US Fire Administration releases annual study of Firefighter Fatalities for 2017
Eighty-seven firefighters died while on-duty in 2017, four less than the revised 2016 total of 91. The 2017 total includes 16 firefighters who died under circumstances that were part of inclusion criteria changes resulting from the Hometown Heroes Survivors Benefit Act. When not including these fatalities for the purposes of a trend analysis, there were 71 non-Hometown Hero firefighter fatalities in 2017, tied (with 2012) for the third lowest annual total since the USFA began this study in 1986.
Firefighter fatalities included 33 career firefighters, 48 volunteer firefighters, and 6 part-time or full-time members of wildland or wildland contract fire agencies. Four firefighters who died while on-duty were female and 83 were male. The 87 deaths resulted from a total of 86 fatal incidents, including one multiple firefighter fatality incident taking the lives of two firefighters. In 2017, 10 firefighters were killed during activities involving brush, grass or wildland firefighting. This total includes part-time and seasonal wildland firefighters, full-time wildland firefighters, and municipal or volunteer firefighters whose deaths are related to a wildland fire. Despite a very active and virtually year-long fire season this year, there were no firefighter fatality incidents from an aircraft crash related to wildland firefighting.
Activities related to emergency incidents resulted in the deaths of 40 firefighters. This includes all firefighters who died responding to an emergency or at an emergency scene, returning from an emergency incident, and during other emergency-related activities. Nonemergency activities accounted for 47 fatalities. Nonemergency duties include training, administrative activities, performing other functions that are not related to an emergency incident, and post-incident fatalities where the illness or injury does not become evident until after the emergency.
Seventeen firefighters experienced fatal injuries during fireground operations. Of these fatalities, 10 were at the scene of a structure fire, and seven were at the scene of a wildland or outside fire. The average age of the firefighters killed during fireground operations was 45, with the youngest being 19 years old and the oldest being 74 years old. Seven of those killed were volunteer, six were career and four were wildland firefighters. The nature of fatal injury while engaged in fireground operations for seven of the firefighter deaths was heart attack (41 percent). The nature of fatal injury for the other 10 deaths include: trauma (six), asphyxiation (two), and burns (two).
In 2017, 12 firefighters were killed during emergency duties not related to fire. These response calls included eight motor vehicle accidents, two weather/natural disasters, one hazmat incident, and one wildland call for “wires down” (struck and killed by a privately-owned vehicle (POV) while at the scene). Eleven of the 12 firefighters died from traumatic injuries and one from a heart attack. Ten of the eleven traumatic injury deaths were from being struck by a vehicle, and one was from a vehicle collision involving fire apparatus. The average age was 57 years old. The youngest was 27, and the oldest was 83.
This information and additional information can be obtained thru the US Fire Administration website @ https://www.usfa.fema.gov
Amy Dimmery, 34 of Marion, South Carolina 01-02-2017
Probationary Firefighter Amy Dimmery responded to a motor vehicle accident (MVA) call on January 2, 2017 reported at 1515hrs. Units cleared the scene at 1600hrs. Before making it back to their home, she and her husband, also a firefighter, were involved in a MVA. Firefighter Amy Dimmery was entrapped and response personnel began resuscitation efforts on their arrival. Firefighter Amy Dimmery was taken by Marion Medic 10 to Carolinas Hospital in Marion and died as a result of her injuries shortly after arriving. As of January 3, 2017, her husband, Firefighter Freddie Dimmery remains in McLeod Hospital in serious condition. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Dimmery family.
While operating at the scene of an automobile accident on December 24, 2016, Chief Engineer/Firefighter Brenner was found slumped over the steering wheel of a fire engine. Brenner was found to be in cardiac arrest and was hospitalized in critical condition where he succumbed on January 4, 2017. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Brenner family.
Rodney "Tiny" Menne, 53 of Eldorado, Wisconsin 01-10-2017
At approximately 0200hrs, several hours after a fire department meeting, Assistant Fire Chief Rodney “Tiny” Menne was discovered deceased from a heart attack by another Eldorado firefighter at the Eldorado Volunteer Fire Department. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Menne family.
Tracy O. Sanders, 44 0f Ohatchee, Alabama 01-13-2017
While conducting official fire department business, Chief Sanders was stopped in the department’s rescue truck on Alabama Highway 77 preparing to make a left-hand turn when she was struck from the rear by a tractor-trailer. The rescue unit was forced into oncoming traffic where Chief Sanders was struck again and her vehicle was forced off the roadway and into trees lining the east side of the highway. Members from the Mount Olive Volunteer Fire Department and surrounding agencies arrived on scene and began to treat Chief Sanders. She was then transported to Anniston Regional Medical Center where she succumbed to her injuries at approximately 1434hrs. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Sanders family.
Daniel Havicus, 41 of Tracy, California 01-18-2017
Captain Daniel Havicus fell ill during his shift on January 8, 2017. He continued to feel ill and called in sick prior to his next shift. His condition worsened causing Havicus to be admitted to the hospital on January 16, 2017, and subsequently transported to Stanford Hospital where he passed away on January 18, 2017. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Havicus family.
Richard Kaplan, 80 of Jericho, New York 01-23-2017
Firefighter/EMT Kaplan passed away at home from a nature and cause of fatal injury still to be reported. Firefighter Kaplan responded to four emergency incidents with his fire department during the 24 hours preceding his death. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Kaplan family.
