a residential house fire

D.C.-Area Department Wins NFPA's Jensen Memorial Grant

The National Fire Protection Association yesterday announced the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service has won the 2009 Rolf H. Jensen Memorial Public Education Grant, a $5,000 award that will help the department train adults older than 65 about fire safety. NFPA gives the award annually to support a community-wide fire and life safety education program or campaign.

The department's current leader is Interim Chief Richard Bowers. Its former chief, Tom Carr, spent his entire 30-year career with the department before retiring to become fire chief of Charleston, S.C., which revamped its training, equipment, building inspections, hiring and promotions policies, and emergency response system in the wake of the June 18, 2007, Sofa Super Store fire in which nine career Charleston Fire Department firefighters died. The city issued comprehensive reports on the fire and spent at least $7.4 million on improvements; NIOSH issued its own extensive report with recommendations for fire departments' procedures after sending its investigators to the fire scene.

The Montgomery County department protects about 1 million people in a 500-square-mile jurisdiction that is adjacent to Washington, D.C. and is Maryland's most populous county. The department is a combination career/volunteer unit that has an annual budget of about $200 million, handles about 100,000 emergency calls per year, and employs approximately 1,300 career uniformed personnel and professional civilian staffers and an equal number of volunteers.

The Jensen Grant is named for Rolf H. Jensen, founder of the fire protection consulting group RJA Group, Inc.

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