SEABROOK – When a plane crashed through a carport in New Carrollton days before the new year, Mark Brady said it just made sense. The public information officer for the county’s fire and EMS department was preparing for his final days before his retirement, but remained on call for any breaking news development around the county.
Once he arrived at the scene, he spoke to acting Fire Chief Tiffany Green before she spoke to the media.
As Green prepared for first of many press conferences once she is confirmed as the county’s permanent fire chief, reporters shouted at Brady, saying “one more time” at him.
“I knew it was going to be my last moment at the scene of an accident,” Brady said. “…Knowing I am giving the right information to the right people is a part of my job.”
Brady, who has been Prince George’s County Fire/EMS (PGFD) Public Information Officer for 27 years, is calling it a career following his last day on Dec. 31. His official final day is Feb. 1.
Since his final day in the office, Brady admits to struggling to stay off work mode, especially with developments always going on in the county.
First, recruits from the Prince George’s County Public Schools’ Fire Cadet Program, along with the Career School’s No. 60 class, were graduating on Jan. 3. Then on Jan. 5, a county fire truck overturned at Silver Hill Road and St. Barnabas Road as it attempted to respond to a fire in District Heights. He said he “missed being in the action” but “bittersweet.”
“That part is hard,” Brady said. “I still feel a part of the fire department and see things occur…I feel like I should be out there doing something.”
However, the longtime spokesman said that it was about time. Job opportunities to leave the county came, but Brady said he felt loyalty to stay in Prince George’s and continue being a part of the fire department. In recent years, he had opportunities to retire from the role but stayed. However, after over 40 years serving the county, Brady said now was the right time.
“I’ve been ready to move on to more of an instructional life than being the fire department’s PIO,” Brady said. “I’ve enjoyed every single minute of it; it was just the time, a perfect time to go.”
Following his final day in the department’s offices, praise came pouring in, with members of the media and other spokespeople from around the country showing their appreciation. Montgomery County Fire Department’s (MCFRS) Chief Spokesperson Pete Piringer called it an “end of an era” and wished his friend good luck.
Mike Yourishin was the department’s spokesperson in training for the past year, observing Brady and learning the tricks of the trade. The veteran believes that the former photographer for the county executive’s office is ready to take on the role of full-time going forward.
“There aren’t enough words to express my thanks for everything you’ve done to educate & prepare me to be a PIO,” Yourishin said via Twitter. “Enjoy your well-earned retirement, and I look forward to many more years of mentoring and friendship.”
Brady has been in the fire service since becoming a volunteer firefighter in 1975, and since then, it has been in his “blood” never to leave the department. Once he moved to the spokesperson role, Brady admitted that he needed to adapt. As the media moved to rely on social media and smartphone usage, Brady was a part of setting up the department’s Twitter account and began giving out consistent updates on scenes.
“I help the media get their job done, and I want to be able to tell our story,” Brady said. “I take particular exception to tell our story and tell the people and make sure that they have all the correct facts to tell their stories.”
Teaching how to become a good public information officer is what Brady will be going forward following his work in Prince George’s County. He plans to continue working with the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) as an instructor at the National Emergency Training Center in Emmetsburg.
Brady will be very busy for the next couple of months following his PGFD departuring, including teaching how to become a public information officer in Daytona Beach, speaking in San Francisco, providing instructions in Cincinnati, and giving classes in Annapolis. After being brought up as a “traditional PIO,” where calling the editor was valuable, Brady said he brings a new perspective to future new spokespeople how effectively they should do their jobs.
“I find it very rewarding being an instructor,” Brady said. “…While timing will not be the best word for what I am about to embark on, I find it very satisfying and joy being an instructor and passing on what I have learned in the past couple of decades in a very busy department and a very active media scene in the national-capital region. I hope I am able to pass on what I have learned to other public information officers.”
One thing that Brady will not miss about the job is speaking on the death of victims and firefighters. While he could not name one specific event, Brady acknowledges the “trauma” one feels when confronting the family when someone died in a fire or a similar incident. During December’s plane crash, learning of the pilot’s death was a sad moment, Brady said.
He hopes that he can spread the word of being a good spokesperson to the upcoming talent around the county moving forward. However, Brady will missed the diverse work environment, working in the department and being a part of the county.
“It is just an exciting place to work and a great group of people,” Brady said. “I enjoyed my time and I did not want to leave; I’ve always wanted to be a part of the Prince George’s County Fire Department.”