and posted to twitter by reporter Paul Wagner says that all three of the Branchville Chief Officers have been busted down to Captain, and the Branchville no longer has a Chief.  The specific reason given, Hughes did not go through the PGCFD Public Information Officer to release his information, and therefore “violated the public trust.”

The man in charge of the new system, Wayne McBride, is confident that it works well, so confident that he says once they get it squared away with the fire department, they will be implementing it in the police department and the sheriff’s office. Whether the system works as designed is hard to tell at this point, however, busting all three officers in rank because one officer spoke out about concerns seems rather petty and vindictive.  It almost seems as if the PGCFD is sending a message to any other units who have an issue with the way the new dispatch system works. STFU, or else.

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