Ryan Thomas Moyer, 31 of Waldo, Wisconsin 02-04-2017
Firefighter Moyer was operating his privately owned vehicle on fire department business when it was involved in a single vehicle crash taking his life. The cause of crash remains under investigation. Two other firefighters were passengers in the vehicle at the time, one of whom was treated and released, and the other admitted to a Milwaukee hospital but is reported to be doing well. The firefighters had been putting up posters and collecting donations for a fire department fundraiser and were thought to be enroute to a fire department banquet at the time of the crash. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Moyer family.
Ethan Cunningham, 47 of Syracuse, New York 02-06-17
Firefighter Cunningham was found deceased at home by a family member several hours after completing his shift at the fire department. During his shift, Cunningham responded to one emergency call and participated in strenuous hose drill training. The nature and cause of fatal injury are still to be determined. Our thougts and prayers are with the Cunningham family.
John "Mike" Michael Cummins, 46 of Homer, Illinois 02-08-17
While returning home from the station after working with his fire department on a motor vehicle accident response call, Firefighter Cummins, who had complained at the station of not feeling well, suffered a fatal medical injury, the nature of which is still to be reported, crashing into three parked cars as the privately owned vehicle he operated came to a stop. A passenger in the vehicle, a fellow firefighter, was not reported to have been seriously injured. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Cummins family.
Douglas McCauley, 59 of Des Moines, Iowa 02-11-17
Fire Engineer McCauley suffered a significant medical event while on duty Friday, February 2nd. Engineer McCauley was treated and transported by fellow firefighters and paramedics from the scene to Iowa Methodist Unity Point where he succumbed to his injury the following morning. The nature and cause of fatal injury are still to be determined. Our thoughts and prayers are with the McCauley family.
Bill Matthews, 73 of Bassfield, Mississippi 02-14-17
Fire Chief Matthews was found unconscious in the driver’s seat of the fire apparatus he was operating on the scene of a brush fire working to protect a nearby church. According to news reports, when another firefighter on a hoseline asked the Chief to reposition the apparatus, there was no response. Fire Chief Mathews was immediately removed from the truck, given CPR, and then transported to Jefferson Davis Community Hospital where he was pronounced deceased. According to a statement from the Coroner, the nature of fatal injury was a massive heart attack. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Matthews family.
Paul Murdoch, 53 of Greybull, Wyoming 02-16-17
Fire Chief Murdoch was found unresponsive at his home after spending the day working emergency operations related to ice abatement on the Bighorn River. The nature and cause of fatal injury are still to be determined. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Murdoch family.
Crystal Rezzonico, 56 of Phoenix, Arizona 02-18-17
Captain Rezzonico succumbed to injuries suffered in August of 2009 when the apparatus she was riding while responding to an incident was struck in an intersection by a passenger vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed. Rezzonico was ejected from the apparatus upon impact and landed headfirst, suffering a severe traumatic brain injury and broken ankles. Rezzonico was in a coma for nearly two weeks, endured multiple surgeries, and years of rehabilitation prior to her passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Rezzonico family.
Michael "Mike" Dale Russell, 68 of Rose, Oklahoma 02-22-2017
While responding to a structure fire, Firefighter Russell died from injuries sustained when he lost control of the fire apparatus he was driving and crashed. According to reports from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, the vehicle rolled 1.5 times, ejecting and pinning Russell beneath the tanker. Seat restraints were installed in the vehicle but not in use at the time of the crash. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Russell family.
James Franciskovich, 52 of West Burlington, Iowa 02-24-2017
Firefighter Franciskovich succumbed to injuries sustained when the fire department vehicle he was a passenger in lost control on an ice and snow covered roadway then crashed, coming to a rest on its top. Franciskovich, who was reported to have not been wearing seat restraints, was ejected from the vehicle. Two other firefighters traveling with Firefighter Franciskovich to the State Fire School in Ames, Iowa, were reported to have been wearing seat restraints and received only minor injuries in the crash. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Franciskovich family.
Ronald Savage, 63 of Milford, Michigan 02-25-2017
Firefighter/EMT Savage died after suffering a cardiac issue during a search and rescue training exercise with the Milford Fire Department. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Savage family.
Terrence "Terry" Edward Shafer, 62 of Spring Valley, Wisconsin 02-25-2017
Firefighter Shafer responded with other members of his department to a motor vehicle crash incident. Soon after departing, they were advised to cancel and returned to the station. Later that evening, Shafer fell ill at a family cabin in Minnesota. Firefighter Shafer was treated and transported by EMS to a hospital in Melrose, MN, but passed away early the following morning from a nature and cause of fatal injury to be determined. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Shafer family.
Michael Norton, 38 of Newnan, Georgia 03-02-17
Firefighter-Paramedic Norton worked an early morning residential structure fire on March 1st. At home, several hours later, Firefighter Norton was found by his wife in medical distress. She called 911 and responders treated Norton then transported him to the hospital where he succumbed to a nature and cause of fatal injury still to be determined. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Norton family.
William "Iron Bill" Dowling, 43 of Houston, Texas 03-07-2017
Captain William ‘Iron Bill’ Dowling passed away on March 7, 2017, from complications of the severe injuries suffered in the Southwest Inn fire on May 31, 2013, that killed four other Houston firefighters and seriously injured many more. The Southwest Inn fire is considered the deadliest day in Houston Fire Department history. In a statement, the Houston Fire Department said of Captain Dowling that “the incredible strength and bravery he showed as he and his family rebuilt his life – and theirs – after his injuries inspired us all. Please keep the Dowling family and all of the men and women of our fire department in your prayers.” Our thoughts and prayers are with the Dowling family.
