Friday, September 18, 2009

Bowie News: 11 Minute Response Time for Firefighters

It took eleven minutes for Prince George's County Firefighters to respond to a house fire on Wakefield Lane in Bowie Sunday night, and neighbors ended up controlling the fire with a garden hose and a fire extinguisher until firefighters were able to take over. When the first two firefighters did arrive, their rules of engagement didn't allow them to work on the fire because there were not enough firefighters present. How crazy! Budget cuts are being blamed for the inadequate response, and the homeowner is thanking his neighbors for saving his house. Additional details can be found at ABC7, FOX5 and, and there is an active series of comments on another blog.

The incident was captured in the Bowie Blade's weekly fire call log with no mention of the response time. It's hard to understand how the hometown paper can miss a story that catches the eye of ABC7 and FOX5. Perhaps this is yet another result of budget cuts. In the Blade's defense, it looks like the local TV stations didn't pick up the story until after the paper's Thursday deadline, even though the fire occurred Sunday night.

The other major Bowie story concerns the death of Brian Gray - a University of Maryland student who was killed on Belair Drive in an accident caused by a speeding Prince George's County Police officer. Yesterday, a jury awarded his mother $4 million in her civil suit against the county and the police officer - Cpl. Mario Chavez. Additional details are available in a Washington Post article. The Bowie Blade also covered the trial, but the civil award was made after the deadline for this week's paper.


  1. This is why newspapers are so scared. Now that information is so easy to get out via blogs and email, we know when they're not doing their job. This has always happened, but now the consumers can see it.

  2. Abbot,
    I think something else that has always happened is that sometimes the published details are wrong, but when we saw the details from one source, we didn't know.

    In this case, the Bowie Blade did suffer cutbacks, and I think staff levels are less than half what they used to be. The previous editor, a Bowie resident, retired, and the new editor doesn't live in Bowie. The Blade now shares offices with its sister publication, The Capital, so the staff is even further removed from the community. And when you're out of the community, there's a lot of things that can get missed. The old staff also had more contacts at city hall, and current coverage of city government and local politics isn't what it used to be.