It’s an end of an era in Prince George’s County, Maryland, as its longtime fire department spokesman retires.
Mark E. Brady, who has been a trusted source of information for decades for the community and news outlets, including WTOP, announced Monday that he will be retiring from Prince George’s County Fire/EMS.
He began his career with Prince George’s County over 40 years ago as a 911 emergency reporting operator.
Briefly, he worked with the county’s police communications department, moving to the Fire Department’s 911 center for 13 years, and lastly, spending 27 years as the spokesman for the Prince George’s County Fire Department.
Brady’s career has been about sharing important messages, such as the “perils of fire and carbon monoxide and the importance of driving safely,” he said.
“It’s one heck of a responsibility, which I cherish, that responsibility. And hopefully, people heard my message and they’re going to heed that advice and try to stay as safe as they can,” Brady said.
In his long career, he’s had moments that were good, bad and sorrowful. When he was a police dispatcher in the Seat Pleasant area, he was in communication with an officer who lost his life in the line of duty.
“That call sticks in my mind,” Brady said.
He also remembered times that warmed his heart, such as a man who fortunately heeded his advice.
“Someone walks up and says, ‘Hey, Mr. Brady, I was listening to you when you talked about getting smoke alarms and working smoke alarms and how important they are.'”
The man checked his alarm, discovered it needed batteries, replaced them and then a week later his house caught fire, Brady said.
The man told Brady that the working smoke alarm woke them up.
“I would like to think that people have heard what we have to say about fire safety and injury prevention, and lives have been saved,” Brady said.
Over the years, Brady has seen the tools of his trade evolve, from fax machines to smart phones and the use of social media.
He remembers a time when he had to call to alert news outlets of breaking news; and now he can distribute pictures, video and even news conferences directly to the public over the internet.
I’ve worked with Mark Brady for the entirety of his time as PGFD PIO. Because of the nature of our business I actually see him far more often than many of my colleagues at ABC7-WJLA! I’m going to miss him. First and foremost, Mark is just a really good guy. I consider him a friend. Professionally he has always been a straight shooter. If Mark says it, believe it. When it comes to firefighting his knowledge is encyclopedic. But mostly Mark is someone who cares. He has been a steady and calming influence for his community, and I know I’m not the only one who’ll miss him.
— Brad Bell, WJLA-TV Maryland Bureau Chief
Brady will not quit his line of work cold turkey, though.
For the past five or six years, he’s been working with the Federal Emergency Management Administration, FEMA, as an instructor at the National Emergency Training Center in Emmetsburg, Maryland, and has been traveling around the country teaching other public information officers how to handle crisis situations and how best to get the word out to the community.
Brady said his retirement will allow for more of that type of work.
Brady has been invited to Florida to talk with the state’s fire chiefs and their spokespersons about public information in January.
In February, he will attend a social media summit in San Francisco to discuss the use of social media in public safety.
The man, the myth, the legend. Mark Brady, and his family, have shared many personal and professional memories with me and the Piringer family. I’ve had the opportunity to work with Mark on several levels and we’ve shared joyous, humorous, tragic, happy, fun, sad and meaningful memories along the way. He’s a legendary PIO, a mentor, a teacher and a great friend to me, but more importantly is a wonderful husband, father, grandfather and has been a dutiful public servant for over 40 years.
He is one of probably only a few, if any of the nation’s PIO’s, that have appeared on every local TV Station and major broadcast network, hung out with the likes of Oprah, Ellen and John Travolta, too. But, then again, dedicate over 40 years of your life to your work and keeping people safe and legends are made.
Just for the record, I taught him everything he knows!
— Pete Piringer, Montgomery County Fire and EMS spokesman
“I’m excited about those opportunities and continuing to teach public safety, public information officers how to continue to do their jobs to get the right information to the right people at the right time so they can continue to make the right decisions,” Brady said.
Because his work is an around-the-clock job, there have been missed family functions and sacrifices.
“I would not have been able to do what I have done over the past 27 years if it wasn’t for the strength and support of my wife and my children,” Brady said. “They’ve been very supportive. They’re great, but there’re also looking for some time off with Dad as well.”