Dennis Devoe, 45 of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 03-11-2017
Lieutenant Dennis DeVoe died from injuries sustained while responding to a multiple alarm row house fire which had confirmed civilian entrapment. DeVoe’s privately owned vehicle was struck on the passenger side at a controlled intersection by a stolen vehicle, reportedly being operated by an intoxicated 19 year-old female who failed to stop. According to reports, the force of the accident sent Lt. DeVoe’s vehicle through a fence and into a parking lot. The driver of the stolen vehicle who fled the scene was arrested later at the hospital by law enforcement. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Devoe family.
Clinton Alvin Beasley, 80 of Sumrall, Mississippi 03-15-2017
Deputy Chief Clinton Alvin Beasley and Firefighter Loretta Ann Sykes were directing traffic at the scene where a dump truck got tangled in power lines at Mississippi 589 and Oloh Road (Lamar County, MS) when they were struck by a hit-and-run driver. Both Beasley and Sykes passed away at the scene from injuries sustained when hit. The driver of the vehicle was later apprehended by Lamar County law enforcement. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Beasley family.
Loretta Ann Sykes, 53 of Sumrall, Mississippi 03-15-2017
Deputy Chief Clinton Alvin Beasley and Firefighter Loretta Ann Sykes were directing traffic at the scene where a dump truck got tangled in power lines at Mississippi 589 and Oloh Road (Lamar County, MS) when they were struck by a hit-and-run driver. Both Beasley and Sykes passed away at the scene from injuries sustained when hit. The driver of the vehicle was later apprehended by Lamar County law enforcement. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Sykes family.
Steven Paul Buser, 51 of Ames, Iowa 03-17-2017
Firefighter Steven Buser finished working his shift at 0700hrs on 03/17/2017, during which he responded to an emergency call at 1900hrs on 03/16/2017. After his shift, Buser stayed at the fire station to exercise where he was alone. At 0930hrs, someone entered the fire station and found Buser unresponsive. Buser was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced deceased from a nature and cause of fatal injury still to be reported. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Buser family.
Joseph Toscano, 54 of Watertown, Massachusetts 03-17-2017
Firefighter Joseph Toscano collapsed while battling to a two-alarm house fire. Toscano was taken to Mt. Auburn Hospital where he passed away from a nature and cause of fatal injury still to be reported. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Toscano family.
Christopher Lane Foster, 54 of Demopolis, Alabama 03-23-2017
Lieutenant Christopher Lane Foster responded to a MVA with injuries at 0718hrs on March 22, 2017. After his shift, Foster returned to his home where he was found unresponsive at 0220hrs the following morning. Lieutenant Foster was pronounced deceased shortly thereafter having succumbed to an apparent cardiac arrest. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Foster family.
Anthony Spano, 47 of Chicopee, Massachusetts 03-30-2017
Firefighter Spano worked his shift which included one or more emergency response calls, including a “lift assist” call where he complained of back pain. Fewer than 24 hours later and just after coming off of his duty shift, Firefighter Spano passed away from a nature and cause of fatal injury still to be reported when he fell ill while exercising at a gym. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Spano family.
James H. Yiengst, 72 of Meyerstown, Pennsylvania 04-01-2017
Firefighter Yiengst responded with his fire department to a motor vehicle accident (MVA) on the evening of March 31, 2017. The next morning, April 1, 2017, emergency medical services were summoned to his residence. Firefighter Yiengst indicated to one of his family members that he began feeling ill while at the MVA the previous evening. Firefighter Yiengst was treated and transported to the hospital where he passed away from a nature and cause of fatal injury still to be reported. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Yiengst family.
Charles "Rick" Gentilcore 52 of Gaithersburg, Maryland 04-07-2017
While on duty at Burtonsville Fire Station 15, Firefighter Gentilcore succumbed to a nature and cause of fatal injury still to be reported. Fellow emergency responders immediately initiated all possible means of emergency care, however, resuscitation efforts were not successful. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Gentilcore family.
James "Jim" Joseph Benken, 65 of Wyoming, Ohio 04-14-2017
District Chief/Medic James “Jim” Benken completed a 24-hour shift at 0600hrs on 04/14/2017 which included one emergency response at 1519hrs on 04/13/2017. After completing the shift, District Chief/Medic Benken fell ill at approximately 1400hrs on 04/14/2017 and succumbed to an apparent cardiac arrest. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Benken family.
Michael "Bubba" Eric Pennell, 49 of Taylorsville, North Carolina 04-04-2017
While on-duty at the Central Alexander Fire Department, Captain Michael Pennell suffered a medical emergency and collapsed in the bay of the apparatus room as he completed station duties. He was transferred to the Frye Regional Medical Center where he succumbed to a nature and cause of fatal injury still to be reported. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Pennell family.
William N. Tolley, 42 of Brooklyn, New York 04-20-2017
At 1420hrs, Firefighter William N. Tolley and members of Ladder 135, along with additional fire units, responded to a fire in a second floor apartment in a five-story apartment building at 1615 Putnam Avenue in Queens. Firefighter Tolley, who was assigned as his unit’s outside ventilation firefighter, was accessing the roof of the structure when he fell five stories. Firefighter Tolley was transported to Wyckoff Heights Medical Center where he succumbed to the injuries sustained in the fall. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Tolley family.
