Tornados Touch Down in Maryland–MFRI Headquarters Lost

MFRI Friends and Colleagues:

I am writing to inform you of the tragic events that have affected the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute (MFRI) on the afternoon of September 24.

A full-scale tornado touched down in the College Park area at approximately 5:30 p.m. and struck our building. Seven people were in the MFRI headquarters building. We are currently in a temporary facility on campus, until our new building is complete in December. The building and all of the contents are lost. I mean completely gone with little hope of any recovery tomorrow. Additionally, we lost eight MFRI vehicles and a number of private autos in the parking lot.

Most tragically is that Assistant Director Pat Marlatt’s two daughters had just visited him at our headquarters. Moments later, both were killed when the tornado picked up their car and threw it into a dormitory building on campus. Colleen Marlatt had worked at MFRI for approximately two years as she attended college at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP). Her sister, Erin, was also a student at UMCP. Everyone at MFRI knew both girls well. Our prayers are with the Marlatt family at this time. More details on the arrangements will be made later this week.

Pat Marlatt was trapped in the building’s wreckage and had to be extricated. Several other MFRI faculty and staff were in the building at the time.

Be advised that we have no telephones, computers, financial records, personnel actions, and so on. It is going to take us a while to get back on our feet-but we will. Tomorrow, we will start the rebuilding process. I will have more information for you at that time. The only good news is that our computer server was already moved to the College Park Fire Training Academy and all of our students’ records and data are safe.

Steven T. Edwards


Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute

University of Maryland.

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