FIRE/EMS History

fire/ems hat and jacket

The first official firefighting efforts in Prince George’s County came in 1742, when the Bladensburg Fire Company became the first governmental entity to pass a fire prevention ordinance. By 1879, Upper Marlboro put a fire alarm system in place as well. But it was tragedy that led to the formation of the first fire stations in the county.

In 1886, after a fire ravaged hundreds of acres and destroyed buildings in what is now Hyattsville, residents raised $27 for a fire engine. That same year, a large portion of Marlboro was destroyed by two different fires - leading to the creation of the Marlborough Fire Association. And when a fire devastated Laurel in 1898, burning down twelve buildings and the church, the Laurel Volunteer Fire Department was formed four years later. But these individual stations didn’t start acting as a whole until 1922, when the first countywide firefighting organization was created. The newly formed Prince George's County Volunteer Firemen's Association united departments in Brentwood, Cottage City, Hyattsville, and Mount Rainier. One year later, the Association added departments from Greater Capitol Heights, Riverdale, Seat Pleasant, and Sidney. By 1946, the Association included 26 fire companies and a rescue squad. By 1966, the need for fire services increased - so the county began paying members of the Association - creating the county’s first career members. Two years later, the Department of Fire Protection was created to supervise and manage their work. In 1970, the county itself underwent change - moving to a charter form of government. That change brought about a new era for the fire service, transforming the Department of Fire Protection into the Prince George’s County Fire & Emergency Medical Services Department, which was led by the Office of the Fire Chief. The county’s very first Fire Chief was Lawrence R. Woltz. In all, 13 people have held the title of Prince George’s County Fire Chief - with the 13th being Tiffany D. Green, who is also the department’s first female Fire Chief.