Jerome Boyd, 55 of Los Angeles, California 04-28-2017
Battalion Chief Jerome Boyd suffered a medical emergency on the morning of Friday, April 28, while on-duty driving near Downtown Los Angeles in a fire department vehicle. He was transported to California Hospital Medical Center by a Los Angeles Fire Department rescue ambulance. All efforts to revive him, however, were not successful. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Boyd family.
William F. Gerace, 54 of Gibbsboro, New Jersey 04-28-2017
On April 10, as he was advancing hose line during mandatory live burn training, Firefighter William Gerace suffered a spiral fracture to his right fibula. On April 28, Firefighter Gerace’s spouse contacted 911 from Gerace's residence as he was showing signs of severe respiratory difficulty. Upon the arrival of emergency responders, Firefighter Gerace stopped breathing and went into cardiac arrest. He was immediately transported to a local hospital with EMS performing CPR. CPR was continued at the hospital and, after approximately 20 minutes, doctors pronounced him deceased. Autopsy results showed that he suffered a pulmonary embolism, which was directly attributed to being a complication of his initial leg fracture and recovery process. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Gerace family.
David Lemponen, 83 of Austinburg, Ohio 04-28-2017
Firefighter David Lemponen was directing traffic on the north side of State Route 307 at the scene of a minor motor vehicle accident when he was struck by another vehicle. Firefighter Lemponen was treated and transported by Medevac to a Cleveland hospital but succumbed the following morning to the injuries sustained when struck. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Lemponen family.
Doug Deckard, 51 of Quitman, Arkansas 04-30-2017
While outside of his vehicle checking water conditions during severe storms that were occurring throughout north-central Arkansas, Fire Chief Doug Deckard was struck by another vehicle on Highway 25 just west of the Faulkner-Cleburne County line near Quitman. Fire Chief Deckard passed away a short time later from the injuries sustained when struck. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Deckard family.
James "Dewon" Wells, 52 of Mount Sterling, Kentucky 05-06-2017
Firefighter James 'Dewon' Wells worked his shift on May 5, 2017, from 0800hrs to 1600hrs. During his shift, he complained to a fire department member that he was experiencing numbness in his mouth. Immediately before leaving the station at the end of his shift, he complained to his chief that he had a headache and did not feel well. The following day, May 6, 2017, at approximately 1400hrs, Firefighter Wells was still not feeling well and went to a medical clinic, but returned home since he started to feel slightly better. Soon thereafter, his wife came home and found him unresponsive on the couch and not breathing. His wife initiated CPR and Firefighter Wells was transported to St. Joseph Hospital in Mount Sterling, where he was pronounced deceased. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Wells family.
Scott Deem, 31 of San Antonio, Texas 05-18-2017
Firefighter Scott Deem died from injuries received while operating at a four-alarm fire in a shopping center. Fire crews were searching a gym in the strip mall for any possible occupants as fire conditions rapidly intensified and the structure began to collapse. All firefighters were ordered to exit the building but Deem was unable to do so before becoming caught and trapped. Crews continued to battle the fire but due to conditions were unable to reach Firefighter Deem. According to initial reports, another member of the initial search team was also trapped in the fire but was pulled to safety along with an injured member of the Rapid Intervention Team. The two injured firefighters were transported to the hospital where one remains in critical but stable condition. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Deem family.
James Franklin Dorminy, 55 of Lake Buena Vista, Florida 05-18-2017
Lieutenant James Franklin Dorminy worked on May 8, 2017, and ran three calls: amusement park ride evacuation; rescue-assist at citizen cardiac arrest; and a false fire alarm. His shift ended at 0700hrs on May 9, 2017. After his shift, Dorminy went to an off-site, private gym for his regular workout. Lieutenant Dorminy was found floating in the pool by bystanders at approximately 0830hrs and was resuscitated. He never regained consciousness and the family terminated life support on Thursday, May 18, 2017. The nature and cause of fatal injury are still to be determined. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Dorminy family.
Roger Dale Johns, 63 of Fincastle, Virginia 05-19-2017
Firefighter Roger Dale Johns was struck and killed by a backing piece of fire apparatus at the scene of a motor vehicle crash. Initial reports indicate that Firefighter Johns was acting as a ground-guide while the apparatus was backing up to block the roadway and protect the scene. Investigation into the fatal accident continues by authorities. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Johns family.
Brian Massey, 56 of Bakersfield, California 05-20-2017
On May 18, 2017, Fire Engineer Brian Massey started a 48-hour shift by participating in a wildland firefighting class which included strenuous simulation training causing him to vigorously exert himself. At 0800hrs on May 20, 2017, Massey completed his shift which, in addition to the wildland firefighting training, included several emergency response calls. Later that day, Massey suffered a significant medical event while at home. He was transported to a local hospital where he died of a nature and cause of fatal injury still to be determined. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Massey family.
Darrell Lavon Plank, 29 of Montezuma, Georgia 05-23-2017
Firefighter Darrell Lavon Plank died in the hospital several days after suffering a traumatic brain injury while at the scene of a working residential structure fire near Montezuma, GA, on Saturday, May 20, 2017. According to initial reports, Firefighter Plank was donning protective gear when the accident occurred. As other firefighters were setting up a hose line, the fire hose snagged on a truck, causing a coupling to strike Plank in the head knocking him to the ground. Firefighter Plank was treated at the scene and rushed to the hospital where a CT scan showed he had suffered a stroke on the left side of his brain. Firefighter Plank later underwent surgery, but succumbed to his injury on the evening of May 23, 2017. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Plank family.
