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Fire Department Honored for Gas Leak Role

The NIH Fire Department was recently honored for its role in averting a potentially disastrous situation when a gasoline tanker truck carrying 2,600 gallons of fuel leaked much of its load onto the street at a busy downtown Silver Spring intersection.

Montgomery County Fire Chief Roger Strock presented Unit Citation Awards to the NIH Fire Department (Station 51) and Montgomery County Stations 7 and 20 for their handling of the incident, which occurred on Nov. 16, 2000. The leak occurred at a service station located at 8552 Second Ave. during the evening rush hour. The fire department units were honored for managing a potentially disastrous situation safely, efficiently and without incident. Chief Gary Hess accepted the award on behalf of the NIH Fire Department at a ceremony on May 3 at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad.

"To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time that the NIH Fire Department has received a formal award from the Montgomery County Department of Fire and Rescue Services," said Richard Shaff, chief of the Emergency Management Branch, Division of Public Safety, who congratulated the crew along with DPS acting director Dr. Robert McKinney. "I join Chief Strock in commending the NIH Fire Department for the handling of this particular incident, as well as for the 'routine' handling of the multitude of potentially serious emergency calls successfully managed by this outstanding department on a daily basis."

The NIH firefighters who responded to the call were Lt. Jonathan L. Mattingly, Master Firefighter Lori A. Padgett and Technicians Joseph A. D'Ambrosio and John M. Bede IV. Their citation read, in part, "The incident could have seriously jeopardized the public's safety and welfare and caused potentially significant property damage, if the gasoline had found an ignition source. The crews placed themselves at great risk to divert the leaking gasoline from the tank truck and to mitigate this incident."

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