Matthew Beck, 26 of Sacramento, California 05-24-2017
Inmate Firefighter Matthew Beck was leading a crew clearing brush for a grade project when a 120-foot tree uprooted and fell on him. Beck suffered major head, neck and back injuries. The remote location of the incident posed challenges for medical responders and before life-flight crews could get to him, Beck passed away. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Beck family.
Jesse William Ketchum, 33 of Memphis, Missouri 05-29-2017
Firefighter Jesse Ketchum was responding to an outdoor (field) fire call when the fire apparatus he was operating crashed while negotiating a curve and overturned several times, ejecting Ketchum and a passenger in the vehicle. Firefighter Ketchum died at the scene from injuries sustained and the passenger, John Chancellor, was treated and flown to the University Hospital in Columbia, Missouri, with serious injuries. According to initial reports, seat belts were not in use at the time of the crash. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Ketchum family.
David Jatczsk, 57 of Lake Station, Indiana 06-01-2017
Several hours after responding with Lake Station Volunteer Fire Department to an emergency response call, Lieutenant David Jatczsk died at his residence from a nature and cause of fatal injury still to be reported. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Jatczsk family.
Kelly Wong, 29 of Los Angeles, California 06-05-2017
Firefighter Kelly Wong fell from an LAFD aerial ladder while participating in a training exercise on the morning of Saturday, June 3. Fellow firefighters and paramedics rendered immediate medical attention and transported him in critical condition to a local trauma center. Despite the heroic efforts of doctors and nurses at the hospital, Firefighter Wong succumbed to his injuries early Monday morning, June 5. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Wong family.
Lawrence Matthews, 35 of Dolton, Illinois 06-10-2017
While operating at a residential trailer home fire and working on the exterior to protect nearby exposures, Firefighter Lawrence Matthews fell ill and collapsed. Matthews was immediately attended to by fellow responders and rushed to Ingalls Memorial Hospital where he succumbed to a nature and cause of fatal injury still to be reported. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Matthews family.
Edward Switalski, 55 of Comstock, Michigan 06-14-2017
Chief Edward Switalski responded with the Comstock Township Department of Fire and Rescue to a reported motor vehicle accident on Eastbound I-94 near mile marker 81 at approximately 2230hrs. Upon arrival, they found an empty vehicle and no injuries to report. As fire crews were getting ready to leave the scene, a passing vehicle lost control and struck Chief Switalski, who was standing at the rear of his rescue vehicle returning equipment to service. Crews at the scene tried to revive him, but were not successful. Chief Switalski was pronounced dead at the scene. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Switalski family.
On Wednesday, June 21, 2017, while attempting to fill tankers on a wildland firefight involving several local fire departments, Firefighter John C. Cammack fell from the back of a firefighting apparatus as it was escaping from wind driven flames that had switched direction and burned over their location. A second firefighter, Kyle Perez, was also hanging onto the truck as it drove through the flames and was injured. Perez said that after Cammack fell from the truck, they quickly returned to find him walking towards them, apparently badly injured. As they approached, Cammack first inquired to Perez’ condition, asking if the thirty-five year-old firefighter was okay. Cammack was then treated by fellow responders and both firefighters were transported to the hospital. Firefighter Cammack succumbed on Thursday, June 22, 2017, to injuries sustained. Perez was later released from the hospital. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Cammack family.
Ronda Sylvest Varnado, 54 of Franklinton, Louisiana 07-06-2017
Firefighter Ronda Sylvest Varnado was driving a fully loaded water truck responding to the scene of a residential fire in the Mt. Hermon area. Near the intersection of Mt. Pisgah Road and Burch Road, the truck left the roadway and tipped over, sliding several yards before striking an embankment. At that point, the water tank came loose and crashed into the truck cab, causing the death of Firefighter Varnado. Investigation of the crash continues by the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Varnado family.
William “Bill” Jaros, 38 of Eureka, California 07-08-2017
Fire Engine Operator William "Bill" Jaros, a crewmember on Engine 312 of the Six Rivers National Forest’s Gasquet Ranger District/Smith River National Recreation Area, was on a conditioning hike with several others when he became ill and collapsed. Immediate life-saving efforts were initiated by his fellow crewmembers; however, they were unable to revive him. The cause of death is under investigation through the Del Norte County Coroner’s office. Conditioning hikes, such as the one Engine 312 crewmembers were participating, are part of the continuing preparedness routine for firefighters. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Jaros family.
Frank Anaya, 22 of Sacramento, California 07-11-2017
Inmate Firefighter Frank Anaya was treated on scene and taken to the hospital in critical condition on July 5, 2017, after suffering a chainsaw injury to the leg while working a fire near Lakeside, California. Fire crews were clearing brush and working with air crews to successfully defend a threatened mobile home park when the injury occurred. Despite all efforts by medical personnel, Inmate Firefighter Anaya passed away on July 11, 2017. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Anaya family.
John Kemper, 59 0f St. Louis, Missouri 07-12-2017
Fire Captain John Kemper was injured while battling a structure fire at 3622 Pennsylvania AVE on the morning of July 5, 2017. Kemper was transported to the hospital to be treated for a shoulder injury but it was discovered that he had instead suffered a more serious injury and, soon thereafter, underwent surgery. Fire Captain Kemper was released from the hospital and while recovering at home, passed away from reported complications of his injury. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Kemper family.
Robert Spinner, 50 of Lynden, Washington 07-14-2017
Interim Fire Chief Robert Spinner died from an apparent heart attack while on-duty and participating in a fire department fitness activity (jogging). Our thoughts and prayers are with the Spinner family.
Trenton Martin Johnson,19 of Merlin, Oregon 07-19-2017
While part of a 20-person crew staging an initial attack on a forest
fire in the Sealy Ranger District of the Lolo National Forest in
Montana, Firefighter Trenton Johnson was struck by a falling tree. He
was flown to a Missoula hospital for treatment, but passed away from the
injuries he sustained when struck. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Johnson family.
Kevin Ramsey, 50 of Detroit, Michigan 07-29-2017
Firefighter Kevin Ramsey died of an apparent heart attack shortly after returning to the firehouse from fighting a second commercial structure fire of the day. Firefighter Ramsey complained of nausea and chest pain to fellow firefighters, so they immediately began treatment and summoned advanced medical responders to the station. Firefighter Ramsey was taken to Detroit Receiving Hospital where, despite all efforts, he succumbed to his injury. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Ramsey family.
Richard W. Leonard, 70 of Perth Amboy, New Jersey 07-30-2017
Firefighter Richard W. Leonard was operating a pumper at a fire on State Street in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, on April 19, 1993. The fire involved a recycling facility with plastics. Firefighter Leonard did not have breathing air and worked in the highly toxic plastic burning smoke for hours. Leonard never returned to duty and spent the last 24 years under workers' compensation care for continuous medical conditions caused from inhaling the smoke. Firefighter Leonard died on July 30, 2017 due to the effects of the smoke exposure. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Leonard family.
Jay Hinkie, 61 0f Silsbee, Texas 08-02-2017
Assistant Fire Chief Jay Hinkie was struck in the roadway by a passing vehicle while he operated at the scene of a single vehicle rollover. As firefighters were cleaning up the scene, Hinkie was walking with traffic in the westbound lanes of FM418 near Ruby Lane when he was struck. Chief Hinkie was rushed to a hospital in Beaumont where he succumbed to his injuries. The fatal accident remains under investigation by authorities. Our thouhts and prayers are with the Hinkie family.
Brent M. Witham, 29 of Missoula, Montana 08-02-2017
Firefighter Brent Witham was struck and killed by a falling tree while working on the Lolo Peak fire in western Montana. Witham was given CPR and other emergency medical aid by fellow firefighters and was then airlifted to a hospital in Missoula, Montana. Despite all efforts, Witham passed away as a result of his injuries. Firefighter Witham was a member of the Vista Grande Hotshot crew based in Idyllwild, California. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Witham family.
Dale "Clint" C. Hardemon, 58 of West Blocton, Alabama 08-13-2017
Lieutenant Dale Clinton “Clint” Hardemon responded with the West Blocton Fire Department to a structure fire at 0818hrs on the morning of August 13, 2017. While on scene at the structure fire, Lieutenant Hardemon operated the fire pump on the fire apparatus and also maneuvered fire hose around the structure and apparatus. Fire department units returned to service at 1120hrs. Hardemon then drove the apparatus back to the station with no problems noted.
Later that afternoon at approximately 1410hrs, Lieutenant Hardemon was at the fire station with Fire Chief Joe McCool looking at one of the fire department boats. Lieutenant Hardemon told the chief that he was feeling lightheaded and then fell to the ground unresponsive. Fire Chief McCool immediately began medical care and called 911.
McCool initiated CPR and placed Lieutenant Hardemon on the AED; 2 shocks
were administered before the arrival of the ALS unit. Lieutenant
Hardemon was taken by ambulance to Bibb Medical Center, and then
airlifted to DCH Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced
deceased that evening from a heart attack.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Hardemon family.
Tom Martin, 61 of Black Eagle, Montana 08-19-2017
Fire Chief Tom Martin attended live fire training on the evening of
August 18, 2017. Within 24 hours of this training, Martin passed away
at his residence on August 19, 2017. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Martin family.
Thomas P. McBride, 60 of Campbellsburg, Kentucky 08-24-2017
While participating in search and rescue training Thursday evening,
Firefighter Thomas P. McBride complained of difficulty breathing. He
removed his breathing apparatus, denied medical treatment, cooled down,
stated that he felt better and requested to return to the training.
Instead, he was assigned to pump operations. A short time later, he
collapsed. Resuscitation efforts were started immediately and
Firefighter McBride was transported to an area hospital where he later
succumbed to his injury. The nature and cause of fatal injury are still
to be reported. Our thoughts and prayers are with the McBride family.
Randy Ray Treat, 71 of Kingston, Arkansas 08-26-2017
Captain Randy Ray Treat fell ill while responding to an emergency call, becoming unresponsive, and then passing away from a nature and cause of fatal injury still to be reported. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Treat family.
Gary Helming, 47 of Goleta, California 08-31-2017
While returning from an assignment on the Railroad Fire in the Sierra National Forest, Battalion Chief Gary Helming was killed when a Ford F-350 traveling in the opposite direction suffered a tire failure, crossed the middle of the road, and struck Chief Helming's vehicle head-on. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Helming family.
Terry Smerdel, 59 of San Francisco, California 09-10-2017
Battalion Chief Terry Smerdel returned from an early morning fire alarm call, and was later found by coworkers in his office, unresponsive. Advanced Life Support measures were immediately initiated. He was pronounced deceased surrounded by his Fire Department Family, and later joined at the station by the Department’s Chaplain and the Smerdel family. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Smerdel family.
Kenneth Greene, Sr., 60 of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 09-14-2017
Lieutenant Kenneth Greene, Sr., became ill while on-duty and was transported to the hospital from the fire station on September 3, 2017. Lieutenant Green passed away on September 14th, 2017, from a nature and cause of fatal injury still to be reported. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Greene family.
Matthew Mark Deicher, 47 of Mosinee, Wisconsin 09-23-2017
Firefighter-EMT Matthew Mark Deicher was paralyzed from a July 31, 2003, ambulance crash while located in the patient compartment of the vehicle. On September 23, 2017, Firefighter-EMT Deicher passed away from complications due to his injuries and related medical condition. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Deicher family.
Eric J. Balliet, 41 of Ft. Wayne, Indiana 09-27-2017
Captain Eric J. Balliet died September 27, 2017, during a training exercise at a commercial structure while leading a crew during physically demanding maneuvers. The nature and cause of fatal injury are still to be determined and reported. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Balliet family.
Jason Keith Hensley, 40 of Morganton, North Carolina 10-09-2017
Probationary Firefighter Jason Keith Hensley responded to a call for service of a tree blocking the roadway. Firefighter Hensley's POV was parked behind the fire department's brush truck and a police department vehicle was also on the scene. All emergency vehicles had their lights activated. Just after midnight, a pickup traveling eastbound on US Highway 70 approached the scene and failed to stop. The vehicle first struck Firefighter Hensley, who was wearing his reflective gear, killing him instantly, then crashed into the other vehicles at the scene. The driver of the vehicle spent the night in the hospital from injuries received and has since been charged by police with driving while impaired, no operator’s license, reckless driving, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Hensley family.
Donald Fred Manger, 54 of Presho, South Dakota 10-14-2017
Fire Chief Donald Fred Manger fell ill and passed away while on the scene of a working fire in an unoccupied structure. The nature and cause of fatal injury are still to be reported. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Manger family.
Garrett Paiz, 38 of Sacramento, California 10-16-2017
Firefighter/Driver Garrett Paiz was killed in Napa, California, while operating an empty 1993 Kenworth water tender (tanker) when, according to the California Highway Patrol, the vehicle left the roadway on a curve and crashed through a guardrail down a ravine. Paiz, who died at the scene, was working on the Nuns fire burning in the hills above Oakville and was heading for a water resupply when the crash occurred near the bottom of a steep winding section of roadway called the Oakville Grade. According to initial reports, the roadway was closed for fire operations only at the time of the crash, and no other vehicles were involved. Firefighter/Driver Paiz, a native of the Coachella Valley in Southern California, and a volunteer firefighter with the Noel Fire Department in Missouri, was working as a contract firefighter with CAL FIRE at the time of his passing. The cause of the fatal incident remains under investigation by authorities. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Paiz family.
Steven Rae Terry, 53 of Brooksville, Florida 10-16-2017
Firefighter/Paramedic Steven R. Terry passed away while on duty October 16, 2017. Firefighter/Paramedic Terry was found unresponsive by his fellow Fire Station #9 crew members who then initiated resuscitative measures. He was transported by Hernando County Fire Rescue paramedics to Bayfront Brooksville Hospital. Despite the exhaustive efforts by the Bayfront Brooksville Hospital ED team, Firefighter/Paramedic Steven R. Terry passed away. The nature and cause of fatal injury are still to be determined and reported. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Terry family.
Ronald W. Hinkle, 71 of Loch Sheldrake, New York 10-17-2017
On October 17, 2017, Firefighter Ronald W. Hinkle responded to a motor vehicle accident with the Loch Sheldrake Fire Company #1. Firefighter Hinkle was found later in the day at his home unresponsive. Fellow firefighters and other first responders attempted to revive Hinkle, but all rescue efforts failed. Firefighter Hinkle passed away from a nature and cause of fatal injury still to be determined. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Hinkle family.
Edward J. Frenenski, 31 of Stanhope, New Jersey 10-23-2017
Firefighter Edward J. Frenenski was participating in vehicle extrication training during a fire department drill at the county fire training academy. While performing a practical evolution, he suffered an apparent seizure, and was immediately treated by FD and EMS personnel on scene. He subsequently went into cardiac arrest while being transported to a local hospital, and CPR was initiated. Hospital emergency room staff continued with life-saving measures to no avail. Firefighter Frenenski, a life-saving organ donor at the time of his passing, was pronounced deceased approximately 2.5 hours later. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Frenenski family.
David E. Carr, 62 0f Winthrop, New York 11-04-2017
Firefighter-Operator David E. Carr responded with his fire department on a mutual aid call to an industrial fire of 5,800 tons of burning wood pellets inside of a large metal warehouse. Firefighters, with the aid of the company president who brought in an excavator from another work site to tear down the walls and roof of the building, worked through the night to bring the fire under control. After being released from the scene, Firefighter-Operator Carr returned with his fire department to the firehouse to clean and put away equipment. Firefighter-Operator Carr then departed for home, where, later in the morning, he succumbed to a nature and cause of fatal injury still to be reported. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Carr family.
Kendall James Murphy, 27 of Montgomery, Indiana 11-10-2017
Shortly after arriving on the scene of a motor vehicle crash, Firefighter Kendall James Murphy was struck and killed by another firefighter who was responding to the same accident scene in his privately owned pickup truck. The second firefighter, who was allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol registering a blood alcohol level of 0.21 percent, was arrested and charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated causing death, and reckless driving. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Murphy family.
Scott A. Compton, 55 of Greenfield, Indiana 11-11-2017
Several hours after working on the scene of a three-alarm commercial
structure fire at an auto body and glass company, Firefighter/EMT Scott
A. Compton fell ill at home and died from a nature and cause of fatal
injury still to be determined.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Compton family.
Robert A. Fitch, 60 0f Herkimer, New York 11-28-2017
Firefighter/Safety Officer Fitch responded with his fire department to a technical rescue call for a person who became stuck on some cliffs while attempting to rescue their pet. After the call, Firefighter Fitch returned home and during the night succumbed in his sleep to a cardiac related injury. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Fitch family.
Stephen Frye, 59 of Montgomery, Massachusetts 12-05-2017
Fire Chief Stephen Frye collapsed while operating on an initial attack line at the scene of a late night two-alarm chimney fire that destroyed a residential structure. Fire Chief Frye was treated immediately on scene by fellow responders and transported to the hospital by a Hilltown ambulance crew where he was pronounced deceased a short time later. The nature and cause of fatal injury are still to be determined. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Frye family.
Charles Edward Patterson, 60 0f Bowie, Texas 12-07-2017
Firefighter Charles Edward Patterson collapsed in the front yard of a residential structure fire while working a hose line with other members of his fire department. Emergency medical personnel were on scene and provided immediate assistance. Firefighter Patterson was transported to the hospital where he died several days later from a nature and cause of fatal injury still to be reported. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Patterson family.
Dene Barber, 56 of Brazoria, Texas 12-13-2017
Captain Dene Barber responded with the Brazoria Fire Department to an apartment building fire on the evening of December 13, 2017. Firefighters made entry into the building and extinguished the fire. Upon exiting the structure, Barber complained to others of not feeling well. Captain Barber was treated on scene by West Brazos EMS, then transported to the hospital where in spite of all efforts he passed away from a reported heart attack. Our thougts and prayers are with the Barber family.
Cory Iverson, 32 0f Sacramento, California 12-14-2017
Engineer Cory Iverson died while fighting the Thomas Fire near Fillmore, California. The nature and cause of Iverson's death has not been released pending a Cal Fire serious accident review. Engineer Iverson was part of a multi-engine strike team dispatched from the San Diego area more than a week ago to fight some of the largest fires in California’s history. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Iverson family.
Jeffery Atkinson, 43 0f Tallahassee, Florida 12-15-2017
Engineer Jeffery Atkinson died while on-duty at the fire station from a nature and cause of fatal injury still to be determined. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Atkinson family.
David Jahnes, 58 of Nyack, New York 12-18-2017
Firefighter David Jahnes fell ill while at the scene of an investigation into an odor at a bank which turned out to be an overheating battery in the alarm system. Firefighter Jahnes was treated by fellow responders and transported by the Nyack Ambulance Corps to the hospital where later during treatment he suffered coronary failure and passed away. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Jahnes family.
Jeffrey A. Vollmer, 40 of Mayer, Minnesota 12-19-2017
Captain Jeffrey A. Vollmer passed away at home from an apparent cardiac arrest several hours after participating in non-classroom training of a nonroutine strenuous nature at a local community center. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Vollmer family.
Jeffery Alan Blackmer, 42 0f Muncie, Indiana 12-20-2017
Shortly after working a barn fire with his fire department, Firefighter Jeffery Alan Blackmer was discovered deceased at the fire station where he had been cleaning and stowing away gear used to fight the early morning blaze. The nature and cause of fatal injury are still to be determined by authorities. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Blackmer family.
Craig A. Maull, 71 0f Haddonfield, New Jersey 12-21-2017
Firefighter Craig A. Maull responded to a dwelling fire call on 12/19/2017, but his apparatus was recalled while enroute. Upon returning to quarters, Maull mentioned to other members that he wasn't feeling well, but declined medical assistance and later went home. Firefighter Maull missed additional calls later, which was uncommon for him, and members were unable to contact him by phone or email. Family and department members went to his home on 12/21 to check on Firefighter Maull and found him deceased (from a heart attack). Additional police follow-up shows extensive evidence that Firefighter Maull passed away sometime between the evening of 12/19 and morning of 12/20. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Maull family.
Frank Matagrano, 75 of New Milford, New Jersey 12-23-2017
Firefighter Frank Matagrano suffered cardiac arrest inside the fire
apparatus while it was responding to an emergency call on 12/13/2017.
His fellow crew members immediately initiated CPR and utilized an AED to
successfully regain his pulse. He was transported to a local hospital,
where he remained hospitalized for continued care. Doctors determined
that Firefighter Matagrano suffered a stroke which caused his cardiac
arrest. He never regained consciousness, and subsequently passed away
on 12/23/2017 in the hospital.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Matagrano family.
Jason Garrett, 46 of Kansas City, Kansas 12-26-2017
Fellow responders discovered Firefighter-Paramedic Jason Garrett
deceased in the firehouse bunkroom when he did not appear for a morning
response call. The nature and cause of fatal injury are still to be
determined by authorities.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Garrett family.
Jeffrey S. White, 53 of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 12-
Lieutenant Jeffrey S. White succumbed to complications from a medical
condition on December 26th, 2017. Lieutenant White was assigned to Fire
Station 36 in southeast Oklahoma City where he was when the episode
began. White was transported by ambulance to an area hospital where he
later passed away from a nature and cause of fatal injury to be
Our thoughts and prayers are with the White family.